"I wanted intimate knowledge of each and how closer can you get than knowing another’s thoughts. That’s what reading the Peace Prize laureate’s speeches gave me."
The first Truth was clear in Mother Teresa’s words. She exemplified the part of cosmic consciousness Christ awareness that recognizes the human tendency to blame and transforms it into gratitude. When she tells of examining her conscience immediately following the peaceful, thankful death of a woman the sisters had brought into the mission, she faces her own limitations and seeks to clean her own mind and heart.
When seeing how many Western youth are addicted to drugs, she seeks to discover why. Rather than casting blame she identifies the cause as “there is no one in the family to receive them.” The parents are busy. They have no time. Younger parents are in some institution, away from the home, so the child wanders without caring direction, and seeking to belong he gets involved with something harmful. The remedy then is love in the home, and where there is love there is gratitude.
The beauty of gratitude is that it fills your mind with thanksgiving. You realize your abundance and this natural urge to give to others wells up from within you. Thoughts of victimization flee.
What struck me with Martin Luther King was his description of the mind that is willing to take suffering upon itself instead of inflicting it on others. In 2002, those living at the College of Metaphysics brought Satyagraha to life. Satyagraha is the combination of two Sanskrit words, satya meaning truth, and graha meaning holding onto, so the concept means “holding onto truth” what M.K. Gandhi called “soul force.” Gandhi brought the term to world attention when the nonviolent movement for home rule in India was named for it in the 1940’s. ....
Even though they never met, Martin Luther King was a student of Gandhi’s. Dr. King studied the Indian’s thoughts and life. He learned, and what he learned became a cornerstone to the U.S. civil rights movement in the 1960’s.
Both King and Gandhi exemplified the ability to overcome resentment with forgiveness. Both men could have built grudges, using the baser instincts of humanity as building blocks for resentment, bitterness, and even hatred. Both men rose above this human weakness to continue giving. When Gandhi was thrown off a train in South Africa he remained in that country for the next seventeen years, giving again, and again until people of color were acknowledged. In march after march, speech after speech, in the face of inhumanities and imprisonment, King continued giving, again and again.
Forgiveness empowers us to accept and relieve suffering. The action of giving alone is not enough. Many people give with resentment each day, then wonder why others are unpleasant to them or why what they are in a position to receive is drenched in conditions they don’t like. Forgiveness means the giver is conscious and aware of his or her purpose in giving. “What is your motive?” forgiveness asks of us.
Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted to change the world. His purpose in giving was very clear, and a nation received his gift accordingly. Replacing resentment with forgiveness is a lesson in peacemaking from Dr. King.
The lesson in Betty Williams’ life was striking for me.
When reading of her defining moment filled with the senseless violence that heartlessly snatched life opportunity from three young children, I was there with her. I have known the outrage when others are mistreated, the animal instinct to strike back, the human instinct to protect and defend. I had not described such mental action as revenge until the day we read her words.
It was through seeing how Betty had awakened from her living nightmare, realized the unacceptability of it and determined to make something else happen, that I saw the place revenge plays in keeping conflict going. This came because I could clearly understand how Betty had been willing to see the events happening before her through new eyes. That day on the street, she saw what she had accepted for years differently. The ability to perceive in this way is respect.
When respect is present, the desire to get back at someone, to prove them wrong or us right, to make them feel like we think they made us feel, the satisfaction of besting someone else flees. Respect gives us the ability to be in someone else’s shoes, to look through someone else’s eyes, to realize our commonalities, and our connection.
Where respect is present, selfishness is seen. We quickly come to realize how we separate ourselves from others. How many people have been ostracized with the thought, “He is not one of us. How many wars have started because someone, in wanting more, felt they had to take it from someone else? How many times do we think of ourselves first, or solely?
How our thoughts and actions affect others determines the quality of our lives. Albert Schweitzer knew this. His life exemplified the movement from selfishness to selfullness, thus he knew and lived brotherhood with all people whether in the jungles of Africa or the concert halls of Europe. His life proved that living a true humanitarian life brings great riches. I am reminded of an Interfaith sermon I gave years ago, its title was “When God is your Father, No One is a Stranger.” The wealthiest among us are those who call every man friend.
Abraham Lincoln is one of many who realized the quickest way to defeat your enemy is to make him your friend. Thus sharing our thoughts as well as physical wealth is a means to think differently and live differently. Thinking of what we have to offer others, what might fill their needs, what might be of help to them, centers us in the reality of what the Universal Peace Covenant calls “living peaceably begins by thinking peacefully.” It is the movement from thinking and acting solely for the self to thinking and acting in relationship with others.
To know all people as your brother or your sister is to claim a common ancestry, a common origin. For some, this is recognizing their place in the human race. For others, this is realizing a shared birthright, a mutual destiny. We realize our connectedness with all life. For some, the idea sparks the heart, softening the interaction with love, while others find their head expanding to include others in progressive ways. What is certain is that as the lessons of love are learned we come to understand our humanity.
It was this humanity that led Linus Pauling to question the good judgment of testing nuclear weapons. The evolutionary movement in our species from humankind to reasoners is exemplified in his work. The scientist finds his uniqueness in his ability to use reasoning. Learning how to ask the right questions, opens the door to wisdom. Pauling asked questions about compatibility and relativity resulting in theories of resonance. This is the thrill of people rooting for their team, resonating together when the team scores. It is the beauty of many voices raised in a common prayer.
What Pauling learned, reasoning stimulated him to carry further. “What are the effects on the body of radioactive fallout?” he wondered. Could it be humankind was harming itself each time we unleash nuclear particles in the atmosphere? Pauling’s search for answers led to conclusions that the pollution of air and water were a major cause of disease as well as mental retardation and physical deformity around the world.
Another question arose, “What can be done to stop this self destruction?” Pauling’s answer was to be an activist for the banning of nuclear weapons testing.
I fully believe that it was his exemplary ability to reason that won Pauling Nobel Prize recognition in two fields thus giving him the distinction of being the only person to win Nobels in both a scientific and nonscientific field. The recognition, though perhaps unconscious on the part of those conferring the award, is an awesome example of the heights to which one individual can scale when the head and heart are completely open, functional, and entrained.
Living a harmonious existence is the realm of mystics and masters, and certainly brought into the world through individuals like Tenzin Gyatso. A simple illustration of his enlightened consciousness that I keep in my memory came as the result of a question asked by a reporter. The man asked the Dalai Lama, “When do you think Tibet will be free?”
Tenzin’s answer is so clearly lucid, “Tibet will be free when China is free.”
”Inner peace is the key: if you have inner peace, the external problems do not affect your deep sense of peace and tranquility. In that state of mind you can deal with situations with calmness and reason, while keeping your inner happiness. That is very important. Without this inner peace, no matter how comfortable your life is materially, you may still be worried, disturbed or unhappy because of circumstances.”
”Clearly, it is of great importance, therefore, to understand the interrelationship among these and other phenomena, and to approach and attempt to solve problems in a balanced way that takes these different aspects into consideration.”
For me, the Dalai Lama embodies the movement of the reasoner into intuitive, Spiritual Man. He is certainly in the world but not of it. As Benjamin Franklin noted during his life, “My country is the world.” So has His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet made the world his own.
Through these men and women, honored on our planet during the past century, we see the elements that make for peace. By hearing of their lives, we are stimulated in some way. By reading their writings, we align our consciousness with their own, enlightening our thoughts if only for a few hours. By studying their words, we enter their thoughts birthing a respect for them and for ourselves. By living according to the principles they manifested, their work in the world continues through us and in so doing we “come to know peace in our lifetimes.”
reprinted, with permission from the publisher, from PEACEMAKING by Dr. Barbara Condron ©2003 SOM