Every time we have a shocking event, which unfortunately is far too often, the media inundates us with an unending flood of experts from all known fields of human behavior. Always the one overriding, compelling question that each inquiring mind seeks to answer is “Why?” It seems there is some secret agreement that if we only understood why this person did what they did, it would somehow lessen the terrible pain we all feel.
The sad thing, to me, is that no matter how many hours of conjecture we subject ourselves to, there is no way to comprehend the mind of a person, so lost, so confused, or so detached that it could be capable of horrific, mindless, unconscionable action.
While I do not believe we will ever fully understand the “why” of an individual deranged enough to wantonly kill some targeted group of people, I do believe we can safely assume that the said perpetrator had no grasp of the Truth of his being. Consider these words:
“I believe that people who get to know themselves won’t create wars; people won’t have a need to kill people. When people get to know and understand themselves, they will be more loving. There won’t be a need to perpetuate violence and hatred. When people go within and connect with themselves, they realize they are connected to the universe and they are connected to all living beings.” – Armand Dimele*
*Spirituality, intimacy, and creating real relationships. (2005). In Sorah Dubitsky (Ed.), A chorus of wisdom: Notes on spiritual living from Gerald G. Jampolsky [and others] (p. 84). Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press : Written by Armand Dimele
When I taught young teenagers in Sunday School and later convicted felons in Federal Prison, my primary focus was always on helping individuals learn how to know themselves with a deeper level of understanding than they had previously attained. My mission, in such settings, was always very clear to me because I knew, as Dimele wrote, that once we discover who and what we are, our lives are forever changed.
When one sets out on a spiritual journey they soon realize that it is absolutely imperative to develop unfailing honesty. And while this level of integrity is ultimately essential in all of their relationships, in-depth self-discovery cannot occur without it.
This concept seems pretty simple, even straightforward, right? Yet, I frequently encounter people who have, over the years, lost touch with what is real and what is fabrication. I think we all do this, to a certain degree, until we get to know our true selves and the need to pretend disappears.
It is remarkable, to me, that we must “learn” how to be honest with ourselves. Yet, most people who have ever begun a spiritual quest soon found out that self-honesty was significantly more difficult than it seemed it should have been While most parents teach their children the importance of honesty, it is often only the significance of being truthful with others which is stressed. The idea of self-honesty is often unaddressed or simply taken for granted. Unfortunately, often these same parents are better at talking about integrity than they are at demonstrating it, especially when it comes to stories they tell about themselves. Because most of us have grown up with such concern over the opinions of others, it is not surprising that we have developed habits of embellishing our personal stories, both in positive and negative ways. Once we begin, in earnest, the reflection necessary for self-discovery, we can find it really difficult to release old ideas about our identity, many of which we have accepted as truth, sometimes for decades.
When I taught, I felt my most important task was to help individuals learn how to find the Truth of their nature. Every mystic, I have ever studied, found their way to wisdom by looking inside and learning that the Truth of their Being was much greater than at first imagined.
I agree with Armand and know that when people truly know who and what they are, they find very difficult, if not impossible, to harm others. The first thing one realizes, when they have any type of True Self-Identity epiphany, is that we are all connected to each other. The Truth is that there is no separate self which exists to hurt some other separate self. When we discover who we are and learn to forgive ourselves we only want to help our brothers and sisters. We cannot love ourselves and long to hurt our family or our planet. These two ideas are mutually exclusive.
I used to shutter when I would read some mystic insisting that the greatest good we could do for humanity was to learn to heal ourselves, but now I agree totally. The bottom line is that there is no separate self to heal. All healing affects the whole of humanity, also known as the Self.
Every ounce of love we learn to give ourselves is a gift to the entire planet. Loving myself is the natural result of learning the Truth of who and what I AM. There is no greater lesson to learn, no course of study as important.