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No Fear, No Hatred:
Letters from Espanola





This last Monday began for me like almost any other Monday.

I woke up early, sat down in front of the Guru and did my meditations. Went through my morning routine of showering, ironing and getting dressed. Had a little breakfast and settled in front of the computer in my home office, ready to begin the work-day.

Some months ago, I started working on my own, doing business and communications consulting. Being self-employed takes a certain discipline, and I am grateful that God has given me the ability to do it. Each week, I have a list of goals to accomplish – either for clients, or for administration. Every morning, I look at the list and create a plan for what I hope to accomplish that day.

But since everything is ultimately in the hands of the Divine, I know it is a co-creative process. I have “my” list. The Creator has “His” list. And as the hours unfold, the day progresses as a combination of what I plan for myself and what the Creator has planned for me.

One always needs to accommodate the unexpected.

Monday morning I was “in the zone.” Burning through my list, getting things done, feeling positive about the work I was doing. I left my office around lunch time, dropped off some paperwork, came home, grabbed a bite to eat and checked Facebook before diving back in again.

Friends of mine were just beginning to post about the bombing at the Boston Marathon. Sending prayers. Expressing their horror. The events were just beginning to unfold.

What happened? I asked myself.

A few clicks of the mouse, and I was scanning the news articles posted on-line about it. Another couple clicks, and I was reading the Twitter feed. Another click, and I was watching a live-stream from the finish line at the Boston Marathon.

Oh God, is this going to be another 9-11?

For the next couple hours, I joined the online world watching the aftermath of the bombing. Tweeting about it, posting to Facebook about it, sharing information, doing a healing meditation. And of course my “list” for the day went out the window.

In shock, so sad for the people hurt in the blast, frustrated that this cycle of violence just keeps going on and on. “OK, God,” I said. “I guess this is what You planned for the afternoon.”

War used to happen between trained soldiers, ready for combat, and at least partially prepared mentally for the outcome. But this is the impact of a “terror” event. No one is really prepared. Innocent bystanders absorb the brunt of the violence.

And the shock reverberates through hundreds of thousands, through millions, of people … who can’t focus at work anymore that day; who feel scared for the safety of their own children and families; who worry about a loved one who may have been at the event.

It reverberates across governments, at the local and national levels. Los Angeles and New York stepping up security. Sports events are being cancelled in London.

In the absence of knowing who did it and why, imagination runs wild. Everyone prepares for the worst-case scenario. When faced with the news that innocent bystanders at a Marathon just got their legs blown off by a homemade bomb, everyone stops in horror at the way life can be so drastically altered in a split second.

The brain starts to shut down from the emotional overwhelm of witnessing such a senseless act of violence.

“Why would anyone do such a thing?”

Why, indeed? There really is no logical answer. Personally, I think that these kinds of events come from two primal emotions that every human being struggles with. Fear and vengeance. That is it. Those two primal emotions take over and warp someone’s mind.

One group might be afraid or angry about taxes. Another group upset with the power and reach of the local governments. Another distressed over abortion laws. Or about the policies of Western governments in the Middle East.

There is a dichotomy when it comes to how people engage in contentious issues. Some people can dialogue about their differences, agree to disagree, but find tolerable middle ground. Other people let insecurity and rage overwhelm them to the point that their minds no longer make rational decisions. So that one day, placing a homemade bomb at the finish line of one of the world’s most beloved sporting events seems like a “solution” to a problem.

Fear and vengeance. They create mental instability. And the worst part is that these emotions spread like a virus. When an act of terror like this happens, it takes the fear and vengeance living inside the mind of the terrorist and transfers it to people all around.

Like a poisonous plant sending out its seeds, these deliberate acts of violence against innocent people breed more fear and more rage. Which, in turn, lead to more acts of violence. Which, in turn, lead to more fear and rage.

It is a vicious cycle.

And we have been caught in this cycle since 9-11. Peace will never come until these emotions, themselves, are dealt with. Whatever the political or economic issues may be, peace gets created when we deliberately and consciously step away from the fear and the anger. When we allow our minds to function without these emotions clouding our thoughts and judgments. Peace comes when at least one party stops amplifying these horrible feelings and can act from a different inner space.

To me, this is one of the most important meanings of ‘Nirbhao’ and ‘Nirvair’ in the Mool Mantar. Sans Fear. Sans Enmity. It is not that some “God-Guy-Out-There” is beyond fear and anger. It is that our own essence, our spirit, our divine nature has the capacity to transcend the reactions of the mind. To conquer fear. To rise above hatred and rage. To see, think and act without insecurity or vengeance dictating the terms.

This is divine nature, and our nature when we are living from our inner divinity.

Sikh history is filled with examples of this.

One can look as far back as Bhai Kanhayya on the battle field of Guru Gobind Singh. Or one can look to as recent as last August at the tremendous response of the Sikh community to the Oak Creek Gurdwara shootings.

The local police remarked at how amazing it was to witness the Sikh community not descend into rage and a thirst for vengeance after what happened.

But how to take this lesson and share it with others? That seems to be the question.

The media thrives on perpetuating fear. The politicians score big points for their tough talk. The problem is that fear and anger in the wake of an event like this is a perfectly normal response. Conquering fear and rising above anger is a unique response. It is not normal at all.

In the weeks and months ahead, as the FBI and the local police investigate the people behind these bombings, there will be a lot of public debate about how to protect our cities and our citizens. If it turns out to be politically motivated, there will be discussion on whatever “reason” the bomber(s) did what they did.

But in the meantime, I would like to add my one small voice to say that security and protection begins with Nirbhao and Nirvair. Even if I have no power to keep another person from being angry or fearful, I do have the power to not let those seeds take root and grow inside of me.

I can feel compassion for the victims of the bombing.

I can engage in dialogue about security issues for our country.

But most importantly, I can keep the terror and the rage from directing my thoughts and actions. It is one small step to break this cycle of violence and create peace.

My prayer and hope is that others will do the same.


April 18, 2013

Conversation about this article

1: Gurukarm Kaur (Millis, Massachusetts, USA), April 18, 2013, 7:21 AM.

Wow, ji. Well said ... as always - you are such a powerful writer! Thank you for this succinct and profound analysis. Sharing on Facebook (where I saw your pointer to this).

2: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), April 18, 2013, 10:58 AM.

Guru Nanak describes the Creator as being 'without fear, without hate' and those people who worship this Creator with complete humility also become without fear and without hate!

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Letters from Espanola"

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