Slowing “the roaring river of violence”Mar 19, 2023
‘Avulsion’ refers to river science and how a number of little incidents can slow the river’s flow and, over time, cause the river to go in a different direction – a fallen tree, for example, that slows down the river’s flow, causing further deposits until the resistance to flow leads to change. If enough of us resist the roaring river of violence by dropping our little deposits of prayers, meditations, songs, conferences and public advocacy, can we too help the river of life to flow in a healthier direction?
Meditation gives us the capacity to live with calmer minds and enhances our freedom, with self-awareness, to choose what we will let influence our thinking and what thoughts will shape our words and actions.
The influences on the thinking of our grandchildren’s generation are so subtle and pervasive. One current example is gambling advertising. We like to go to the AFL football but the ‘normalising’ of gambling, via grinning drongo celebrities, is impossible to avoid! Another terrifying example is the talk of global war that is again ‘normalised‘ by political leaders and influential commentators, as nations race to attain more lethal weapons and as the structures for diplomacy and dialogue struggle to contain global warming or to prevent more wars!
We are all aware of the extent of the anxiety and depression in our young people. Like wise, we are aware of the extent of the trauma in families, from many sources, and of how this travels across the generations.
Meditation can help with the healing needed and is appreciated wherever it is carefully introduced.
Healing Trauma; Unblocking the Stream of Life
What Children Say about the Benefits of Meditation
New initiatives keep springing up and are so important.
A series of online workshops introducing meditation as a way to find our own centre.
Fully Alive: Meditation & The Development of Spiritual Intelligence.
But the cultural resistances remain strangely formidable.
A second reflection is as regards the upcoming referendum in Australia on a constitutional change that will give a clearer Voice into national life for our indigenous people. At the Adelaide Writers’ Week this March, I listened to three First Nation journalists talking about this intense year of great significance. They spoke with warmth and insight as vividly capable print and TV journalists.
Towards the end, they were asked how it felt personally. Each spoke with emotion about the traumatic effect of all the racist hate that comes at them after each published article or segment. When they are tired and a little more vulnerable that’s what they have to deal with!
Meditation builds community and real community involves a sympathetic imagination of each other’s lives. Do those who send these hurtful messages ever pause to imagine what it must feel like to receive them?
This listening in Adelaide followed earlier days of listening to Hindu and Sikh leaders in Melbourne. After some recent graffiti attacks on Hindu Temples and a range of allegations, these leaders conveyed how they had faced a deluge of hateful social media regarding people with an Indian background. There are many strategies, programs and legislation to deal with racism. Perhaps there is progress but these dear folk aren’t seeing it.
Understanding that we are all created in the divine likeness, racism is obviously a cruel folly.
Will a culture with a unified consciousness and a more sympathetic imagination evolve if more people meditate? Forms of reductionism are never very attractive. Life’s complexities don’t reduce to single solutions. However, encouraging people to meditate is seldom regretted by those who then ‘find the time’ to do it. The Dalai Lama puts it evocatively saying that if the whole human family were meditating there’d soon be world peace.
On Fridays I join a Christian Meditation group. Via zoom, we meditate together in our different global time zones. Before our twenty minutes of silent mantric meditation there is a short talk. Most are by business people. Their talks are very illuminating about the difference meditation has made to their personal, family and vocational life. Always, it seems, the movement is towards them being better global citizens.
There are many such beautiful movements and groups even as the global family struggles to apply what we should have learned from the sufferings of the twentieth century. One other example, now on our website, comes from the Peace Department of inter religious co-operation.
The focus here is towards practical, local activities done globally for Earth Day on April 22. As the saying goes: ”Think global; act local”.
Another comes via the Rotary Peace Foundation and Rotary Peace Fellowship Alumni Association.
We can but persist.
A dear friend, the Rev’d Dr Graeme Garrett, introduced me to the geological term ‘avulsion’ as we conversed on matters like the symmetry between climate action and peace building. Graeme picked this term up from Kathleen Dean Moore’s book Take Heart: Encouragement for Earth’s Weary Lovers.
‘Avulsion’ refers especially to river science and how a number of little incidents can slow the river’s flow and, over time, cause the river to go in a different direction – a fallen tree, for example, that slows down the river’s flow, causing further deposits until the resistance to flow leads to change.
Kathleen Moore and Graeme are saying that if enough of us resist the roaring river of violence by dropping our little deposits of prayers, meditations, songs, conferences and public advocacy, we might help the river of life to flow in a healthier direction.
Embedding more meditation in our liturgical and wider public life is one crucial way to help. The choice must be to heal, never to harm. Meditation can equip more of us to make that better choice. The whole human family is a little like Elijah, outside that cave, at a troubled time (1 Kings 19.9-18). Meditation will help us listen better together to the still, small voice, the ‘silent music of God’ in the evocative phrase of St. John of the Cross.
One thing more…It is so profoundly important that we apply what we know about how meditation helps us appreciate the unity of love between God and us all. It IS where all our searching and striving is leading.
Older people, like myself, have such a profound responsibility to make this clear. T. S Eliot once wrote that us older people “ought to be explorers, and that, rooted in a stillness which is also a movement, we must venture into a further union, a deeper communion”[Quoted by Richard Harries, p.184].
I am, more or less, the same age as President Putin. The same age also of some of those in Australia recently talking up the prospect of war with China.
Looking at the world through the eyes of my grand children, the stakes are high and the choice is stark. Encouraging the exploration of this link between meditation and peace building is profoundly important.
The song of our hearts is ’We don’t need no more trouble..what we need is love to guide us from above’. Amen.