Metta Mind Journal




“Violence is unconscious rage fueled by deep sorrow.”


Someone broke into my home last week and left it looking like an FBI raid with nothing left unturned, including my cat’s ash box that was left open, along with every other small box, case, and container in the house. They even scoured the attic, most likely looking for cash and maybe some jewelry. As soon as I stepped through the front door, I had an intuition that there was some kind of phantom thought-form energy that had found its way into the house. Immediately, I grabbed the sage and began smudging all the rooms. (Smudging is a ritualized way of clearing energy, which can be electromagnetic, emotional, ionic and so on.) When I dialed 911, the operator told me there was another case that took precedence—a homicide on the west side of town, close to where I live—and that my burglary was “put into the queue.” After hearing those words, my problem became miniscule. What are material objects compared to the loss of a loved one? Someone else had just lost a friend or family member. It was in this instant that I was reminded of how much violence pervades us as a species.

Four hours after the initial police report was taken, a fingerprint specialist was roaming around the house in rubber gloves, armed with her flashlight, toolbox, and the requisite black powder that she used to dust for prints. I asked if she had any theories about the break-in. She said it was probably a kid from the school nearby trying to find some cash. I commented, “Either that or a drug addict.” Either way it was obvious the burglar wasn’t a pro. They had scavenged what they could but didn’t end up taking anything from what I could tell. They must have been on foot since they didn’t grab the computer or even my passport that was on a desk in plain view. I asked the specialist how she got into her line of work. She said was she was studying a related field and a teacher recommended she take a test for the fingerprint position, and she aced it. Her demeanor was sensitive and shy, a very subtle presence. I told her about an acquaintance friend of mine who’s studying to be a crime-scene photographer. She replied, “They’re the lucky ones. I have to get really dirty in my job. There’s blood and….”

I asked if she had been working earlier today at the homicide near my house. She said yes, and mentioned that the victim was a pregnant woman who had been murdered. Last she heard, they were trying to save the baby. Perspective really kicked into gear now.

“Too bad I didn’t have twenty bucks laying around or something worthwhile,” I said, “so at least they could get drugs, or a meal at Wendy’s, or whatever it was they were in desperate need of.”

“Wendy’s?” she replied. “Hope they’d get a better meal than that.” She left without being able to get a good print.

I discussed the event with some friends, and how violating it can feel to have a person running around your home going through everything. Then I’m reminded that it’s a myth to believe that all these things in my home are actually “my” possessions. I give them value like anything else. The thing is, these objects are temporary belongings that I’m borrowing for a brief visit. Kind of like the comforts in a hotel room you’ve booked for the night. Granted, I paid for all these objects with my hard-earned money, but I have to know better than to ascribe a value to them that creates a sense of “me-mine” ownership. The reality is that these belongings are temporary gifts, like everything else in life. And really, how many people on their death beds say, “I wish I had never given away that diamond necklace!”

I’m sure there are some people who do die with strong attachments to material possessions. It’s an old tradition of externalizing value in the form of objects. Just look at the Egyptian Pharaohs who were buried with their riches. As advanced as the Egyptians were, I’m still surprised at that decision. Eventually, I have to let all of these things go, so why not start practicing now? I’m not saying I’m detaching so completely that I’m protected from fallout in some way, and certainly not so to make life apathetic and meaningless, or that I should choose the path of an ascetic monk, but it’s pretty obvious that true value can only be measured in relationships to ourselves and other living things (unless I’m a sociopath).

The energetic relationships I share with other breathing, sentient life forms, like humans and animals, is where I can prescribe some depth of meaning to my life. Sure, I can get really close with a guitar and feel like it’s an extension of my body, but I know it’s just a guitar. I even have to say goodbye to the people in my life with whom I cultivate relationships throughout a lifetime. Everything must end and yet all I can do is dance my way through this journey, doing my best to maintain some sanity and look at it as honestly as I can. It’s not a fatalist perspective at all, as there’s more love and compassion in this than resignation. It’s kind of like the biggest surrender ever to the reality of impermanence. The compassion to open one’s heart even further when the world seems to upset everything I’ve constructed that gives me a sense of safety. It’s like leaping into the dark before I look, trusting that I’ll be OK somehow, only to find that I’m floating.

The great Tibetan Yogi Milarepa was a murderer before he was a monk. He killed a bunch of people before he decided to clean up his act. His teacher, Marpa, was willing to take him on as a student as long as he performed certain tasks to burn up his negative karma. Marpa had him build and demolish three towers from scratch, and Milarepa eventually attained full Buddhahood in one lifetime. Whenever I hear his story, I realize everyone has a shot to correct their past and improve their life, even the guy who murdered the pregnant woman.

The next day I was driving home from breakfast with a friend and stopped by a neighborhood 7-11. I ran into two police officers in the parking lot and told them that I had heard about yesterday’s homicide and was wondering if the baby made it? They said, “No,” and that it looked as if the murder could be tied to gang activity, since her boyfriend belonged to one. I thought about how confused that gang member must have been to have shot a pregnant lady. In his confusion and rage, he killed two people. I can only imagine the tremendous sadness in that person that they didn’t know what to do with.

Sadness is such a potent, vital energy. Finding a constructive use for this type of emotional energy is something I’ve become better at cultivating, although it seems like I’m a constant beginner at this practice. I just used a load of sadness the other day to develop the basis for a new song. Although it felt somewhat steered, the energy just seemed to flow in that direction. Who knows, next time it could be channeled into the form of a midday nap, which would be equally constructive if it helps me to lighten up.

Would all these words have a different tone if the burglar had stolen everything in my home? What if they burned my house down? What if I had an interaction with the burglar? Would this outer experience shift my perception? Or, can I maintain a clean, unbiased perception of these events without taking any of it personally? It’s not easy to view one’s own life like a spectator watching a movie, but if I can just remind myself to do this each time life isn’t going my way, I may be one step closer to reducing the stress and pain that’s inherent in my life.

One step closer to finding a way to relate with reality that is more workable and open to anything that arises.


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