Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Newtown School Tragedy: A Lovingkindness and Compassion Meditation & Comments

Charles Day

May I be well, happy, safe, and harmonious.
May I experience lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and peace.
May my family, friends, and all those I interact with be well, happy, safe, and harmonious.
May they all experience lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and peace.


May the children and adults who died in the Newtown tragedy be experienced as being well, happy, safe and harmonious and filled with lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and peace.

May their surviving family, friends, and classmates be well, happy, safe, and harmonious. 

May their grief and suffering be healed and then replaced by positive and loving memories of those they've lost.
And may they experience lovingkindness, compassion, forgiveness, joy, and peace.

May the father, brother, and friends of the mentally-ill Adam Lanza be well, happy, safe, and harmonious.

May their grief and suffering be healed and then replaced by positive and loving memories of Adam.

And may they experience lovingkindness, compassion, forgiveness, joy, and peace.

May Adam Lanza also be experienced as a victim of the tragedy he perpetrated, and as being well, happy, safe, and harmonious and filled with lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and peace.

May all who suffer and cause suffering to themselves and others, victims and perpetrators alike, be well, happy, safe, and harmonious. 


May they be liberated from the causes of suffering, from loneliness and sorrow; anger and fear; from poverty, injustice, and oppression; from physical and mental illness; and from ignorance.

And may they all experience lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and peace.

May all beings be well, happy, safe, and harmonious.
May all beings be liberated from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May all beings experience lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and peace.
________________

Comments:  It is natural and appropriate to react to tragedies - such as occurred in Oklahoma City, Columbine, on 9/11, in Norway, in Tucson, in Aurora, and now in Newtown - to  experience the full range of emotions: sadness and compassion for the victims and their families; disgust, anger, and a desire to punish the perpetrators; and surprise, fear, and a sense of helplessness that comes from the realization that such horrific crimes do happen, are unpredictable, and could happen to us.

Forgiveness is an emotion difficult to experience and generally comes much later, if at all, particularly when the victims are children who symbolize for us our innocence, purity, dreams, and the tragedy of a life ended before being fully lived.

The practice of regular sitting meditations, Lovingkindness and Compassion Meditations, and Prayers can open our hearts to understanding how ignorance and suffering, anger and fear, and mental illness can lead to the acting-out of instinctual and learned aggressive tendencies. Adam Lanza took the lives of children, teachers, and caregivers, and then himself, perhaps acting out his anger, resentment, disappointment, despair, and feelings of deprivation and hopelessness, of never having had or ever being able to experience a normal and happy life himself.

Let us be aware that we act our aggressive tendencies by perhaps feeling he deserved to die and being glad that he took his life, even though we might intellectually understand that his actions were caused by mental illness. We might hope that adequate treatment would have prevented what happened.  Still, in most of us, there's the underlying sense that crime deserves punishment, rationalized by an "eye for an eye" and that punishment deters others from committing crimes.

In the immediate aftermath of a tragedy, compassion and lovingkindness are readily felt for victims but difficult to experience for the perpetrator.  Yet there is abundant research that shows that compassion and lovingkindness are the antidotes to fear, anger, and the desire to punish, retaliate, and get revenge. Certainly, we need to protect society against convicted dangerous criminals by incarcerating and, if possible, treating and rehabilitating them, but we can do this compassionately, and we can be saddened by the lost opportunity to have successfully done this in order to prevent a crime, as was the case with Adam.

I'm use the above Lovingkindness and Compassion Meditation as part of my regular sitting meditations, shared it at a Des Moines Meditation Group sitting, and put it on the
www.DesMoinesMeditation.org website for anyone who might want to use it personally or with a group. 

As with any lovingkindness and compassion meditation, feel free to modify it and use any other words or phrases you prefer. Remember, the primary purpose of these meditations is to strengthen our own innate capacity to experience lovingkindness and compassion for ourselves and for everyone else, including our enemies and those whom we fear and distrust.
 

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