Humanity on the Brink of World Peace
posted by Roman Hanis on March 7th, 2022
― Thich Nhat Hanh
Our world is undergoing a precarious threshold at this point of human history. The more we discover new technologies and study the fabric of the universe at large, the less we know about what will happen next and whether we’ll even survive this day as a species. More and more people are realizing that while some temporarily profit from war, no side ever wins and, it’s the common people that always suffer. I have many dear friends who are currently in war zones around the world or whose relatives’ lives are in danger. And all of that is on top of the pandemic that has already impacted so many.
Some are able to apply their spiritual discipline to keep up morale in extreme circumstances and are also capable of supporting others. Others are affected by the tragedies of war to the point of psychological contusion. Dark and cynical attitudes develop from a sense of impending doom and the survival instincts take over as part of the biological self-preservation mechanism. When consciousness is overwhelmed by the fight or flight response of the sympathetic nervous system, the crudeness of material existence often ensues.
Under severe stress people may doubt that prayers, meditation, breathwork, qigong, or any spiritual practice for that matter, can bring an end to a real-life war. I tend to agree – the practices themselves will not end the wars. However, the reduced anxiety, increased sobriety and objectivity resulting from spiritual practices can contribute to the critical mass consciousness tipping the world scale towards peace. We are all interconnected and when one person changes, the fabric of our community changes.
First and foremost, peace is an inner state, not an absence of external disturbance. When we know inner peace and share it with others, no matter the circumstances, the world around us begins to transform and harmonize. Even one being who experiences an unshakeable enough sense of inner peace in the midst of war can greatly influence the outcome for everyone.
When we support each other in our inner reconciliations, the union of our minds and hearts emanates exponential ripples of well-being that consequently raise the level of collective awareness above the survival mentality. Heart-centered presence is essential for the objectivity of the bird’s-eye view to encompass the far-reaching vision of our interconnected existence. That is a belief coming from direct experience and supported by the guidance of elders from the Tibetan, Amazonian, and Andean traditions among others.
Many today interpret spirituality as a way of living in a fantasy bubble. The issues are avoided by sending ‘love and light prayers’ and going about life without truly caring about others or being receptive to what others may be facing. To me this is a superficial interpretation of what is meant to have a practical application in adverse times. How can we continue to stand for our sovereignty and protect the lives of our families without losing our own humanity? How do we deal with monstrosities of war without turning into monsters ourselves?
As human history has shown us throughout time, hating the haters never stops the hate and wishing for the killers to be killed does not stop the killings. If anything, hate is blinding and war requires focus, clarity, and objectivity- akin to a surgeon operating a diseased organism. In martial arts it’s a known fact that emotional instability is the warrior’s downfall. Some might say that all this sounds nice but what sense is there in pretty words when explosions are going off nearby or loved ones are dying?
Of course, if you are deciding for the first time in your life to begin a meditation practice when bullets are flying all around you, it will be practically impossible to keep the mind steady. To practice with minor challenges first, allows the mind to be trained under increasingly more difficult circumstances. There are some examples of individuals from around the world, however, who have realized the sacred in the most horrific situations. Coming face to face with death, life’s fullest potential is revealed within one’s noble purpose that is greater than oneself.
Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban for being a woman who wanted to educate herself. She miraculously survived and dedicated her life to women’s education worldwide, helping so many ever since. Still, it helps tremendously in my experience to have some foundation before spontaneous real-life meetings with death. Especially if the intention is to engage with spiritual modalities to get real with oneself, the mind-heart training of ancient living wisdom traditions from around the globe can be very useful. We can simultaneously hope for the best and be prepared for the worst.
In light of current world events, the impulsive reactions may cause a downward spiral of afflictive emotions; shock, rage, panic, disbelief, thoughts of revenge, a desire to tear one’s hair out, the obsessive-compulsive stalemate of tragedy, guilt, etc… Or you can ask yourself: what exactly can I do now to LIVE? Not to survive, but to live to the fullest!
Tomorrow may never come! Why play dead inside and put off the best that can happen to you for the uncertain and questionable tomorrow? You can start by not being ashamed of savoring the simple pleasures of life and finding gratitude for being alive in this very moment. And if you choose a life dedicated to inner peace and fearless love today, no matter the circumstances, and tomorrow does arrive, then you can share the fruits of your labor with others. Inner peace doesn’t mean to be inactive and passive, but to have the ability to stand up to life, for life and with life, without throwing in the towel. Lasting happiness is only possible when shared.
To be a peaceful warrior is to know war and not be devoured by it; to wholeheartedly stand for one’s own freedom and that of loved ones. To fight without hatred, but with recognition of ignorance as the cause of all suffering. If someone hits you with a stick, why blame the stick for it?! The same goes for the ignorance that makes people hurt others – it’s not the people that are to blame, but the ignorance that is present to greater or lesser degrees in everyone. Not knowing how to process our own anxieties and fears, or how to be with pain, can trigger a tendency to project blame and intimidating inner shadows onto others. These are but some contemplations that can encourage small inner steps of reconciliation in order for all of humanity to take the next evolutionary leap into the shared heart. Each of us can start wherever we find ourselves – confronted with external wars, struggling with physical maladies or burrowed deep within the trenches of our own inner conflicts.
I was born in Moldova, 50km away from the Ukraine border. In my teenage years, my family and I escaped as refugees a year before the collapse of the USSR. While I’ve lived most of my life on the other side of the planet, my heart weeps for all people who are undergoing great turmoil right now and especially those whose culture reminds me so much of my childhood.
Each of us can make the choice to no longer be an unconscious link in a vicious cycle of fear and hate. It’s the shared heart of humanity that keeps the rhythm for the dance of life to continue. Each of us, with our own life’s dedication to the heart’s wisdom, can become the feather that tips the universal scale from gloom and doom to peace on earth. Humanity is on the brink and we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
Responding to the cries of the world, our non-profit has been offering optional donation based online practices and courses. Many people are attending our events and sharing how helpful the practices have been for them during these times. We welcome you to join our mailing list to stay up to date with our next series of free online offerings coming in April. Scholarships are also available for our ongoing take-it-at-your-own-pace courses – no sincere interest is declined. You can view all of our online course offerings here >>
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