I have already mentioned the book Mindful Politics- A Buddhist Guide To Making The World A Better Place in other posts, but I think it is important to mention it again. The essays in this book have not only inspired me to rethink how I participate politically in the world, but they have also awakened in me a new sense of spirituality in the manner in which I act. As a matter of fact, this book is showing me that there should be no difference. True peace will come from a merging of the political and the spiritual, because after all they are not very different. Before I begin, let me also mention another book that has been very helpful with my new direction- Creating True Peace-Ending Violence in Yourself, Your Family, Your Community and the World by Thich Nhat Hanh. I recommend both of these texts for anyone out there that wants to work towards peace, but is caught in the web of frustration and hopelessness.
I hope this will be the first in a series of posts, which I have categorized as peace. (Look in the categories in the right sidebar to follow my process.) This is a new direction for me, and I want to actualize my lessons here on Intrepidflame. As time goes by, I am beginning to learn that my old approach of intellectual political argumentation is not only not making any significant change in the greater world, but I am finding it unsatisfying to my own well-being. There are only so many ways you can share the details you learn after reading books about the culture of imperialist capitalist patriarchy and the evils of living in a consumer culture, before you burn out. There has to be another way. Although, I will continue to read the material, I hoe I can find more constructive ways of disseminating the information.
In the past, I have screamed at demonstrations. I have screamed until my lungs were horse here on my blog. I have argued. I have debated. I have listened sometimes, but ultimately I have done little but spun in circles. So what now? What can we do? I have been asking the same questions for months, here are some of the answers that I have found:
You cannot change the world until you change yourself. Think about it! How can you try and assuage pain and anger and hate, when you are filled with the same emotions? I know it is cliché, but the phrase be the change you want to see is a very applicable first step. One good question to ask is:
How do I not bring more rage into the world?
Thich Nhat Hanh says,
All energies of anger, hatred, fear, and violence come from wrong perceptions. Wrong perceptions result in a lot of anger, mistrust, suspicion, hate, and terrorism. You cannot remove wrong perceptions through punishment. You have to do it with tools of deep and compassionate listening and love speech.I think it is important that we listen to ourselves as well. And hear the rage we spread into the world. Although we may think we our intentions are good, we must still be mindful of the levels of violence with which we argue our case. Peace is not a debate to be one, but a reality to be lived in our daily lives in everything we do. That we recognize our own wrong perceptions that lead to so much anger is a crucial first step, and the one that is taking a lot time for me to understand .
I am not sure which direction this series of posts will take me, but I hope that by writing out my lessons, I can not only help clarify what I need to learn for myself, but that I can engage people out there to join in and help us learn as a group. In the coming weeks, I hope to:
- Discuss the fourteen Political precepts laid out in Mindful Politics and my thoughts on each one.
- Examine the positive things I am doing in my life to be peace.
- Examine the things I am not doing, but could be doing to be peace.
- Examine the things that are still beyond my grasp.
- Share helpful quotes, passages, and ideas that I have found on my journey, and hopefully engage in dialogue with as many readers as I can.