I have little regard for the nation state. We, humans, have imposed this construct on the Earth without a single scrap of evidence to show that the earth itself gives support to this political ideology. It is an idealogy fuelled with human tendencies to uphold the view of ‘self’ of the nation. Self breeds other – those who are for us and those who are against us. It is a crude, arrogant, if not violent mental construct. We think, speak and act as if there were real countries with real differences between one so-called nation and another. Nationalism and internationalism tells us little about true reality and tell us far more about the deceptive nature of thought and views.
I have been making the overnight flight to Israel annually since the early 1990’s. I have read about seven or more peace agreements between Israel and Palestine in this period. The Israel government and military gives its neighbours a torrid time, especially the Palestinians. In my 19 days in Israel this month, I had a full programme – co-teaching the very full retreat with Lila and Eran, the DFP, the city retreat, public dialogue with a thoughtful rabbi, another dialogue with a banker on ethics in Tel Aviv and an evening talk in a valley outside Jerusalem.
On the final evening of the final programme in Israel, amidst the countless thoughtful questions, inquiries and dialogues in the public meetings, a young man at the back of the hall made a reference to the Palestinians. One reference in 19 days.
Remember many people in my audiences in Israel are thoughtful, compassionate citizens who genuinely feel concern for the plight of the Palestinians, as well as the Arab community, Bedouins and minorities within Israel. Why the silence? Despondency? Yes. Anguish? Yes. Despair? Yes. Feeling helpless? Definitely.
Is the Dharma is concerned with politics? The Dharma is concerned with non-self – of the individual, of the religion, of the nation state, of history. The Dharma is concerned with love and compassion, of what dependently arises and the resolution of suffering.
I make light to far too many Israelis proclaiming themselves as the Chosen People. I said this is a collective ego trip – rather like the pompous attitudes of far too many people in England.
Our dharma networks have a small but important voice in Israel. Dharma teachings of non-self matter. It is a great credit to Tovana, the Israel Sangha, that questioning, inquiry and letting go is alive and well but there is an unresolved emotional weight in Tovana and in much of Israel around Israel’s treatment of people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. I believe the two state solution is no solution. More and more Palestinians share this view too.
It is a sacred principle in the Dharma that the unspoken, no matter how painful, must become the spoken. In the light of consciousness, we have the opportunity to resolve issues that appear intractable. Let us not forget our infinite potential to transform a situation.
All significant changes in the world arose when a handful of people met to share their concerns , followed their hearts and stayed true to a vision. It is understandable that Israelis are sick to death of the conflict. It is in the news morning, noon and night. There is no respite from the relentless voice of government . To become numb is not the solution. Obviously.
PS. December 2008. One American Jewish writer pointed out in an e-mail that many Jews do not think of themselves as the Chosen People.I replied that I would point this out. He regarded what I wrote in this blog as anti-Semitic.