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Editorial 21

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A Peace Conference

Recently I was part of a peace conference in Jaipur and Bikaner, India – the 8th International Conference for Peace and Nonviolent Action (ICPNA), from 4-7 January 2014. It was organized by the Jain community of one particular sect. Over a hundred individuals of all colors, religious and professional backgrounds from European, American and Asian countries had streamed in – on their own costs – to enjoy the free hospitality. They came to deliver lectures, give workshops, exchange ideas and find renewed inspiration to continue their unselfish efforts to soften the burden of violence loaded on the shoulders of humankind.

By itself an event like this proves that the world has, at least in some respects, changed considerably for the better in the last century and before. I was reminded of the first World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893, the first opportunity ever in the Western world for Hindus, Jains, Christians, Theosophists, Buddhists and others to meet together and face to face. However in those days Native Americans (‘Red Indians’) were still regarded as uncivilized barbarians and were not represented. There was no admission whatsoever for Negroes, not even as floor cleaners etc., because America did not wish to show this ‘blame on the nation’ to the rest of the world. Much has changed for the better since the days of our great grandparents. The 20th century has seen two major World Wars and many others, only relatively small ones. The 20th century has also witnessed an increase in social justice, interaction and cooperation between races, religions and nations, and joint efforts to establish lasting peace and greater well-being among all humankind. Even in the 18th and 19th centuries there were great efforts towards a more just and less miserable society, seeing the rise of literacy, democracy, socialism, the founding of compassionate organizations like the Red Cross/ Red Half Moon, the increasing interest in intellectual circles in the West for non-western cultures, the rise of many spiritual organizations and last but not least the effort from the universal Theosophical order of Compassion, guided from ‘beyond the Himalayas’.

The 20th century was also characterized by increasing materialism in philosophy and science – at least as it appears from the outside. And regrettably, now in the 21th century for the masses of people worldwide there is but one God and His name is Money.

“Troy was not build on one day” and we can hardly expect a war-less, compassionate and spiritual world to be built in one day. But it is heart-strengthening that many efforts are done to work in a positive direction – and one day we may have accomplished ideals that at present seems far fetched. So it happened for example with the abolishment of slavery and of capital punishment in many, though not yet all, countries, and, specially in the second half of the 20th century, the rise of environmental awareness – which was also very much inspired by the traditional attitude of Native Americans and their ‘Mother Earth – Father Great Spirit’ concept.

There is always a duality of forces – those striving upwards and those pulling downwards. This in itself is an ‘eternal war’ among humankind, and we can not hope this war will cease within any time soon. Our inner struggles towards knowledge and wisdom will go on until we all have acquired these and have become like buddhas.

A conference like this one, with its unique nonviolent and peaceful atmosphere, gives hope, and adds a precious stone to the human building of the future. The atmosphere of the four day’s meeting was amazing. The delegates were high stated politicians, social workers, therapists, artists, psychologists, holistic health workers and, last but not least, spiritual people like the famous Tibetan Buddhist lama Doboom Tulku and the Korean Venerable Buddhist monk and Zen master Jinwol Young Ho Lee, a number of ascetics from Jain spiritual communities, leading Muslim peace activists and various Hindu yogis and swamis as well as Christians and a theosophist.

The atmosphere was happy, friendly, idealistic, but never ‘unrealistic’. Serious ideas were discussed – not dream-utopias. One professor from Japan, just to mention an example, is working on a worldwide nonprofit internet-tv network to become available for everyone in the world, broadcasting programs which would show the positive developments of civilization in interesting ways, thus counterbalancing messages and impulses of violence, meanness, greediness and despair the world is confronted with through the media on a daily basis.

Not only was attention given during the conference to initiatives, tolerance and interfaith dialogue, but also to the common root of religions – each of which is but an expression stemming from Cosmic or Universal Mind identifying with Truth possessed by nobody, but inherent in and reigning the whole endless universe. Peace is not just a matter of tolerance and acceptance, but builds on the fundamental understanding that all living beings are pilgrims along many pathways towards the same goal. This goal is to transcend all illusionary ideas and the very ability to do evil and to cause suffering – in other words, to become divine. All religions, therapies, sciences-with-a-heart and philosophies, directly or indirectly, aim at just that. See also the presentation The Common Root of Religions.

The conference community included practical external workers, for example in politics the Director-General of Central Reserve Police Force, a former Head of the Indian Secret Service, the Governor of Uttar Pradesh (one of the largest Indian states). It is heart warming and hope giving that such people from the highest responsible juridical and governing bodies are seriously discussing and promoting a weaponless world, and belief in the possibility of a greatly war-less world in not too far future.

Much attention was given, especially by the religious participants, to inner peace and the fact that no outward peace will lastingly come to the world as long as there is no inner peace. The great sages of all cultures have always taught inner liberation and high ethics is the cornerstone for internal as well as external, inter-human or ‘inter-living-being’ and a social togetherness and brotherhood.

Several presentations from India, Europe and California emphasized education for children into a more nonviolent attitude and understanding. For example a presentation about the Children’s Peace Palace in Rajasthan to teach children in short camps about nonviolence, yoga, meditation and nonviolent conflict resolution. A paper on this will also be posted on our website shortly.

Various therapists and representatives of OkiDo yoga gave attention to psychological peace and education of children. Children, should, during their younger and adolescent years, consciously be brought in contact with better (but never sectarian!) ideas than those generally presented in mainstream schools and through the media.

A small choice of the lectures given during the 8th ICPNA will be edited posted on this website in the coming weeks.

These lectures are not Theosophical doctrines of teachings. The fact that we give them here does not imply that the editors of this site, or students of Theosophy in general would agree with every word spoken therein. We merely want to show that thoughs are being presented which give hope for a better world – and this is part of the general scope of Theosophy/

If you are interested in more details concerning the ICPNA and all original presented papers we advice to visit the Jain website HereNow4U.net.

– Rudi Jansma

Papers of the Conference to be published on this site:

The Common Root of Religions by RJ

Nonviolence: Perception, Practice and Concept – by Al Haj Mohammad Muzzamil Cader

How a Nonviolent Future is Possible – by Prof. Dayanand Bhargava

How can an individual be instrumental in creating a peaceful society? – by RJ

Developing “Nonviolence Competency” in children