Why Spirituality and Terrorism?

First in a multipart series addressing how those on a spiritual path can encounter, make meaning of, and respond to terrorism.

Spirituality and terrorism. These two words do not seem to belong in the same sentence. Yet they exist side by side in our world. If you are committed to a spiritual path, how do you respond to the headlines and horrific details of one act of terrorism after another that almost daily affront our awareness?

This question haunts me. As a professed monk I have committed to pray for the world every day. This seems to be the easy part. Each morning I go into a prayerful state, open my heart to the whole world and all who dwell within it, and call upon the highest resources from the spirit realms to heal all, including those who are victims of and those who perpetrate acts of violence and terrorism.

But this doesn’t tell me how to respond when I hear about another barbaric act of terrorism. I am human. I respond with disgust, with sadness, and with anger at the perpetrators. I sense myself at risk of spilling over into despair, hopelessness, and on my worst days even hate. These are not what I aspire to as one committed to a spiritual path. So how am I to respond? To what place within me can I turn to stay true to my spiritual path yet remain authentic when so much roils within me? How can I be truly loving and forgiving while a powerful repulsion surges up within me in judgment and blame?

It is to these questions I turn in this series of blogs on spirituality and terrorism. How I, how you, how each and all of us respond to these questions offers an opportunity to manifest who we truly are and what we will do with this life we are living. I invite you to join me in this exploration.