March 25, 2007

Being Peace- Part I

I have been thinking about peace a lot lately. I have been thinking about my rage and anger a lot lately- about my guilt, my helplessness, my ineptitude to make any meaningful changes in society, my hypocrisies, my pain, my politics, my rebellions, my revolutions, my CO2 emissions, my inability to effectively recycle, the amount of resources I waste, my footprint as a consumer, a traveler, a man in the 21st century. I have been thinking a lot about what I am doing to make the world a better place lately, and the answers are not what I want to see, but I am finally finding my direction, and I hope this new series of posts will help me clarify my new road, and that you out there who are feeling the same way will find some help on your journeys as well.

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.
So, if you are a regular reader or just passing through please bookmark this page and share it with as many people as you can. Please comment as much as possible and let’s see where we end up.


  1. Anonymous10:06 AM

    I'm in (of course). I've read much written by his Holiness the Dalai Lama and he says some of the same things. Peace begins within. One of my very very favorite things that he says is that hate, anger, distrust are traits of a weak mind. That true compassion, love, and peace take great strength of mind, body and soul.

    I'll find the books you've suggested and follow along. I have been thinking about these issues so much, but in my own way. I too have begun to realize that the power of one is immense. We are all connected - so it makes sense.


  2. i think that this is a great idea! the more that we can work with this and spread it- the more effective i think folks will become. you can feel the burnout and sheer hopelessness of folks on the blogs- because the sense of right and wrong and justice is not being felt. if we can reconcile what that means to us in our daily lives and strive for inner peace- it's catching! you have to start with you and then your family and friends. not that you can change them- but odds are when folks see balance and calm about you- and contentment with who and where you are- they will want in!

  3. wow...i am in as well.

    i am curious to your lessons and am grateful you will share them here with us, so that with your learnings, you will be teaching.

    i have similar struggles with politics and what i contribute, what i project and how i can balance all this with mindfulness and helping to make the world more peaceful rather than hateful.

    those two books sound like wonderful guides in this direction. i'll have to check them out.

    thank you.

  4. Hey, we seem to be thinking alike. Peace is the mission, internal and external.

    I'll check in again and hope to see you on my blog as well. We need to unite, grow into an army, change the world.