by Joe Loizzo

As the devastating tide of violence and loss, terror and rage in the Middle East keeps rising day by day, our hearts break for all the lives already lost, for all those in harm’s way, and for all those whose lives have been irrevocably scarred by the collective trauma unfolding there. The fact that this tragedy is taking place at the heart of what half of humanity calls the Holy Land, between communities who share a common spiritual legacy as well as a common ancestry, is a  painful reminder of how far we still have to go as a global community to own our shared humanity deeply enough to fully reconcile our differences and flourish together as the family we are.

Adding to our heartbreak is the cutting awareness that the trauma unfolding before our eyes is fueling the very intergenerational cycle of traumatic reenactment that caused it, and so burdens future generations and puts them at greater risk. More salt in the wound is the harsh reality that this conflict is entangled with countless other conflicts around the world—from the wars in Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Yemen and Ethiopia to the internal conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and the United States—all of which compound our collective suffering and add to the work of healing that lies ahead.

What can we do to avoid adding in any way to the legacy of collective trauma each of us has inherited in different ways, and to advance the inner and outer work of healing and reconciliation we and our world so desperately need today? Fortunately, alongside our shared legacy of trauma, we also share the legacy of humanity’s sage leaders of non-violence, deep healing and reconciliation. As a community that seeks refuge in Shakyamuni Buddha and his tradition, I believe we are called by our predicament today to contemplate his teaching that only love and compassion can break the cycle of violence and hatred. If he were here now, no doubt he would guide us to do everything we can to bring love and care to stop harm, alleviate pain and end suffering, wherever it lives, whatever shape it takes. And I expect he would also remind us to bring that same love and care to our own traumatic fear, rage, and bias, so that we can help break the cycle of reactivity and ongoing harm that would cause us and all those we touch, future pain and suffering.

In the midst of our heartbreak, now is the time to let our hearts break open, to renew our commitment, to look beneath our biases and reactive emotions, to own and deepen our shared humanity, so that we can be one small beat in the global movement it will take to bring healing, reconciliation, love and compassion to our our whole human family, and to all life on earth, once and for all.

Within the Nalanda Tradition, we practice embodying the spirit of resolve to transform ourselves and our world through prayer and invocation of mentors. The prayer for peace below ends with invoking the Archetypal Buddha of wise compassion, Avalokiteshvara, and reciting his world-making vow, Om Mani Padme Hum Hree, May My Mind Be the Jewel and the Flower of Compassion, and by invoking the Archetypal Buddha of Compassionate Wisdom, Manjushri, and reciting his world-making vow, Om Ara Pachana Dhee, May I and All Beings Quickly Awaken.

May all wars and conflicts quickly cease.

May all those wounded, held hostage, caught in the crossfire or traumatized by violence and loss be well cared for, released, kept safe, healed and reunited with loved ones.

May all the legacies of harm, bias and trauma dividing our human family be reconciled and healed soon.

May all beings know the joy that transcends grief and loss.

May all beings learn to live in equanimity, undisturbed by bias, fear, anger, and sorrow.