This morning we held a meditation and prayer service at Sacred!Centre on what happened in Newtown on Friday.
The door is already open; mental formations can flow freely. And if you practice that for a few weeks, the symptoms of mental illness will disappear. This is because you are now in a situation where you have good circulation I your psyche. That is why the Buddha taught us to invite fear into our mindful consciousness and care for it everyday.
There is no battle between good and evil, positive and negative. There is only the care given by the big brother to the little brother. In Buddhist meditation, we observe, we act in a non-dualistic fashion, and thus the waste materials of the conscious mind can always be transformed into flowers of compassion, love, and peace. Our consciousness is a living thing, something organic in nature. There are always waste materials and flowers in us. The gardener who is familiar with organic gardening is constantly on the alert to save the waste materials because he knows how to transform them into compost and then transform that compost into flowers and vegetables. So be grateful for your pains, be grateful for your suffering–you will need them.
We have to learn the art of transforming compost into flowers. Look at a flower: it is beautiful, it is fragrant, it is pure; but if you look deeply you can already see the compost in the flower. With meditation, you can see that already. If you do not meditate, you will have to wait ten days to be able to see that. If you look deeply at the garbage heap with the eye of a meditator, you can see lettuce, tomatoes and flowers. That is exactly what the gardener sees when he looks at the garbage heap, and that is why he does not throw away his waste materials. A little bit of practice is all you need to be able to transform the garbage heap into compost and the compost into flowers…” –Thich Nhat Hanh
Those of us present this morning agreed that while yes, on one very important and agonizing level, and as all the news stories have echoed, we don’t know what led to the shootings in Newtown, CT, our contemplation on this reading also showed us the imperative of holding this question and avoid fooling ourselves into ineffective and dangerous conclusions based on the usual designation of opposites: good vs. evil; people vs. monsters; flowers vs. compost.
If we hold Adam Lanza as a 20 year old young man who perpetrated horrific acts (vs. the “gunman,”) this might lead us to wonder and perhaps to one day understand the seeds of those actions. And to understand the lesser but nevertheless violent seeds we ourselves feed each time we turn someone into an object in our minds through perjoratives and anger/fear.
What we drew as a group from Thich Nhat Hanh’s words and our discussion this morning is there is a galaxy of difference between properly judging Adam Lanza’s actions as unequivocally heinous and unsanctionable, and deciding he was pure evil. We also agreed there is a great urgency upon the world to be mindful of our thoughts and to not attempt to discard what must be recycled in order to effectively transform harmful energy, the waste material of our mind, back into a Flower.