Life & Love

Vedantism and Violence

Waking up this morning to another mass shooting in the US, this time a college bar just north of LA where 10 people have been killed. Last week 2 people were killed inside a Yoga studio in Florida, the week before 11 killed in a Synagogue in Pittsburgh. This past summer in my own community on the Danforth in Toronto, 2 people lost their lives, 13 gravely injured and as in all other cities of mass shootings – an entire city left in shock and fear. I have done my best to stay away from commenting on US politics or the divided opinions and beliefs that currently exist with my American neighbours for the simple fact that I am not American. I have no sway outside of opinion and it seems like there is enough of that on all sides these days. Certainly, I have strong opinions surrounding gun laws and gun control particularly because despite the laws in Canada, obtaining an illegal firearm in Canada is probably about as easy as buying marijuana five years ago (if you don’t know, that means very easy). The intention of this blog is not to comment on what is happening in America or Canada, but more so why. Racism, anger, hatred, loneliness, mental health issues and all the other “reasons” we are given for these horrifying acts of violence are not new human experiences. Yet, day after day mass shootings have become our new normal.

Vedantism is the belief in oneness. That we, humans, are all the same at the core of our being. That we are all born into this world with an open and pure heart. This is a primary philosophy of Yoga with its roots from the Upanishads, thousands of years old.

“This is the great theme of the Vedanta, the Oneness of life, this Oneness of everything. We shall see how it demonstrates that all our misery comes through ignorance, and this ignorance is the idea of manifoldness, this illusory separation between one human being and another, between one nation and another. Vedanta says this separation does not exist, it is not real. It is merely apparent, on the surface. In the heart of things there is Unity. If you go below the surface, you will find this Unity between all human beings and races, high and low, rich and poor. If you go deep enough all will be seen as only variations of the One.” – Swami Vivekanda, Pathways to Joy  

What is this disconnection that is happening of me against you, that the only solution to the problems I am facing or the demons in my head is to murder innocent people? The word here is disconnection. Through disconnection we have bred an entire culture of essentially traumatized people. Living in communities where we no longer know our neighbours. CBC reported yesterday only 9% of Toronto residents actually do with the bulk of the issue falling to those under 30 living in condos barely knowing anyone. When we are out in public alone hiding behind our screens for fear we make eye contact with somebody.

We might not be able to change the violence from happening around us but maybe we can help how we support each other through it. Maybe by working on things that bring us together as a community, that make us feel connected to other people so healing can begin to occur. Cultural change can occur. This might be either a radical or naïve idea, but I believe that community can win.

I don’t pretend to have the answers, though I wish I did. Fundamentally we need to take a better care of each other, not abandon or unfollow when things go badly for someone. People express their pain in different ways. This isn’t an excuse but an opportunity.

I had a hard time with this post today. I am struggling for how to process these events, I just keep asking why. It feels as though through disassociation we have created a new version of war. I might be grasping at straws or any sense of hope, but maybe the saying: “to find world peace, we must find peace within” maybe in working on connections in our community, smiling at people as we walk by, offering someone we don’t know a hand, checking in our neighbours and loving and taking care of our friends and family as our first priority. I suppose if nothing else, we will have each other.


Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels










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