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 →
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 →
Her experiment to discover the spiritual reality behind physical-plane existence had brought with it a growing capacity to love without expectations or neediness. In all her interactions, not only in her intimate relations, Joy endeavoured to radiate positivity and a loving disposition. She felt it was her duty to interact with others in this way. She had learnt to let go. She knew she had no control over what the other person did, said or felt. The only guarantee she had was the relationship she was building with her Self. This was the only constant. It gave meaning to her life.
Joy brought her developing capacity to love without expectations into her relationship with Gino. She knew they would be together for as long as was right. That might be until the end of their lives. It might be sooner. One of them might decide to end the relationship. She no longer feared that and didn’t feel the need to grasp. Joy loved Gino deeply. She smiled whenever she thought of him. They slept lying intertwined. Whenever their relationship ended – through death or separation – the beauty of what they had at that moment would live on as an echo in the “ether”. Only the recourse to hatred, intolerance or grief, which was the reaction of so many divided couples, could take that beauty away.
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 →