Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Meditation in a Time of War

Terry McKenna returns to the blog today with his own thoughts on how each of us can cope and recover amid some very difficult times. Having written an entire book of meditations for a time of war, I can appreciate what Terry has to offer here, especially considering what he's recently gone through himself. No matter how pervasive the darkness of the world may appear, if there are a few lights still glowing, then there is cause for gratitude. No matter how mad it all may seem, if we can do the inner work of sanity, then the earth's healing moment cannot be far from arriving. Here's Terry:

Another week of Middle Eastern strife. It all seems hopeless and pointless to me. I see nothing to suggest that we won’t be in the same bad place 10 or even 20 years from now.

Israel is not my issue. Raised a Catholic in the 50’s and 60’s, we expended our prayers on the conversion of Russia (for which we prayed often) – and by the late 1960’s, many of us were focused on Ireland – which, by the way, also had a political party and an armed militia. Even while I know a lot more about the Middle East now, I don’t see either side as working toward a peaceful resolution.

But the world is like that. There are lots of things that we really can’t solve. In the US, the problem of life in poor urban neighborhoods seems intractable. So too does the political conflict between northeastern urban liberals and suburban and rural conservatives in the South, Southwest and Mountain states. In the wider world, we can see that even our trading partners can’t come together on issues ranging from Darfur to the Iran’s nuclear weapons program. To sum up, discord outnumbers agreement.

So, despite the blathering of numerous talking heads, things really can’t always be fixed. Where do we go then?

Well, first we need to take a breather from conflict and make ourselves whole. There are a number of ways to do this: some of us are devotees of meditation, others resort to prayer (not petitions to God for personal favor, but genuine open-ended conversations). Then there is what my son does…he takes long hikes into our nearby mountains. Although not structured meditation, the experience, as he describes it to me, appears to constitute a prolonged meditative act. He usually treats himself with a long hike as a treat after a particularly stressful period. As he gets himself into the rhythm of the hike, his daily concerns dissolve and he becomes more and more focused on the moment.

Today, George Bush spoke to the nation from his Texas ranch. He delivered the same old mantra of 9/11, terrorism, democracy, and so on. He’s clearly deluded. But the rest of us don’t have to be. So please seek the next available opportunity to find respite and sanity in the world at large. If you have a car, most of you can find a place of respite within a few hours of home. If you are stuck in New York City, great parks and even the Ocean are only a subway ride away.

By the way, here are some pictures my son took on last weekend’s outing.


—T. McKenna

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