ADDRESSING CONFLICT, WORKING FOR PEACE
An estimated 200 million people died in the 20th century as a result of bloodshed and violence. "It is important, that this century be a century of peace instead," said His Holiness the Dalai Lama, speaking at the 'Meeting of Diverse Spiritual Traditions in India'. Held on 20th September, at New Delhi, India, the meeting brought together members of various faiths in the subcontinent to initiate dialogue and address the conflicts we are all facing today. Continued and persistent violence in the world was one of the main reasons His Holiness wished to convene the meeting.
"Followers of all spiritual traditions try in their own ways to overcome the suffering that afflicts beings in the world and to bring about their happiness. However, it would be better if we worked together to fulfil such aspirations," he said.
Our esteemed Swami Sukhabodhananda was at the meeting, along with representatives from 9 different faiths. He participated in two panel discussions and held the audience in rapt attention. Many of Swamiji’s workshops deal with the conflicts we all face in life. Whether as individuals within the limitations of our own micro-worlds or as societies at large, governed by different interests and beliefs or even as humanity as a whole, we must all face the fact that conflict is inevitable. How we address and resolve this conflict is therefore essential to bring about and sustain peace in the world.
In his upcoming book 'Creating Presence, Manual for Wise Understanding & Sustenance through Bhagavad Gita', Swamiji speaks of conflict and the misery it can create within us. He says, "We all think that our misery is because of our bad health, children's behaviour, competition, corruption etc.
We do not realize that there is internal corruption too – psychological corruption. At every moment, our soliloquy corrupts us, our beliefs corrupt us. So do our dogmas, opinions, religious prejudices etc." If we are all conflicted as individuals, ensnared by our own dogmas, we can hardly come together to create a society that is peaceful and harmonious.
During the keynote speech at the conference, His Holiness the Dalai Lama spoke of this very conflict created by our dogmas and prejudices and how it is affecting our societies today. His Holiness said, "These days, we hear repeatedly about conflict in the name of religions. This is very sad. The idea that people are killing in the name of religion is unthinkable."
With regard to inter-religious conflict, India is in a unique position. "India is the only country where all the major religious traditions live together side by side and have done for more than 1000 years. This is an example from which the rest of the world can learn. And that is one of the reasons why I convened this conference," he added.
To create a tolerant, peaceful society, therefore, requires each individual in that society to break free of the shackles of their own minds. We must, all of us workindividuallyto shift paradigms. In his upcoming book, Swamiji says, "We need to alter our state of being and enhance our state of mind to change the way we look at our situations in life, whether it is a divorce, our job situation, etc. This is the quintessence of situations of life and our state of being. The reality is that in our lives, we do not work on our minds...Ignorance deludes our intellect, which results in the suffering of humanity."
Therefore let us all work within ourselves individually to free ourselves from the shackles of an ignorant mind so that we may collectively create a peaceful society and, in turn, a peaceful humanity.
We are thankful to many of the Prasannites who expressed their heartfelt wishes to Swamiji on 5th September, Teacher’s Day. Swamiji himself, wished them all by saying:
"Happy Teachers' Day; Learn, love, live and teach others and yourself...This is my message. Learn to give, learn to love, learn to live. Share this [with] as many people [as you can]. God bless [you all]. I thank all the seminar leaders and Chairmen, [who] help me touch the hearts of others."
Swamiji asked us to reflect on Prime Minister Modi’s message on Teacher’s Day. Swamiji added:
"Please love the work of spreading goodness. Love has no stress and only service. Learn to operate as a team."
We wish to share some of the wishes from Prasannites, on Teacher's Day.
"Swamiji, life changed after we came under your gracious influence. Now we keep learning from various people and situations and the beauty is we are feeling happier and happier. Thank you for being who you are. You have made a difference to many. One can never tell how far you have affected millions around the world, we are blessed."
- Dimple Bakshi, Baroda Chapter
"I always think about your teachings...that problems are inevitable and we need to develop the skill to deal with problems."
- Ram Iyengar
"If we are willing to learn, teachers are around us."
- Anonymous Prasannite