A Science of Mind Response to Terrorism
On July 14, 2016, the city of Nice in France suffered a horrible terrorist attack resulting in the death of at least 80 people and hundreds of injuries. Approximately 3 hours after the attack, a class of Science of Mind students studying the teachings of Jesus was asked to discuss the relevancy of Science of Mind in relation to terror and violence in the world. Here is a very edited transcription of that discussion. We have tried to represent the views of our students as accurately as possible.
Moderator: Before we go into tonight’s lesson, I want to discuss with you the terrorist attack which occurred in Nice, France. I bring these issues up for a couple of reasons, one to pray for the victims, but equally important, to discuss how we can practically use our teaching to respond to such horrific events.
We teach that everything is spiritual and that we live in a spiritual universe. There is only “One” and every person on this planet is an emanation of this One. There are no good guys and bad guys. There are only “us guys”. The day-to-day activities of our world are relevant to the unfolding of our souls and are a part of the spiritual universe. The Science of Mind spiritual philosophy must be applicable to the here and now. We are to live fully and passionately in the world but not of it. We also teach that everything that occurs in the world of effect has some kind of cause or mental equivalent behind it.
It is time that we ask some very hard questions. If the teaching of Science of Mind is to be relevant to our day-to-day activities, if, in truth, everything is spiritual and we are all interconnected, we must be able to answer two fundamental questions.
- In the midst of the world in which we live, (which includes the out picturing of horrific events) how can we consistently live as spiritual beings having a human experience? How can we actively practice our teaching regardless of what is occurring in the world?
If we want to live our teaching in its full magnificence, we cannot just pay lip service to it. It is not consistent with our teaching to categorize people, to brand individuals, groups and religions as crazy terrorists.
If we want to really say, “I stand for this teaching” then each of us must commit to fully live this teaching of Oneness, of unconditional love, of deep compassion and forgiveness, and of overwhelming gratitude for each moment of life.
- How can we practice the principles of Science of Mind in a constructive way that work to end all violence and brings permanent peace to our planet? How can we creatively respond to the conditions and events of our world and make a difference?
This teaching can be a dynamic catalyst for change in our world but we have to be willing to take on these difficult issues and apply our teaching in very practical ways. We do not believe in innate evil and we believe that all people will eventually wake up to the truth of their glorious being.
If our teaching is to be relevant, we must practice it here and now in this world regardless of outer conditions. We do have practical tools to alleviate unnecessary suffering and to bring planetary peace sooner rather than later.
I have spoken enough. So, here are the two questions again.
- What is your commitment for how you intend to live in this world?
- How are you going to creatively respond to help bring permanent peace to our planet?
Student Number One: I know right here, right now that heaven is here. Whatever things are going on in this world, God is right here, omnipresent, all-knowing, all sensing, all feeling. My limited awareness cannot comprehend the totality of these things but I have faith in knowing that these things are happening for a reason.
Discord occurs because not everyone has the awareness of Oneness at the cellular level. I can deal only with myself and my mission in life is to realize and live from the proposition that there is only love and there is only God.
Moderator response: In a way your explanation is similar to Job in the Bible. It says, “Where I am, in my mind, I cannot totally comprehend the inscrutable ways of God. And therefore, I just have to have a deep trust and a deep faith that it’s all going to work out for good in the long run.
Student Number One: Exactly. That’s exactly it. I have no pretense in knowing.
Student Number Two: When it happened today and this is an oversimplification, I believe it was a call for love. It was very brutal and that really affected me. So, prayer is where I first went. What can I do for the people in Nice? I can hold the space in prayer. The hard part, like you said, is how do you approach other people? The conversation always seems to come to “what’s going on in the world today” and why is there is so much anger and resentment? So, what I am trying to do within myself is feel the pain but at the same time know the good.
When I am talking to people, if I can help them to look at their fear and see if they can move from there, then that’s what I’ve come up with so far.
Moderator: if you were talking to people who were angry or upset or even where actual victims in the situation, would you use the term “a call for love”?
Student Number Two: I might not use that term but when I see someone lashing out for me, it is a call to love and it is my duty to find a positive way to be that love or to give it.
Moderator: I was also reminded during this discussion of the hierarchy of needs of Maslow and there is a plan to bring people down into security and survival needs by creating fear. And because we are in the political season, we can see how easy it is to play on the fears and insecurity of the people. How do we creatively respond when we see leaders in our own society manipulating the fears of our people? How can we deal with the fear head-on and help bring the conversation to love?
Student Number Three: I’ve never told anybody this except perhaps my wife. When things like this happen, I meditate and pray. I pray for the terrorists. I pray that they see the light, that they see love. I pray that they understand what true brotherhood is. Because, if I retaliate, I want to kill these guys, then I fall into the same trap as they are in. And that only perpetuates the violence. The world is the way it is because we have used this irrational logic of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for tooth”. It’s like a ping-pong match and I just refuse to fall into that. For me, one of the first things I do is to pray for the victims and their families but I also pray for the terrorists, because what else can I do except call on God and” the higher beings” to come together.
Sometimes I use a method to send telepathic messages to the terrorists. I focus on a picture in a magazine or remember a picture of one of the terrorists in my mind’s eye and just talk to them and share with them from my heart my pain and my feelings about love. So as a practical mystic, that is how I, personally, deal with that.
On a social level, with people around me, I try to set an example of loving and compassionate language so if someone says, “we ought to crucify these bastards” I say, “we ought to think about forgiveness”. Because forgiveness can cure or a lot of those hard and hurtful emotions.
I also tell people, “it’s okay to honor your feelings”. You have to honor your pain in order to move through it. If something horrific happens to a member of your family, it’s totally normal to feel the way you feel. But don’t let that stay in you for the rest of your life because this will keep going on. We have to come to a level of forgiveness and all I do is pray.
Stevie Wonder, a few years ago when he won a Grammy award, said “what every single person in this world should do is pray for world peace. Whatever you do, do it for world peace. If you play music, play music for world peace. If you write poetry, write poetry for world peace. In conversations with people, talk about world peace.” Everybody is on this planet together so we have to come together and continue to declare what we want to see happen.
I cannot solve the world’s problems. I don’t think any one person can. But collectively we can make a difference. I believe in the power of prayer. I believe in the goodness of God and I also use the prayer of protection because I want to be here so that maybe something I say or do will make a difference.
Moderator: There was an inference in your discussion that we could invoke prayer to higher beings. Do you mean like the ascended masters or beings that are watching out for us in other dimensions who can come to our aid if called upon?
Student Number Three: Yeah I do. But not in the sense of “come on down here and get this crap figured out”. But these higher beings are capable of sending rays of light and higher energy of love and try to inspire others to take a greater view and I think, the more we call upon ascended masters for help, they will respond and I think the more powerful people we call on the better chances we have for helping out the world.
Moderator: Let’s take the Israeli-Palestinian issue for a moment. Is it your position that if the Israelis stopped resisting the Palestinians and if they worked on total and radical kinds of forgiveness, that the situation would be solved and you would not have any more terror from the Palestinians?
Student Number Three: No, because that would be appealing only to one side. It has to come from both sides.
Moderator: Okay, but let’s take these people in ISIS who have stated their goal is to totally break down Western civilization and Western values. Is there any chance of having ISIS come into the consciousness of forgiveness?
Student Number Three: I would like to think that it would be possible. Maybe that is being spiritually naïve. Let’s take a look at Hitler. I believe it was the power of love that turned that whole thing around. People did not want to live in a world of persecution and oppression because of the doctrine of a superior Aryan race that they were trying to create. Yes, we went to war but it was ended by the world coming together and saying, “we got to do this”.
Moderator: In another class, we talked about the concept of Just War so that under some circumstances to protect the innate values of our society, it might be the creative and loving thing to do to use force. I know that sounds paradoxical and there are all kinds of chances for abuse, but when the survival of our way of living is at stake, we have the right to protect ourselves.
Student Number Three: Yeah, if somebody came into my house with a gun, I would do everything I could to protect my family. But it would not be done out of revenge but simply out of protection. It would be an act of love.
Student Number Four: Jesus said, “You don’t throw pearls before swine.” So we do have to protect ourselves from ignorant people. They are spiritual beings and I would do anything to teach them and give them ideas of freedom but in these kinds of situations, “We kick butt if we have to.” I think this is a form of tough love. I do not live my life as a victim and sometimes the loving thing to do is to protect yourself. When someone is involved in reprehensible actions, they must be held accountable.
Moderator: So I am clear, it is your position that we can be unconditionally loving and” kick butt” at the same time?
Student Number Four: Yes.
At the same time I’m dedicated to lifting people up, to educating all people and bringing them into a greater state of awareness
Moderator: So, if we do use force against another person or group it is only to protect our cherished values, not to destroy the other person. It is not that easy to live our lives as spiritual beings in the relative world especially when it may be necessary to protect ourselves or others.
Student Number Five: I struggle every time something like this happens because my gut reaction is, “get the bastards who did this.” What this teaching has given me is the ability to step back from my immediate reaction and say to myself “Is a violent or angry reaction how I want to be in this world?”
I did write something that I was going to post on Facebook and it fairly accurately reflects my feelings and how I apply our teaching to these facts.
“I feel great compassion for the people of Nice who have experienced a tragedy today, the latest in a string of such events. I want to hate those people, like the truck driver who perpetrated such atrocities. I have the urge to use my military training to hunt down and kill each such perpetrator. However, I know that hate and killing cannot be the ultimate answer. Eight and violence only fosters more violence and hate. Violence exists because of hatred, superstition and bad decisions made by misguided people. Our goal as a race, the human race, must be to replace ignorance with knowledge, superstition with the reality that we are all brothers and sisters, and hatred with love.
It has never been easy but it is the only way to achieve universal peace on earth. And it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to pursue that goal. I don’t profess to know all the answers and I certainly don’t think such atrocities should be ignored or that the perpetrators should be unpunished, but I am convinced that if we can all learn to love each other and tolerate are many differences, the world will be a much better place.”
Moderator: Wow, you could be a professional speechwriter.
Student Number Six: I had not heard about this event but it is similar to what happened in Orlando and other violent attacks whether it is labeled terrorism or not. I think the first thing we have to do is avoid talking about “them and us”. It immediately creates a duality, division and the separation. And there is no place in the middle to see the oneness and the wholeness. It is very difficult for me, although I respect the position of others but there is no “them”. There is only “us”.
We need to take some time to try to put ourselves in the position of the other person and ask why other people feel the way they do. For me, I am a pacifist. I step forward in peace. I step forward in love and maybe I cannot take care of the whole world, but if I touch one person, then I feel I have made a difference.
And so, that’s how it works for me. I am here and I’m 100% dedicated to peace and love. As long as we are coming from a place of fear, we are not coming from a place of solution. Look what happened as a result of 9/11. It is only created more separation in the world. So my approach is very personal and that is, “how am I showing up in the world and how am I making the world a better place?”
I affirmatively step forward, anchored deeply and perform, living from my core values of love and peace.
Moderator: Very eloquent but I also did not hear others in this class coming from fear or revenge. They were simply responding to a very difficult question of when it is necessary to use force to protect the values of your society. So, do you take the position that under no circumstances you would use force?
Student Number Six: I personally would not use force under any conditions.
Moderator: I understand your viewpoint and I respect it. Do you respect the viewpoint of others who say that under some circumstances force might be necessary?
Student Number Six: Absolutely, I agree to disagree.
Moderator: If everybody believed as you believed we probably would be much closer to the kingdom of heaven on earth?
Student Number Six: I don’t know that. I can only speak for myself and how I am moving forward in the world. This spiritual work that we do and the decisions that we make are individual and each person has to find his or her own way. Eventually, it can become a collective movement, but the decisions are very personal and individual.
Because of these classes, I have made a commitment to wake up and I assume my fellow students have also but it is still a personal and individual decision. For me, I could not pick up a gun. That would be a symbol of separation. I do not judge what anyone else would do. I am responsible for me.
Moderator: You guys have such eloquence and we are showing how we can practically apply our teaching to these difficult circumstances.
Student Number Seven: I agree with the last speaker that these decisions must be made individually and uniquely. My first instinct is to experience a heaviness and a sadness. I do not want to hear the anger in the hate from others or from the media. The one word I have been hearing from everyone although it has not been articulated is balance. We are all trying to find the balance within our hearts and minds to live in the light in the world, but not get caught up in the world.
Moderator: One of the things we can do is to make that commitment to live our lives as spiritual beings because we can live from the values of a spiritual being. It may be that some of the people living in our Western society have lost contact with some of our fundamental values. Maybe that is the reason that some young people are more easily recruited because they have lost their way.
One of the things we can do is be an example of a person who lives from the fundamental values of kindness, compassion, gratitude, forgiveness, integrity, clarity and consistency. We teach that Jesus was a model for how to live as a spiritual being in a relative world. Let us become that same model.
Student Number Eight: I think this is something we all struggle with, to live are spiritual ideas in a continuous and consistent way in this world of effect day by day. When we live in a world where 1% of the people own 99% of the wealth, the terrorists are merely the symptoms of an unbalanced civilization. They are not the cause.
And I think were coming to a place of what I would call critical mass. Our behavior is not going to change because we want to. But it will change because it has to. So all I can do is live my life in integrity. I do not have control over the race consciousness but I can still choose how I want to live my life.
My personal struggle is that sometimes it’s difficult to see or measure results. I mean, look at our election. People are so frustrated. They don’t know what they can do to make a difference.
Moderator: One of the things I heard you say that was a little different. That the real issue is not one of terrorism or violence but it is a greater issue, an issue where society has become unbalanced and it is this unbalancing that causes the symptoms of terrorism and violence. And we all remember that statement, we can make changes as a result of inspiration or desperation and it sounds like you are saying that the changes will result because of desperation.
Student Number Eight: Yes, the world we live in is living in fear because of perceptions of scarcity and disorientation.
Moderator: And the optimistic part of your view is that out of the crisis, there will be an opportunity to move into a new sense of balance.
Student Number Eight: Yes, and I’m also trying to say I’m so respectful for all the ways people in this class are sharing their lives with others and I sometimes question whether what I’m doing is really helping to make a difference.
Moderator: Well, you know the answer to that. It’s not what you do, it’s “who you be”. In one sense, the job we do is not what matters. What matters is our motivational approach to life. We are here, to be the practical mystic, to be the best person we can be that of course is our challenge and our opportunity.
Student Number Nine: I agree with a lot of what has been said. There are as many sets of ideas and beliefs as there are people on the planet. When this happened today my first response was compassion for those who were impacted, the families and for those who have made their transition, and also for those who I believe have an error in thought. But of course, they think I have an error in thought.
We have to be careful about our own thoughts. How many of us have engaged in negative thinking about others, personalizing their actions and describing them as less than. And we are not being compassionate with ourselves. So we are not kind to others and we are not kind to ourselves.
Moderator: You bring up the subject of whether or not values are relative based upon a particular culture or are there innate values such as love, goodness, acceptance and compassion that are part of the human condition in all societies. We have talked about this and other classes and at least we should know the Science of Mind viewpoint is that there are certain innate values that are true for all people. The problem may be in articulating them because Ernest Holmes was careful about preaching morality. But we know that we are all emanations of the One. We know that God is, God is all there is and God is good. We know that God is for Life. Love is the motive power of the universe and we know that other values come from these four fundamental values of Oneness, Life, Goodness and Love.
Student Number Nine: I am not disagreeing with you. I’m just saying there are other people who do not accept these fundamental values. And maybe we are not succeeding as well as we could with the young people to understand and accept these fundamental values.
Moderator: And maybe I just caught myself reacting a little too strongly because I have been around cultural relativists who take the position that people have a right to live by their relative cultural values even if they conflict with what we consider our innate spiritual values.
One of the other things that came up as a result of this discussion is “to live in the question.” And that is what we are doing. We are courageously willing “to live in the question” even though we don’t have all the answers.
Student Number Ten: This is what I know. That whatever’s going on, God is smack dab in the middle of it. Even though I can’t see the full picture. And that is difficult for the humanness of me to deal with. One of my great teachers taught me that we always have a choice. Do we want this kind of material to be in our consciousness or not and we can make a conscious decision to shut it out.
I know for a fact that ISIS cannot sustain itself. It is using the Law of Mind in such a way that must backfire. ISIS will destroy itself. It is just a matter of time. How and when, I do not know, but it will fall. My job is to live my life in high integrity and love.
Moderator: I really feel what each of us shared tonight is really profound. We are making a clear and courageous stand to live our teachings and at the same time being in this world. And I am so proud to be a member of this class with you. Every single person at something beautiful to share. And I pray as we move forward, that are secular leaders will be open and receptive to these enlightened viewpoints. Because if they do, the time for bringing peace to our planet will accelerate.