Yesterday at 9:00 AM, New York was a big open wound, and chaos reigned. History was wide open--anything could happen. The same chaos and uncertainty of a car crash, an air disaster, but writ even larger, that almost exhilarating sense of openness and unknowing....
Then the worst (or most surprising) is over and though we're all still in shock, this is when the bandages are applied, the wounds named and defined and tended to, the causes ascertained, the timeline of events forever etched in our minds.
And then the scars form, and history has been completed.
My heart aches, and I didn't even know anyone who was killed or hurt. I can't imagine the grief of people wh lost loved ones, or experienced the panic first hand.
Up til last year I worked in the building next to WTC, and walked through the WTC concourse every day, several times a day, for five years. Those buildings weren't symbols to me, they were my everyday reality. Some former co-workers contacted me yesteday desribing the horror. See the end of this entry for an example.
Last night I walked to the yoga center, the air still thick with smoke and soot, trying to figure out how I'd approach the class, and what I'd say. There are some lessons here, although no pat answers.
There is the lesson of impermanence...knowing that we're only here for a brief time, no one and nothing lasts forever, and that's why we try to stay in contact the infinity inside us.
There is the lesson of perspective...of remembering that the little psycho-dramas and role-playing games we create to keep our minds busy are just distractions from the love and giving and compassion that we can really embody. What were you obsessing about yesterday? Does it even matter today?
There is the lesson of opening the heart, or in other words, forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn't mean saying, "Blowing up the WTC is OK," it means that we don't let this tragic loss and aggressive act close our hearts. It means we watch the revelers on the Gaza Strip and instead of feeling hate and revulsion, we remember that they are part of us, that God loves them, too.
There is the lesson of community...which seems to be unfolding effortlessly. I don't know what things are like for Arab-Americans living on Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn right now, but what I have seen in my neighborhood, and in the neighborhood I teach in, is people reaching out. A guy I know went to donate blood and they turned him away because so many others had come before him. All day long we received and made phone calls from friends and family, checking to make sure we were all OK.
And finally, similar to the lesson of impermanence is the lesson of destruction. Shiva the destroyer was at work yesterday, making sure we don't get too attached to the things of the world, to the institutions, the businesses, the buildings, to the physical form. That's the hardest lesson, because we--as humans in general but especially as Americans--are so into progress and building up and looking up that we forget there is value in sometimes simplifying and tearing down. And we tend to think that death is the end, instead of a transformation. That doesn't mean we don't grieve or feel sadness or loss or fear of death, but it means we remember that maybe there's a bigger picture.
My prayers and blessings to everyone who has been affected by this loss, from the most obvious ways to the most subtle.
"I'm not here to change the world, just to bless it."
This just in from Shri Daya Mata (Paramahansa's successor): "Do not let fear darken your consciousness. This world has ever been a battleground between good and evil. Those who are striving to uphold the light must also withstand the opposition of darkness. But we are not alone. Though the power of darkness may seem formidable, the divine power of goodness and love is much greater." You can read the rest of her speech here.
And here's a message I got from a former boss of mine:
Five minutes after I entered my office this morning, we felt our building shake like an earthquake had hit. Instantaneously we ran to an office to look out the window and saw the Trade Center on fire. Papers were falling all around us so we decided to evacuate.
When we got downstairs in front of 200 Vesey Street, we were watching horrified as we saw bodies jumping out from the top of the trade center to their deaths below. A few minutes after that, we heard and saw the most horrific thing ever as the second plane smacked into the other building. Pandemonium ensued as we ran for our lives, thank god it did not collapse at that moment or we might not be here right now. It was not until we were several miles up the West Side Highway that we saw the first building collapse.
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