If you like this please send an email to let me know. I can use the encouragement. (On some days more than others.)
In other words: We are all responsible for one another.
Toward creating harmony we hope that many will speak, use the written word, and other mediums to communicate the basic truth that "The World Is One Family.” This is true because we are all the children of one Creator and all descendants from a common couple.
This effort is about building bridges.
You may wish to help spread this message of truth. Please help bring a world of peace and harmony a bit closer.
Wisdom comes from so many sources and it is good to be open to it, from wherever it may spring. It is our sincere hope that this evolving selection of essays, prayers and quotes will help promote tolerance, cooperation, and peace. Feel free to copy and circulate them. If you like, send us a writing and we will consider it for posting.
Across the religious spectrum it can be seen that the great masters, sages, seers, and especially mystics had a common vision and message. May we look deeply enough to truly understand their message and help to create a needed shift in perspective: Ultimately, peace in the world family, like peace in the nuclear family, will not come through might, but through the spirit of love.
May love and justice flow like a mighty stream. May one day soon it become apparent that all of the pieces (us) belong and together (we) make a great whole.
Toward peace within and without, below are quotes, essays, prayers and teachings from:
The Jewish Tradition
The Yogic Tradition
The Christian Tradition Saints and the Like
The Muslim Tradition
The Universalist Perspective
Teachings From the Jewish Tradition
Regarding those who claim an exclusive possession of the truth
"Aren't there people today who claim an exclusive possession of the truth, who insist that their monopoly on morality, or compassion, or divine will, allows them to slander, to slight, to distort, or to oppress? From the liberal chic to the conservative smug, all over the world self-appointed spokespeople of the "correct" view trumpet their own infallibility and moral superiority.
If anyone ever had a right to take that position, Abraham was that person. And yet...Abraham still made a point of respecting the humanity of his pagan hosts, still insisted on taking seriously the perspective of the Hittites, their customs, and their proprieties.
We who would claim to be the descendants of Abraham and Sarah would do well to hearken to the wisdom of the Talmudic volume, Avot De Rebbe Natan": "One who possesses these three traits is one of the disciples of our father, Abraham: a generous eye, a meek spirit, and a humble soul."
Abraham didn't doubt God's word, or his accurate awareness of the divine will. But he also knew that no one possesses an exclusive hold on truth, that other well-meaning people also pursue the truth to the best of their ability. Without relinquishing his own convictions, Abraham never abandoned the religious humility that accepts the possibility of being wrong.
A generous eye, a meek spirit, and a humble soul. Who would have guessed that these traits would provide the strength for Abraham's people to thrive...
The Bedside Torah by Rabbi Bradley shavit Artson p. 34-35
Abraham's nameless servant is assigned the task of traveling to a distant land to find a bride for the patriarch's son. Overwhelmed by the gravity and seriousness of his mission, ...the servant sits and speaks. "O, Lord, God of my master Abraham," he prays with neither formula nor poetry, "grant me good fortune this day, and deal graciously with master Abraham" (24:12).
The servant speaks to God with a directness borne of necessity. Filled with a sense of the uncertainty of his task, aware of his own limitations, he turns to the Source of Life and shares his fear.
Note also that the servant establishes criteria for judging the successful accomplishment of his mission, and then prays that his standards should be God's as well (13-14). Those standards are themselves an insight into the human heart__he asks for a woman who is generous, compassionate, and willing to act on behalf of others. Such a person is indeed a fitting mate.
As a Kohain and a yoga teacher, I sincerely try to walk in the footsteps of Mose's brother, Aaron by spreading a message of peace: G-d loves all His children and we all serve One Creator even though across this planet we call him by many different names. In truth the whole world is one family.” In 2000, while serving as an athletic supervisor at the JCC on the Palisades in N.J., I initiated a project to hang 10 banners in the new gymnasium. The project was a success and the banners are lettered "alef" through "yud" and include important principles and qualities I try and reinforce and develop within myself and in all of my students.
"Respecting others is like respecting God."
"The day is short and the task is great."
Sayings of the Fathers
"Know where you have come from and where you are going."
Sayings of the Fathers
"If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I?"
Sayings of the Fathers
"You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."
Sayings of the Fathers
"A team is like a pile of stones--remove one, the pile falls."
"Teach your children to swim, as their lives may depend on it."
"Real strength is turning an opponent into a friend."
Avot of Rabbi Nathan
"Striking others is like striking God."
"What is hateful to you do not do to others."
From a Jewish Faith
(Shema Yisrael Adonai eloheinu Adonai ehad) "Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One"
Who is the strongest of the strong? He who turns an enemy into a friend. Hillel
BLESS THIS LAND (C)
by Barbara R. Kahn
A hallowed nation holds her breath
Affirming life, prepared for death
Heads bowed to the vast HaShem
Peace in Jerusalem
Currents of fear, a darkening cloud
Voices raised in tension, loud
Protecting leaders from disparate crowd
Peace in Jerusalem
Fear of a routine like riding a bus
Suspicious glances, anxious hush
Recalling explosions, metallic rush
Peace in Jerusalem
Tears for loss of chief command
Have dried upon the Holy Land
Dare Children of Israel yield border-land?
Peace in Jerusalem
The voice of Rabin calls from his rest
Echoing ripples from East to West
Envisioning Earth as Ever Blessed
Peace in Jerusalem
This land that delivers the wanderer Home
Voices of ancestors singing 'Shalom'
Shower white doves on a golden dome
Peace in Jerusalem
We beckon Masters, luminous, bright
Praying with them by day and night
For this Sacred City to hold the light
Peace in Jerusalem
More Jewish perspectives-
We are all responsible for one another.
Ideas of interest in this weeks readings. (Please excuse the lack of editing partly due to lack of more time or help.)
(It is possible that some of these themes will show up in this weeks classes)
The words below have been taken directly (with one or more minor edits) from The Bedside Torah by Rabbi Bradley shavit*:
(Note: Rabbi Bradley Shavit's beliefs do not necessarily represent the
beliefs of the editor of this blog. If this and other entries are
thought provoking and lead to communication, the posting will have
served a good purpose. The blog editor believes in the importance of
dialogue. If Jews can not talk to one another and find a way to work
together then what hope is there that we will be able to make peace
across the greater religious divides? Perhaps if we want the full
measure of Divine protection (like Joseph who God was with)we will need
to learn about listening, being open to others who see a bit
differently, finding common ground in our own extended family.) Benjamin
Franklin's statement, "We must all hang together, gentlemen...else, we
shall most assuredly hang separately" was made at the signing of the
Declaration of Independence and meant that if they did not band together
in the fight against the British, they would all be hanged separately.
The fundamental principle for Jewish living:
Kol Yisrael areivim, zeh ba’zeh: We are all responsible for one another.
Kol Yisrael areivim, zeh ba’zeh: We are all responsible for one another.
By living in community, we can support one another to be the best that
we can be. That is one of the ways, this Torah portion teaches us, that
we can all hasten holiness on earth.
We were called—and are enjoined still-to be a people of priests, and a
holy nation. Our mission to the world is to embody a communal life of
holiness, sensitivity, learning, and justice, and in this way to testify
to the One god who made the heavens and the earth. In the words of the
Shabbat morning prayer, we are summoned to be “servants of the Holy
[One-Blessed be He].” Who are the Jews? What is our role in the world?
What are our ultimate values? Modern Jews rarely discuss these
questions, so essential to a meaningful identity as bearers of God’s
covenant. Consequently, many of our people look elsewhere. They
associate Jewishness with history and heritage, and Eastern religions or
cults with ultimate questions and a relationship with divine reality.
Midrash B’raisheet Rabbah- According to Rabbi Huna, the phrase means
that “Joseph whispered God’s name whenever he came in and whenever he
went out.” It is not that Joseph received the special attention of God,
but that Joseph cultivated his own consciousness of God’s presence. By
continually repeating God’s name to himself and regularly invoking God’s
love and involvement, Joseph trained himself to perceive the miraculous
in the ordinary, to experience wonder in the mundane.
Significantly, according to Rabbi Huna, Joseph whispered God’s name. He
kept quiet about his own religious experience, and taught the love and
power of God not through words but through deeds. By performing mitzvoth
and acts of love, Joseph testified to God’s love with his own example.
Rashi provides an alternate way to read our phrase. According to that
medieval commentator, “the name of God was often in his mouth.” For
Rashi, Joseph spoke often about God, not merely to God. A willingness to
share his ardent love of God, and eagerness to serve God and let others
know that he was serving God, forced those around him to consider their
own relationship with God, to morality, and to the mitzvoth. By
speaking about God without discomfort or insensitivity, Joseph
challenged the conventions of those around him, provoking others into
rethinking their own assumptions.
Both interpretations, one of quiet piety and another of a willingness to
speak of God openly, have their place in Jewish religion. Sometimes we
best testify to God’s loving care simply by embodying that love and
Ana avda de-Kud’sha b’rikh hu: We are the servants of the Holy One [Blessed be He].
*Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson is Dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic
Studies and Vice President at University of Judaism in Los Angeles.
Korach (Numbers 16-18)
Pursuit of Peace
A Jewish man is shipwrecked on a desert island. After 10 years he's
finally rescued by a passing ship. When the rescuers disembark on the
island, they are surprised to find the man has built himself an entire
civilization: golf course, restaurant, and two synagogues.
"But since you're here all alone on the island," they asked, "why do you have TWO synagogues?"
"Because," replied the man, pointing to the buildings, "that's the one I go to, and that's the one I don't!"
* * *
KORACH - WHAT'S SO BAD?
In this week's Parsha, a terrible dispute erupts amongst the Jewish
people. A man named Korach accuses Moses of corruption. Korach then
recruits 250 men and stages a full-fledged rebellion. In the end, the
earth opens up and swallows Korach and his cohorts alive.
Why such a terrible punishment? Judaism regards quarrelling as one of
the gravest sins. Why? Because divisiveness contradicts the essential
unity of God. A flower has perfect form and symmetry, the ecosystem
functions harmoniously, the colors of a sunset blend perfectly.
Quarreling -- with its tension, allegations and incriminations --
undermines the harmony of creation. (Midrash Bamidbar Rabba 11:7)
In Hebrew, the word for peace, shalom, is derived from the root shalem,
which means whole or complete. Peace is not merely the absence of war.
Peace is a cooperative, symbiotic relationship, where both parties care
for each other, assist each other, and ultimately complete each other.
* * *
HOW TO AVOID A QUARREL
We've all been faced with confrontation. It may be a business dispute, or simply jockeying for position at a red light.
So what should we do? The surest way to immediately defuse any conflict
is to refuse to participate. Remember: It takes two to argue.
In our Parsha, Moses asks to meet with the provocateurs Datan and
Aviram. Moses eagerly pursues peace even though it means the risk of
personal humiliation (see Numbers 16:8,12).
The Talmud (Avot 1:12) describes Aaron as the master of pursuing peace.
If Aaron saw two people arguing, he would tell each of them that the
other admitted his mistake and wants to make up. That way, each party
saves face, allowing the dispute to end. How much family dysfunction
could be spared with this advice!
* * *
A WELL-INTENTIONED ARGUMENT
The topic of "peace" is a popular one these days. We hear everyone talk
about peace in the home, peace with the Arabs, peace in the inner city.
Peace is perhaps the most central theme in Judaism. The words of King
David (Psalms 133:1), "How good and pleasant is it for brothers to sit
peacefully together," are perhaps the most popular Hebrew song. The
Amidah prayer, said three times daily, ends with the word "Shalom." The
Grace After Meals ends with the word "Shalom." The Birkat Kohanim
(Priestly Blessing) ends with the word "Shalom." The entire Talmud ends
with the word "Shalom." As well, the Talmud declares, "Shalom" is one of
the Names of God!
But if peace is such an essential Jewish value, then why are Jews always arguing?!
Quarreling should not be confused with well-intentioned controversy. Any
student of the Talmud knows that the schools of Hillel and Shammai were
always arguing. Yet their respect for one another grew because they
knew the disputes were for the purpose of reaching a common
understanding. In fact, the Talmud (Yevamot 14b) reports that the
children of Hillel and Shammai intentionally married each other to show
they were at peace.
The Talmud states: "Just as no two faces are exactly alike, likewise no
two opinions are exactly alike." Rabbi Shlomo Eiger explains this in
terms of peaceful human relations: The fact that other people have
different facial features does not bother me in the slightest. In fact, I
am actually glad this is so, because it preserves my uniqueness! So
too, I should appreciate the unique perspective that others bring to my
The Talmud (Avot 5:20) describes a well-intentioned controversy as that
between Hillel and Shammai. A poor-intentioned controversy is that of
Korach and his followers, who tried to manipulate others for their own
selfish power struggle.
* * *
HAMMERING OUT THE TRUTH
Judaism does not object to argument, if it is for the sake of truth. In
fact, sincere disputants will ultimately feel love for one another.
What's most striking about a yeshiva is that the study partners are
always yelling at each other. The forcefulness of their positions
engenders not animosity, but rather increased respect!
The Talmud relates a story about the great scholar Rebbe Yochanan and
his study partner Reish Lakish. The two learned together for many years,
until one day Reish Lakish got sick and died. Rebbe Yochanan was
totally distraught over the loss. His students tried to comfort him,
saying, "Don't worry, Rebbe. We'll find you a new study partner -- the
most brilliant man in town."
A few weeks later, Rebbe Yochanan was seen walking down the street,
totally depressed. "Rebbe," his students asked. "What's the problem? We
sent you a brilliant study partner. Why are you so sad?"
Rebbe Yochanan told them: "This man is indeed a scholar. In fact, he's
so brilliant that he can come up with 24 ways to prove that what I'm
saying is correct. But when I studied with Reish Lakish, he brought me
24 proofs that what I was saying was wrong. And that's what I miss! The
goal of study is not to just have someone agree with me. I want him to
criticize, question, and prove to me that I'm wrong. That's what Torah
* * *
This week's Parsha states clearly: "Don't be like Korach" (Numbers 17:5)
-- which the Talmud (Sanhedrin 110a) explains is the prohibition
Hatred, jealousy and infighting are unfortunately not new terms to our
people. The Talmud (Yoma 9b) says that it was baseless hatred amongst
Jews which brought about the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. The
Temple has lain in ruins for 2,000 years.
Only through unconditional love will it be rebuilt.
Much has been said recently about internal disputes between Jews in
Israel. Can we stop these disputes? Perhaps not. But we can live with
these disputes providing we remember one essential rule: "Every person
is worthy of profound respect, regardless of his beliefs and level of
I may have differences and disagree with other Jews on various issues. I
may have differences and disagree with my wife on various issues as
well. But just as I would never consider distancing from my wife based
on our disagreements, so too I would never consider distancing myself
from other Jews based on our differences.
In Israel -- where the issue of Jewish unity is most critical -- much is
being done to address the problem. Organizations like Gesher and Common
Denominator run programs to bring together divergent groups --
Kibbutzniks with settlers, or secular with religious -- to help them
discover that what unites us is ultimately greater than that which
How appropriate that the city of Jerusalem is actually a contraction of
two words -- Yeru-Shalem -- "peace will be seen." May the Almighty bless
us with the patience and sensitivity to avoid destructive arguments and
to accord proper respect all.
Rabbi Shraga Simmons
From a Yogic perspective
"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." Gandhi
From Inspiring Quotes From a Contemporary Yoga Master, edited by Richard Faulds
The Highest principle of Sanatana Dharma is "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam", the whole world is one family.
God is the father of this whole universe. That is why we are all brothers and sisters and belong to one family. No matter what religion we are following, if we cannot love others then we are not following religion but the illusion of religion. Religion teaches oneness of all. Where there is no unity, no love, no harmony among each other, how could there be religion? Swami Kripalu
The Challenge: The vast majority of human beings would like to have peace and security but feel
creating it is beyond the scope of their abilities.
The Solution: We must recognize and promote the recognition of the basic truth that The World Is One
Family. We can join in a vast network of like individuals who are steadily, often quietly, reaching toward the creation of a peaceful, loving, and harmonious planet. Spiritual teachers from all faiths, including Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, and others reveal a single basic truth-that love can be our guide and can unite us all. A love for all members of the human family around the globe, and an acknowledgment of our obligations to our fellow beings, will lead us to actions that reach across boundaries to extend kindness and material help to people in need.
Goals of the World Is One Family Initiative: First, we hope to add to the global movement toward peace and unity that is already experiencing much growth but needs all our support. In addition, we hope to launch a new initiative that uses our logo to communicate a shared vision. We hope to bring together different religious and secular groups and individuals to help focus attention on our message: that people everywhere, no matter what their differences, are part of a larger human family. Finally, we want to raise awareness about our great need for spiritual leaders and other public leaders who strive to live exemplary lives-true role models who walk as they talk. Our leaders may never be perfect, but they ought to be a source of inspiration to good conduct and living.
The only prerequisite for joining in this work is a sincere desire to help advance harmony on the planet.
Let's dream together. Imagine this logo, conveying our common vision, displayed across lands in churches, temples, mosques, and other places of worship. Imagine corporations displaying this logo publicly on their products and designers displaying it on their clothing. Imagine public media displaying it. Imagine this logo riding alongside a national flag. Imagine it spreading to many countries. This symbol will demonstrate an individual, group, or nation's participation in and commitment to creating lasting peace and security. Some may say this is the case of a dreamer, but together we can help create peace! This is surely the direction in which we must travel.
Let's look at a challenge of the 21st century. The violence involved in our attempts to squelch terrorism actually creates an environment likely to breed more of the same. Ultimately, we can not defeat this kind of violence by more of the same. Violence needs to end. Of course vicious individuals or groups do need to be controlled, but life must be valued and we must keep to the goal of peaceful co-existence.
Many people say, "But it's impossible to negotiate with fanatics!" Acts of loving kindness go far.
When we can't demonstrate our loving intentions directly with the person who is enraged we try to reach someone else in his or her life-a spouse or child, for example. If this will not work we try to do a kindness for his friend. If this still does not work we act to soften the heart of his mechanic. Little by little our love will prevail.
Language can either bring people together or create a greater divide. It is important that people from different lands, cultures, religions, and political parties begin to choose and use language very carefully to create accord. When we speak of others we should always speak of them with love, as if they are members of our own family. Even if they are sick with rage and violence we should not, with our angry words, create a greater chasm. To do so lays the ground for more polarized thinking and destructive behavior.
God is the word used by diverse peoples to refer to the One Creator. God is too big for any one religion. God is the foundation of most religions and by whatever name we call it: Allah, Adonai, Great Spirit, the Father, or if we don't "call it," we are all from the same Source. Even the atheist who seeks an ethical life in cooperation with others should be at home in this work.
We must take advantage of the resources available in order to experience and maintain our own inner peace. The next step is to consider our own family of origin. The importance of this work can not be overstated: Make peace with your own family! World peace is dependent upon the sum of many parts and this includes each one of us doing our part. It is easy to advocate for world peace and fail to do the real work right at home.
While religions differ and these differences all too often lead to discord, spirituality is the same around the whole world. When we look closely at the spiritual teachings from the major religions, we see that, far from pulling us apart, these teachings are really leading us forward in one direction-the direction of love for others, service to others, good conduct, finding one's purpose, and ultimately peace.
Please use our logo and help spread the message. Let's promote tolerance and cooperation among people and groups of people.
© Copyright, October 17, 2004. This writing may be duplicated in part or entirely so long as the author is properly credited.
Below is the full essay:
Creating Peace in Our Current World:
The World Is One Familyby Andrew Martin Kahn
First Edition 2004
The Challenge: The vast majority of human beings would like to have peace and security but feel
creating it is beyond the scope of their abilities.
The Solution: We must recognize and promote the recognition of the basic truth that the world is one family. We can join in a vast network of like individuals who are steadily, often quietly, reaching toward the creation of a peaceful, loving, and harmonious planet. Spiritual teachers from all faiths, including Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, and others reveal a single basic truth—that love can be our guide and can unite us all. A love for all members of the human family around the globe, and an acknowledgment of our obligations to our fellow beings, will lead us to actions that reach across boundaries to extend kindness and material help to people in need.
Goals of this Initiative
Our overarching goal is to facilitate the creation of a strong global network committed to the realization of a peaceful, loving, harmonious planet. First, we hope to add to the global movement toward peace and unity that is already experiencing much growth but needs all our support. In addition, we hope to launch a new global movement called “The World is One Family Initiative” that uses our logo to communicate a shared vision. It will bring together different religious and secular groups and individuals to help focus attention on our message: that people everywhere, no matter what their differences, are part of a larger human family. What does that mean? A family is a related group of people working, struggling, sharing, caring and settling disputes in a way that does not destroy, but nurtures the individual and serves the welfare of the whole. Only this way of relating will bring us to lasting peace and security.
Finally, we want to raise awareness about our great need for spiritual leaders and other public
leaders who strive to live exemplary lives—true role models who walk as they talk. Our leaders may
never be perfect, but they ought to be a source of inspiration to good conduct and living.
The aim here is to have the widest possible appeal and to avoid unnecessary controversy. In this document there are repeated references to yoga and its teachings. We hope the reader will not be put off by this messenger, but will concur with and help advance the great message.
Together we need to strive to make our love felt by those who are suffering with the disease of hate
born of desperation. We need to approach people who feel embittered, providing them with both kindness and the material things they need: food, water, clothing, and shelter. Love in action is the way. Yet in giving help we must be wary of aiding corrupt governments or regimes. As in any family, members of the world family will go astray. We must strongly condemn acts of terror and all forms of unnecessary violence. At the same time, we must try to understand what led to the acts so that we may prevent more. Knowing where to send our help may not always be simple, but that doesn’t mean we can send none.
In the Jewish “Sayings of The Fathers” we read, “You do not have to finish the work, but neither are
you free to abandon it.” This effort is going to take time! To be sure, this work of creating peace will not be completed for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. Yet we must not wait. We should act now with full devotion and determinaton.
Who Will Join Us and How Should We Begin?
The only prerequisite for joining in this work is a sincere desire to help advance harmony on the planet.
Focusing together on “The World is One Family” as a basic truth will help create the needed shift in perspective. We need to begin to look at people from other cultures and in other places as part of “our group.” History illustrates again and again that intolerance, hate, and violence, even in the
name of peace, does not create lasting peace. In the human body the hand and the heart are both important. The heart would be foolish to stop sending blood to the hand. We are no less foolish when we try to starve or crush a part of our own world body. Harsh treatment and destruction will not help our world body to heal. We know that only an all-inclusive vision and a love for all of humanity, and the right actions that follow from this vision, will bring us the peace we seek.
We must seek to understand what is going wrong, and consider the course necessary to make it right.
This suggested prayer can help bring us together with a constructive perspective: “May each part of my body work in harmony with the other parts to serve the whole. May there be love and compassion in all of my relationships. May each nation teach peace and that we are all One in Spirit. Through love may humankind fulfill its potential and find true peace and security.”
Along with the first edition of this booklet comes a logo which, when displayed, will promote and demonstrate acceptance of the inclusive message.
Let’s dream for a moment. Imagine this logo, conveying our common vision, displayed across lands in
churches, temples, mosques, and other places of worship. Imagine corporations displaying this logo publicly on their products and designers displaying it on their clothing. Imagine public media displaying it. Imagine this logo riding alongside a national flag. Imagine it spreading to many countries. Displayed in such a way, this symbol would demonstrate an individual, group, or nation’s participation in and commitment to creating lasting peace and security. This is surely the direction in which we must travel.
Acts of loving kindness go far. If you can’t communicate your loving intentions directly with a person who is enraged try to communicate with someone else in his or her life—his spouse or child. If this will not work try to do a kindness for his friend. If this still does not work see if you can soften the heart of his mechanic… Little by little our love will prevail.
How can we communicate our loving intentions to a person half a world away who is enraged? Giving money to, or volunteering in, reputable aid organizations that promote tolerance and cooperation are a couple of ways.
Language can either bring people together or create a greater divide. It is important that people from different lands, cultures, religions, and political parties begin to choose and use language very carefully to create accord. When we speak of others we should always speak of them with love, as if they are members of our own family. Even if they are sick with rage and violence we should not, with our angry words, create a greater chasm. To do so lays the ground for more polarized thinking and destructive behavior. Here is an example of constructive language: “Our brothers over there have become ill with rage and vengeance, what can we do to help them?”
By using inclusive and loving language we foster cooperation and we do not degrade ourselves. Love heals. In order to be successful in this united work we will need humility. As much as we cherish our own
group, political party, religious approach, or philosophy we will better advance this cause if we can recognize a reality that was well spoken by Swami Kripalvanandji:
“Truth cannot belong to any one race, creed or country; it cannot know such narrow distinctions.
Truth is available to the whole world.”
Today there is a dire need to focus on this unifying truth; the inclusive love for all of humanity. Gandhi knew that only from peaceful means come peaceful ends and that it is kindness that begets kindness. Kindness then is the action that demonstrates a commitment to our goals that goes beyond words. Kindness is the key.
Working Together: Believers, Agnostics, and Atheists
Whether one believes in God or not, one can help in the work at hand. Those who don’t believe need only consider God to mean Good Orderly Direction. We can all work together with respect. There is no need for unnecessary argument or strife.
God is the word used by diverse peoples to refer to the One Creator. God is too big for any one religion. God is the foundation of most religions and by whatever name we call it: Allah, Adonai,
Great Spirit, the Father, or if we don’t “call it,” we are all from the same Source. One might say that God is alive and breathes in all of those who breathe. Whatever language we use to reference this One, as God’s creatures (from the same source) we are One Family.
Let peace spread from the inside out. On the largest scale, there is a great need to rethink and rebuild relationships with estranged world family members everywhere. Yet if we wish to make peace in our world family we must first learn to create peace within ourselves. To assist us there are wonderful resources like12-step programs, peace-loving religious teachings and institutions, yoga, tai chi, teachings of various saints and masters, meditation practice, time communing with nature, and many helpful books. Discover and nurture what creates a genuine serenity (peace of mind) for you.
The next step is to consider your own family of origin. The importance of this work can not be overstated: Make peace with your own family! World peace is dependent upon the sum of many parts and this includes each one of us doing our part. It is easy to advocate for world peace and fail to do the real work right at home.
Why “peace in my own family”? Peace must begin at home. What if my own family is broken, or if I have no family? Then your work is with your closest relations. If the word “family” makes little sense in your life or if you haven’t had a positive family experience, what would you have liked your family to be? What is your best concept of a loving family? The definition given above bears repeating: A family is a related group of people working, struggling, sharing, caring and settling disputes in a way that does not destroy, but nurtures the individual and serves the welfare of the whole. We all have necessary work to do as we diligently attempt to repair relationships with our family members or with the important people in our lives.
Cause and Effect
The enlightened beings who first expressed the spiritual concept known as Dharma believed there was an order to the universe and that individuals were a part of this order.
In fact, they believed our unique abilities are needed to complete the whole.
For example, an apple seed has a certain dharma. If it is nurtured with enough rain and sunshine, it will follow its design and one day it will yield fruit. In the same way, this concept holds, each individual has a blueprint to follow that brings him or her on a unique path toward full actualization. When you follow this path, it naturally helps to create harmony, balance, and completeness in the world.
Each one of us has something to bring to the whole of creation. Thus, we should never wait for someone else to take care of what we see needs to be done. Instead, we should focus on doing our part and we should do all we can today. With regard to creating peace, with each one accepting responsibility for the whole, our common work will make rapid progress.
While religions differ and these differences all too often lead to discord, spirituality is the same around the whole world. When we look closely at the spiritual teachings from the major religions, we see that, far from pulling us apart, the major religions are really leading us forward in one direction—the direction of love for others, service to others, good conduct, finding one’s purpose, and ultimately peace.
Once again, Swami Kripalvanandji, a highly evolved yogi who taught about love and peace, had words of great wisdom to impart. Let’s carefully consider these quotes and see if we can agree on all or some of these.
(1) True dharma is what creates harmony and love in the world. Adharma, or irreligion, is what
creates disharmony and hatred. Wherever we see unity, there we find dharma; and wherever we see disunity, there we find adharma.
Dharma is like a needle and thread: it unites many pieces into one whole. Adharma is like scissors, which cut the whole into many pieces.
(2) Evolution of the soul comes from purification of mind, body and ego. Degradation of the soul happens though impurity of mind, body and ego. The individual has a choice to move in the direction of spiritual evolution or in the direction of spiritual decline. True progress for individual, family, society and nation is spiritual progress.
(3) True culture is what protects man’s divine qualities and character; restraint, love, good conduct, service and surrender. It keeps him traveling on the path of spiritual evolution.
(4) No matter what religion we are following, if we cannot love others, we are not following religion but the illusion of religion, for religion teaches oneness of all.
It is our job to find peace within ourselves and to discover our own purpose and path. Further, we must create a supportive culture that is filled with abundant love for our fellow humans, places a high value on family integrity, and that values the practice of nonviolence. Love has a way of softening the hardest of hearts. When those who are troubled or enraged are loved and given what they need, they may find fewer reasons to be angry and destructive.
Energy centers and levels of motivation/pleasure
In the yogic philosophy, there are seven chakras or energy centers, which begin at the very base of the spine and end at the very crown of the head.
Understanding how these centers of conscious energy work can create a language bridge to help differing peoples and religious groups communicate and act in concert.
It is time for us all to focus on developing cultures that help its members rise above the first three chakras, which are associated with survival or security (money), sex, and power. Once an individual (or a society) reaches the fourth or heart charka and higher, yogic thinking goes, he is much less likely to engage in unnecessary violence. This is because he is becoming conscious of a larger picture beyond his own limited, narrow, and selfish aims.
Whenever one engages in unnecessary violence, he demonstrates that he is operating from a lower
level of consciousness. It is the job of those who are conscious to bring peace to the situation.
Peace is created through a balance of justice and mercy and it is our job to faithfully carry this
out. We must exercise great care in facilitating this delicate process.
Advertisers and other media outlets can begin to support this movement by shifting the emphasis from
violent messages toward messages of cooperation. We can all give our support to positive, peace-
seeking organizations. We need to recognize that unlike certain economic theories, a nation’s success is not determined solely by how much material is sold and purchased. Excessive materialism can distract attention from what is of true and lasting importance.
Breaking the Cycle of Violence: The Power of Nonviolence
Today greed, hate, violence and religious divisiveness are an ominous threat. As God’s children and agents we must unite and be a strong advocate for non-violence.
James H. Cohen, a writer who is quoted in a work on Gandhi, said “We must break the cycle of violence in America and around the world. Human beings are meant for life and not death. They are meant for freedom and not slavery. They were created for each other and not against each other.
We must therefore, break down the barriers that separate people from one another…for America and the World, and for all who have given their lives in the struggle for justice, let us direct our fight toward one goal-the beloved community of humankind. (From “Nonviolent Power in Action,” pages 186-187.)
In yoga philosophy we begin with an assumption that all beings are in essence Divine. The first Yama
(yogic restraint) is non-violence (called Ahimsa in Sanskrit). It is primary to all the other yogic precepts and entails not harming ourselves or other beings. Because the Divine Spirit is everywhere, according to this thinking, violence is always against an aspect of the Divine.
While sometimes it is necessary to stay alive or protect others’ lives, practicing nonviolence means avoiding violence whenever possible!
Even with our shields and swords raised, we should be looking for an olive branch—a message that we can find true refuge and safety. The sword should be the very last alternative. Again, defense is sometimes necessary to preserve life. Yet when defense turns proactive there runs the great risk that the aggression will beget more violence. As we can see, this turns into a harmful, self-perpetuating cycle. The practice of non-violence allows us to become free of this cycle. Here are three things to keep in mind about nonviolence:
(1) Nonviolence needs to be role-modeled more than lectured about. The power of nonviolence is that, like violence, it too spreads.
(2) It is not by might and power but by the Spirit of love that we will live in peace. We must remember and act on this!
(3) Gandhi taught that the means and ends ought to be related. If we want peace in the end we need to begin with peace and use peaceful means. If one desires an apple tree, one must plant an apple seed. If one desires peace in the world, one must plant many seeds of peace with love.
Let’s bring nonviolent teachings into the classrooms throughout our land and all lands.
Dealing with the Cancer of Greed, Hate, and Violence
There is intelligence in this universe that knows how to heal and how to create harmony. It knows about balance.
A cancer in any part of the body is a problem to the whole body. This brings us to a question of what to do with a cancerous tumor? Should it be cut out? Should it be treated with chemotherapy and radiation?
What is happening in the world body? There is too much greed, hate, and violence. There is also fear, desperation, domination, and the experience of being dominated. There is a time and a place for military intervention as there is a time and place for aggressive cancer treatment.
Nevertheless, there are more holistic ways to deal with destructive elements within the human body and within the world body.
Let’s look at a challenge of the 21st century. The violence involved in our attempts to squelch terrorism actually creates an environment likely to breed more of the same. Ultimately, we can not defeat this kind of violence by more of the same. Violence itself needs to end. Of course vicious individuals or groups do need to be controlled, but life must be valued and we must keep to the goal of peaceful coexistence.
Instead, the “enemy" must be transformed. This is so for both sides of the conflict. This is true whether the “enemy” is called the infidels or the terrorists; religious fanaticism or unrestrained
Western capitalism; suicide bombers or militaristic occupiers. We need to examine what is going wrong in the places terrorists come from—the poverty and lack of hope that helps make individuals decide to blow themselves and others up. Alleviating poverty and creating opportunities would go a long way toward solving these problems, but angry and disaffected people also need positive role models and strong leaders who can help them make their own lives better.
Progress is a seed of peace, planted with love. The spirit of love transforms.
Great spiritual masters from varied disciplines have taught that the real enemy is within us. As we can rise above our own selfish desires (like pride, anger, greed, gluttony, lust, envy and sloth) we will, by and by, discover a world that is increasingly loving and beautiful. Ultimately, perhaps the
greatest thing we can contribute to world peace is to do our own spiritual work, to rise above our own self-centeredness and self-will. Doing this vital work, we can create peace within us, help make order in our own families, and foster harmony in the larger world.
Summary and Conclusion
Mahatma Gandhi taught a constructive way to act with great power. The power lies in truth and love.
Gandhi would have agreed with the following suggestions:
(1) Look deeply at your own motives. Whether an individual or a nation, when the intent is only to attain victory or satisfaction of a selfish interest, resulting actions create discord.
(2) We need spiritual leaders as role models to embolden the rest of us to live according to our best selves, to be active, insistent and resolute. Great spiritual leaders will emancipate and empower their followers in the ways of peace. Followers should not imagine that leaders are infallible, however, as all humans are likely to err or misjudge at one time or another.
(3) A real democracy mobilizes the physical, economic, and spiritual resources of a people.
(4) Strive in every way to provide for the basic needs of all humans. Freedom from want promotes non-violent independence and interdependence. Some ways to bring this into being are to support international aid organizations and to lobby our government to forgive the debt of poor nations.
Creating Peace Within—Going Forward
Find what brings you lasting peace of mind and nurture it. Practice spiritual principles and practices. Religion is good when it promotes spirituality, helping both the individual and the community come closer to the Spirit or God. There are many paths to this closeness and if you seek, you will find. Your sincerity will take you where you need to go. Let’s always remember our goal: peace, harmony, love, and One Family living and working together.
The reader is encouraged to have his or her own vision and to bring to the task his or her unique skills. Perhaps the reader would like to write his own commentary on what a loving planet would be and how to get there. This work is large enough to include all who wish to participate. We welcome your input to help make this undertaking a greater success.
Follow the right means. If the means you are considering include any form of hate, prejudices, or violence, question them. Arrogance and exclusivity take many forms and often sound like this: “We are better than them” or “We must make them change” or “Only our group is saved or bound for heaven, everyone else is damned.” If we believe that all people must understand the truth precisely as we do, we need to look at whether we are fostering the accord we long for or discord among people.
You may wish to further explore the teachings of Gandhi, Swami Kripalvanandji or whatever scripture or approach brings you a sense of personal peace, helps you see the big picture, and promotes a larger well being.
Let us join together in spreading the basic truth that The World Is One Family. It may be a very large family, a somewhat dysfunctional family, but it is our family!
May we create peace together. May we create strength among one another. May there be no enmity between us.
©, Copyright, August 18, 2004. This writing may be duplicated in part or entirely so long as the author is properly credited.
If you would like to contribute to this Initiative or to take on a project and want some direction, please send an email.
About the Author:
Andrew Martin Kahn is a yoga teacher and a longtime spiritual seeker. You can find out more about him at his website: www.peacefulpresence.com.
I must thank my mother, father, and family -great blessings. I also wish to thank the 12-step fellowships, Swami Kripalvanandji, Kripalu Center and family, my students and clients, and other loving souls who have been or still are in my life. There are too many for me to name here.
Dennis Dalton, Nonviolent Power in Action, Columbia University Press, 1993. (Pages 186-187.)
Louis Fischer, Gandhi: His Life and Message for the World, A Mentor Book (Penguin Putnam), 1982
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 82-61771.
Mohandas K. Gandhi, Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth with a foreword By Sissela
Bok. Translated from the original in Gujarati by Mahadev Desai, Beacon Press/ Boston, 1957.
Swami Kripalvanandji, Bapuji In America, Darshans at Kripalu Ashram. Kripalu Yoga Retreat, 1979.
Contact Kripalu Center in Lenox Massachusetts for a copy of this and other works by Swami Kripalvanandji. (Telephone: 888-399-1332 or visit www.Kripalu.org)
Please send an email if you'd like to add to this collection.
More from The Yogic Tradition
"In search for the Divine we go everywhere. We go to the places of pilgrimage, visit the temples of God. We follow many paths and disciplines, and yet often we ignore our own bodies. Your body is the most sacred place of pilgrimage you will ever come to. It is the dwelling place of the Divine Spirit. It is truly the temple of God."
Yogi Amrit Desai or Swami Kripalu
"The only way to shift your consciousness & personality is to act according to your commitment. If you stick with your commitment, by and by your habits and patterns die of starvation.
We can use service to overcome all of the confusion and pain and resistance that comes because of the split that occurs in us from taking a selfish ego-centered approach to life. Trying to control the world for our own enjoyment creates a split from our true selves as well as for those around us. Ego never heals this split."
Yogi Amrit Desai
"In this culture, it is a predominant belief that I can find what I am missing outside of myself."
Yogi Amrit Desai
Look to this day,
For it is life,
The very life of life.
In its brief course lies all
The realities and verities of existence,
The bliss of growth,
The splendor of action,
The glory of power-
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision,
But today, well lived,
Makes every yesterday a dream
and every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day.
Yoga Teacher Student Prayer:
May we be protected together
May we be nourished together
May we create strength among one
May our study be filled with brilliance
May there be no enmity between us
Peace, Peace, Peace
Teachings of Saints and the Like
St Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me the instrument of Your peace
Where there is hatred - let me sow love
Where there is injury - pardon
Where there is doubt - faith
Where there is despair - hope
Where there is darkness - light
and where there is sadness - joy
O Divine Master, grant that
I may not so much seek
To be consoled - as to console
To be understood - as to understand
To be loved - as to love
It is in giving - that we receive
It is in pardoning - that we are pardoned
It is in dying - that we are born to eternal life.
It's Between You And God
By Mother Teresa
People are often unreasonable,
Illogical, and self-centered:
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse
You of selfish ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some
False friends and true enemies;
If you are honest and frank,
People may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building,
Someone could destroy overnight:
The good you do today, people will
Often forget tomorrow
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have,
And it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis,
It is between you and God.
It way never between you and them
Go placidly amid the noise & haste, & remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly & clearly; and listen to others, even the dull & ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud & aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain & bitter; for always there will be greater & lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity & disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue & loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees & the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors & aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery & broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.
FOUND IN OLD SAINT PAUL'S CHURCH, BALTIMORE; DATED 1692
The Muslim Tradition
BIS.MIL.LAH IR.RAH.MAN IR.RA.HIM: In the name of ALLAH. All-Mercifull and Compassionate. Whatever
I do, I start with in the name of ALLAH, the All - Mercifull and Compassionate. ALLAH has all the
beautiful Names, yet is beyond the description of all the Attributes. ALLAH helps the believers.
Mantras to be chanted during Dhikr
LA.I.LA.HE IL.LAL.LAH: There are not gods, but one god, that is ALLAH.
Prayer for Peace
May the day come when all that has divided us will merge
And then compassion will be wedded to power
And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind
And then both men and women will be gentle
And then both men and women will be strong
And then no person will be subject to another's will
And then all will be rich and free and varied
And then the greed of some will give way to the needs of many
And then all will share equally in the Earth's abundance
And then all will care for the sick and the weak and the old
And then all will nourish the young
And then all will cherish life's creatures
And then all will live in harmony with each other and the Earth
And then everywhere will be called Eden once again.
Other Meaningful Words
"We seek peace, knowing that peace is the climate of freedom." Dwight D. Eisenhower
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead
"I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality" Martin Luther King
"Imagine all the people living life in peace." John Lenon
"You may not think that the world needs you, but it does. For, you are unique, like no one that has ever been before or will come after.
No one can speak your voice, say your piece, smile your smile or shine your light. No one can take your place, for it is yours alone to fill. If you are not there to shine your light who knows how many travelers will lose their way as they try to pass by your empty place in the darkness."
"Renewing ourselves does not demand that we remake ourselves entirely, but rather that, like the earth itself, we draw on the life that is already present, the possibilities that have survived and that we give these a chance to grow."
For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge you never walk alone.
We leave you a tradition of the future.
The tender loving care of human beings will never become obsolete.
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed. Never throw anyone away.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, your find one at the end of your arm.
As you grow older, you'll discover that you have two hands: One for helping yourself, the second for helping others.
You have great days still ahead of you.
A Woman of Strength
A strong woman works out every day to keep her body in shape
But a woman of strength kneels in prayer to keep her soul in shape...
A strong woman isn't afraid of anything
But a woman of strength shows courage in the midst of her fear...
A strong woman won't let anyone get the best of her
But a woman of strength gives the best of herself to everyone...
A strong woman makes mistakes and avoids the same in the future
A woman of strength realizes life's mistakes can also be God's blessings
and capitalizes on them...
A strong woman walks sure footedly
But a woman of strength knows God will catch her when she falls...
A strong woman wears the look of confidence on her face
But a woman of strength wears grace...
A strong woman has faith that she is strong enough for the journey
But a woman of strenth has faith that it is in the journey
that she will become strong.
"If you think your beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don't.
If you'd like to win but you think you can't
It's almost a cinch that you won't
If you think you'll lose, your lost,
For out of the world we find.
Success begins with a fellows will,
And it's all in the state of mind."
By Walter D. Wintle
"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than the facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company...a church...a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude that we will embrace for that day: we cannot change our past...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way...we cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude...I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it...We are in charge of our ATTITUDES."
God grant me the Serenity
to accept the things I can not change
Courage to change the things I can and
Wisdom to know the difference.
Patience with the changes that take time
Gratitude for all that I have
Tolerance for those with different struggles and
the Strength to get up and try again,
one day at a time.
A Cherokee Lesson
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life.
"A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves...One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevelence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.The same fight is going on inside you and every other person too."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"
The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
It is clear that many enlightened beings knew that beyond the different religions, paths, and names of God that their exists one Truth. I recently saw a bumper sticker that said: "God is too big to fit into any one religion."
THE GOOSE STORY
This fall, when you see geese heading South for the winter--flying along in a "V" formation--you might consider what science has discovered as to why they fly that way.
As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in a "V" formation, the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.
PEOPLE WHO SHARE A COMMON DIRECTION AND SENSE OF COMMUNITY CAN GET WHERE THEY ARE GOING MORE QUICKLY AND EASILY BECAUSE THEY ARE TRAVELING ON THE THRUST OF EACH OTHER.
When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone--and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front.
IF WE HAVE AS MUCH SENSE AS A GOOSE--WE WILL STAY IN FORMATION WITH THOSE WHO ARE HEADED IN THE SAME WAY AS WE ARE.
When the Head Goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point.
It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs with people or with geese flying south.
Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.
What do we say when we honk from behind?
Finally-- and this is important--when a goose gets sick, or is wounded by gunshots, and falls out of formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend a helping hand and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly or until it dies; only then do they launch out on their own, or with another formation to catch up with their group.
IF WE HAD THE SENSE OF A GOOSE, WE WOULD STAND BY EACH OTHER LIKE THAT.
Dr. Harry Clarke Noyes