Being Peace

"There is no path outside of our lives.  Life, really as it is, is the spiritual path....  Deepen into the life you've been offered today."
   
                                                                                                    --Vanessa Stone, Amala Foundation

"It's so obvious that if you have a thought, some part of you is aware of that thought. So why do you make the thought the primary truth --and not the awareness of the thought the deeper truth?"
   
                                                                                                    --Richard Moss

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"It's you who'll define which I you think of when you say 'I'."
   
                                                                                                                          --Ram Dass

The Nature of Perception


Nonduality America
- Science & Nonduality
- SAND Conf. 2012

Mark Matousek

Natural Stress Relief
Meditation

---  Forum

Sally Kempton

One through Love

Ronita Johnson
Coming to Forgiveness

International Cities
of Peace

A. H. Almaas

Global Coherence
Initiative

Leonard Jacobson

Videos, audios, telecourses...

A Dialogue with Ram Dass and Eckhart Tolle

Thich Nhat Hanh Living Mindfully - Oprah Winfrey Soul Series

Gratitude: Louie Schwartzberg at TEDxSF

The Incredible Power Of Concentration - Miyoko Shida

Awaken to the Eternal - Nisargadatta Maharaj - complete version

John de Ruiter - The Direct Route to Awakening - New Dimensions

OM CHANTING MEDITATION: VERY POWERFUL

Native American Indian Flute and Shamanic Drums ~ Relaxation

Daniel Goleman on compassion TED 2007

Beautiful Bhajans Part II , these melt my heart.....

Ram Dass Interview: Compassion (2) 1988

Utterly Humbled by Mystery

Susan Sachs Goldman - The Quakers

Audio from New Dimensions w/ Justine Toms

Apartheid Regime Bomb Victim Father Michael Lapsley on Using Forgiveness to Heal From Tragedy 042513

Dennis Kucinich: A Culture of Peace 020813
Speech delivered to the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Embodying The Four Immeasurables with Dr. Mario Martinez

Open Your Heart, Be the Change Qi Summit 2012-2013

Four Generations of Lakota Wisdom Keepers

Deva Premal and Miten - Gayatri Mantra

Ora and Ihab Balha - Whirling Dervish

Summer of Peace 2012 Replays

1 Hour Of Relaxing & Beautiful Ocean Waves

Jack Kornfield, Spirit Rock 091012

The Miracle is You - Kute Blackson

 

 

New Dimensions Radio

Teaching What We Need to Learn

Sacred Awakening Series

Conscious TV

Peace Talks Radio

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Sounds True Direct Access

Natural Stress Relief Meditation

Inside Out Unity FM

The Compassionate Brain
Free 8-wk video series
with Rick Hanson

 

 

"What if our religion was each other
If our practice was our life
If prayer, our words
What if the temple was the Earth
If forests were our church
If holy water--the rivers, lakes, and ocean
What if meditation was our relationships
If the teacher was life
If wisdom was self-knowledge
If love was the center of our being."

               --Ganga White

 

 

 

"When one ceases to react blindly, then one is capable of real action-- action proceeding from a balanced mind, a mind which sees and understands the truth."
                                                                                                                           -- S. N. Goenka

Raphael Cushnir Blog

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On Being

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Dances of Universal
Peace

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Sylvia Boorstein

Jack Kornfield

Barbara Leger

Kripalu Center

Sadgura Vasudev

Deborah Johnson

David Whyte

 

Jackie DeShannon - What The World Needs Now Is Love

Summer of Peace 2012

Teaching What We Need to Learn with Raphael Cushnir

Eckhart Tolle - Finding Your Life's Purpose

Gratitude - Louie Schwartzberg TEDxSF

Awakened World 2012 - An Expedition into Spritual Citizenship

Cosmic Power - Gayatri Mantra Meditation
Chant in IAST :
Om bhur bhuva svah
tát savitúr váren(i)ya?
bhárgo devásya dhimahi
dhíyo yó nah pracodáyat

Billy Bragg -- Tender Comrade

MUSICAL RAPTURE A Healing Gift for Humanity

Celebrate What's Right with the World

Leonard Jacobson

Audio from Sacred Awakenings

The Great Bell Chant (The End of Suffering)

Natural Disasters: Global Gathering of Compassion
Hosted by Isira in Australia 3/22/11
-
1:30 - 3:00 am PDT

Global Coherence Initative Project Videos

Project Light in Rwanda

 

 

Shauna Crockett-Burrows 1930–2012

Cutting a Path - Mark Nepo

20 Ways to Get Good Karma by The Dalai Lama

Distance Healing - How it Works -- Samuel Thadeus Short

Lesson of the Changing Seasons

The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation -- S. N. Goenka

What is Vipassana?

The Sport of Empire -- Michael Schwalbe

Becoming Peacemakers -- Deena Metzger

Utterly Humbled by Mystery - Richard Rohr

 

 

 

 

Thailand Tiger Temple - Monks live with tigers

Buddhist Prayer for Animal Liberation


Bob Kull

Dharma Ocean

Arjuna Ardagh

Never Not Here

World Foundation for
the Discipline of Peace

Deena Metzger

Bliss Video

San Francisco Insight

Masaru Emoto

Eckhart Tolle

Amala Foundation

San Francisco
Buddhist Center

New Millenium Being

Guy Findley

Vipassana
S. N. Goenka

Richard Moss

Temple of Sacred
Sound

Ram Dass tapes

 

 

"Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will live as one."
   
                                                                                                                          --John Lennon

Sandra Maitri

Positive News

Wes "Scoop" Nisker

The World of Water

Vic Mansfield

Kadampa Buddhism

Amma

 

"A Good Day" With Brother David Steindl-Rast

Path of the Peacemaker - Transforming Conflict
Audios of free Intro Seminars

Mindsight: the New Science of Personal Transformation

Change your Mind Change your Brain: The Inner Conditions...

Discipline Of Peace: Medicine Wheel Teachings

Gangaji - Who are you?
Papaji and Gangaji Letters

Peace Week - Sept 14 - 21, 2010 -- Audios
A Million Minutes for Peace

ikirtan.com - treasure trove of Indian devotional music

Dalai Lama Chanting for Healing

Ramana Maharshi -- Abide as the Self - Videos A - G

Gangaji --Keys to Awakening and Freedom

Audio from The Shift Network

Jan Frazier -- When Fear is Gone

Audio from New Dimensions

Forgiveness and Healing - LinkTV - Global Spirit series video

Do We Need a Teacher? - Awakening World audio

Kripalu Perspectives podcasts

Stacey Lawson -- Founder, Stacey TV

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Miraculous Messages from Water - The work of Masaru Emoto

Kirtan Kriya Meditation Part 1 -- Part 2 from Average Goddess

The Future of Love Teleseries audio

Sitting with Vanessa Stone

Bede Griffiths -- Return to the Sacred

Audio from New Dimensions

Humanity Healing

 

 

 

"My scientist friends have come up with things like "principles of uncertainty" and dark holes. They're willing to live inside imagined hypotheses and theories. But many religious folks insist on answers that are always true. We love closure, resolution and clarity, while thinking that we are people of "faith"! How strange that the very word "faith" has come to mean its exact opposite."
   
                                                                                                                --Richard Rohr. Theologian

 

 

 

Photo by Rosanne Bane

 

The Dalai Lama Chanting for Healing


Om tryambakam yajaamahe

Sugandhim pushti vardhanam

Urvarukamiva bandhanaan

Mrytyor muksheeya maamritaath


We worship the All Seeing One
Fragrant, You nourish bounteously
From fear of death may you cut us free
To realize immortality.

 

The Dalai Lama has requested this CD be copied and     
distributed freely.  It is used for all types of healing
.   
Link to download   
(scroll down almost to bottom of page)    

 

 

 

 

 

Mindsight: the New Science of Personal Transformation

 

 

 

 

 

"Right at this moment, will I choose small self or True Self? Will I embrace violence (judgmentalism, comparison, greed, etc.) or nonviolence? Will I try to play it safe or risk for the truth that I have understood? As Gandhi said, nonviolence is not for cowards. ... Great honesty and discipline is required to be able to discern that I am not deceiving myself, so that my life can truly be an offering to the Supreme Truth which embraces us all when we have made ourselves ready and transparent."

--Veronica Pelicaric, Pace e Bene    

 

 

 

Change your Mind Change your Brain: The Inner Conditions...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Spirituality is
working for the weak
and the frail."

             --Gandhi

 

 

 

 

 

The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation


Everyone seeks peace and harmony, because these are what we lack in our lives. From time to time we all experience agitation, irritation, disharmony, suffering; and when one suffers from agitation, one does not keep this misery limited to oneself. One keeps distributing it to others as well. The agitation permeates the atmosphere around the miserable person. Everyone who comes into contact with him also becomes irritated, agitated. Certainly this is not the proper way to live.

One ought to live at peace with oneself, and at peace with all others. After all, a human being is a social being. He has to live in society--to live and deal with others. How are we to live peacefully? How are we to remain harmonious with ourselves, and to maintain peace and harmony around us, so that others can also live peacefully and harmoniously?

One is agitated. To come out of the agitation, one has to know the basic reason for it, the cause of the suffering. If one investigates the problem, it will become clear that whenever one starts generating any negativity or defilement in the mind, one is bound to become agitated. A negativity in the mind, a mental defilement or impurity, cannot exist with peace and harmony.

How does one start generating negativity? Again, by investigating, it becomes clear. I become very unhappy when I find someone behaving in a way which I don't like, when I find something happening which I don't like. Unwanted things happen and I create tension within myself. Wanted things do not happen, some obstacles come in the way, and again I create tension within myself; I start tying knots within myself. And throughout life, unwanted things keep on happening, wanted things may or may not happen, and this process or reaction, of tying knots--Gordian knots--makes the entire mental and physical structure so tense, so full of negativity, that life becomes miserable.

Now one way to solve the problem is to arrange that nothing unwanted happens in my life and that everything keeps on happening exactly as I desire. i must develop such power, or somebody else must have the power and must come to my aid when I request him, that unwanted things do not happen and that everything I want happens. But this is not possible. There is no one in the world whose desires are always fulfilled, in whose life everything happens according to his wishes, without anything unwanted happening. Things keep on occurring that are contrary to our desires and wishes. So the question arises, how am I not to react blindly in the face of these things which I don't like? How not to create tension? How to remain peaceful and harmonious?

In India as well as in other countries, wise saintly persons of the past studied this problem--the problem of human suffering--and found a solution: if something unwanted happens and one starts to react by generating anger, fear or any negativity, then as soon as possible one should divert one's attention to something else. For example, get up, take a glass of water, start drinking--your anger will not multiply and you'll be coming out of anger. Or start counting: one, two, three, four. Or start repeating a word, or a phrase, or some mantra, perhaps the name of a deity or saintly person in whom you have devotion; the mind is diverted, and to some extent, you'll be out of the negativity, out of anger.

This solution was helpful: it worked. It still works. Practicing this, the mind feels free from agitation. In fact, however, the solution works only at the conscious level. Actually, by diverting the attention, one pushes the negativity deep into the unconscious, and on this level one continues to generate and multiply the same defilements. At the surface level there is a layer of peace and harmony, but in the depths of the mind there is a sleeping volcano of suppressed negativity which sooner or later will explode in violent eruption.

Other explorers of inner truth went still further in their search; and by experiencing the reality of mind and matter within themselves they recognized that diverting the attention is only running away from the problem. Escape is no solution: one must face the problem. Whenever a negativity arises in the mind, just observe it, face it. As soon as one starts observing any mental defilement, it begins to lose strength. Slowly it withers away and is uprooted.

A good solution: it avoids both extremes--suppression and free license. Keeping the negativity in the unconscious will not eradicate it; and allowing it to manifest in physical or vocal action will only create more problems. But if one just observes, then the defilement passes away, and one has eradicated that negativity, one is freed from the defilement.

This sounds wonderful, but is it really practical? For an average person, is it easy to face the defilement? When anger arises, it overpowers us so quickly that we don't even notice. Then overpowered by anger, we commit certain actions physically or vocally which are harmful to us and to others. Later, when the anger has passed, we start crying and repenting, begging pardon from this or that person or from God: 'Oh, I made a mistake, please excuse me!' But the next time we are in a similar situation, we again react in the same way. All that repenting does not help at all.

The difficulty is that I am not aware when a defilement starts. It begins deep in the unconscious level of the mind, and by the time it reaches the conscious level, it has gained so much strength that it overwhelms me, and I cannot observe it.

Then I must keep a private secretary with me, so that whenever anger starts, he says, 'Look master, anger is starting!' Since I cannot know when this anger will start, I must have three private secretaries for three shifts, around the clock! Suppose I can afford that, and the anger starts to arise. At once my secretary tells me, 'Oh, master, look--anger has started!' The first thing I will do is slap and abuse him: 'You fool! Do you think you are paid to teach me?' I am so overpowered by anger that no good advise will help.

Even supposing wisdom prevails and I do not slap him. Instead I say, 'Thank you very much. Now I must sit down and observe my anger.' Yet it is possible? As soon as I close my eyes and try to observe the anger, immediately the object of anger come into my mind--the person or incident because of which I become angry. Then I am not observing the anger itself. I am merely observing the external stimulus of the emotion. This will only serve to multiply the anger; this is no solution. It is very difficult to observe any abstract negativity, abstract emotion, divorced from the external object which aroused it.

However, one who reached the ultimate truth found a real solution. He discovered that whenever any defilement arises in the mind, simultaneously two things start happening at the physical level. One is that the breath loses its normal rhythm. We start breathing hard whenever a negativity comes into the mind. This is easy to observe. At subtler level, some kind of biochemical reaction starts within the body--some sensation. Every defilement will generate one sensation or another inside, in one part of the body or another.

This is a practical solution. An ordinary person cannot observe abstract defilements of the mind--abstract fear, anger, or passion. But with proper training and practice, it is very easy to observe respiration and bodily sensations--both of which are directly related to the mental defilements.

Respiration and sensation will help me in two ways. Firstly, they will be like my private secretaries. As soon as a defilement starts in my mind, my breath will lose its normality; it will start shouting, 'Look, something has gone wrong!' I cannot slap my breath; I have to accept the warning. Similarly the sensations tell me that something has gone wrong. Then having been warned, I start observing my respiration, my sensation, and I find very quickly that the defilement passes away.

This mental-physical phenomenon is like a coin with two sides. On the one side are whatever thoughts or emotions are arising in the mind. One the other side are the respiration and sensations in the body. Any thought or emotion, any mental defilement, manifests itself in the breath and the sensation of that moment. Thus, by observing the respiration or the sensation, I am in fact observing the mental defilement. Instead of running away from the problem, I am facing reality as it is. Then I shall find that the defilement loses its strength: it can no longer overpower me as it did in the past. If I persist, the defilement eventually disappears altogether, and I remain peaceful and happy.

In this way, the techniques of self-observation shows us reality in its two aspects, inner and outer. Previously, one always looked with open eyes, missing the inner truth. I always looked outside for the cause of my unhappiness; I always blamed and tried to change the reality outside. Being ignorant of the inner reality, I never understood that the cause of suffering lies within, in my own blind reactions toward pleasant and unpleasant sensations.

Now, with training, I can see the other side of the coin. I can be aware of my breathing and also of what is happening inside me. Whatever it is, breath or sensation, I learn just to observe it, without losing the balance of the mind. I stop reacting, stop multiplying my misery. Instead, I allow the defilement to manifest and pass away.

The more one practices this technique, the more quickly one will find one will come out of negativity. Gradually the mind becomes freed of the defilements; it becomes pure. A pure mind is always full of love--selfless love for all others; full of compassion for the failings and sufferings of others; full of joy at their success and happiness; full of equanimity in the face of any situation.

When one reaches this stage, the entire pattern of one's life starts changing. It is no longer possible to do anything vocally or physically which will disturb the peace and happiness of others. Instead, the balanced mind not only becomes peaceful in itself, but it helps others also to become peaceful. The atmosphere surrounding such a person will become permeated with peace and harmony, and this will start affecting others too.

By learning to remain balanced in the face of everything one experiences inside, one develops detachment towards all that one encounters in external situations as well. However, this detachment is not escapism or indifference to the problems of the world. A Vipassana meditator becomes more sensitive to the sufferings of others, and does his utmost to relieve their suffering in whatever way he can--not with any agitation but with a mind full of love, compassion and equanimity. He learns holy indifference--how to be fully committed, fully involved in helping others, while at the same time maintaining the balance of his mind. In this way he remains peaceful and happy, while working for the peace and happiness of others.

This is what the Buddha taught; an art of living. He never established or taught any religion, any 'ism'. He never instructed his followers to practice any rites or rituals, any blind or empty formalities. Instead, he taught just to observe nature as it is, by observing reality inside. Out of ignorance, one keeps reacting in a way which is harmful to oneself and to others. But when wisdom arises--the wisdom of observing the reality as it is--one come out of this habit of reaction. When one ceases to react blindly, then one is capable of real action--action proceeding from a balanced mind, a mind which sees and understands the truth. Such action can only be positive, creative, helpful to oneself and to others.

What is necessary, then, is to 'know thyself'--advice which every wise person has given. One must know oneself not just at the intellectual level, the level of ideas and theories. Nor does this mean to know just at the emotional or devotional level, simply accepting blindly what one has heard or read. Such knowledge is not enough. Rather one must know realty at the actual level. One must experience directly the reality of this mental-physical phenomenon. This alone is what will help us to come out of defilements, out of suffering.

This direct experience of one's own reality, this techniques of self-observation, is what is called 'Vipassana' meditation. In the language of India in the time of the Buddha, passana meant seeing with open eyes, in the ordinary way; but Vipassana is observing things as they really are, not just as they seem to be. Apparent truth has to be penetrated, until one reaches the ultimate truth of the entire mental and physical structure. When one experiences this truth, then one learns to stop reacting blindly, to stop creating defilements--and naturally the old defilements gradually are eradicated. One come out of all the misery and experiences happiness.

There are three steps to the training which is given in a Vipassana meditation course Firstly, one must abstain from any action, physical or vocal, which disturbs the peace and harmony of others. One cannot work to liberate oneself from defilements in the mind while at the same time one continues to perform deeds of body and speech which only multiply those defilements. Therefore, a code of morality is the essential first step of the practice. One undertakes not to kill, not to steal, not to commit sexual misconduct, not to tell lies, and not to use intoxicants. By abstaining from such action, one allows the mind to quiet down sufficiently so that it can proceed with the task at hand.

The next step is to develop some mastery over this wild mind, by training it to remain fixed on a single object: the breath. One tries to keep one's attention for as long as possible on the respiration. This is not a breathing exercise: one does not regulate the breath. Instead one observes natural respiration as it is, as it comes in, as it goes out. In this way one further calms the mind so that it is no longer overpowered by violent negativities. At the same time, one is concentrating the mind, making it sharp and penetrating, capable of the work of insight.

These first two steps of living a moral life and controlling the mind are very necessary and beneficial in themselves; but they will lead to self-repression, unless one takes the third step - purifying the mind of defilements by developing insight into one's own nature. This is Vipassana: experiencing one's own reality, by the systematic and dispassionate observation of the ever-changing mind-matter phenomenon manifesting itself as sensation within oneself. This is the culmination of the teaching of the Buddha: self-purification by self-observation.

This can be practiced by one and all. Everyone faces the problem of suffering. it is a universal disease which requires a universal remedy--not a sectarian one. When one suffers from anger, it is not a Buddhist anger, Hindu anger, or Christian anger. Anger is anger. When one become agitated as a result of this anger, this agitation is not Christian, or Hindu, or Buddhist. The malady is universal. The remedy must also be universal.

Vipassana is such a remedy. No one will object to a code of living which respects the peace and harmony of others. No one will object to developing control over the mind. No one will object to developing insight into one's own reality, by which it is possible to free the mind of negativities. Vipassana is a universal path.

Observing reality as it is by observing the truth inside--this is knowing oneself at the actual, experiential level. As one practices, one keeps coming out of the misery of defilements. From the gross, external, apparent truth, one penetrates to the ultimate truth of mind and matter. Then one transcends that, and experiences a truth which is beyond mind and matter, beyond time and space, beyond the conditioned field of relativity: the truth of total liberation from all defilements, all impurities, all suffering. Whatever name one gives this ultimate truth, is irrelevant; it is the final goal of everyone.

May you all experience this ultimate truth. May all people come out of their defilements, their misery. May they enjoy real happiness, real peace, real harmony.

MAY ALL BEINGS BE HAPPY

The above text is based upon a talk given by Mr. S.N. Goenka in Berne, Switzerland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Vipassana?

The Technique
Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India's most ancient techniques of meditation. It was rediscovered by Gotama Buddha more than 2500 years ago and was taught by him as a universal remedy for universal ills, i.e., an Art Of Living.

This non-sectarian technique aims for the total eradication of mental impurities and the resultant highest happiness of full liberation. Healing, not merely the curing of diseases, but the essential healing of human suffering, is its purpose.

Vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body, and that continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind. It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion.

The scientific laws that operate one's thoughts, feelings, judgements and sensations become clear. Through direct experience, the nature of how one grows or regresses, how one produces suffering or frees oneself from suffering is understood. Life becomes characterized by increased awareness, non-delusion, self-control and peace.

The Tradition
Since the time of Buddha, Vipassana has been handed down, to the present day, by an unbroken chain of teachers. Although Indian by descent, the current teacher in this chain, Mr. S.N. Goenka, was born and raised in Burma (Myanmar). While living there he had the good fortune to learn Vipassana from his teacher, Sayagyi U Ba Khin who was at the time a high Government official. After receiving training from his teacher for fourteen years, Mr. Goenka settled in India and began teaching Vipassana in 1969. Since then he has taught tens of thousands of people of all races and all religions in both the East and West. In 1982 he began to appoint assistant teachers to help him meet the growing demand for Vipassana courses.


The Courses
The technique is taught at ten-day residential courses during which participants follow a prescribed Code of Discipline, learn the basics of the method, and practice sufficiently to experience its beneficial results.
The course requires hard, serious work. There are three steps to the training. The first step is, for the period of the course, to abstain from killing, stealing, sexual activity, speaking falsely, and intoxicants. This simple code of moral conduct serves to calm the mind, which otherwise would be too agitated to perform the task of self-observation.

The next step is to develop some mastery over the mind by learning to fix one's attention on the natural reality of the ever changing flow of breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils.

By the fourth day the mind is calmer and more focused, better able to undertake the practice of Vipassana itself: observing sensations throughout the body, understanding their nature, and developing equanimity by learning not to react to them.

Finally, on the last full day participants learn the meditation of loving kindness or goodwill towards all, in which the purity developed during the course is shared with all beings.

A short video (5.7 MB) about the observation of breath and bodily sensations in this technique can be viewed with the free Quicktime movie player.

The entire practice is actually a mental training. Just as we use physical exercises to improve our bodily health, Vipassana can be used to develop a healthy mind.

Because it has been found to be genuinely helpful, great emphasis it put on preserving the technique in its original, authentic form. It is not taught commercially, but instead is offered freely. No person involved in its teaching receives any material remuneration.

There are no charges for the courses - not even to cover the cost of food and accommodation. All expenses are met by donations from people who, having completed a course and experienced the benefits of Vipassana, wish to give others the opportunity to benefit from it also.

Of course, the results come gradually through continued practice. It is unrealistic to expect all problems to be solved in ten days. Within that time, however, the essentials of Vipassana can be learned so that it can be applied in daily life. The more the technique is practiced, the greater the freedom from misery, and the closer the approach to the ultimate goal of full liberation. Even ten days can provide results which are vivid and obviously beneficial in everyday life.

All sincere people are welcome to join a Vipassana course to see for themselves how the technique works and to measure the benefits. Vipassana Courses are even being conducted in prisons, with great sucess and wonderful benefits for the inmates who participate. All those who try it will find Vipassana to be an invaluable tool with which to achieve and share real happiness with others.

For additional information on the availability of Vipassana courses in your local area, you may contact a local Vipassana respresentative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Becoming Peacemakers

by Deena Metzger

In mid October, after Congress voted the unelected American President extensive war powers to inflict the nightmare of modern technology on Iraq, a dream taught me that spirits are real. A woman's face appeared above me, her features perfect, her polished skin the color of olive wood, her face serene. You are a peacemaker," she said. "Yes." I answered, "but I don't know how to do it. Will you guide me?" I needed more than the theory and techniques of peacemaking; I needed hands-on direction.

This month, I have been grieved by the amount of mail that I have received that has chronicled arguments between people and organizations who have fallen into bitter disagreement about one issue or another though sharing at least one passionate point of affiliation on behalf of peacemaking and/or the environment. Reading
these letters, I thought back to the dream and wondered how a peacemaker might respond?

If we are going to save anything, we must give up our insistence that we are the righteous and good ones, must relinquish our reflexive intention to gain, win, protect or impose our own position and truth. We must give up our reflexive defensiveness and its inevitable hostilities. We cannot continue to favor our own survival, safety and self-preservation over the survival of all. We cannot. We must not. This is the time for constant and repeated self-scrutiny in order to see where we are inadvertently contributing to the hostilities, and so losing sight of the essential places where we are in agreement and are inter-dependent. I am speaking now about our behavior as
individuals as well as our behavior as a nation. Not, "I want" or "I believe," but "How do we work this out?" We will be more successful when we begin to think consistently and reflexively in terms of mutuality, alliance and cooperation.

A respected friend said, "The bottom line is the earth, the preservation of the natural world." She could have easily said, "The bottom line is peace for everyone and all beings and what contributes to it." The power of alliance will come to us when we can agree on these bottom lines while very honestly recognizing that each of us
has been given a different but effective vision of how to accomplish them. This is not the chaos described by the legend of the tower of Babel. This is the visionary wisdom of ecological models. In order for an ecosystem [and a human system] to survive and function extraordinary diversity is required. Vitality depends on each diverse
eco-niche combining with all other diverse eco-niches to form the single piece of music we might call the natural world.

My colleague, Valerie Wolf, a dreamer in the Nez Perce tradition has also dreamed the advent of peacemaking spirits, as have others we know. What distinguishes these dreams is that they do not announce the appearance of a messiah, but offer individuals the role and responsibility of peacemaking.

Her dreams have led us to study the tradition of White Buffalo Woman, who brought the Sacred (Peace) Pipe and its practices to the Sioux. The Pipe ceremony enjoins us to pray for others, to be at peace with all things and within ourselves. The ceremony of the Pipe initiates one into peaceableness.

The question behind peacemaking is: How be consistently peaceable within oneself and with others? As a nation, we have a mistaken idea that peace can be achieved through the diplomatic efforts of intrinsically argumentative, belligerent people. We strategize peace without living it. We thrive on debate and conflict. We honor competition and winners. We define others as losers. Some of these ways are seemingly innocent but their far-reaching consequences are grave.

The cliché regarding American's fascination with violence obscures its horrific reality. Violence is imprinted on each of our interactions. The media is saturated with it. Our economic, political and military policies systematically undermine all indigenous and wisdom traditions devastating peacemaking traditions everywhere. Despite our spurious rationales, we have made our lives, and lives all over the world, grotesqueries. We are responsible. That a nation, even the United States, 'legally' declares war or insists on the righteousness of extreme 'defense' policies does not justify anyone's participation in such hostilities. International law, as established in the Nuremberg Trials after World War II, asserted the primacy of individual responsibility.

As a child, I was taught that the Messiah would come when everyone was ready, that is at peace and living an ethical life. Being peaceable, a most difficult spiritual practice and way of life, is more difficult and demanding than warfare. Among other qualities, peaceableness accepts diversity. We need to awaken our hearts to other ways of seeing and being.

There is still time to change the trajectory, but no Messiah will save us though peacemaking spirits or peacemaking intelligence will probably appear to guide whomever volunteers his or her life. To have peace, we must have peaceable cultures and hearts first; to achieve these is a challenging inner adventure.

Cultures develop from the integrity of the innumerable lived details that underlie what is believed, taught, enacted, from the art created and the ways all beings are treated. At this time in human history, each individual's original, daily, on-going contributions and commitment are critical.

***

As I was about to post this, I focused again on the heartbreaking divisiveness in our communities and realized that such behaviors occur when people are terrified, exhausted and hopeless or when they are traumatized. We are all being driven mad by the tension of the war mongering, the incitement and exaggeration of terrorism, the
valorization of torture and destruction, the horrific possibility that the US might make pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons, the horror of the erosion and destruction of our democracy, and what all of this might mean for each of us, our families and the people and beings in the rest of the world. So, in addition to everything we must do, let
us be very kind to each other and forgiving and understanding of each other's fears. Let us awaken our hearts to other ways of seeing and being.

If we ground ourselves in the future, rather than in history, decidedly imagining a vital future that includes the natural world and all of us, the task becomes easier. We see the future in our mind's heart and we take the small next step that will enable us to get there together. This is the activity of radical hope.

Peace and Blessings,

Deena Metzger

[An expanded version of "Where Peace Begins, Local Activists Speak
Out," The Whole Life Times, Issue 248, December 2002.

www.deenametzger.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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