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.
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
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 →
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 →
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”
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 →
Despite her gratitude, each morning Joy woke up to a sense of incompleteness, which more often than not followed her throughout the day. Her spiritual practices helped her to gain some kind of perspective on this emotional and mental malaise. Yet, at the same time, Joy was convinced that meditation and contemplation had actually caused the unease to get stronger.
Some spiritual thinkers linked mental and emotional turmoil to the rational mind, saying it was its natural state of being. The lower mind, intrinsically connected with time and space, was always looking back or looking forwards, creating feelings of anxiety, fear, guilt, desire… Joy had found a partial liberation by her gradual recognition that she was not her rational mind, or rather, that her lower mind was only a part of who she was; a part that was pretending to be the whole; a part that was fooling the entire human race by keeping it imprisoned in the mental illusion of separateness, where greed and fear were the normal states of consciousness. Continue reading →