Collective Healing

In past newsletters we have investigated the path to healing for the individual, a path that begins with a deep appreciation of the preciousness of life, the inevitability of death, and the uncertainty of the moment of death. Motivated by these truths, we are inspired to become aware of our present situation, aware of what cries out for healing, and to take refuge in the existence of the path to wholeness and in Presence. Clear awareness rather than blind reactivity creates the space for compassion to arise. The lack of self-centeredness that is born of compassion forms the ground from which arises empowerment, the power of the Sacred working through us. Finally, healing is the fruit of this compassion-based empowerment.

Healing and the path to wholeness is a collective process as well as an individual journey. In fact, healing is never accomplished alone but rather as a member of the communities, both large and small, to which we each belong. Becoming truly whole while remaining fully engaged in a dysfunctional society is a steep path .

Has our response to the terrorists attacks of 9/11 been one of collective healing? I had hoped that the initial shock of the attacks would lead us in the direction of wholeness. The news of a life-threatening diagnosis from a doctor can inspire the patient to healthier, more life-affirming habits or can lead to reactive anger, fear, and denial of death. We need to uproot terrorism as surely as a cancer patient needs to eliminate cancer cells in her body if she hopes to heal. Our government is combating terrorism in a way that contradicts the basic principles of healing.

First, awareness. We can’t begin the healing path until we clearly know what is out of balance, what is the nature of the dis-ease. We will not succeed in eliminating terrorism unless we first genuinely hear and understand what others are saying. Why are so many around the world feeling increasingly critical of America? Does the demand that all Americans believe “America is good and terrorists are evil” bring the initial clarity needed for collective healing? Action motivated by unexamined fear, anger, or denial ultimately will not lead to wholeness. Collectively, as a nation, we are caught here.

Where is collective awareness blocked? Exactly where we don’t feel compassion. Clear awareness generates compassion. Whom do we label as evil? What violence can our heart not bear to include? The Dalai Lama says that compassion is the ability to equalize and switch ourselves with the other. With whom can we not feel equal and then feel what they feel? Only after compassion arises can our actions be empowered by the Power that is beyond our own small power. Aggressive action without compassion is counterproductive.

Many unconscious patterns of which we are unaware when alone are painfully revealed in the mirror of our one-to-one relationships. How we react to national and international events can also be a powerful mirror. Since these events are even farther away from whom we think we are, our ego feels justified in openly judging. Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, Saddam, Sharon, Arafat, al Qaeda, radical peace activists. Can we be with all this and rest in Presence? Can the world be healed if we are not? Can we be whole if the world is not?

– Dale Borglum