Dialogues for/about peace are not outcomes of an idle mind, that is inundated by ideas about how to market another new commodity or service in the name of peace. This blog is the distillation of years of my study in diverse areas, dialogues with numerous people, writing in mental health and my own writing of diverse forms. Those areas were and are as far removed from one another as International politics, human suffering, medical care, role of language, conflict management, philosophy of art, and education.
There is one lacuna that always glared in my face whatever I did- the lack of communication about peace, except for random thoughts of people whose opinions were published. The only other set of people in whose writing I regularly encountered peace and its centrality were the Buddhists. Among them the one I am most attracted toward is Thich Naht Hahn, for his stories, interpretations and communications are most direct, simple and easy to follow. Dalai Lama with his own version is also someone interesting to read and apply, but there is only so much time that one cannot even go to one person (the former) so to look at, two is just an investment of time I cannot afford.
. There was one another person whose wisdom I sought at that juncture in my own life, when faced with conflict- Pema Chodron and I found her writing also very compassionate.
The lacuna that I was referring to in the above paragraph is the absence of training for a mind for peace- at which stage in life is a person supposed to understand the necessity for peace? Who gives ideas and directions to anyone for peace? Does the school or university prepare students for peace, peaceful living, peaceful coexistence or communicating peacefully with others around? At what time or stage in life will someone start thinking about issues of peace, when it is something that everyone finally wants in life? This has been my concern and worry, if i may say so, for the last several years, though I did not come out and talk about it, except in imperceptible ways.
Peace matters to me – and therefore to try creating peace in every act whether it be speech, thought or action, is something that I have been trying to inculcate within myself mindfully for many years now. How can I talk about peace if my own ego is so fragile that many times a day it gets shaken, threatened or challenged by others around? Peace is not something that people with fragile egos or big self concepts can create, and this world for what it stands today makes everyone believe that they are very special, their place in this existence is something significant and they are constantly worthy of celebration in innumerable ways. We constantly try to create an army of conceited people who say “peace, peace…”only to hide away in inaction when they face a conflict. I have not seen many who can resolve a conflict, no matter how small or big, by throwing down the gauntlet of peace in the center and not hide after that.
Upon facing any measure of conflict or opposition, or when surrounded by those who do not agree with them, most people become aggressive, offensive or defensive. Like they say, offence is the best form of defence. But reality is that an eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind. We cannot create peace by violence, by constantly feeling threatened by everything in our vicinity, by erecting huge walls around our homes, gated complexes, neighbourhoods and countries.
Where do we stop, for we HAVE TO STOP somewhere. We have to look at what seeds of hatred, prejudice, stereotyping we have sowed and watered over the years in our minds, our families, our children’s minds, our education systems, our national policies and our social lives everywhere. Without that we are just playing a tune which everyone is creating, imagining themselves to be great and creative and no one paying heed to another. So What does it now amount to except a colossal cacophony?
Every little constituent, from a child, adult, animal or life-form, neighbourhood, street, city, town, country or village is now in the grips of that cacophony and the whole noise has become so subtle, certain and omnipresent that it permeates everything, without us even being aware that we breathe a poisoned air.
That is why peace matters, for unless we strive toward creating peace, in our lives, our jobs, our communciations, our negotiations and our behaviour, we are just being dreamers who believe that in inaction we are performing the greatest action. Inaction is nothing but cowardice or apathy, whereas in action we transform. By acting and engaging with one another, not by passively running away or escaping…we create peace.
Peace matters to me and therefore I will write here on every single issue that I want to write about in the context of peace- whether it comes from my collaborative dialog practice in mental suffering, whether it comes from resolving my own inner conflicts, interpersonal conflicts or what I think about conflicts between communities and nations or anything. Peace is the core of my being and I wish to attract everyone to it, not because it amounts to my triumph, but because it amounts to a triumph of the reason for being alive,where no individual finally matters except life on the planet as a whole.
I do not mention about the strands of inquiry that I have been fertilizing my mind with to show-off or showcase what I have been doing in the long years of my invisibility from public spaces, but indicative of how seriously and in what humble a manner I have sought knowledge and attempted to join dots from divergent directions to arrive at certain truths, which of course are not fixed in any sense themselves. Only in humility and with patience, by learning better, one day at a time, one dialogue at a time I have been able to see my picture expand- to the point that it covers a whole humanity now, in a certain way.
I can certainly see the wisdom of the Buddhists now when they say that we are united with all sentient beings finally, for everyone wants to be free of suffering. That is the final truth of life, and in that direction, my every effort, thought and action- whether it be in solitude, in company, in a crowd or a whole world participating in it.