GG Episode 2: Understanding the Root Causes of Violence

You can now subscribe and listen to the Groundless Ground Podcast on iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher! Though I recorded this episode over two weeks ago, the most recent horrific school shooting has once again highlighted the importance of actively working to end violence in America; especially gun violence. So this episode is timely. Listen now!

This week people have once again been asking why are young people shooting their peers at school? The Buddhist psychological answer is… confusion and deep suffering. When people are overwhelmed by internal distress, they often have no frame for how much harm they are capable of or actually doing to themselves and others. Many of the people who come to work with me have childhood trauma histories and deeply embedded assumptions about how they deserve to be treated. So distorted are these internal schemas, that trauma sufferers can, in their adult lives, unknowingly become their own worst perpetrator; living with a mind steeped in afflictive self-narratives that give rise to inner and outer distress; like self-and-other harming, anxiety, depression, addiction, and relational discord. Having a trauma history does not excuse violence. Yet if the Parkland shooter is like others who have committed similar horrific acts, he was certainly suffering deeply in his heart and mind.

From a Buddhist psychological perspective, all acts of harm arise from distorted views and their resulting injurious reactivity. The Buddha famously taught, Hatred never ends through hatred; By non-hate alone does it end. The same can be said of harming which never sees its final end through more harm. That is an awakened view arising from an awakened mind: one that recognizes everything that comes to be, arises dependently upon many causes and conditions. The key to actuating the Buddha’s insight in our daily lives is aspiring to embrace non-violence in body, speech and mind and cultivating equanimity no matter what conditions we may meet. This episode is devoted to helping listeners accomplish that through delivering knowledge and then an equanimity meditation. Enjoy!

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