After 9/11

After 9/11

Part of any Level I Reiki class is a discussion of the five Reiki precepts:

Just for today, I will not anger.


Just for today, I will not worry.


Just for today, I will be thankful for my many blessings.


Just for today, I will do my work honestly.


Just for today, I will be kind to my neighbor and to every living thing.



A few weeks after the tragedy in New York, I was teaching a Reiki I class. The students and I had completed our discussion of the first four precepts, sharing thoughts and stories about the ways in which anger and worry and dishonesty can poison your life and the lives of those around you.


Because this was a Reiki for Animal Lovers class, when we began our discussion of the last precept, students were eager to talk about their passion for the well-being and kind treatment of animals, both domestic and wild.


We then eased into a discussion about the challenge of treating difficult people with kindness, even those who have hurt us, those who have caused us great suffering. On an abstract level, everyone seemed to accept this precept. I reminded them that putting it into practice, however, might not always be easy.


When I suggested that the precept meant they would be able to show kindness to the bombers of the Twin Towers, to Bin Laden himself, one student physically recoiled. “That is taking it too far,” she said.


But it is not taking it too far. It is going exactly where the precept demands we go.


As Martin Luther King, Jr., said,


“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”



Can you hold kindness and compassion in your heart for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev—even though he has committed an atrocious crime against the people of Boston, of our country, of our world?


Can you begin by replacing anger with love; replacing worry with creativity; expressing gratitude; approaching your work with passion?



 I hope you will be moved to share your thoughts.

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4 Replies to “After 9/11”

  1. I have found that the most difficult part of forgiveness and compassion toward those who have committed atrocities, is receiving the vehemence of those who then turn their anger toward you. It is amazing the anger and cruelty that I am attacked with from merely suggesting compassion toward a human whose mind was in such a place that enabled them to commit such crimes against humanity. We have come so far, and we have such a LONG way to go still.

  2. I’m so sorry you are experiencing this, Michelle. These people are, of course, in need of kindness and compassion as well. Fear does crazy things to our minds.

    How do you protect yourself from these assaults?

  3. I am not really good at protecting myself. I just remember that it is the place where they are in their spiritual evolution, and not my journey. They are entitled to their opinions. I have learned that I can’t “make” someone understand my perspective (whether they agree or not), but I can just quietly go about my life. Some people notice, and ask, how I remain sane, and positive, and happy, despite it all (it all, meaning whatever the subject is, either my own personal challenges or challenges of our society). Sometimes they start to get it, and ask questions, I point to some resources. Other people just think I’m crazy 😉

    1. It sounds to me as though you are doing a great job of protecting yourself.

      I’ve learned that it’s also beneficial not to share my perspective with everyone. Those unable to feel compassion for people who have done ugly things are probably not going to be swayed by my point of view; they will just become more angry.

      For those of you reading this who do not know me, I want to be clear that I’m not saying that those who commit crimes should not be punished. They should be. But punishment without compassion, it seems to me, creates more violence.

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