Posted by: Inside-Out Peace | October 5, 2011

Moving On By Moving In

It’s become apparent, from the exponentially increasing time between my writing here, that this blog and I just don’t fit each other anymore. I predicted in “New About” that the decision on whether to start a new blog would become obvious in time, and so it has. I need to move on.

I realize now that I wrote this blog as a way to deal with subconscious feelings of anxiety and fear, trying to avoid those feelings by attempting to figure out how to “solve the world”. It’s an enormous burden, and carrying it doesn’t make the world a better place. It just makes me tired.

I’ve created a new blog called Inside-Out Peace. The idea of this one is to try to write every day about what’s in my heart or on my mind, and set down a chunk of that burden with each post. Hope to see you there!

Posted by: Inside-Out Peace | January 14, 2011

Compassionate Confrontation

One of my favorite blogs is a diary of a mom (the link is also in my sidebar under “Blogs I Read”, for future reference).  It is profound, lighthearted, loving, angry, joyful, desperate, determined, and so much more, all in just the right measures.  It is impossible to read it and not become a better person for having done so.

This week she’s written about the pain and anger she felt as a result of a co-worker who used the word “retarded” as a slang pejorative, and how she was able to raise his consciousness to where he is working sincerely on breaking himself of that habit.

Today, she wrote:

“How do we shoulder our bats when we want to come out swinging? How do we move past anger and defensiveness to interact with one another thoughtfully, respectfully? How do we dig deep enough to find the place where compassion dwells? How can we find common ground with those who feel so far removed from our experience?”

I wrote the following as a comment, then asked if I could repost it here and she said, “Please do” – so, here it is (with a bit of editing).

These are exactly the questions I’ve been trying to answer for years and years. I have some thoughts and hope others will respond with theirs. There are two books that immediately come to mind: Anger by Thich Nhat Hanh, and The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer.

In Anger, Hanh describes dealing with anger as developing compassion for yourself first – compassion even towards your anger. Anger is an emotion we’ll never be able to just avoid entirely, and it is an appropriate response at times. Your anger is a part of you, and all of you deserves compassion. The analogy he refers to throughout the book is that anger is like garbage.  We can’t just leave it sit around, it will make a stench. But through compassion, we can compost it into fertile ground, and grow beautiful flowers in it.

Hanh writes a lot about suffering in relation to anger as well. When you are angry at someone, generally it is because that person has caused you suffering in some way (e.g. by saying “that” word). Responding while angry means that you will cause suffering in return. Unless that person has the kind of highly developed compassion described above (and if they did, I don’t think it possible they’d be using that word) then that person will become angry in response to their suffering. Then it becomes a cycle of anger and suffering instead of a cycle of compassion and connection.

When you understand how that cycle of anger and suffering feeds upon itself, you can go a step back in time to just before that person did the thing that you feel angry about. That person caused you suffering, because that person is suffering. Finding the suffering in that person will help you feel compassion for them. Then if you can lead the other person toward overcoming their own suffering, they will stop hurting others.

In The Untethered Soul, (of which I’ve read only the first two chapters so far), Singer writes about that voice that you hear telling you things, all the time. (If you just heard in your head, “What voice? I don’t have a voice.” – that’s the voice he’s talking about.)  The voice is not you. *You* are the silence that listens to that voice. Sometimes that voice says things that aren’t helpful, and you don’t have to listen to that. Because it’s not YOU. When you’re in the immediate heat of your anger, as DOAM said you want to come out swinging, it’s that voice that’s egging you on, telling you to swing for the fences.

You – the inner, silent, you – are not your anger. You – the real, inner you – can observe your anger. Notice that you are angry, be mindful of it. Then you can use your free will to *choose* how to respond instead of letting that voice that is not you speak for you. DOAM used writing an email to quiet that voice and speak from her compassionate heart – her true self.  And she was very successful in creating change, by doing so.

So I think that the way to shoulder your bat is to remember that if you swing it, you will only distance yourself further from the person you want to change. The further away from someone you are, the harder it is to change them.

Try this: get a pen and piece of paper. Write your name. Now move back one foot (or 30 cm) and write your name again. Keep doing that. Notice how much sloppier your handwriting becomes, the further away from the paper you are. When you get far enough away, you can’t write at all. The pen doesn’t even touch the paper. Anger causes distance. Compassion brings people closer.

If you want to write on someone’s heart, you have to be very close to them.

**

Please also check out:

 the saddest word of all on Diary of a Katie

 The Bigotry Behind The Word ‘Retard’ by Timothy Shriver

Spread the Word to End the Word

Posted by: Inside-Out Peace | January 3, 2011

Destiny? No. Serendipity? Yes.

This follows the two recent posts on destiny:  Effect and Cause, or Cause and Effect? and Destiny, Part II

After arguing against the existence of destiny, I started thinking:  is there anything similar that does exist?

After several days, the word “serendipity” floated up to the conscious part of my brain.  I had to look up the exact definition, which according to the Wikipedia entry is: “a propensity for making fortunate discoveries while looking for something unrelated.”  This reminded me of a quotation I once saw painted on the wall of a science museum.  I liked it so much I wrote it in the little notebook I keep in my purse for just such occasions:

“Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.” ~ Albert von Szent Gyorgyi

This, I can agree with, because it requires the conscious involvement of the observer.  The idea of destiny seems, in contrast, to assign the conscious involvement to an unknown entity which is imperceptible directly to us, yet also manages to somehow control us (and everything else) in order to cause events we could not predict, for reasons we do not know. 

Louis Pasteur said, “In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind.”   And what is life but one long, all-encompassing, field of observation?

Posted by: Inside-Out Peace | December 31, 2010

Peace, Love and Happiness

“Peace, love and happiness” is a phrase I’ve heard many times, but this morning it took on a new meaning as I realized the significance of the word order. 

First, peace.  This means being at peace with yourself, by understanding your past, forgiving others whenever necessary, being mindful of your present, and having goals and dreams for the future that you are actively working toward. 

Second, love.  When you are at peace with yourself, it becomes so much easier to love others.  The kind of love that is an action, not just a feeling.  The kind of love that lets you see others as they are instead of as how they affect you.  It is to achieve what Martin Buber called an I:Thou relationship, as opposed to an I:It relationship.

Third, happiness.  A true, i.e. complete and enduring, happiness is not possible until one has peace and love.  And if you have inner peace and love, you will have happiness. 

So whenever I see the slogan “Peace, Love and Happiness”, I will now think of it as “Peace + Love = Happiness”.

Posted by: Inside-Out Peace | December 21, 2010

Destiny, Part II

Last time, I wrote about how part of what people call “destiny” is the idea that an unanticipated future event can actually be the cause of a present event, rather than simply a consequence of the present event.  Another part of what people think of as destiny is actually a misplaced application of combinatorial probability.

If you just went “combi-what?”, the basic idea is that the more parts required for a specific event to happen, the less chance there is of that event happening.  We all understand this from daily observations – we are surprised by seeing five red cars in a row, but if we were to see those same five cars separately throughout the day, we would not even take any notice of them.  We all know that the chances of flipping 10 coins and having them all come up “heads” on one toss are far less than the chance of one coin coming up “heads” on any one toss.  (1/1024 vs 1/2, to be exact)

Whenever a significant event happens, people like to analyze “how did this happen”?  They trace the cause and effect backwards over many previous events, and conclude that if any of those previous events had not happened, or happened even slightly differently, then the significant event would not have occurred.  Often, people then say, “what were the odds of all those things happening in just that way?”  They (rightly) conclude that the odds were extremely small, but then (wrongly) further conclude that the extreme unlikelihood of the significant event is proof that it was “destiny” or “God’s will”.

What this overlooks is that the events have already happened.  Given that, the probability of their happening is not extremely small; it is now 100%.  Also, even prior to the events’ occurrence, there was a 100% probability of something happening.  That something may have led to a different event of great significance, but would still have been taken to be proof of that alternate significant event having been “destined” to happen. 

Things are the way they are because of what’s happened in the past.  Things will be the way they will be in the future, because of what’s happening now – which is something we have the ability to choose; it is not decided for us by destiny.  Mindfulness and compassion are our guides to making choices that will bring us a better future.

Posted by: Inside-Out Peace | December 15, 2010

Effect and Cause, or Cause and Effect?

George Washington had several narrow escapes from death early in his military career.   Kenneth C. Davis, in America’s Hidden History, mentions that when Washington later became the leader of the Continental army, some people interpreted those escapes as “proof of his destiny”.  (p. 92) 

What is “destiny”?  What do people really mean when they say something was “destined” to happen? 

The word itself is very much like the word “destination”.  Imagine that you have decided to take a vacation.  The first thing you need to do is choose a destination.  Once you have made that choice, many other things will have already been decided as well.  For example, will you pack flip-flops or hiking boots? 

OR   

Even for things that aren’t fully decided, most of the choices are reduced to relatively few options.  You have, say, 10 hotels to choose from, rather than 1,000,000.  If you’re going to Hawaii you can fly or sail, but you won’t be driving (unless you live there, but then it isn’t exactly a vacation, so that doesn’t count.)

On the day of your departure, you will do many things that you don’t ordinarily do, that will ultimately result in your arrival at your destination.  You are doing them because of that desired future event.  Once you arrive, you are in Hawaii because you got on the plane, but you also got on the plane because you were going to Hawaii.  The effect is a cause, and the cause is also an effect.

Once people know the cumulative result of all the major, and seemingly minor, events in someone’s life, there is an easy tendency to view those major events in the same way as getting on the plane.  But in reality, it’s getting on the plane that caused you to be in Hawaii, not being in Hawaii that caused you to get on the plane.  You would not conclude that you are in Hawaii because it was “destined” – you know that it is the result of conscious choices that you made. 

However, calling George Washington’s command of the Continental army his “destiny” implies his command is the cause of his survival.  It is a belief that future events can directly affect the present, even when we don’t know what those future events will be, and in ways that we ourselves have no control over.

So, you wouldn’t say that it was destiny that brought you to Hawaii, even though that is clearly a case of the future affecting the present.  But, imagine your plane has to be diverted for some reason, you end up in San Diego, decide to stay and have a wonderful time there.  Perhaps you even meet someone or learn something, that you wouldn’t have if you’d gone to Hawaii, and that connection or knowledge turns out to be very important to you later on in life.  In that case, you might very well say it was “destiny” that you went to San Diego.  Why?  What is different? 

The only difference is that you did not expect that outcome.   No one who wanted to go to San Diego would get on a plane that was scheduled to go to Hawaii.  People use “destiny” as a way of comforting ourselves, by avoiding the reality that everything we do may turn out differently than we expect it to.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – if we had to plan for every possible outcome, for every single decision, we’d never get around to doing anything!  It is true, though, that nearly every decision we make has consequences –  for good and bad – that we did not expect, either because we didn’t think about it in that way, or because we could not possibly have foreseen them even if we had. 

George Washington didn’t survive because of leading the Continental army, he led the Continental army because he survived.  Our future isn’t causing our present – our present choices are causing our future, whether intended or unintended.  I find this thought more comforting than the idea of destiny, because it means that even if I find myself in unexpected circumstances, I am still in control of my choices, not some future event that I don’t even know about.

Posted by: Inside-Out Peace | November 30, 2010

The Great Unopposed

My mind was wandering, as it often does, and I found myself thinking further along the lines of my post Converging Toward Reality.  I imagined a space with an infinite number of axes (meaning: plural of axis, not the things you chop wood with) with each axis representing a different aspect of reality. 

Every axis extends infinitely in opposite directions from the origin.  These two directions can represent what we commonly think of as opposites, but as a single axis, can also be seen as different qualities of the same aspect of reality.  Take, for example, the concept of truth as an aspect of reality.  Truth is often described in terms of contrast: something is either true, or it is false.  In reality, truth and falsehood are not so clearly separable; the most believable lies are those that contain some truth.  In representing “truth” with a continuous axis, there are an infinite number of points that lie along that line between “true” and “false”.  The same goes for all other aspects of reality. 

Then I started to think about the origin – the point (0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, …) – the midpoint of every axis, where they all intersect.  In that point, there is nothing which is the opposite of it.  It is nothing, and yet at the same time contains every quality of every aspect of reality – in a word, the origin is God.  

God goes by many names – 72, according to Kabbalah.  Many years ago I read The God Book, by Rabbi Paul Yedwab.  At the end of each chapter are questions and space for writing your answers and thoughts in response to the ideas of the chapter.  One of these writing exercises asks the reader, “If you had to create a new name for God, …, what would it be?”  I was never able to answer that until now.  Imagining this point of origin, of this axis with an infinite number of dimensions, what I would name God is “That Which Has No Opposite”, i.e., “The Eternally Unopposed”. 

Our physical senses are only able to directly perceive a thing in contrast to what is not that thing.  So, as there is nothing which is God and also nothing which is not God, we cannot physically perceive God. 

I don’t take the Bible literally.  But I also don’t know of any better source of metaphor for understanding the world and our place in it.  This idea of God as “The Eternally Unopposed” also led me to a new interpretation of the story of Adam and Eve eating the fruit of the forbidden tree – “the tree of knowledge of good and bad” (Genesis 2:17).  Before “eating the fruit”, humans lived within that origin point that contained all that is.  What “eating the fruit” did was “create” all those axes – now they perceived separation, and began to define the world and each other in terms of opposites.  But in truth, anywhere other than the origin point is not complete reality. 

Wherever we are along any axis, we all tend to perceive our place in contrast to its corresponding opposite point, never seeing the origin in between.  Groups of all kinds: religions, races, nations, political parties, define themselves as much by what they are not as by what they are, because if there is nothing that is not part of the group then it is not a group. 

Instead of seeing other people and groups in terms of how they are opposed to your own position, look for the point of origin between yourselves.  That’s where the Garden of Eden is; let’s get back there.

Posted by: Inside-Out Peace | November 11, 2010

Unknown Battles

A couple of weeks ago, I read the curious incident of the dog in the night-time by Mark Haddon.  About 1/4 or maybe 1/3 of the way into the book the main character, from whose perspective the story is told, describes why it is that what we are able to perceive of our universe is limited by the speed of light.  This is illustrated in the book with a graph I’ve crudely attempted to recreate using Microsoft Paint:

 

I’m going to get a bit technical for a paragraph, but bear with me.  The horizontal axis represents time.  The vertical line labeled P is the point in time representing the present moment, and the vertical line labeled F represents a point of time in the future.  The blue-shaded area is a representation of what we are able to see of the universe at the present moment.  Things that are farther away than light can travel, in the time since the start of their existence, are imperceptible to us – they are outside the blue area.  At some future time, F, we will see more of what actually existed at this present time, P, because light will have had time to reach us from more things.  This is represented by the green-shaded area.

When I read this, it occurred to me that these limitations apply not only to cosmological entities that are billions of light-years away – they apply to our understanding of our very own lives: why we have done the things we’ve done, and what effects those actions have had on ourselves and others.  Events that we are not even aware of, or are incapable of understanding at the time they happen, can have monumental effects on how we perceive ourselves in relation to the world.  As time goes on, we learn more about what was happening around us, and we are able to perceive and understand the causes of those effects as their light reaches us for the first time.  An adult learns about the financial struggles his parents had, and finds peace with the resentment he had held as a child because he couldn’t have the kinds of clothes and toys other kids at school had.  A co-worker learns that someone’s mother was diagnosed last week as terminally ill, and suddenly understands that person’s distraction rather than being irritated by it.  My previous post is an example of this happening in my own life.

We can keep peace in our hearts far more easily if we try to maintain a constant awareness that there are so many presently-unseen influences acting upon every person we meet.  A person who rushes past on the sidewalk and bumps you, and just hurries on without so much as an “excuse me”, may have just been notified that her child has been hurt at school and can think of nothing other than getting to the school as quickly as possible – or, she may just be a habitually rude person.

The difference in our reaction to those two causes for our being bumped is significant.  In the first case, we would feel sympathy and be more likely to be nice to the next person we interact with.  In the second case, we would feel irritation and be less likely to be nice to the next person we interact with.  (Admit it.)  Either way, that next person is affected by our having been bumped – something that they have no knowledge of and had nothing to do with causing to happen.  Do you want to be responsible for having a positive, or a negative, effect on that person?

Leaving aside, now, the effect on the next person we meet, the question is: at any point in time, would you prefer to feel peaceful, or irritated?  I think that most people find it unpleasant to feel irritated.  So, if you have no way of knowing the actual reason that someone bumped into you, then it is even to your own advantage to imagine a reason for it that leaves you feeling peaceful than to assume one that leaves you irritated.

This idea has been very well expressed (and attributed to several people) in the single sentence: “Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Posted by: Inside-Out Peace | November 4, 2010

The Answer to My Blog

(This contains some previously posted information, but I wanted to put it all together in the way I’ve come to fully understand it.)

Over the past month I have gained a complete understanding of my entire life – and figured out the answer to the question that made me start this blog.  It feels just short of miraculous.

It started with reading a post called Memoirs of a Bullied Kid on the blog Single Dad Laughing, and the comments to it.  I saw myself in so many of the comments.  I had never realized until then that the way I was treated in elementary school and junior high was bullying, or just never thought of it that way.  I thought they ostracized and made fun of me because I was actually different, weird – wrong, somehow.  I was subject to the forced dilemma described in the book Genius Denied: social intimacy vs intellectual development.  At the end of fifth grade, I rejected intellectual development, only to find out that doing so still didn’t make me socially accepted.  I hated myself – hated being smart – and was very lonely. 

In junior high, boys suddenly started taking a lot of interest in me – physically.  I was naïve and desperate enough for any sort of social intimacy, or even any sort of positive attention from my peers at all, that I didn’t (or maybe just refused to) realize that their interest was sexual and nothing else.  Or maybe I just didn’t care.  Anyway, I became pretty boy-crazy, but nothing much happened.  Until…

In eighth grade, exactly three weeks prior to my 14th birthday, we had a Wednesday off from school due to parent-teacher conferences.  I talked my mom into allowing me to go to my friend Mindy’s house (I had actually managed to make three friends by that point).  Mindy’s parents were out at work.  A lot of kids came over including another friend, Maria’s, high-school aged sister and some of her friends.  The older kids got into the liquor cabinet and started playing a game of quarters.  I was feeling adventurous and extremely curious, and joined in the game, thinking I’d finally be “cool”.  Let’s just say, I was not good at it.  Also, everyone else thought it was hilarious that I was playing and chose me to take the drink every time they got the quarter into the glass.  I have no idea how much I drank, but I’m sure it was close to a dangerous amount. 

 The game ended (Why?  I don’t know.  Maybe the bottle was empty?)  Kids began to pair off into bedrooms.  Still adventurous and curious, as well as blind drunk, I joined in with that too.  So drunk, I had to crawl up the stairs.  A boy named Shanon (yeah, for real) invited me to lie on Mindy’s bed with him.  As soon as I did, I began to pass out.  I heard Shanon say to another boy named Frank, “help me get her pants off.”  (It was, after all, the days of Jordache jeans so tight they looked painted-on, always with a comb in the back pocket.)  Frank very willingly obliged.  I knew Shanon was going to have sex with me.  But by the time they had my jeans off, I had completely passed out.  The next thing I knew Shanon was shaking me awake and trying to pull my jeans back on, hours later, saying, “come on, get dressed, get up, we have to get out of here!”  Everyone was in a panic because Mindy’s mother was due home any minute.  I heard Frank say, “just leave her here, man, we got to GO!”  That scared me enough that somehow, I managed to stagger out of the house and go with the crowd to a pizza parlor nearby. 

It was 5:00 – the time my mom had said she would pick me up.  I went to the convenient store next door with Maria, to use the pay phone to call home and beg to stay later (i.e., until I could sober up).  There was no answer – which was because when I came out of the convenient store, there my mom was.  Less than halfway home she realized that I had been drinking.  When we got home she told me to take a bath.  While I was in the tub she put all my clothes in the washing machine (some kids had been smoking, and they stank).  I think I then went to bed for the night. 

The next day I went to school.  I’m still amazed by the fact that I had no hangover whatsoever!  Mid-morning, Mindy handed me a note between classes.  It was two pages long, but all I remember of it now is the sentence, “The whole school knows you f—ed Shanon yesterday.”  I felt I was drowning in shame.  I was teased about it mercilessly, and branded a slut. 

It was at this point that I forced myself to stop caring about any one, and any thing.  To say I was depressed, is an understatement so vast as to be meaningless.  I was afraid that if I allowed myself to feel any emotion at all, I would be overwhelmed.  The sole object of my existence became a search for total control, absolute power, over myself.  I rebelled, hard, against my parents, teachers, church leaders – any adult authority figure – because I felt they were trying to control me, and I wanted to be the only one to do that. 

I created a shell around myself.  I acted just as hard and tough on the outside, as I was fragile and vulnerable on the inside.  I flew into an indignant rage anytime anyone dared to express an opinion, good or bad, about me or anything I did.  I felt nothing I did was anyone else’s business but my own.  I was utterly insensitive to other people’s emotions and regarded people as weak and worthless, just for having them at all.  I very badly hurt four people, that I know of, and I’m sure I hurt many more.

Needless to say, this did nothing to help me achieve social intimacy, throughout college, and my seven-year engineering “career”, and among other parents after I stopped working to raise kids.  I was unable to recognize overtures of friendship and reacted defensively rather than accepting them.  I think many people just concluded that I was a terrible snob and quickly lost interest in getting to know me.  In reality, I was just too afraid to let anyone inside my shell.  I didn’t understand that at the time – by then, having extremely few friends was so normal to me that I didn’t see it as even requiring an explanation.  But still, I was so lonely and felt so isolated. 

That shell lasted 26 years.  It did get thinner over time, and gradually more and more people slipped in through a crack here and there, but it’s only now, due to my finally having realized that I was bullied, and connecting that to the desperation for social approval that drove me to make those two stupid decisions that I had blamed myself for ever since, that it finally shattered altogether.  

Thanks to Facebook I was able to get in touch with two women who had been especially hurtful to me: M.A. in elementary school and J.J. during junior high.  I contacted them because I wanted to forgive them.  They made it very easy for me to do so.  M.A. wrote, “Truth be told….. I often think of u. Just yesterday I did. I’m so very sorry for any and all hurtful words/ actions.”  J.J. didn’t actually even remember the comments she had made, but found it easy to believe she would have said them, and sincerely apologized.  I learned that both of them had been bullied as well – I would never have guessed that at the time!  They both were harrassed on account of their nationalities and religion.  The whole domino effect of one person’s suffering causing them to hurt another person, and then that person’s suffering resulting in pain for a third person…  became so immediately crystal-clear to me.  The burden – the weight of that shell I’d been carrying around – just dropped right off of me and I felt such an immense relief. 

 Seeing the world anew, without the distortions of that shell, has been an indescribable joy.  I am FREE!!

In the blog post referenced at the beginning, Single Dad Laughing says “People who love themselves don’t hurt other people.”  I completely understand that now.  My whole purpose in beginning my blog was to analyze the world and discover all the things people needed to do in order to achieve world peace.  That’s a lot of things.  I tried to simplify it by focusing on education, religious beliefs, equitable use of resources, and inner peace, but it was still an unmanageably large problem.  But I have found my answer:  peace will exist when each person loves him- or herself.  We can educate everyone, fix all the religious beliefs to eliminate violence, use resources absolutely equitably – and, even with all of that, still have people who don’t love themselves and will therefore cause suffering to others.  But if we are ever all able to love ourselves, all of those other things will automatically happen because we will insist upon them.

Posted by: Inside-Out Peace | October 20, 2010

Let Suffering End With Me

I think I have a better understanding now of why people are so likely to hurt others when they themselves are suffering – it’s not necessarily that they *want* to hurt others (though that’s also sometimes the case), it’s that their own pain so totally fills their perception that they cannot even realize the effect they are having on the other person, and/or just have no emotional capacity left to care about what the other person is feeling.  I see now that this was true for me, and I understand for the first time why I deeply hurt some people during college.

The way to short-circuit this cycle of suffering-causing-suffering is, first, to really convince yourself that anyone who hurts you is suffering inside in some way.  They may be hiding it very well – they may not even be fully, consciously aware of it, themselves – but it is there.  Since this suffering is the real, root cause of that person’s hurting you, the most effective way to stop them from doing it is to end their suffering.  The way to begin that is simply to sit down with them, face to face if possible, and compassionately, calmly, acknowledge that they have hurt you, and then just listen.  Sometimes, we are too angry to be able to approach that person with compassion.  In that case we need to wait, and show compassion to our own anger, so that we can listen compassionately to the one who hurt us.  (Read Anger by Thich Nhat Hanh if you would like more information on how to do this.)

Many religions teach some version of “love thy neighbor as thy self”.  Read it again:  “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”   The problem with that is, when there are so many people who don’t love themselves, then “as thy self” isn’t necessarily a useful reference point for how to love others.  We can only show love to others if we first love ourselves.  As Single Dad Laughing put it, “People who love themselves don’t hurt other people.”  The way to stop ourselves from hurting others is to love our selves.  Only then do we gain the ability to help other people stop hurting others, by showing them how to love themselves.

There’s a beautiful song called “Let Peace Begin With Me“.  The beginning of peace is the end of suffering.  Let suffering end with me.

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