On September 11, 2001 a great deal of suffering was continued. While it’s often said that the suffering “happened” or “was caused”, I think those statements are incorrect. The suffering that manifested as the destruction, fear, loss of life, pain and misery of the World Trade Center disaster has deep roots going back through all of human time. Those roots are made of grasping, hatred and delusion and the deepest root of all is the incorrect perception that we are separate selves. Only by believing in that separateness could the people who flew the planes into the building have done so. Only by being deceived by the illusion that “we are the ones who suffer and they are the ones who make us suffer” has the suffering continued from its origins in the beginning of humankind. Only by living with the conviction that our “way of life”, our own habits, are somehow disconnected from the kind of pain that would push a person to take up violence and destruction on this kind of scale can we see the world separated into perpetrators and victims.
In the perpetrator, there is also the victim. In the victim, there is also the perpetrator. In those that looked on then and in the generations to come, both the perpetrators and the victims will still be present. As long as we persist in being caught by this false discrimination, 9/11 will continue to happen. It will happen in our hearts, it will happen in our speech and thinking and it will happen in our actions. But, we can also stop it from happening and by stopping it now, we can also help to heal what happened in 2001. My Zen teacher often tells a story of accidentally hitting his finger with a hammer. He says: “My right hand immediately went to hold and take care of my left hand. It didn’t say ‘remember, I’m doing you a favor.’ My left hand didn’t say ‘I want justice! Give me that hammer!’ My two hands know they are not eparate.”
The way to stop the suffering is to look deeply at those we think are the cause of our suffering and see how we ourselves participate. We can look deeply into ourselves and see our desire for peace and well-being next to the seeds of suffering that we spread when we are not mindful of our habits of speech, thinking and bodily action. We can look deeply at those we believe are causing us to suffer and see in them the seeds of fear and anger and their desire to be peaceful just as we are. If we look hard enough, we will see the relationship between our unskillful habits and the fear and anger in others and we will see the wiser and more skillful path of compassion, loving kindness, joy and equanimity we all can walk and what that path will bring.
We all “inter-are” with everything that is. No exceptions. With that as new ground to walk, we have the power to eliminate the next 10,000 acts of violence and destruction and to go back and heal what happened 10 years ago on 9/11. It’s a question of our willingness to set aside our egos and look deeply at what is real, what is true.