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Daily Connect: The Mafia in Your Mind


"Before fighting the Mafia you must first examine your own conscience, and then, after you have defeated the Mafia inside yourself, you can fight the Mafia that's in your circle of friends. We ourselves and our mistaken way of behaving are the Mafia." 

This quote comes from the diary of Rita Atria, who I recently learned of through watching the Italian movie, The Sicilian Girl.   Rita's father and brother were part of a Mafia clan in the 1980s who were killed by a rival clan in their small village.   Though only a teenager, Rita was obsessed with revenge against the men who killed her family, and she cooperated with the police and prosecutors to arrest them.  Going to the cops meant she was  traitor to her community;  her mother renounced her and Rita was targeted for death. She was a particularly valuable witness as she had kept journals throughout her life which provided detailed evidence of associations and crimes in her community.  She continued to keep a diary throughout the investigation and trial, in which the above quote was written. 

Considered from a Buddhist view, Rita's statement is an amazing metaphor for karma; our thoughts cause our actions which cause the suffering (or the joy) in the world.  Things like poverty and war seem far more complicated than this, but if we look closely it's clear that such conditions are the result of decisions, and are not inevitable circumstances.  Practicing mindfulness and compassion can help us recognize and disarm the Mafia in our own minds and bring skillfulness to our deeds.   

Oh you who wish to guard your minds, I beseech you with folded hands: Always exert yourselves to guard Mindfulness and alertness!

Rita took her own life after a Mafia car bomb killed the lead prosecutor who had befriended her.   Her testimony resulted in dozens of convictions, and her courage inspired others to create The Rita Atria Anti-Mafia Association.   




Peace to everyone everywhere.   

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