Last night the Year of Inquiry group gathered to start our third month topic for the year, inquiring together.
The people you can’t stand.
The ones who are driving you nuts like a gnat that won’t stop buzzing your ear on a hot summer night….
….or the ones who are terrifying you because they’re committing horrifying, atrocious crimes against humanity.
Can you do The Work on even these dreadful experiences in the human condition, like war, violence, terror, loss, genocide, democide, prejudice?
Of course you can.
But here’s the deal.
An inquirer on our call made a telling and very helpful comment….
…..”I just can’t get to ‘neutral’ on this topic.”
You know what I said?
Answer the questions openly, honestly, with no expectation.
Look, look again.
Do this work without any thought of the outcome, because you want to know what’s true for you.
Ten years ago, I attended my very first New Year’s Cleanse with Byron Katie.
This is Katie’s annual event where she sits up on stage with one person after another, each one courageously taking their seat in an empty chair opposite Katie to do The Work.
(By the way, I just bought my ticket and can’t wait to give you a hug if you’re going to Los Angeles for the Cleanse this New Year’s, too!)
Back then, as I watched and listened with rapt attention, a woman took her seat next to Katie and slowly, carefully, read a worksheet on the holocaust.
Wow, I thought from the audience.
How can we ever find peace with the holocaust? Or Rwanda? Or the burning bodies and apartheid in South Africa (where I lived in 1975-1976)?
Not possible, I thought.
Too sad. Too horrible.
But who would you be without your belief about those people? The ones who are hurting so many others?
Not denial, but looking very closely without your labels of them, the labels that point at them: evil, monsters, sick, violent, enraged, wrong, psychopaths.
Or the less frightening people we know yet we feel upset in their presence: angry, critical, needy, controlling, narcissistic, selfish, disruptive, rude, neglectful.
Without these assessments, who would you be?
Some people think…..but I have to keep these labels.
Otherwise, I won’t know who to stay away from, who to hide from, how to stay safe!
Are you sure?
Are you sure you need stressful thinking to remain safe?
Are you positive it is not possible to be safe with these humans who are acting in such difficult or shocking ways?
Are you sure you couldn’t face them, or be the one to offer peace, instead of fear?
The woman in the chair doing The Work on the holocaust gave me the chance to consider that peace still lives, even after death and destruction that appears absolutely hopeless.
As she began to consider who she would be without her thoughts….
….I had to go pace at the back of the room, suddenly.
A magnificent lightbulb went off in my head, in my entire body.
I was shaking lightly.
I suddenly was filled with recognition that love and peace could prevail, that they were bigger and broader than any human horror.
There was no absolute darkness.
Here we were all, people gathered together, looking at that horrible, twisted experience from the future, with care and attention.
Examples were spilling into my mind, pictures of what rises out of events you think could never be resolved.
I saw scenes of reconciliation that I genuinely knew about.
People who have been through the worst sh*t you could ever imagine…..
…..live their lives into eventual peace.
They even go on to support others ending their suffering.
Walking back and forth in the back of the big convention room, I saw a vision in my mind of triangular shapes of white muslin, all sewn together like a baseball with golden thread.
Light beams were shooting out from the holes the thread made.
The ball of white muslin was floating gently away from planet earth, carrying all the thousands of people who died in the holocaust, the brightness shining magnificently from them all, as they floated away from earth into the heavens.
It doesn’t mean it’s OK terrible things happen or that any of us ever want them to. We don’t.
All I know is, after that day listening to the inquiry and doing my own through it, another chunk dropped away from my own ancient, dense belief system about humanity and the way things end.
I understood my terror of what humans were capable of clouded my vision of what was possible, or how I could help.
I also understood something else is handling All This, and it can’t really be explained.
Without the judgments in my mind, something else is possible instead of complete despair and resignation.
Maybe your heart breaks into a million pieces with some of what you’ve experienced, and what you’ve witnessed, and what you’ve read about and been told.
But love is still present anyway, and so is life.
That’s what I notice to be true.
“How does it feel to hate? And then what happens when you hate? And you have to find a way of defending that position. You have to prove that you’re right about your hatred. That it’s valid and worthwhile. And how does it feel to live that way? How do you react when you think the thought that they’re evil and ignorant?….I live in peace, and that’s what everyone deserves. We all deserve to end our own terrorism.” ~ Byron Katie in Loving What Is