Helping victims of violence

November 20, 2015   |   8 Comments

…which is basically all of us at this point.

After the brutal attacks in Paris last week, like everyone, I felt enraged, grief-stricken, and, perhaps most of all, lost. What could I, one person, do in response to this horror, not to mention other horrors in Beirut, Nigeria, and in the skies above? If only there was some way to bear the unbearable and contribute to the positive energies in our world rather than compound the negative by giving voice to my own aggression, even if its objective is peace.

The practice of tonglen meditation is part of the answer. Tonglen is sometimes translated as the practice of sending and taking. When you do it, you takeĀ into yourself the suffering and horror of others (you can do it) and send out to them the power of your strength and goodness. You actually offer to take on suffering and, by way of your willingness to open to it, transform it from poison into medicine.

There are many great teachings on tonglen, including this, this, and this.

As I was sitting at my desk after hearing of this event, crying along with so many others, I decided to guide an online tonglen practice, specifically for the people of Paris. I am sharing that audio recording in this blog post, in case you would like to try it. (You can substitute for “Paris” any other group.)

If you do try it, please let me know how it went in comments, below. And thank you, thank you for giving it a try.

The practice is here.

May it be of great benefit.


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  • Posted by:  venus john

    love it..

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      so glad.

  • Posted by:  Els

    Hello Susan! Can we do this for those who commit those cruelties and transform their hate and pain and send them love and softness?

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Els, this is lovely. But I don’t think we can change a person. However, we can change the amount of love there is in the world–and this effects the biggest change of all.

      • Posted by:  Els Verstraelen

        Thanks Susan :-)!

  • Posted by:  Nathalie Desjacques

    Thank you Susan, this has been very powerful.
    I was so touched by the juxtaposition – your neighbor’s love for her little bird, the strength and the fragility, so profound.
    I’ve been moving from anger, anguish and confusion to a good, rich and deep sadness while listening to your dear voice. First time after the tragedy in Paris that I have been able to allow tears to run freely. A bow to you and the tremendous gentleness and wisdom of your heart.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Sending so much love to you, dear Nathalie.

  • Posted by:  leadership skills

    Hi thanks for sharing this with us, it is very helpful indeed. Really Great!

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