By Suma Varughese January 2009 The terror attacks in Mumbai have left the country shaken, coming as they have on the heels of a series of attacks across the country. How can spirituality help us to accept and transcend the perils of our time?” Travellers on Planet Earthonly in testing times does character get formed While I watched television channels showing the scenario unfurling at the Taj, the Oberoi and all over Mumbai, and saw the anxiety and helplessness on all the faces around me, I wondered what more is required for us to realise that yes, we must wake up and act.Does this mean going to extremities? If at all a reminder was needed of the transience of life, this is it. The dance of death around us tells us strongly that we all are just eternal travellers. Do we wish to be travellers who remain indifferent to the outside world? Or travellers who leave a mark? Would that mark be one of intolerance and hatred ? Or one of compassion and love?At a personal level, we know that unbridled anger has the potential to wreak severe damage – both physical and emotional. That’s equally, if not more true, at the societal level. Using anger just to react, hit out and lash out at the enemy has never worked in the entire history of mankind, so why don’t we try the other approach?If humanity reaches to each other, extending friendship to the person we consider the other, be it a person of another race, another religion, another economic class… that would be true victory, victory in this war of the minds, which is where the real battle needs to be fought.We also need to examine the system and the acts that allowed such a mindset to grow, even flourish. Are there real issues that need to be examined? Are we providing a stable and just environment in our land?Concrete steps are required, but these need to be rational, attacking the system that allowed such an act, not a mob fury lashing out against an imagined enemy. Karmayog, www.karmayog.org, an organisation that brings together a diverse group of concerned citizens, did bring in a range of suggestions on its yahoo group discussion, along with expressions of anguish.What emerged was that yes, we need to move quickly to• improve the muscle of intelligence agencies• strengthen and improve the morale of the police• form citizen vigil groups who are taught to deal with this kind of situations• use RTI and PIL to ensure that justice is done and security legislations are implemented.Along with this, came the recognition that we are responsible, at least in part, for the moral decay around us. In the long term, we need to strengthen the fibre of the nation, which will happen only if we strengthen our own moral fibre, by promoting unity, communal harmony, and true patriotism. Will we see such a transformation happening? Yes, but only if we enable it by becoming angels and ambassadors of peace. Here is what we can do:• Apply pressure on the government to improve the security conditions and to impart justice to all – from every caste, creed, religion• Form citizen groups not just for vigil but also for support and solidarity• Celebrate national festivals like Republic Day, Independence Day, together• Extend friendship and compassion to all around usTransformation in terrorit’s time to wake up. and change Today, as I look up, I see smoke. The sky is hidden. And with it the silver lining that so many are desperately searching for. The roads are soaking with blood. Not mine. Not a loved one’s. But someone’s father. Someone’s child. Someone’s mother. The wounds have touched not just the city’s body, but its very soul. Sirens. Blasts. Gun shots. It’s hard to know what is scarier – these sounds or the chilling silence that follows. Terror can be seen in every eye.And yet, strangely, all that I am feeling right now is a sense of deep calm. I remain calm even as memories of being in the areas attacked try to seep in and the thought, “It could have been me” tries to create havoc. Even the news that two of the bomb blasts took place in the very area that my parents live in, did not disturb me. No, surprisingly, all I feel right now is peace. Is it apathy? Far from it! Right now I am consumed with a sense of purpose. It’s as though a fire within me, cooled with activities of daily life, has suddenly been set ablaze. So much needs to be done. This world is so much in need of love. Of compassion. Of happiness. For surely, no human who is happy, secure and in love with life and all its creation can ever become a terrorist. No. A terrorist is an ordinary person among us, deprived of love and respect, deprived of a life worth living for, who has walked down this path to give some meaning to his life. Or at least, to his death. What each of us needs to do right now is to remove the terrorist within each one of us. The stress we feel, the anxiety we exude, the hatred we harbour – are these not in so many ways responsible for creating a terrorist? Stressed families create stressed homes, stressed homes create stressed cities, and stressed cities create stressed countries. This is not the moment to blame. Or complain. Or cry. It’s time to wake up. And change. Yourself. So your family transforms. Your family, so that your city transforms. And gradually we will begin to see the miraculous unfolding in our country, our world. Let’s use this terror for transformation. This attack for an awakening. Like the single stalk of lotus that rises from filth, slowly raises its head, and unfurls its beauty to the world, let’s arise. Even if we can’t do anything about the filth right now, let’s at least sow the seeds for as many lotuses as we can. And in our own little way, beautify the world. Will our little actions, our little inner transformations help in any way? A man was picking up one of the thousands of star fish washed to the beach by the waves, and throwing it back into the sea. A passer-by asked, “There are thousands of fish here, do you think you can make a difference to them all?” “No,” answered the man with a smile, “but I know I am making a difference to this one. And that is enough for me to continue.” Let’s begin. Let’s continue. Hatred does not cease through hatred at any time. Hatred ceases through love. This is an unalterable law – The BuddhaI suddenly saw what witness consciousness was in the middle of great action. I had no conception of myself as a victim. Once, I began to stabilise, I recognised the amount of love that surrounded me. Today, I weep with gratitude.”The speaker is Michael Rudder, one of the victims of the terrorist attack that overwhelmed Mumbai on November 26, 2008. Rudder was staying at the Hotel Oberoi, together with 25 others who had come down from the USA with meditation teacher and founder of Synchronicity, Master Charles (whose interview we had carried in November 2007 under the title Modern Mystic), for a series of satsangs and workshops.Rudder, along with five others, including Alan Scherr, vice-president of Synchronicity (who I had often been in touch with for quotes from Master Charles), were dining at the ill-fated restaurant called Tiffin when the gunmen opened fire. Rudder received four bullet shots, including one on his bottom (which he called with irrepressible spirit, a rude shot). Alan and his teenage daughter, Naomi, were both shot dead. Two other women at the table were also shot, though not fatally. A tragedy of the most profound nature. And yet, seen from another angle, a salutary lesson on the power of the spirit to overcome and convert a crushing and painful event into an occasion for gratitude and growth.Rudder explains that his consciousness was light even during the gruesome slaughter. As he lay in a pool of blood, he asked himself how much time he had to live and tried to come to terms with his death. Eventually, he gingerly dragged himself to one of the waiters’ exit doors and found that despite his multiple injuries he could walk. He escaped outside and was helped into a taxi by a policeman and driven by a terrified cabbie to the Bombay Hospital. A series of operations was instantly undertaken to remove his bullets and stitch him up. Now healing, the joyous Rudder (58) an actor and film director based in Canada, says that this event has lifted his consciousness to a higher level and that henceforth all he wants to do is help raise human consciousness.One can talk about the necessity of using the negative to create the positive, to give love for hate, to turn the other cheek, and other spiritual precepts till the cows come home, but it is only when one sees them practised that one recognises the tremendous power and strength of these principles.Why?Three weeks after the terror attacks, our usually resilient Mumbai is still buckling under an avalanche of anger, fear and horror. Over it all hang the questions, what is happening? Why is everything collapsing around us? Is there a future at all? Only three issues back, in the October 2008 issue of Life Positive, we talked about 2012 and how we are inexorably moving towards this point in human history. 2012 heralds the beginning of a brave new world in which spiritual values will prevail, giving rise to oneness, peace, love and harmony. However, that is a good three years away, and in the meantime we are ankle-deep in the detritus of the old age. The present world order, based on separateness, external conquest, conflict and competition is imploding under the weight of its own contradictions. Capitalism, which ran through the world’s scarce resources, destroyed the environment, and made stress into a global pandemic, is now collapsing, and no amount of bail-outs will stem this outcome. Food prices are on the rise as a denuded earth refuses to yield fr
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