GLOBAL MEDITATION AND WORLD TRANSFORMATION

“The nonviolent approach gives (people) new self-respect; it calls up resources of strength and courage they did not know they had.”
~Martin Luther King, Science & Spirituality, p. 172

 

On Friday of this week, Deepak Chopra, M.D. inaugurated what was claimed to be the largest orchestrated worldwide meditation ever presented, 100,000 strong.  It was well  developed and undoubtedly had a wide and indepth influence.  People in the audience where this was held sat silently as they were told about the impact meditation can have on not only the inner life of the individual but also on bringing about world peace.  After learning about the potential influence meditation can have, a global meditation was held, with quiet music in the background.  The one-hour program ended with a process of bringing the audience slowly out of the state of meditation.

 

Meditation is important in the process of moving beyond violence and war.  The United States seems to be addicted to war, and the world now has an unusually large number of “hotspots”, especially in the Middle East.  Once again, Iraq is being threatened, this time by a group called “the Islamic State”.  Our response has so far been to do two things; first to send food aid, and at the same approximate time to fire drones into the country in an attempt to stop the potential take-over by the militants.

 

If our solution to problems such as this one, and also with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is to meditate, then all we would need to do is to sit quietly and meditate or pray for a solution to the various crises in the world.  There is a place for the spiritual solutions to these problems, but for most people the inner solutions are only one part of the answer.  The other part of what is needed is a change of consciousness in terms of how we handle our day-to-day living in the world.

 

Martin Luther King pointed out that returning violence for violence multiplies violence.  There is another way, the way of nonviolence.  Mahatma Gandhi called it “satyagraha”, which is declaring one’s truth and living by that truth, at the same time being willing to accept the consequences of that action.  When the people of India had a hard time living up to Gandhi’s way of nonviolence, he would fast as a reminder that they needed to follow his courageous lead.

 

The point is that for most of us there is more to helping bring about peace than just meditating, as important as meditation and prayer are to prepare us for our nonviolent, Spirit-centered action.   Nonviolent action needs training, and it needs courage and a respect for all life.  A new film has just come out called “Beyond Right and Wrong.”  Its point is that perpetrators and victims need to make an effort to understand each other and finally to transcend the times and attitudes which caused the conflict in the first place.  It is a way of practicing forgiveness and achieving justice.

 

All of us need times of meditation and prayer as a way of centering our lives and giving us the courage of our convictions.  But then, in most cases, we also need to be willing to serve the Highest Good in an active way, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice.  What we might have to do through military service, can also be our own choice in a nonviolent way which is based on respect for all life and the transformation of the world.

 

May peace prevail on earth!!!

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!!!

MEDITATION MUST PREPARE US FOR THE WORLD

Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For those who are hearers and not doers, they are like the ones who observe their natural faces in the mirror; they observe themselves and go away, at once forgetting what they were like.  But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers that act, they shall be blessed in their doings.

—  James the Apostle, Science and Spirituality, p. 431

 

Religion contains both moral and spiritual dimensions.  Those who want to substitute “spiritual” for “religious” have a tendency to leave out the horizontal dimension of morality, which connects us to all human beings and all life.  Today we have many religions, and yet if in fact we tune into some form of Higher Power we often neglect to  connect that Higher Power to living a moral life in the world.  With all of the corruption in our society, and the great amount of misunderstanding and violence now present, we cannot afford just to live within a cocoon that keeps us from acting in line with our beliefs.

Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra have been doing a series of meditation experiences that help to link us with our deeper natures and help us to find personal and spiritual meaning for our lives.  All this is good, and the language used seems to move beyond words that are apt to cause blockages in terms of being sectarian or tied to one religion.  All this is most helpful.  But neither should meditation be only about ourselves.  We live in a world that needs our help, and part of the meaning of our lives should lead us to serve others and the world.  We are challenged to find ways of serving that are in tune with the universality of the Life Force, called by any name or no name.

Beyond political parties and antagonistic points of view there is that Essence that unites and helps to remind us that we are part of that Wholeness which is the Life Force itself.  Our living of a nonviolent life is one of the major challenges of our time, and we need to be able to apply that attitude at many levels as we live our daily existence, and in particular when we are faced with those who have a different point of view than we do.

The Peace Wheel that the Unity-and-Diversity World Council has developed contains twelve different sectors that show the many different interests and fields that make up our society.  In the midst of the Oneness of the Spirit, there is the manyness of everyday life in which we are all involved.  In a democracy we are called upon to live in both worlds and to encourage others to do the same.  Together we can find our way through the maze of the modern world and the coming of the global civilization.

 

Spirit is One; paths are many!!!

MEDITATION, ACTION, AND ENJOYMENT

 We should at various times and in various ways draw from all other paths of life, but give no one our exclusive allegiance.  At one moment one of them is the more appropriate; at another moment    a different path is the more appropriate.  Life  should contain meditation, action, and enjoyment  in almost equal amounts.  When any aspect is  carried to extremes we lose something important  for our life.  So we must cultivate flexibility, admit diversity in ourselves, accept the tension this                      diversity produces, find a place for meditation in the midst of activity and enjoyment, and so in the dynamic interaction of the various paths of life.  One should use all of them in building a life, and no one alone.

                                   Charles Morris, Varieties of Human Value, page 17

 

When I was studying at Harvard Divinity School, I also studied in the Social Relations Department, and it was through this exposure that I found Charles Morris,   Dr. Morris was teaching at Harvard for three spring semesters, and I was fortunate to be able to study with him.  Although he was a philosopher, he was the one who did the scientific research on human values and how the different value patterns relate to each other.  His book, Paths of Life: Preface to a World Religion,  was a real eye-opener for me as to how science and religion come together in seeking the different choices we can make in shaping a life in the new world.

Let’s take each of these components separately and look at their uniqueness and also how they fit together.  If we are to be effectively active in the world, we first need to develop a meditation and/or prayer practice in order to keep our balance and make it possible to handle challenge and stress.  Peacemakers are often so convinced of a particular point of view that they don’t listen to other views and often get caught in some form of violence.  Such onesidedness can easily cause wars.  Meditation helps us be in touch with our higher nature and to act from center rather than from prejudice and misunderstanding.

What concerns me about many spiritual people is that they avoid dealing with social concerns and feel that everything can be resolved through prayer or meditation.  Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King are two good examples of people who knew that social change does not come easily, and that we must be willing to be involved in following through with what we know to be right.  Action is part of the whole self, though the forms of action can vary widely.  Street demonstrations are sometimes the only way to bring an issue out into the open and get it resolved, but there are many other ways of taking action that are more positive.  I confess that I often assume that some other individual or group will take the action to solve a problem, and that all I need to do is to point out the problem.  It is true that we cannot solve all problems, but we can act to make change on something we know about and that is close to our heart.

Enjoyment also is part of life.  It is good to be able to laugh at ourselves, and to relax when we have completed an action.  Getting to know people better is often aided by a laugh in common or just a chance to have a meal and share informally.  Looking at pictures of family or vacation sights can also be healing.  Families having at least one meal together every day is very important in helping to keep the family together.  Going on a trip can also produce bonding.  I often hear people talk about the importance of people having fun with what they are doing.  One of the challenges of good teaching is finding a way of making something that could be boring into a task that contains an element of fun  .

For many years I have talked about our central task as being the creation of a peoples’ equivalent of the United Nations.  The U.N.’s primary task is to work with nations and to get the various nations to work cooperatively with each other.  Attached to the U.N. is the Nongovernmental Organizations (NGO’s), which consist of profit and nonprofit organizations fulfilling various tasks that are more suited to groups rather than nations.  The NGO’s are part of the U.N. and are at least to some extent under the control of the United Nations.  A separate organization is needed that works with individuals, groups, and networks and which has its own goals and methodologies.  There are a huge number of such organizations in existence today, but the challenge is to get them to join together and set out to take care of the problems of the human race, the environment, and the major issues that continue to plague everyone’s existence.

As an example, Bill Moyers, who regularly brings up issues that need attention, recently mentioned the problem of charter schools.  Originally, charter schools were supposed to be supportive of public schools and to act as a supplement when needed.  More recently they have become a source of moneymaking and a threat to the public schools.  In our democracy we do need outstanding public schools, and they needed to be understood and supported by the people.  A weakened public school system is a loss to democracy and needs to be improved.  A society centered around the dollar sign is not a strength but a weakness in a robust democracy.  Values must come before money or we are in trouble.  That is our current condition and desperately needs our attention.

I’d like to end my message by pointing out that a new form of human interaction is emerging.  It is called “collaboration”.  People are starting to come together not just to listen to a speaker or a panel, but to share with each other and to build their strength in order to handle issues that need attention.  May our coming together on Sunday mornings help to build our capacity to collaborate and to work for the well-being of all.

May peace prevail on earth!!!