BEGINNING THE SUMMER OF PEACE

 

 

“Yet so shall it be; these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the ‘Most Great Peace’ shall come.”

                   Baha’i Faith, Science and Spirituality, page 171

 

June 21st was the date of the summer solstice, and for the Shift Network it was the beginning time of the Summer of Peace, which continues until the 21st of September, the International Day of Peace as well as the fall equinox.  On Saturday, June 21st, the Shift Network held a sacred ceremony on a conference call which included an opening prayer by Native American leader Arvol Looking-Horse, prayers by several evolutionary leaders introduced by Shift Network CEO Stephen Dinan, and a spiritual deepening by the founder of Pathways to Peace, Avon Mattison.

 

Following these words of prayer and a couple of silences, Fumi Stewart of the World Peace Prayer Society led a version of the prayer ritual known as “May Peace Prevail on Earth” that mentions the countries of the world one by one in groups – Europe, Middle East, Asia, North and South America, and Africa – followed in each group by “May peace prevail on earth”.

 

Having experienced this deeply sacred gathering, I was most impressed with the feeling of inner and outer peace that was created.  It is most reassuring to know the power of prayer and meditation that can be created on a conference call, and to be aware of the number of people who participated in this meaningful occasion.  This event was held under the auspices of the Shift Network, with the special participation of Pathways to Peace and the World Peace Prayer Society.  Fumi Stewart and others of the World Peace Prayer Society have taken part several times over the years in Peace Sunday and its predecessor, the International Cooperation Festival.

 

This year the Unity-and-Diversity World Council will convene the Peace Sunday Festival in cooperation with a large number or sponsors and co-sponsors, held with its host, the IMAN Cultural Center in West Los Angeles.  This year there will be a large youth segment, including an essay/poetry/art project in various schools.  In addition there will be a booth with young people’s activities.  Another youth program is also being proposed.

 

It is especially important to be aware that next year, 2015, is the 70thanniversary of the United Nations and the 50th anniversary of the Unity-and-Diversity World Council.  The plan is to hold a much larger event at that time and to invite direct participation of the United Nations.  Every ten years since the founding of the U.N. in 1945 in San Francisco the U.N. has sent a delegation to San Francisco to participate in its anniversary celebration – 1955, 1965…1995, 2005, and now 2015.  Each year has had some special aspect of its celebration.  In 1955 a Festival of Faith was held in the Cow Palace the night before the U.N. sessions, with 16,000 people participating.  In 1995 the interfaith celebration at Grace Cathedral gave birth to the United Religions Initiative (URI), which now has cooperation circles throughout the world in about sixty countries.

 

It is our hope that the United Nations will choose also to be represented in Los Angeles at the time of the U.N. International Day of Peace.

 

May peace prevail on earth!!!

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COMBINING INNER AND OUTER PEACE

Peace in the sense of the absence of war, is of little value to someone who is dying of hunger or cold. …Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free.

         —The Dalai Lama, Science and Spirituality, page 177

 

During the Culture of Peace Series, which began in January 2013 and ended in April 2014, the series started with Inner Peace and ended with Social Justice and Human Rights.  This design was based on the Peace Wheel, which contains twelve sectors and four quadrants.  Peace is at the center of the Wheel, which means that it necessarily contains an inner and an outer dimension.

Until recently, peace has tended to be only outer, and oftentimes it becomes caught in social issues where people hold polarizing points of view that then lead to hostility and sometimes violent clashes.  Many examples could be given today where such opposite perspectives are leading toward misunderstanding and hostility.  The idea of diplomatic solutions to these hostile positions is found to be difficult to achieve.

The Peace Wheel was designed with the idea of helping people to have a more holisitic understanding of life, which means that they are trained to meditate and thus to be more centered in their life outlook.  Instead of reacting to first opinions and perspectives, they would evaluate both sides of an issue and seek to resolve any disputes through dialog and nonviolent decision-making.

The theme of the International Day of Peace this year is: People Have the Right to Peace.  In particular, children have the right to grow up in a safe and respectful home, where they can be encouraged to respect others and to go on to a higher education, which is not likely to happen if they are forced to go out and earn money at an early age to help support their families.

The religions of the world generally have a moral and a spiritual aspect.  While not all religions are based on a personal God, they usually proclaim a Universal Spirit, an Ultimate Reality, or a Life Force.  A simplified form of a universal ethic is the Golden Rule proclaimed in some form by virtually all religions, which is Treat others as you would have others treat you.

One of the projects of UDC through its World Interfaith Network is that of developing A Global Code of Living.  A global ethic would focus largely on the ethical side of the code, where a code of living would recognize both the moral and spiritual dimensions of conduct.  The Golden Rule is a good place to start, but there is much more to say.  If you are interested in being part of this project, please contact UDC.

 

Spirit is One; paths are many!!!