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A Survivor’s Response to Terrorism: 7 Billion Acts of Goodness

Posted on: September 14th, 2016 by BWNWAdmin No Comments

We all know where we were on the morning of September 11, 2001, and
how the tragedy of that day affected our lives. We also know how the
American government, under the Bush administration, reacted by
launching military invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq to wage war
against the terrorists and the threat of terrorism. And we know that
the aftermath of those wars continues to affect our lives, our county,
those nations, the Middle East and the entire world.

I had never had the experience before of meeting anyone who had been
at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, until last month,
when a survivor came to Eugene to speak about his experience, and its
aftermath.  The speaker, Ram Singal, an engineer, who worked for the
World Trade Center, was in his office on the 64th floor, of the second
tower, when the first plane hit. He described for us what it was like
to be on the inside of that tower (which we can all imagine from the
outside) trying to lead a group of fearful people to safety. He
narrated for us their daunting journey down 64 floors, in almost total
darkness, with pipes bursting, electrical wires dangling, and people
on the brink of death, all around them. All of this, while not knowing
what was really happening, besides the apparent fact that their lives
were dangling as precariously as the towers crumbling around them.

Due to his familiarity with the building, Mr. Singal was able to lead
the group of survivors to a stairwell, and when it was blocked, to
another. And when that one too was blocked, to a third, and final
stairway, mercifully not blocked, which allowed them to finally escape
the building and then run for their lives, as the second tower fell.
It collapse just a few minutes after they emerged from their arduous

Ram told us what it was like to be on the inside of the towers. And
surprisingly, he also told us what it was like to be inside his mind
during the ordeal. He knew the building, yes; but he knew his mind and
soul as well. Mr. Singal is a student and teacher of a meditation
philosophy called Raja Yoga, as taught by the Brahma Kumaris. Because
he had had many years of meditating under his belt, before that tragic
day, Ram had the capacity to remain positive and to share his belief
with the other survivors that they would all get out alive. He stated
to the audience that the main reason he was able to remain positive
and was never fearful for his life, is that right away he began to
help the others, who were terrified. He was so busy leading them, and
reassuring them, and letting them go first, and helping them find
another way out, that he did not have time to begin to worry for his
own life. In helping others, he did not have time for his own fear.

Mr. Singal also told us about how he managed the aftermath of the
event, the trauma that for so many can become PTSD.  When he awoke the
next day, he felt an intense need to know who the perpetrators were.
His need, however, was not focused on looking for someone to blame,
but rather on seeking the perpetrators in order to be able to offer
them his forgiveness. But at that time, no one knew who had been
responsible for the attack. Therefore, because he felt such an acute
need to forgive someone, he decided to turn his need to forgive
towards himself. He forgave himself for all of his own misdeeds and
transgressions that he could remember, and then he had the sudden
experience of feeling a great lightness of being and intense joy. He
now looked crazy to his fellow survivors and friends at this stage;
they insisted that he was in a state of shock. And perhaps they were
correct at some level, but Ram’s “craziness” did not devolve into
mental illness, burning hatred, or acts of revenge. In the aftermath
of September 11, 2001, his crazy “lightness of being and joy of being
alive” evolved into a decision that he would now dedicate his life to
doing good works for others.

Mr. Singal has created an organization dedicated to that end called 7
Billion Acts of Goodness. The purpose of this organization is to
cultivate humanity’s inner capacities, i.e. our spiritual capacities,
so that we may more readily carry out acts of goodness and kindness
towards others. To clarify, the aim is not necessarily to perform 7
billion acts, but rather to teach people how to meet the overwhelming
stress, sorrow and violence in the world with a cool head and a warm,
open heart. Cultivating such spiritual strengths will empower people
to be able to express more goodness in our world until it spreads out
exponentially and touches 7 billion hearts. If you would like to carry
out acts of goodness in conjunction with millions of others around the
world, instead of some of the more typical responses to terror, you
can learn more about his project and its philosophy by visiting the
website at And may ripples of goodness and joy
wash over you, and pass on their way to the furthest and farthest
reaches of every human heart, all 7 billion of them.

Kara Steffensen

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