Christopher Titmuss is a former Buddhist monk, a co-founder of Gaia House in Britain, and author of Light on Enlightenment and An Awakened Life. In this helpful paperback, he presents ideas and practices for dealing with various kinds of suffering and loss. Titmuss notes at the outset: "Terrible grief and distress can explode upon our lives at any time. The behavior and action of others may cause us unimaginable pain, or we may bring such pain upon others or ourselves through careless action or deliberate intention. We have a responsibility to work together toward transforming deeply distressing events in our lives for the peace of mind and security of all."

Titmuss begins with three stories of those caught up in the events of September 11 and their aftermath to illustrate different responses to terrible tragedy. He believes that "the witness" approach to suffering and loss is one of the best. It seeks to diffuse pain and dissolve the climate of negativity through a calm detachment. Of course, many prefer the response of rage and retaliation which creates enemies out of evil-doers and sets up an eternal cycle of hatred. Titmuss states that we must investigate the spiritual perspective that seeks reconciliation rather than revenge. He quotes Lao Tzu who said centuries ago: "Give evil nothing to oppose and it will disappear by itself." Nations refuse to explore this option, and so the violence escalates.

In chapters on looking into stereotypes, cultivating intimacy with life, dealing with authority and its abuse, and coming to terms with suffering, Titmuss presents concrete strategies for becoming what he calls a "spiritual warrior" working for change and transformation on both an individual and a planetary scale. This is an antidote to the continued dependence on arms as a way of responding to senseless tragedy.

Try a Spiritual Practice on Openness