How Can We Be Safe?

The following article, compiled and edited from the works of Dr. Hora, describes what “safety” is and where we can find it. It presents a radical idea: True safety is found in consciousness. Our experience of safety and unsafety comes directly from who we think we are and what we think life is all about.

A lighthearted “chance” encounter provided an example of how seemingly innocent perceptions can limit how we see and experience others.  It is added here as an introduction before we dive into the issue of safety. 

I found myself speaking with a man who had been released from prison just 3 months previously after serving a 20 year sentence. We were at a fund-raising function being held in a beautiful home/estate in a wealthy community in New York.  Our conversation turned to “what is real life and how does one find it?” “This,” meaning the beautiful home/estate, “is not real life.” “Prison is not real life.” “Street life is not real.” ”Where do you find what is real?” I asked him.  “In consciousness,” he replied. As I acknowledged the truth of his answer with the thought “how marvelous that he has discovered this through what must have been some difficult experiences,” I noticed his thought: “how could it be that a gray-haired middle class white woman has come to know this?” We both burst out into pure laughter. The laugh that comes as the stereotypical thoughts nestled in the web of our consciousnesses was seen, acknowledged and dissolved.

We are not our experiences, we are not who we think we are, and we are not what we appear to be.

Crime is rampant

Today we have epidemics of terrorism, of arson, blue collar crime, white collar crime, government corruption, etc., perpetuated by a marvelous system of communication. The blessings of scientific progress are always accompanied by the cursed problems of its side effects.

In what way can man find peace, assurance, freedom, gratitude, love, life in the midst of an epidemic of crime? Wherein lies safety?

Safety lies in understanding that the solution to the problem is not in society or in the police, but in consciousness. A certain quality of consciousness will create a predilection to victimization, and another quality of consciousness will create a sense of safety.

Can one avoid becoming a victim of crime?

The problem of safety is particularly timely these days when we hear and read about crimes, accidents, violence, and victimization in general. The seventh principle of Metapsychiatry states: “Nothing comes into experience uninvited.” Many people find this somewhat hard to believe. Some are even offended by the idea. Nevertheless, let us look into it and try to consider the following seemingly outrageous statement: There are only two ways to become a victim — by wanting to, or by not wanting to. How is that possible?

The idea of the possibility of victimization is maintained in consciousness. Whatever we cherish or hate or fear tends to come into experience. Therefore, the question is, How can one be safe in a world seemingly rampant with crime? In what way can the knowledge of the above principle benefit us and provide us with protection? Some are beginning to understand that carrying a weapon, such as a gun or knife, not only does not afford protection, but actually tends to invite trouble. If we carry a weapon, it means that we have in mind the possibility of becoming endangered. If we have that thought in mind, that in itself tends to act as a magnet, attracting corresponding experiences.

Thoughts attract experiences

An unprotected consciousness is exposed to mental contagion propagated by the news media or hearsay, which captures the imagination and perpetuates and magnifies the adverse experiences of the culture. Purity of good, however, can only be found through spiritualized consciousness, which is the essence of what we have called the healing environment. In such an environment neither illness nor crime can endure. 

It is not what others can do to us that is the problem, but what our own thoughts bring into experience. The enemy is not on the outside. It is in our own consciousness. We suffer the consequences of our own habits of thought rather than what other people do to us, or what conditions impose on us.

The most intimate aspects of our life are our own thoughts. Our own thoughts are the most dangerous influences that we must learn to beware of and to purify. Our own thoughts can make us or break us. Therefore, right thinking is of paramount importance for safety, for mental health, for physical health, for social integration, and for happiness.

The Challenge of Trying to Avoid Danger

Now the question may be asked, Should one just remain naïve and ignorant, and walk around without any idea of the possibility of danger? Is naïveté protection? Is ignorance bliss? No, naïveté and ignorance are not desirable either. Therefore, it would seem that there is no solution. This brings to mind a Zen saying: “Yes is no, and no is yes.”

This paradox is particularly troublesome when parents try to admonish their children to be careful, to watch out crossing the street, or to drive carefully, or “do this, don’t do that,” because unwittingly they are implanting ideas of fear and danger into the children’s thoughts. On the other hand, they cannot say, “Don’t be afraid crossing the street, never mind the dangers,” etc., because this would have the same effect. Neither would it be advisable for them to ignore the whole problem of danger.

The Spiritual Solution

This truly seems to be a conundrum. There is actually no solution to the problem of inviting experiences, as long as our viewpoint on life is purely human. A solution, however, begins to emerge when we consider what Jesus said to his disciples on one occasion: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). He did not say to his disciples, “Be careful not to be devoured by the wolves, or arm yourselves against the wolves.” He recommended a certain quality of being. What determines the quality of our being? The quality of our being is determined by our state of consciousness. What determines the state of consciousness? Our state of consciousness is determined by the values we cherish. To be wise as serpents and harmless as doves means cherishing qualities which Jesus considered necessary for safety in a hostile world.

How is an individual to know which thoughts are safe to entertain and which thoughts are dangerous to entertain? We can find out in the course of life that if we give hospitality to certain thoughts, these will bring disaster, or suffering, or discord, or illness into our lives.

There is only one way to cope with life, namely, to find that system of values which is not subject to fashionable trends, which is basically existentially valid, which will never change, and will always bear good fruit in terms of bringing us peace and health and assurance, even in the midst of a very insecure world.

It is impossible not to think of something, but it is possible to be so imbued with the knowledge and the awareness of spiritual values and the presence and the power of God that we can have a sense of safety and we actually can be safe.

It appears that, by reasoning from the standpoint of human emotions and human logic, it is not really possible to arrive at an intelligent answer to the problem of crime. Consequently, it is not possible to be for or against any of the multitude of positions in a clear-cut way. A Zen Master would say: “When it comes to the issue of crime and punishment, yes is no, and no is yes.”

In contemplating this issue we may ask,  “What does it take to become the victim of a crime?” As mentioned above there are only two ways to become a victim: by wanting to or by not wanting to. The solution lies in being interested in something other than wanting or not wanting to be victimized. Thus when we are faced with the decision of whether to vote for or against an approach to law enforcement, gun control, criminal justice etc., we cast our vote for crimeless living. In the universe of Mind crime is not known. There is brotherly love, harmony, peace, assurance, gratitude, freedom.

Someone may object and ask, Yes, yes, but what about in the meanwhile? In the meanwhile we suffer the trials and tribulations of living in an ignorant world. Thus the issue boils down to this: not how to punish criminals, but how to live in safety in spite of the crime-ridden environment. In order to be safe, we rely on our meditation that we have called the four “Ws”: Who am I? What am I? Where am I? What is my purpose in life? The answers to these questions are as follows: I am an image and likeness of God, a manifestation of Love-Intelligence. I am a divine consciousness. I live and move and have my being in omniactive Divine Mind. My purpose is to be a beneficial presence in the world.

So when we meditate sincerely and with understanding on the four “Ws,” then we dwell in the “secret place of the most High... under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1). And this is the secret of safety and a remedy to the crime problem. Nothing will ever stop crime except if individuals in large numbers learn to dwell in the secret place of the most High.

Post Script in the light of the recent events in Las Vegas:

How does this radical view of safety apply to the victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting? How can these ideas help us heal from real losses?

Each individual involved in any way with what occurred in Las Vegas, or any other tragedy, is on a journey within themselves to heal from what they have experienced. That journey is unique to each one and it is not for me or anyone to tell them what they “need to do.” It is my prayer that they use the tools they have or that they find tools and individuals to help them learn something from what they are experiencing. Something that is liberating and transformative.

While it is not possible to completely avoid suffering in this life, it is our responsibility to awaken to the truth of being that is beyond the suffering. This is the journey that makes life fulfilling and meaningful with the possibility of true joy..  The alternative would be to dwell in suffering with bitterness, anger and resentment.