On Anger and Peace

September 12, 2001

People have asked me if I've felt anger over getting cancer, and my honest answer is no. To me, it's been an act of nature, like getting struck by lightning. It's not as though my pain was inflicted by another human being. That would be far more traumatic, and far harder to deal with.

The great religions of the world teach that true spirituality manifests itself in compassion. To be able to show compassion in the face of rape, murder, torture--who among us can truly say we'd rise above anger and feel no hatred? It takes the vantage point of the heavens to see that a garden engulfed by weeds still looks beautiful.

Yesterday, Americans were terrorized by religious fanaticism. In the birthplace of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, Israelis and Palestinians continue to add new pages to their centuries-old bloody history. On and on it goes. Trying to imagine the mind of those who would kill themselves and innocent others for the glory of martyrdom, I am reminded of the passage from J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye: "The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one." Surely zen resides in the latter.

When our time comes, we'd all like to think that we died for something--to go out with a bang and not a whimper. But what ripples will we leave? What message will our lives have taught those who follow?

May each of us go forward today living humbly for our cause, be it so small--or so great--as raising one child the right way.

Peace through Zen Guitar