I was perusing a book, looking for a meaningful quote for a card for a wedding. On my way to a specific chapter, I found this:
“The source of violence is in our heads. as it would not be appropriate to ignore “just a little” cancer in the body, so it is not appropriate for us to ignore “just a little” violent thinking. A little cancer, unchecked, turns into a monstrous killer. So do small, insidious, seemingly harmless judgmental thought forms become the pervasive cancers that threaten to destroy a society.”
“As the body’s defenses against cancer center around a healthy immune system, our chief defense against violence in America is our own individual efforts to cleanse our minds of violent thinking. Each and everyone one of us tends to be angrier and less tolerant of others than we know in our hearts that we should be. A healthy, civilized society can absorb some anger and dysfunction, as a healthy immune system can absorb some disease. But a massive buildup of anger and mean-spiritedness bombarding our social system day in and day out in millions and millions of individual doses overwhelms our societal defenses.”
“Violence is routed out of the world by being routed out of our minds. Hatred is diseased thinking. Just as a cancer cell was a healthy cell that then transformed, so is hatred, love gone wrong.”
“Each of us is a cell in the social body.” Whether we are a malignant or a healing force is up to us on a moment by moments basis. With every thought, we decide whether to be a cancer cell or a healthy immune cell, whether to give in to the tendency to place blame on others or to be a vehicle for God’s love and forgiveness. Either we clean up the anger, or the anger will overwhelm us.”
These are excerpts from a book, published in 1994. The author, Marianne Williamson. The title of the book, Illuminata: Thoughts, Prayers and Rites of Passage.
As I continued to read, I couldn’t help but think it had to have been written far more recently. And yet, here we are. The condition addressed here is not limited to the United States.
We are each responsible for our thoughts. We may be outwardly kind, and inwardly angry – judging other and self – and that is where it begins. The metaphor of hatred and cancer is one that makes sense. Cancer is a disease that we are generally familiar with. If you or someone you know and love has or has had cancer, what Marianne says here is relatable and compelling.
Let us all search deeply – our hearts and minds – to find those places of anger, or hurt, so we can begin to find the light within that can indeed transform the hatred into love; can add healing light to the cancer to transform the love gone wrong. The pace at which we seem to move each day, leaves many feeling there is no time for such things. I submit that to not make time to look within – to realize (real-eyes) where we harbor pain, anger, unacknowledged grief – is to continue to add to the hatred that is boiling over in our country and on the planet. We can participate in our healing – individually and contribute to the collective – or continue live in an unsettled space within while projecting that discomfort and pain onto others. I’m reminded, yet again, of a question posed by an author I was in retreat with years ago (paraphrased); “What hurts you so much that you feel you have to hurt me in order to heal it?”
Make time…to listen; to plumb the depths; to be still, reflect, and feel. This is a journey that must begin in solitude and can continue with assistance from a compassionate listener or health professional. The most important step is the first one.
“Every step taken in mindfulness brings us one step closer to healing ourselves and the planet.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh
To circle back to where I started this post, I did find a quote for the card. I returned to the place I had begun – to love.
Marianne Williamson’s book, Illuminata: Thoughts, Prayers and Rites of Passage is as beautiful a text today as it was when it was published. I refer to it often, and even found a passage I was honored to read at my son’s wedding last year.