One comprehensive definition of the concept of peace was identified by Fischer, Nolte & Oeberg in their book “Winning Peace”:
“(…) all that aims to develop security and secure development of the whole human being, and all human beings, in a permanent process, taking its point of departure in a model of human and social needs based on an ethics of global care and allowing for unity in diversity.”
The phrase “an ethics of global care” is an important reminder that peace is measured not only by human-human relations, but by the quality of human-nature relationships too, namely humanity’s interactions with the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms. Humankind’s desire to dominate the environment with scant regard for the consequences has led to a growing scarcity of natural resources, pollution of the Earth’s waterways, sickness in animals necessitating mass killings, worrying changes in climatic conditions and devastating natural catastrophes, etc. To counteract this negative trend, human beings – at the macro and micro level – have the choice to assume their role as conscious and dedicated guardians of the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms; rather than to continue using violence and domination to master the Earth, jeopardising the world heritage of future generations.
Extract from my MA thesis entitled:
A Shared Human Identity – the Foundation of a Peace Culture
Living and loving with awareness implies caring deeply about other people in our lives, whilst at the same time remaining detached and releasing any sense of ownership; speaking out when there’s injustice, but doing so with non-judgement. It requires us to use our skills and knowledge honestly to interact to the best of our ability, fully aware of the energetic and practical consequences of our thoughts, emotions, actions and words, and with personal responsibility for the choices we make.
Even when we feel mistreated and undervalued, rather than contracting or retaliating, the goal is to respond by remaining open and giving. When in the throes of personal or inter-personal conflict, if we manage to continue living and loving with an open-hearted awareness we will both demonstrate the degree of our integrity and ensure that energy continues to flow through our subtle body as well as through our life circumstances, instead of the energy becoming stagnant.
Free-flowing energy is essential if we are to remain healthy during stressful times and if we are to facilitate the best possible energetic conditions capable of ushering in change and improved life circumstances. Moreover, living and loving others and ourselves with conscious awareness can bring us a greater sense of peace and empowerment.
Modified extract from my book “She Who Is Unto Herself”
Joy’s physical support system had crumbled again, and the way ahead in her life remained blocked. Gino, who shared Joy’s need for a subtle balance between movement and stability, recognised her struggle. “Remember that you can find strength from spiritual sources,” he said to her compassionately in one of her moments of deep disorientation. “You yourself have told me that the physical is transitory. When your exoteric support structures have disappeared, you can access your power from the esoteric.”
Although Gino’s words revealed no new perspective to Joy, they greatly aided her to find a point of balance. Gino was aware of the subtle dimensions of life. His support was crucial to her because he was able to advise and encourage her without dragging her back under the veil of illusion.
Joy found her breakdown hard to accept because she had believed that she’d learned to hold the high ground over her emotions in any situation. Instead, she discovered that the vicissitudes of life were still able to provoke bitterness and depression in her. Maybe breakdowns are always a part of life? Perhaps what’s important is how we respond to them? Joy was aware that even in the depths of this current crisis a feeling of purpose lay just below the surface of her gloom. She recognised that her faith was growing stronger, enabling her to reorient herself more quickly after a breakdown than in her younger years. Continue reading →
Hotels have been advocating the responsible use of towels for years. Hang them up if you’re willing to use them again, or leave them on the floor for a replacement. But what about the complimentary soaps? The ones hotel guests leave behind after checking out even if they’ve hardly been used?
Thanks to the Basel-based SapoCycle Foundation hotel soaps throughout Switzerland are now being recycled in a way that not only benefits the environment, but also saves lives and provides jobs. That’s definitely amazing enough to put a smile on my face!
Dorothee and Rudolf Schiesser set up SapoCycle in 2014, and already more than 40 hotels across Switzerland are contributing solid soap bars to the program on a regular basis. Moreover, 25 Swiss hotels from the AccorHotels Group have just joined the scheme.
Participating hotels are responsible for collecting the used soap bars and sending them on to SapoCycle partner WohnWerk. This organization takes care of the recycling, thereby creating jobs for disabled people in Switzerland.
The recycled soaps are then distributed to countries with high child morbidity and mortality rates caused by acute lower respiratory infection and diarrheal illnesses. Did you know that more than 1.5 million children under the age of 5 die each year from these illnesses, which could be prevented by hand washing?
If you feel inspired, please check out my latest article in the 35th edition of More to Life Magazine, which is entitled “Foundations of Empowerment”. To give you a taster, it starts as follows:
“The art of living an empowered life is a bit like walking on a razor edge between: having faith that our life circumstances are serving a purpose (surrender) – unmet needs are also learning opportunities; and acknowledging the areas in our lives where we’d like to see improvements and, thereafter, making changes, no matter how small, so that we get the feeling of co-creating the reality we wish to manifest (direct action).“
What is the (“existential”) purpose of suffering? That question has pursued me for many years now. My own personal struggles I’ve found easier to respond to, in relative terms, coming to see them as a learning ground for a deeper existential and spiritual understanding. What’s always been much more difficult for me is witnessing, or simply knowing of, the suffering endured by other humans and animals in incredibly cruel and/or dangerous circumstances e.g. subject to physical and/or psychological violence, hunger, displacement, personal loss, etc. Consequently, I’ve felt an existential imperative to gain some constructive perspectives on the meaning of suffering in order to understand how best to remain in touch with my empathy, whilst at the same time avoiding the pitfall of feeling discouraged.
The spiritual challenge we face is to be joyful no matter what life conditions we are experiencing i.e. whether we are surrounded by love and good fortune, or suffering and injustice. The tantric tradition offers a helpful insight by distinguishing between ananda, which is our innate blissful state of consciousness, and sukha, which is the emotional state of ordinary happiness that is dependent on external conditions. Continue reading →
What is love? What comes to your mind when I ask that question? Is it romantic love and sex? Is it religious or spiritual love? Is it filial or parental love? I guess most people would choose out of these options. Would any of us refer to self-love? Without an apologetic tone in our voices? Self-love might start with a rational analysis of our worth and achievements, probably in line with prevailing social and cultural norms. However, such contemplations risk remaining purely intellectual in nature and are likely, therefore, to end in self-condemnation and feelings of inferiority or – quite the opposite – egoic pride and a sense of superiority. To counteract this kind of mental cul-de-sac, the good news is that there’s a more authentic and deeper self-love that can be accessed when we step beyond the rational, thinking mind and the pull of the emotions. This self-love might be experienced as an incredibly calming energy that pervades your whole body, giving you a deep sense of presence, acceptance of the moment and connectivity with all that surrounds you. Tantric techniques aim to stimulate more of this kind of self-love. As such, Tantra offers “the greatest empowerment of all: the power to determine your own inner state, regardless of external circumstance.”
Extract from my book “She Who is Unto Herself”
 Wallis, C.D. (2013) Tantra Illuminated. Mattamayura Press: San Rafael, CA, p.192.