Embodying the Grace of Peace

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Kabir&DalaiLamaShaikh Kabir Helminski

September 11, 2012, Delhi, India. . .

The World As It Is. . .

Having been invited to speak about “World Peace and Harmony,” I ask myself: What is the cause and nature of conflict in today’s world? Does religion contribute to conflict as so many people assert? And can the idealistic calls for world peace by religious leaders produce any real effect? How can I speak anything more than truisms, sentimental clichés, and ideas we’ve all heard before? Can the teachings of the world’s great mystics effect any real change on the societal level or are these teachings meant only for personal transformation?

Without a doubt spiritual teachings can bring more peace into one’s own heart and increase peace between people, perhaps, even, among different communities. But peace on a global level? If we are to work toward peace and harmony at the global level, we must hope to understand the world as it is.

The more I study the situation at the global level—a subject that interests me because I routinely travel among countries involved in serious conflicts—the more I am convinced that there is a behind the scenes competition over the resources of the world and this leads to long term strategies aimed at regional domination. The world is a game-board and the players conceal their identities and their purposes.

Let’s be realistic: we live in a world where war is a profitable racket, not a noble endeavor. My heart feels compassion and pity for the young people who enlist because they actually believe they are “defending our freedom.”  This is a world where many people are in love with war. Surely, if they actually knew war, they would not love it. One day, we can hope, the atrocity of war will be seen for what it is: a crime against humanity. We do not need to be pacifists to recognize this. It is our job to make war inconceivable.

Neither Islam, nor any religion is the primary problem, but religions may be used by the powers that be to control a suggestible population. Religion is used to manipulate the population because it has a powerful effect on the emotions and opinions of sleeping people.

Consciousness is the best corrective for this suggestibility, and it is the responsibility of practical mystics to help people wake up, to become conscious in their own lives and thus to be less manipulated and controlled.

After human beings have become minimally self-aware, they can move on to compassion, justice, and truth—the foundation on which a lasting peace can be built. Peace without compassion, justice, and truth is an illusion, a hoax.

Truth is essential to peace, but the Great Lie governs much of public life. The Lie is needed to obscure the lack of justice and compassion. But it is a principle that truth will in the end prevail. The Quran says: God hurls the Truth against falsehood. When Truth comes falsehood must wither.

While the Lie may temporarily drown out the voices of the oppressed, it is a spiritual law that the cries of the innocent and oppressed reach to the high throne of heaven.

Meanwhile almost everything in the media is a combination of performance, spectacle, and entertainment designed to distract us from what is really going on and what we should really be paying attention to. We are all subjects in a vast program of mind-control. The deception is far more extensive than the average person could imagine.

Human beings’ suggestibility is easily exploited because the great majority of human beings are living without a spiritual center capable of withstanding the weapons of mass distraction. The power of suggestion, when not balanced by conscious thought, can lead us to be programmed to believe almost anything.

The principle means of control are the desire for pleasure which keeps us interested in sensuality, the need to belong which may be satisfied through sectarianism and patriotism, the need to win approval and attention which makes us manipulatable by authorities.

Under Islamic Law it is not allowable to kill indiscriminately, or even to use fire as a weapon. Weapons of mass destruction are haram, forbidden, according to the teaching of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, though I am not aware of any so-called Islamic government that honors this.

The Urgency of Consciousness

The conscious human being can witness, be aware of the contents of the mind and the drives of the ego. This is the beginning of spiritual freedom. This can lead us out of our enslavement to fear and the endless desires of the false self, the selfish human ego.

But to be a conscious human being we need a practice that will first give us mastery over our attention, and, second, that will purify the heart. When there are enough such people in a society then there is the possibility that compassion, service, and sharing will displace greed and selfishness.

In America there is a movement among spiritual progressives to make the new bottom line of our society, not profitability but magnanimity. We can thank Rabbi Michael Lerner for this. Our society has embraced selfishness, at least at the political level.

In stark contrast to this, and the falsehood of Islamophobia not withstanding, the first hospitals in the world were created in Syria in the early Islamic society. They admitted anyone and charged nothing. They entertained the patients with storytellers and music and gave the discharged patients a small allowance to live on. They gave this to anyone who needed it regardless of religion, race, or land of origin.

The challenge of this generation is to establish a culture of compassion. It is time to call forth an awakening in the whole human race. Bless everyone, call it forward in everyone; they’re all part of God.

By breaking apart the hardened aspects of the mind with the light of conscious love, we can allow a different kind of intelligence to come forth. Structures of thought based on prejudice, reactivity, fear, and inflexibility can be dissolved in that light. Eventually humanity might realize a comprehensive unity.

We can’t go into the future if we’re going to use religion as a weapon. The young people know this and are very upset. It is even causing them to turn their backs on religion because religion is too often controlled by governments and supportive of their war agenda.

But we are at the point of critical mass where we don’t need the weapons anymore. How shall we translate the world of peace? Whenever there is an argument there is a lack of a translation point adequate to solving the argument.

Embodying Grace

The significant question for us now is how to embody the grace. Each of us must find the elements within our own tradition that can contribute to ending the arguments in the world. From what parts of my own family and the world culture can I bring forth the principles of a noble life? How do I embody my own tradition in an appropriate way?

Muslims have been in an especially painful situation because of the humiliation and condemnation they have faced resulting from 9/11. The world was asking: Who are the people who would blow up these buildings? Societies that have been routine purveyors of violence have been very hypocritical in their condemnation of others. The double standards of their so-called “war on terror” are obvious to everyone but those conducting the war. The falsehood of the 9/11 narrative is obvious to anyone who has looked at the facts, and a thousand unanswered questions about that day remain. Nevertheless, Muslims carried the burden of the amount of hatred generated against them.

If Muslims were living correctly the world would not be afraid of us, they would not be able to scapegoat us. If people could find a safe place in us, if they could find a tender loving place of humility and reverence, which is the real essence of Islam, then Muslims will have given birth to something the world desperately needs. The entire world wants the Muslims to prove that violence is not intrinsic to their religion. The Quran affirms that God does not condone aggression, and the passages in the Quran that refer to fighting are within a context of self-defense or defense of human rights. The Quran says: “The word of your Lord is fulfilled in justice.”

We have not been paying adequate attention to something trying to be born through the Islamic faith. A hadith of Muhammad, peace be upon him, says “Speak the truth even if it be against yourself.” We must embody the truth by being self-critical and not defensive. We must embody the truth by defending the rights of others rather than demanding rights for ourselves. And we must forgive those who have projected their own violence upon us, because reacting with violence only proves them right and perpetuates further cycles of violence.

This is true on the level of societies and even more true on the level of individual, personal life. As a dear friend and activist, Elizabeth Hin, said when she came to a Threshold gathering in California last February: “If you forgive everyone everything the grace of the divine will always be there to meet you. The mysterious heart of the beloved will be meeting you everywhere. With your noble character you will know what you are to do. One never knows how the divine will bring forth the truth in another human being. If we could receive the message of God, the divine will more and more provide us with something to do or say that would cause the other to drop their weapon, and because of that a child elsewhere is safe to live in peace because we have put our weapons down.”

We pray that the next generation will give birth to a language for the peace beyond war, as all of mankind goes beyond these arguments. Let us strive for a unity that honors diversity and difference; unity does not mean uniformity. Let us recognize that unity is the principle design feature of existence.

I end with a well-known Islamic prayer: O my God, You are Peace, and from You comes Peace, and our return is to You, to Peace.

[These are the notes for a talk given at the World Meet for Peace and Harmony, which included the Dalai Lama, former Indian President Abdul Kalam, and two of India’s all-time greatest cricket players: Kapil Dev and K Srikkanth, who proved to be the most popular guests of all!]

 

2017-01-29T15:55:17+00:00