Microcosmic and Macrocosmic Aspects of Peace – Part IV

ZenThe 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.

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Some thoughts on suffering (part 3 of 3)

In the realms of spiritual authenticity, our worth is not calculated by our monetary Balancefortune, but rather by our actions and the quality of our emotional mind space at any given moment. We are responsible for our perceptions and attitudes i.e. our thoughts and feelings and, therefore, how we experience outer events. We are only partially in control of how those outer events play out. Life on the physical plane is impermanent and relatively random. To resist or deny that reality is madness. The sanest recourse is to accept life as an ever-changing playing field, to find the point of permanence in the inner self and then to live life with a sense of curiosity and playfulness. “A disciplined mind regards all changes as causal and temporary. The balanced does not fluctuate, and does not suffer.”[1] This tantric attitude takes courage and persistent effort, which is why I refer to it as the way of the warrior. Continue reading

Some thoughts on suffering (part 2 of 3)

Light of the soulMy 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).[1] Continue reading

Crisis – a spiritual exercise

As the weeks and months of no-employment passed, Joy viewed the crisis she was facing as a spiritual exercise – the opportunity to put her existential theories into practice. It wasn’t easy to remain focused and positive. She woke up some days feeling as if she had been forgotten by Life. Oftentimes, she didn’t know what to keep her mind concentrated on. If this day has meaning, what is it? If each second is precious then its value must come from something more than a career outcome. How should I approach these moments of no definite direction and solitude? How can I turn what feels like a waiting game into something more dynamic and rewarding?

Joy took the time to contemplate these questions deeply. She found an answer in the art of divine indifference, or as the Buddhists referred to it, abiding in the moment. This meant accepting her life circumstances without struggle or resistance: acknowledging the desire to see the situation change, knowing it would change when the process had run its course and, thereby, practising detached, positive expectancy.

Joy increased her meditation practice and included some breathing exercises. She knew that her respiration was affected by the stress she was feeling, depriving her body of essential oxygen. Continue reading