“The Spirit in all beings is immortal in them all: for
the death of what cannot die, cease thou to sorrow.1“
I was writing about love and the power of the eternal moment when my husband called to tell me about the horrific sexual assault and gang rape of CBS news correspondent Lara Logan. My heart broke, breath became harder to capture, and tears welled up in my eyes. When I think of what she suffered in those moments in the middle of Tahiri square I don’t feel love, I feel anger, sadness, even guilt over my positive outlook on life.
It is relatively easy to see God in the beauty of a sunset, in the unassuming countenance of a pet, or in the embrace of a loved one. It is much more difficult to find God in the face of horrific acts of violence and inhumanity. The questions “Where is God in all of this? Where is the Love?” loom large. And they shouldn’t be avoided.
For me, God is in the group of women and 20 Egyptian soldiers who finally stopped the assault. God suffers with Ms. Logan and experiences the ignorance of her attackers. Love flows in the hearts of all who take up the mantle of compassion for the victim and the perpetrators. The experience of living is not “all good.” Bad things happen to good people and bad things happen to people who do bad things. Yet through it all there is a place inside each and every person that is eternal, unchanging, ever present and full of peace. It’s just more evident in nice people.
The first teaching of the Bhagavad Gita is that of the Eternal in all, therefore whatever is done in the world of the senses is transient for that which is everlasting will always endure. “If any man thinks he slays, and if another thinks he is slain, neither knows the ways of truth. The Eternal in man cannot kill: the Eternal in man cannot die.2” This is what Jesus means when he speaks of “life everlasting.” Knowing this is not an excuse for bad behavior, rather it is the knowledge of our collective Eternal nature that cuts through the illusion of separation and reveals the truth of our Oneness.
Yet remembering this truth, looking for the good, for God in everything, isn’t enough. We must translate knowledge into action. Jesus teaches us to love our enemies, which is certainly not the easiest thing to do. So how do we do it? How can we respond with love to the gang of men who took turns sexually assaulting Ms. Logan? How can we respond with love to anyone who perpetrates violence? What do we do when we feel utterly powerless over the evil deeds of others?
We must choose to be practitioners of Grace. We must act with kindness, respond with love and be the people we wish to see in the world. We pray. First for Ms. Logan and indeed for all who suffer from violence, abuse, torture, neglect. We pray that they may find peace, healing and comfort. Then we give thanks for those who put an end to the attack and all who support the process of healing. Last we reach beyond our anger and pray for the attackers and all who inflict violence on others, that their ignorance may be removed and they may know peace. For where there is peace, where there is love, how can there be offense?
“May all beings, including myself, be free from pain and suffering.3” And “May the peace of God which passes all understanding, live and remain with you always, now and forever. Amen.4”