Today is Blog Catalog's Blogging For Hope Day, when thousands of bloggers all over the world will unite to turn the spotlight on all forms of abuse. The hope is that in raising awareness, we can make a difference.
Yet when you think of all the abuse which takes place all over the world, you could perhaps be forgiven for losing heart. We might achieve something here and there - and of course we are right to try - but will this enormous weight of human suffering ever really be lifted? People have abused each other in various ways throughout history. When you look at the big picture, is that ever going to change?
It seems to me that when you get right down to it, all abuse derives from a single mistaken idea: the belief that each of us is separate, that other people are somewhere 'out there' and are different from us, that they threaten us in some way, by hurting us or taking stuff from us, or just by being 'bad people'. From this idea, the impulse arises to get our own back by making these people suffer in return, in the mistaken belief that when we hurt them, we do not suffer ourselves.
Even self-abuse is rooted in this same belief in our separateness: that we ourselves are alone and unworthy, that we do not deserve any better.
It seems to me that what is needed to stop abuse is nothing less than a wholesale change in consciousness: for us all to come to understand that far from being alone, we are all together in this. We are all part of the human race, all part of this great universe in which we live and breathe, that all of us are linked: that we cannot hurt other without hurting ourselves.
Einstein expressed it brilliantly. I've used the following quote before on The Secret Of Life, but I make no apologies for repeating it here:
A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive. (Albert Einstein, 1954)
In The Secret Of Life, I try to present some of the ideas and techniques which might help to bring such a 'new manner of thinking' into being. And what I'd like to do here is to take you through an exercise to help you imagine what this change in perspective might be like. Please give yourself a few moments to try it.
The words that follow are not a poem, but you may find them more effective if you read them slowly, which is why I've left gaps between the sentences. As you read, you might find it helpful to pause between each section to see what appears in your mind. I hope you enjoy the experience...
First, think of the people to whom you are close: your family, your friends, the people you see every day.
Imagine that you are connected to all these people by a series of thin, gossamer threads.
White, shiny, almost invisible threads, connecting you all together into one.
Imagine subtle energy flowing along those threads: subtle light, subtle electricity.
Feel this energy flowing through your body.
Imagine that this web extends more widely now, connecting you to everybody you know.
Those same thin gossamer threads, that same subtle energy, flowing through you all, connecting you all together into one.
Now imagine the web extending wider still.
Imagine that all these people you know are also connected to everybody they know.
Those same, thin gossamer threads extending round the world, extending to embrace the whole of the human race.
Now imagine that all your many feelings: your hopes, your fears, your pain, your love, are shared by everyone else.
Your feelings travel along the threads so that everybody experiences the same feelings as you
All of you feel whatever you feel as a single living creature.
All your feelings are shared by everyone else.
Imagine too that everyone else's feelings are shared by you.
And that everyone shares the feelings of each other.
Now imagine the web extends to embrace all living things: all the creatures and all the plants and trees all over the world.
All linked by the gossamer threads, all feeling subtle vibrations traveling along the threads, all linked by the same vibrant energy.
Now the web extends to the whole of the earth: the seas, the land, the mountains, and the towns and cities in which we live.
All linked by the same threads, by the same vibrant energy, in a single living, breathing pulsating whole.
All of us bound together in an intricate matrix of life,
All that vibrant energy shared, and all our feelings too, so that what is good for one is good for everyone.
Just reflect for a while upon these thoughts.
If you enjoyed that, you may like to hear the audio version where the same words are presented as a ten-minute guided meditation.
My good wishes to all those who are taking part in Blogging For Hope. I hope that it makes a difference and I hope that we can all eventually reach a place where abuse no longer figures in our consciousness.
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