Loving Kindness Meditation in a Time of War and Aggression

I listened quietly to a European news agency report from the streets on the war in the Ukraine. So many stories about how the ordinary and uncomplicated routines of taking children to school and going to work were violently disrupted. How the simple everyday joys of walking in one’s neighborhood or going to church were shattered. Many of us not close to the situation may have been unaware of the simmering aggression and conflict which suddenly escalated into outright destruction and death. We are told that even many of the soldiers, most of them barely adults themselves, have been surprised and shocked by what they are being commanded to do.

How do we pay attention to what simmers within us? How do we not harbor anger, rage, and revenge, but instead transform it into wisdom?

Listening to the radio I rhetorically asked myself, Who is not wounded in war? None of us is safe from injury. We are not protected from the physical cries of those wounded or grieving, the moral injury of those bearing arms against fellow humans, the financial, social, and environmental impacts of sanctions and refugee migrations, and of course the emotional toll of being bombarded with the horrible media images of just how much harm we are capable of doing to one another.

I felt the need to pray out loud for the transformation of my own aggression, anger, ignorance, and willingness to look away. I pray out loud for the fortitude and commitment to saturate my mind, heart, and my actions in loving kindness. I share this prayer with you as a meditation for us. I share it as a reminder that it is not enough to want peace, that as individuals and as a sangha, we must become peace in each moment of our lives.

May it be so.

Recognizing that I am not an observer, but a participant in the life of our world, may I resolve to bring peace to my own inner turmoil.

  • May I embody peace in every breath I take, aware moment by moment of the rising and passing of my own sorrow, discomfort, and suffering.
  • May I honor my own body-heart-mind, whatever its feelings or mood, energetic or tired, clam or agitated, irritated or friendly.
  • May I walk mindfully in the difficulties of my own life, placing each foot on the ground with kindness and gentleness toward my own body, heart, and mind.
  • May I make way for peace in every inner dialogue I have, learning to honor the flow of my thoughts without being limited, stuck, or blinded by them.
  • May I not become intoxicated with despair, disgust, rage, or revenge, and instead allow my reactions to be a gateway to empathy and wise compassion for all beings.
  • May I take a moment to imagine as a baby those I usually alienate and reject, whose politics I disagree with, and those who trigger in me violent states of mind.

Recognizing that I am not an observer, but a participant in the life of our world, may I resolve to bring peace to my relationships.

  • May I act with generosity toward others, especially those who offer me the gift of their differences, receiving them with understanding, sympathy, empathy, and understanding.
  • May I be eager to listen and slow to speak, giving others the gift of my attention, moving toward others freely and with openness.
  • May I embody peace in my use of language, speaking in ways that transform hearts and that turn the destiny of a nation.
  • May I choose actions that benefit all others, and contribute to their spiritual flourishing, even those I disagree with, with peaceful and attentive confidence.
  • May I always be ready to act instinctively from the mutually beneficial truth of our intimate kinship, which naturally exists in all my relationships.

Recognizing that I am not an observer, but a participant in the life of our world, may I resolve to bring peace as an active and engaged member of the local, national, and global community.

  • May I engage in peacefulness in how I communicate at public gatherings, use social media, respond to the press, and communicate on platforms I have access to; and may my own actions inspire others to embody peace.
  • May I practice peace with what I choose to purchase, donate to, or invest my financial resources in, recognizing that I am the first leverage point for peace in the systems and structures of war and aggression, and that I have power as a person of privilege in the global economy; and may my own actions encourage others to embody peace.
  • May I extend myself not only to the victims of violence, but also to the passive bystanders of violence, those who experience the moral injury of aggression, and to the active perpetrators of violence; and may my own actions inspire others to embody peace.
  • May I practice peacefulness in how I use the power of my vote, and may my own actions encourage others to embody peace.

Dedication

May I continually cultivate the ground of peace for myself and others,
and persist, mindful and dedicated to this work, independent of results.

May I know that my peace and the world’s peace are not separate,
and remember that our peace in the world is a result of our work for justice.

May all beings,
visible or invisible,
near and far,
born and to be born,
be well, happy, and peaceful.

 

2 Comments on “Loving Kindness Meditation in a Time of War and Aggression

  1. Thank you, Joshin. Having spent the better part of ten years of life living and working in Ukraine, keeping perspective is proving quite a challenge. So many friends and families of friends in Ukraine. This is not “over there” for me.

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