Every living system that goes out of balance attempts to right itself. This is true of your blood pressure and your heart rate but also of the rain forest or a population of birds. Pressure on the system from one side–such as lack of food, absence of home ground, or the sudden intrusion of enemies–causes a reaction to shove the system back into balance. Violence is the most extreme response to imbalance.
When people are asked to make moral decisions, it is the emotional center of the brain that increases in activity, instead of the rational centers layered higher up in the cortex. Only after anger emotionally fires us up do we call in the cortex to fashion reasons, including religious reasons.
If you plot revenge against an evildoer, you are harming yourself: Not because the thought may come back to injure you, which is superstition, but because negative thinking reinforces the source of negativity. Darkness adds to darkness. The simple psychological fact is that the mind grows from habit and use, and as long as you habitually use those centers that send out blame, anger, retribution, intolerance, and violence, those centers will be nourished in their growth.
Nurture instead the light that you find inside. Transformation doesn’t come about by being touched with a magic wand. Habit and use apply here too. If you find even the smallest reasons for sending out intentions of love, tolerance, forgiveness, and peace, these centers will grow inside your mind. Spirit counts on this growth.
Adapted from The Deeper Wound: Recovering the Soul from Fear and Suffering, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2001).