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‘Stop the War’

~ PZI Miscellaneous Koans

In Zen we come to realize that much of the trouble afforded by our human condition is built on a stubborn notion of duality and separate-ness: self and other, inside and outside, holy and profane. This notion of separation creates war within ourselves, with others and with our whole world. And it can be so hard to stop. Often our wounds are shallow scrapes, and sometimes they are so deep they become very hard to heal.

By chance I recently came upon a documentary called ‘Deliver Us From Evil’, a 2006 film by Amy Berg on child abuse by a Catholic priest in California.

One horribly abused victim, Adam, was a member of St Andrews, a small parish on a hill in Calaveras County, the same hill where my own father and grandmother are buried. Adam, now a young adult, said of his war: ‘It just will not go away. Whenever I pass the church, or go out with someone, I am reliving that time over and over again. I just wanted to kill myself.’

But in the documentary’s outtakes, Adam related a change that came about in him subsequently. ‘It was like a switch had flipped,’ he recounted, ‘Whenever I go into church now it is as if I am the only one there. I can’t explain it to people, but it is not that God is out there, he is in here’, pointing to heart.

In listening to Adam, I could not help but feel that his new understanding ~ that inside and outside are not two ~ was beginning to stop his own war.

What a radical notion: in some way, stopping the war by realizing that the war is not apart from ourselves and from all other things. That it is a terrible, and terribly beautiful part of the world.

Come help us stop some war on Monday night at the Camp!