“If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile and blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace.”
“Human Action comes from human motivation… human thought. Many problems today exist because of negligence of inner peace. So first create inner peace through happy thoughts which shall then even guide science and technology in the external world.”
— His Holiness the Dalai Lama
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Both Thich Nhat Hahn and His Holiness really nailed it—peace in the world depends on peace within individuals. I think so many conflicts—from the interpersonal to the international—could be avoided if more people were devoted to the cultivation of inner peace—one of the goals of meditation. This is not pie-in-the-sky idealism; it’s thoroughly realistic. If individuals worldwide were devoted to nourishing peace within through the dedicated practice of meditation, there would be fewer divorces, fewer homicides, and fewer wars. In a time of weapons proliferation and worldwide sectarian conflict, our very survival as a species may depend on the widespread cultivation of inner peace.
I used to be skeptical about the assertion among some Catholics that praying the Rosary daily could lead to world peace. I no longer have such a cynical attitude. The prayers of the Rosary work like a mantra, calming the mind in much the same way as repeating Om Namah Shivaya and other mantras can. At a time when record numbers of people have no religious affiliation, the importance of disseminating forms of meditation detached from systems of supernatural belief can hardly be overstated.
I’ve often wondered what would happen if, at the outset of international peace talks, each individual involved were to spend time alone in meditation before the first meeting. I can easily imagine less gridlock, more breakthroughs, and excellent outcomes in a very short time. The problem is that the brokers who come to such summits do not meditate prior to meetings. As a result, they bring all their inner conflicts with them to the bargaining table. If they are not at peace with themselves, how can they hope to hammer out peace deals among warring nations?
Can you imagine the peace that would reign in the cities of the world if rival gang members were to sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day? It seems to me that the streets would become considerably less violent in very short order. Similarly, married couples and families, were they to spend daily time cultivating inner peace, would soon find their homes to be happy, relaxing and peaceful places. Even children can be taught to meditate; they would bicker and fight with one another much less, it seems to me, if they were.
It all comes down to this: peace in the world depends on peace within individuals. By plugging into the source of inner peace daily, we can all contribute significantly to the creation of a less violent world. We shouldn’t even worry about world peace, at least not at first. It’s more than enough to be at peace with yourself and the members of your own family. Then you can start casting your net, as it were, in ever-widening circles; to include those at your workplace, in your community, in your city, and in your country.
At the 2010 World Peace Festival, the Dalai Lama made this astute observation:
First [we should] create inner peace through happy thoughts which shall then even guide science and technology in the external world.
Imagine even our science and technology being guided by the cultivation of inner peace! This would provide the humanizing effect technology needs.
Again, although it may seem simplistic, the only way for peace to reign in the world is for individuals to devote themselves to cultivating peace within themselves. The more people commit to a program of peaceful self-inquiry, the closer we will be to realizing the world we want.
Copyright © 2012 by William K. Ferro All rights reserved