The road to peace has been mapped out for humanity by some of its forerunners. For example, historically, the Buddha indicated one possible road to peace through the eight-fold path of right view, right thinking, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right diligence, right mindfulness and right concentration. These principals have stood the test of time and are as valid today as they were 2000 years ago.
Active individual participation in the promotion of social justice and political decision-making, without the use of violence, in a spirit of tolerance and goodwill, was strongly advocated by Gandhi in the 1900s. He promoted such important concepts as:
Ahimsa – non-injury through the renunciation of physical and mental violence against one’s self, others, animals and nature;
Advaita – the interconnectivity of all life forms;
Tapasya – the willingness to suffer rather than inflict pain on others;
Sarvodaya – everyone’s basis needs must be met even if that means that some people must give something up so that others are not left out;
Satyagraha – the pursuit of Truth through non-violent action.
Peace is a living concept and men and women’s understanding of what constitutes peace, and what is comprised by its antithesis i.e. violence, is evolving as the human race itself evolves.
Violence is more than direct aggression; there are also structural and cultural dimensions to violence like poverty, unemployment (structural), censorship and sexual discrimination (cultural). If governments, educators, the media and every aware individual were to label these additional categories of violence as such, more men and women would come to understand how far we still are from creating a culture of peace and how important it is to create new structures, or to reform the existing ones, in order to guarantee a more peaceful future for the present world community and future generations. Continue reading →
My life experiences and contemplations have brought me to the conclusion that without suffering it would be all too easy to remain in mind-dom i.e. in the clutches of the emotional mind. The latter can always keep us entertained with never-ending, theatrical representations of past events or fantasies of potential future happenings. When everything in our lives is going as planned (by the personality), the emotional mind can be a very comfortable place to take refuge. The risk, however, is that we remain stuck there, which means living in the illusion that our rational mind and emotions are our sole identity. Thanks to suffering, we get the gentle push, or even dramatic shove, to move out of contracted mind-dom and discover the fullness of our (divine) identity and consciousness.
Georg Feuerstein provides a Tantric – and I guess also Buddhist – perspective on suffering when he writes: “Many people […] are not in the least aware of their self-perpetuated state of incarceration. But those in whom wisdom has dawned can see that the world, or rather how they experience it, is confining. They also are sensitive to the fact that worldly existence is suffused with suffering (duhkha).” Continue reading →
Joy remembered when she had moved out of the flat with Jim and found herself alone for the first time in many years. She had experienced a severe crisis. Although perhaps outwardly nobody noticed, at night she cried, imploring the Universe – or whatever It was – to show her the way forward, to end the stagnation into which she felt she had fallen. Ever since she had developed a spiritual orientation in life, rejecting the more materialistic approach, she seemed to have struggled. It was as if all her efforts had led to nothing; as if she were no longer in the flow of life; as if she were swimming upstream.
Joy knew that, despite that cry to the Universe all those years ago, she continued to experience only pockets of apparent success in her personal and professional life for a long time afterwards. Nevertheless, she recognised that during those years of difficulty and struggle she had built up her inner strength, and expanded her understanding of the physical plane and its relationship with the non-visible world. Continue reading →
I’ve heard the term “goddess” used in various circles, suggesting there are different understandings of what this concept implies. I’ll present 3 separate posts that cover some of the results of my research into the tantric definitions of “the goddess”, starting with the overarching concept of Shakti. I’d be very interested to hear what your definitions of a goddess are. Joyful greetings, Sam 🙂
Shakti and Goddess Power (Part 1 of 3)
In relation to the feminine, Tantra places a huge focus on the goddess. But, what is a goddess? “She is the manifest deity in each of us.” The sense here is that the goddess is immanent i.e. the energy that underlies our physical bodies. In addition, the goddess encompasses all sentient and non-sentient forms: “The Goddess is not separate from the world, but is the world and all things in it.”
Van Lysebeth suggests that for a more tantric understanding of the concept of the goddess, the word goddess can be replaced with the term Shakti. Shakti is “the manifest universe and the power inherent in it”. Continue reading →
Meditation had brought spirituality to the forefront of Joy’s life. The results of her spiritual practice echoed throughout the day. It implied a state of consciousness and being that she endeavoured to work on at every moment. This brought with it a level of objectivity and detachment that was enabling her to more often observe and direct her thoughts, words and actions in everyday situations.
No longer being compartmentalised as a mere relaxation technique, meditation had gradually taken on more and more significance. It had become the channel through which Joy set the tone for her day and for her life. She now deemed her life to be a spiritual experiment. Meditation and contemplation of spiritual matters were for Joy a bridge to another – unseen – world. She could glean meaning about the significance of day-to-day living from that world which wasn’t physical.
To use the fruits of meditation in daily life was something Joy felt was intrinsically important. She became almost nauseous whenever she met people who purported to actively practise a spiritual or religious path, but who in daily life systematically acted and spoke with bigotry, intolerance, racism and other forms of selfishness. Continue reading →