Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Israel and Palestine are a single flower

I know that a lot of Palestinian actions are reactions to Israeli actions. And a lot of Israeli actions are reactions to Palestinian actions. In Buddhism, sometimes they call that "mutually co-dependent origination." I prefer to avoid such long names and think of it simply as "recognizing that we are all connected." No human being exists in isolation. We only exist inside and in relation to a larger society. We are part of this world, not apart from it. And this world that we are part of includes all of us.

When the Japanese occupation of Korea ended (and this was an occupation far worse in every way that I can think of than the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories), the great Zen Master Man Gong dipped a flower in ink to write the calligraphy, "The Whole World is a Single Flower." Understanding that the Japanese and Koreans were not separate but both a part of a larger world, he had an amazing ability to forgive that I only hope to be able to develop. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that white people need black people to love them. Understanding that black Americans and white Americans were not separate but both a part of a larger America, he had a boundless capacity for love that I only hope to develop. Understanding interconnectedness means that loving your enemy is as easy as loving yourself. More, it is the same as loving yourself.

The Israelis and Palestinians are part of a single flower. You act together to make war or to make peace. You act as one. But instead of understanding this, Palestianians say, "What else can we do; you see how awful our lives are." Israelis say, "What else can we do; you see how awful our lives are." You make "us" and "them." You make difference and opposites and enemies. So long as you view yourselves as separate --arguing over who has had it worse, who is at fault, who wants peace more, and so on-- I think you will continue to avoid everything necessary to making peace and to make your own situations worse.

But we can love each other. When your enemy commits an act out of fear and anger, you should try to feel compassion for someone suffering in fear and anger. I know this isn't easy. When I see people write things on mepeace.org that express fear and anger, I find it difficult not to react from my own fear and anger. But I know we have to try. And I know that trying --which is the reason we're all here in the first place-- is something wonderful that we all share.

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