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.
In response to Brad’s #PeaceChallenge, I will make a series of 4 posts. Hope you find them of value. Blessings, Sam 🙂
Microcosmic and Macrocosmic Aspects of Peace – Part I
In the midst of the innumerable, intractable global conflicts of today and the existence of nuclear weapons capable of destroying the world many times over, it is arguable that world governance can no longer be left solely to political decision-makers. At a microcosmic level, each and every aware individual can begin to assume greater responsibility for the state of the world by taking up the challenge of embodying the peace (microcosm) that he/she hopes to see mirrored in the world community (macrocosm). In order to embrace peace, it is helpful to understand some of the underlying reasons for the manifestation of its antithesis i.e. violence. Why do individuals resort to violence?
Individual acts of physical violence can be considered a response to physical, emotional, mental and/or spiritual disharmony. For example: a difficult childhood can lead to feelings of frustration and aggression in an adult human being, who then uses violence as a mental-emotional outlet; the resort to violence could also be an action taken to protect physical basic needs such as safety and access to food; or on a spiritual level, historical antecedents such as the fact that a distant past has been characterised by war could hold violence in the collective subconscious, making it the line of least resistance. Moreover, direct aggression can have its cause in more than one instigating factor. Continue reading →
Arguably the most well-known hero of non-violent action was Mahatma Gandhi; although there are plenty of other persons – nowadays and in the past – who have shown huge civil courage in the face of repression, violence and injustice. Even though some of us will, thankfully, never be confronted by the life-threatening and deeply traumatic circumstances faced and endured by human rights defenders and oppressed persons around the globe, even our more privileged lives can get tough, challenging and seemingly unjust at times. On those occasions, we can learn from forerunners like Gandhi, who have led by example and in so doing have paved the way for us to more easily follow.
Gandhi didn’t condone violent behaviour or injustice. However, whilst holding an attitude of non-judgement (as recommended also by the tantric path), he demonstrated his dissent using direct, non-violent action rooted in a deep love for all human beings and Life itself. Continue reading →