Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (Author), Mahatma Gandhi (Author)

My purpose,” Mahatma Gandhi writes of this book, “is to describe experiments in the science of Satyagraha, not to say how good I am.”

Satyagraha, Gandhi’s nonviolent protest movement (satya = true, agraha = firmness), came to stand, like its creator, as a moral principle and a rallying cry; the principle was truth and the cry freedom. The life of Gandhi has given fire and fiber to freedom fighters and to the untouchables of the world: hagiographers and patriots have capitalized on Mahatma myths. Yet Gandhi writes: “Often the title [Mahatma, Great Soul] has deeply pained me. . . . But I should certainly like to narrate my experiments in the spiritual field which are known only to myself, and from which I have derived such power as I possess for working in the political field.”

Clearly, Gandhi never renounced the world; he was neither pacifist nor cult guru. Who was Gandhi? In the midst of resurging interest in the man who freed India, inspired the American Civil Rights Movement, and is revered, respected, and misunderstood all over the world, the time is proper to listen to Gandhi himself — in his own words, his own “confessions,” his autobiography.

Gandhi made scrupulous truth-telling a religion and his Autobiography inevitably reminds one of other saints who have suffered and burned for their lapses. His simply narrated account of boyhood in Gujarat, marriage at age 13, legal studies in England, and growing desire for purity and reform has the force of a man extreme in all things. He details his gradual conversion to vegetarianism and ahimsa (non-violence) and the state of celibacy (brahmacharya, self-restraint) that became one of his more arduous spiritual trials. In the political realm he outlines the beginning of Satyagraha in South Africa and India, with accounts of the first Indian fasts and protests, his initial errors and misgivings, his jailings, and continued cordial dealings with the British overlords.

Gandhi was a fascinating, complex man, a brilliant leader and guide, a seeker of truth who died for his beliefs but had no use for martyrdom or sainthood. His story, the path to his vision of Satyagraha and human dignity, is a critical work of the twentieth century, and timeless in its courage and inspiration.

Look Inside

Mahatma Gandhi Biography

Gandhi (1869-1948) was one of the few men in history to fight simultaneously on moral, religious, political, social, economic, and cultural fronts. During his time as a lawyer in South Africa he developed his strategy of non-violence: the idea of opposing unjust laws by non-violent protest, which he made the basis of his successful struggle against British rule in India.

In this Very Short Introduction to Gandhi’s life and thought, Bhikhu Parekh outlines both Gandhi’s major philosophical insights and the limitations of his thought. He looks at Gandhi’s cosmocentric anthropology, his spiritual view of politics, his unique form of liberal communitarianism, and his theories of oppression, non-violent action, and active citizenship. He also considers how the success of Gandhi’s principles was limited by his lack of coherent theories of evil, and of state and power, and how his hostility to modern civilization impeded his appreciation of its complexity. Gandhi’s life and thought has had an enormous impact both within and outside India, and he continues to be widely revered, as one of the greatest moral and political leaders of the twentieth century.

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The Book of Forgiving :The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World By Desmond Tutu, Mpho Tutu

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Chair of The Elders, and Chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, along with his daughter, the Reverend Mpho Tutu, offer a manual on the art of forgiveness—helping us to realize that we are all capable of healing and transformation.

Tutu’s role as the Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission taught him much about forgiveness. If you asked anyone what they thought was going to happen to South Africa after apartheid, almost universally it was predicted that the country would be devastated by a comprehensive bloodbath. Yet, instead of revenge and retribution, this new nation chose to tread the difficult path of confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

Each of us has a deep need to forgive and to be forgiven. After much reflection on the process of forgiveness, Tutu has seen that there are four important steps to healing: Admitting the wrong and acknowledging the harm; Telling one’s story and witnessing the anguish; Asking for forgiveness and granting forgiveness; and renewing or releasing the relationship. Forgiveness is hard work. Sometimes it even feels like an impossible task. But it is only through walking this fourfold path that Tutu says we can free ourselves of the endless and unyielding cycle of pain and retribution. The Book of Forgiving is both a touchstone and a tool, offering Tutu’s wise advice and showing the way to experience forgiveness. Ultimately, forgiving is the only means we have to heal ourselves and our aching world.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu, a Nobel Peace Laureate, is one of the greatest living moral icons of our time who was a key role player in the fight against apartheid in South Africa. He was also the first black South African Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa and primate of the Anglican Church of South Africa.

Archbishop Tutu became heavily embroiled in controversy as he spoke out against the injustices of the apartheid system. He became a prominent leader in the crusade for justice and racial conciliation in South Africa. In 1984 he received a Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to that cause. In 1986 Bishop Tutu was elevated to Archbishop of Cape Town, and in this capacity he did much to bridge the chasm between black and white Anglicans in South Africa. And as Archbishop, Tutu became a principal mediator and conciliator in the transition to democracy in South Africa.

In 1995 President Nelson Mandela appointed the Archbishop Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a body set up to probe gross human rights violations that occurred under apartheid. In recent years Tutu has turned his attention to a different cause: the campaign against HIV/AIDS. The Archbishop has made appearances around the globe to help raise awareness of the disease and its tragic consequences in human lives and suffering.

Though his vigorous advocacy of social justice once rendered him a controversial figure, today Archbishop Tutu is regarded as an elder world statesman with a major role to play in reconciliation, and as a leading moral voice. He has become an icon of hope far beyond the Church and Southern Africa. Scroll through the timeline for more in-depth information about the Archbishop’s life.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Forgiveness

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Desmond Tutu explains how love and forgiveness kept post-apartheid South Africa from tumbling into anarchy.

Apartheid, Perpetrators, Forgiveness: Desmond Tutu’s views

Desmond Tutu, Chairman of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, his thoughts on forgiveness and its effect on the victim and the perpetrator. A moving, yet optimistic discussion.

Desmond Tutu, Peacemaker: A conversation with Desmond Tutu & John Allen

Published on Mar 26, 2013

On March 21, 2013, the Straus Institute hosted “A Conversation about Forgiveness, Reconciliation, and Healing: Lessons from South Africa.” An audience of three hundred experienced an in-depth discussion about the struggle against apartheid and the subsequent efforts to promote healing and reconciliation in South Africa and elsewhere. Participants in the conversation, which was moderated by Professor Tom Stipanowich, included Father Michael Lapsley, SMM, Founder of the Institute for Healing of Memories; Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool, South African Ambassador to the U.S.; John Allen, Desmond Tutu biographer and former Press Officer for the South African Truth & Reconciliation Commission; Karen Hayes, an LA-based filmmaker who is producing a documentary entitled The Foolishness of God: My Forgiveness Journey with Desmond Tutu; Michael Henry Wilson and Carole Wilson, documentary filmmakers who produced the award-winning Reconciliation: Mandela’s Miracle. Screenings of portions of these films and Professor Stipanowich’s taped interviews with Archbishop Tutu and John Allen in Cape Town highlighted the opportunities and challenges for those seeking to promote forgiveness and reconciliation for individuals and communities.

The March 21 event celebrated granting of the Straus Institute’s inaugural Peacemaker Award to Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu. A special evening event was the setting for the presentation of the Institute’s first Filmmaker Illumination Awards to Michael Henry and Carole Wilson and to Karen Hayes.

The following day, Father Lapsley conducted a one-day facilitated Introductory Workshop for counselors, mediators and others seeking to learn approaches that enable individuals to confront sources of personal alienation, misunderstanding and suffering. Such workshops, conducted in locations around the world, enable people from different ethnic groups, races and religions to reach a better understanding of themselves and each other.

Days of Glory / 光輝歲月 / Dedicated to Nelson Mandela – Beyond w/Eng subtitle

Song for Nelson Mandela, Days of Glory,
Composed/Lyric by – Beyond, Wong Ka Kui .
Year :1990 , Hong Kong

Dedicated to Nelson Mandela

The bell rings out signals for home
To compare it with his life,
it seems to be fulled of sadness
To him the meaning of being Black
is to devote the life to racial fights
Time turns gaining into losing
Tiresome eyes still shine with hope

Only the body remains today
to welcome the glorious days
Embracing freedom in stormy days
Never stop struggling with uncertainty
Believing the future can be altered
Asking who can be the same

Can we bring down the boundary of races
Wishing in this land
no one will weights the value of one another
The beauty of multicolors
is because it doesn’t sort out each color

Beyond – 光辉岁月 Guang Hui Sui Yue – Lyrics and Translation

This was a great song to translate. Awesome lyrics.

光辉岁月
gwong fai seui yuet
The Glorious Years

钟声响起归家的讯号
jung sing heung hei gwai ga dik seun hou
The clock bell chimes the signal to go home

在他生命里, 仿佛带点唏嘘
joi ta sang meng leui, fong fat dai dim hei heui
In his life, there seems to carry a small sigh of regret

黑色肌肤给他的意义
hak sik gei fu kap ta dik yi yi
Dark skin gives him the meaning

是一生奉献, 肤色斗争中
si yat sang fung hin, fu sik dau jang jung
of his life’s devotion to the color struggle.

年月把拥有变做失去
nin yuet ba yung yau bin jou sat heui
The years have changed possession into loss

疲倦的双眼带着期望
pei gyun dik seung ngan dai jeuk kei mong
The set of fatiqued eyes still carries hope.

今天只有残留的躯壳
gam tin ji yau chan lau dik keui hok
Today there is only the remains of a shell

迎接光辉岁月
ying jip gwong fai seui yuet
To welcome the glorious years

风雨中抱紧自由
fung yue jung pou gan ji yau
Holding fast to freedom in the wind and rain.

一生经过彷徨的挣扎
yat sang ging gwo pong wong dik jang jat
A lifetime of loss and struggle

自信可改变未来
ji seun ho goi bin mei loi
Believing in one’s ability to change the future

问谁又能做到
man seui yau nang jou dou
Who else can accomplish this?

————————-

可否不分肤色的界限
ho fau bat fan fu sik dik gai han
Can we make no boundaries between colors

愿这土地里, 不分你我高低
yun je tou dei leui, bat fan nei ngo gou dai
On this earth, don’t make distinctions between you and I

缤纷色彩闪出的美丽
ban fan sik choi sim cheut dik mei lai
A riotous diffusion of colors emits beauty

是因它没有分开每种色彩
si yan ta mut yau, fan hoi mui jung sik choi
Because there are no distinction between each individual color.

The Nonviolent Life by John Dear

“How can we become people of nonviolence and help the world become more nonviolent? What does it mean to be a person of active nonviolence? How can we help build a global grassroots movement of nonviolence to disarm the world, relieve unjust human suffering, make a more just society and protect creation and all creatures? What is a nonviolent life?”

These are the questions John Dear, Nobel Peace Prize nominee and Pace e Bene staff member poses in his latest book The Nonviolent Life, available in September. He focuses on three important aspects on the path toward becoming people of nonviolence – being nonviolent toward ourselves; being nonviolent to all others (including creation and creatures); and joining the global grassroots movement of nonviolence. After thirty years of preaching the Gospel of nonviolence John says he has never found a book that completely captures these crucial elements of nonviolent living. According to John, “most people pick one or two of these dimensions, but few do all three. To become a fully rounded, three dimensional person of nonviolence we need to do all three simultaneously.”

In this book, John proposes a simple vision of nonviolence that everyone can aspire to. Order your copy today and journey with John along the path of the nonviolent life.

John Dear is an internationally known voice for peace and nonviolence. He is a popular speaker, peacemaker, organizer, lecturer, retreat leader, and the author/editor of 30 books. John has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize after having participated in nonviolent campaigns for three decades resulting in over 75 arrests and more than a year of his life spent in jail.

Read more John Dear Here

John Dear, S.J. on Spiritual Activism

Rev. John Dear, S.J. is a priest, pastor, social activist and author. He is the former co-chair of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and following the events of 9/11, he coordinated the pastoral counseling of victims and bereaved family members. At the May 2006 Conference on Spiritual Activism in Washington, D.C., he spoke about the need for a socially engaged nonviolent movement to revitalize American spiritual and political life.

PROfile: Marianne Williamson – Department of Peace Interview


Published on Jul 5, 2013

THE PEACE ALLIANCE Advocates for evidence-based peace building legislation and policies that will enhance capacity to reduce violence through prevention and intervention — building sustainable peace both domestically and internationally. Working to greatly increase peace building infrastructure and investment. Advocacy for a U.S. Department of Peace, The Youth PROMISE Act, and greater funding for U.S. Institute of Peace are a few examples of the policies being championed.
http://www.thepeacealliance.org

Department of Peace Campaign

Azim Khamisa, Marianne Williamson and others discuss violence in our culture and what solutions might be available through a US Department of Peace and Nonviolence

Malala Yousafzai’s address to the UN

Malala Yousefzai, who was shot by Pakistani Taliban last year, addressed the UN Youth Assembly on her 16th birthday and called for improvements in global education.
The UN has declared her birthday, July 12, as “Malala Day”.

She started the speech with a prayer.
Some of history’s greatest statesmen have spoken there. Today, the Assembly listened spellbound to a 16-year-old schoolgirl.


Published on Jul 12, 2013

The full text: Malala Yousafzai’s speech to the UN General Assembly

Honourable UN Secretary General Mr Ban Ki-moon, respected president of the General Assembly Vuk Jeremic, honourable UN envoy for global education Mr Gordon Brown, respected elders and my dear brothers and sisters: Assalamu alaikum.

Today is it an honour for me to be speaking again after a long time. Being here with such honourable people is a great moment in my life and it is an honour for me that today I am wearing a shawl of the late Benazir Bhutto. I don’t know where to begin my speech. I don’t know what people would be expecting me to say, but first of all thank you to God for whom we all are equal and thank you to every person who has prayed for my fast recovery and new life. I cannot believe how much love people have shown me. I have received thousands of good-wish cards and gifts from all over the world. Thank you to all of them. Thank you to the children whose innocent words encouraged me. Thank you to my elders whose prayers strengthened me. I would like to thank my nurses, doctors and the staff of the hospitals in Pakistan and the UK and the UAE government who have helped me to get better and recover my strength.

I fully support UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his Global Education First Initiative and the work of UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown and the respectful president of the UN General Assembly Vuk Jeremic. I thank them for the leadership they continue to give. They continue to inspire all of us to action. Dear brothers and sisters, do remember one thing: Malala Day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights.

There are hundreds of human rights activists and social workers who are not only speaking for their rights, but who are struggling to achieve their goal of peace, education and equality. Thousands of people have been killed by the terrorists and millions have been injured. I am just one of them. So here I stand, one girl among many. I speak not for myself, but so those without a voice can be heard. Those who have fought for their rights. Their right to live in peace. Their right to be treated with dignity. Their right to equality of opportunity. Their right to be educated.

Dear friends, on 9 October 2012, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends, too. They thought that the bullets would silence us, but they failed. And out of that silence came thousands of voices. The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions. But nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born. I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same. My hopes are the same. And my dreams are the same. Dear sisters and brothers, I am not against anyone. Neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorist group. I am here to speak for the right of education for every child. I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all the terrorists and extremists. I do not even hate the Talib who shot me.

Even if there was a gun in my hand and he was standing in front of me, I would not shoot him. This is the compassion I have learned from Mohamed, the prophet of mercy, Jesus Christ and Lord Buddha. This the legacy of change I have inherited from Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

This is the philosophy of nonviolence that I have learned from Gandhi, Bacha Khan and Mother Teresa. And this is the forgiveness that I have learned from my father and from my mother. This is what my soul is telling me: be peaceful and love everyone.

Dear sisters and brothers, we realise the importance of light when we see darkness. We realise the importance of our voice when we are silenced. In the same way, when we were in Swat, the north of Pakistan, we realised the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns. The wise saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” It is true. The extremists are afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them. This is why they killed 14 innocent students in the recent attack in Quetta. And that is why they kill female teachers. That is why they are blasting schools every day because they were and they are afraid of change and equality that we will bring to our society. And I remember that there was a boy in our school who was asked by a journalist: “Why are the Taliban against education?”He answered very simply by pointing to his book, he said: “A Talib doesn’t know what is written inside this book.”

They think that God is a tiny, little conservative being who would point guns at people’s heads just for going to school. These terrorists are misusing the name of Islam for their own personal benefit. Pakistan is a peace-loving, democratic country. Pashtuns want education for their daughters and sons. Islam is a religion of peace, humanity and brotherhood. It is the duty and responsibility to get education for each child, that is what it says. Peace is a necessity for education. In many parts of the world, especially Pakistan and Afghanistan, terrorism, war and conflicts stop children from going to schools. We are really tired of these wars. Women and children are suffering in many ways in many parts of the world.

In India, innocent and poor children are victims of child labour. Many schools have been destroyed in Nigeria. People in Afghanistan have been affected by extremism. Young girls have to do domestic child labour and are forced to get married at an early age. Poverty, ignorance, injustice, racism and the deprivation of basic rights are the main problems, faced by both men and women.

Today, I am focusing on women’s rights and girls’ education because they are suffering the most. There was a time when women activists asked men to stand up for their rights. But this time we will do it by ourselves. I am not telling men to step away from speaking for women’s rights, but I am focusing on women to be independent and fight for themselves. So dear sisters and brothers, now it’s time to speak up. So today, we call upon the world leaders to change their strategic policies in favour of peace and prosperity. We call upon the world leaders that all of these deals must protect women and children’s rights. A deal that goes against the rights of women is unacceptable.

We call upon all governments to ensure free, compulsory education all over the world for every child. We call upon all the governments to fight against terrorism and violence. To protect children from brutality and harm. We call upon the developed nations to support the expansion of education opportunities for girls in the developing world. We call upon all communities to be tolerant, to reject prejudice based on caste, creed, sect, colour, religion or agenda to ensure freedom and equality for women so they can flourish. We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back. We call upon our sisters around the world to be brave, to embrace the strength within themselves and realise their full potential.

Dear brothers and sisters, we want schools and education for every child’s bright future. We will continue our journey to our destination of peace and education. No one can stop us. We will speak up for our rights and we will bring change to our voice. We believe in the power and the strength of our words. Our words can change the whole world because we are all together, united for the cause of education. And if we want to achieve our goal, then let us empower ourselves with the weapon of knowledge and let us shield ourselves with unity and togetherness.

Dear brothers and sisters, we must not forget that millions of people are suffering from poverty and injustice and ignorance. We must not forget that millions of children are out of their schools. We must not forget that our sisters and brothers are waiting for a bright, peaceful future.

So let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism, let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first. Thank you.

The Art of Communicating by Thich Nhat Hanh

Released Date: August 13, 2013

Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, bestselling author of Peace is Every Step and one of the most respected and celebrated religious leaders in the world, delivers a powerful path to happiness through mastering life’s most important skill.

How do we say what we mean in a way that the other person can really hear?

How can we listen with compassion and understanding?

Communication fuels the ties that bind, whether in relationships, business, or everyday interactions. Most of us, however, have never been taught the fundamental skills of communication—or how to best represent our true selves. Effective communication is as important to our well-being and happiness as the food we put into our bodies. It can be either healthy (and nourishing) or toxic (and destructive).

In this precise and practical guide, Zen master and Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh reveals how to listen mindfully and express your fullest and most authentic self. With examples from his work with couples, families, and international conflicts, The Art of Communicating helps us move beyond the perils and frustrations of misrepresentation and misunderstanding to learn the listening and speaking skills that will forever change how we experience and impact the world.

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist Zen Master, poet, scholar, and peace activist who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He is the author of many books, including the classics Peace Is Every Step and The Art of Power. Hanh lives in Plum Village, his meditation center in France, and leads retreats worldwide on the art of mindful living.

Oprah Winfrey talks with Thich Nhat Hanh Excerpt – Powerful

Published on May 12, 2013

Truly insightful, deep and powerful. Oprah Winfrey via her incredible OWN network, talks to Thich Nhat Hanh about becoming a monk, meeting Martin Luther King Jr; The powers of mindfulness, insight, concentration and compassion, How to transform warring parties and how to deeply transform relationships.

Ram Dass interviews Thich Nhat Hanh

Ram Dass interviews Thich Nhat Hanh at the State of the World forum, September 1995

The Role of Harmlessness in Spiritual Activism ~ Author Archive: hhteam

The principal the Harmlessness is very close to the Hindu concept of Ahimsa. Ahimsa is a religious-ethical principle adopted presently in Hinduism, but widely accepted by Jainism and Buddhism. Ahimsa is the constant rejection of violence and absolute respect for all life: non-violence is inspired by universal love.

Ahimsa is therefore a waiver of any intention to kill or injury, to input suffering to another by cause of violence. Ahimsa is the opposite of selfishness, hence is absolute love, purity and straight action. Ahimsa is nonviolence in thought, word and deeds. Ahimsa can be expressed by the respect for the ideas of others, or respect for all religions, schools of thoughts, sects, organizations, and the respect for other’s spiritual sovereignty and freedom to live their lives.

But, through the observation of these two concepts, one has to query, when is it correct to interfere in someone’s else life in order to help them, meaning when is it righteously our deed to do, and when it can only aggravate the karmic load of the other, stealing the opportunity of the karmic learning experience? But how one distinguishes the limits of these situations and not incur in a personal karmic overload when just genuinely trying to help?

Harmlessness is a view that does not limit itself through the general intention of “not harm”, to vow itself to adhere be a code of non-violence, but also means to not accept any fruits of violence, meaning not engaging in commercial activities that cause direct or indirect suffering to other sentient beings, either actuality using diamonds from Congo, for example, or either accepting animal-based food, that causes suffering and death of innocent lives. To embody true harmlessness, one has to be rid of everything that can maculate its purity principles. Harmlessness or ahimsa also rejects violent principals as entertainment, such as allowing oneself to accept the banalization that violent movies bring to our immediate reality. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, regards the acceptance of the trivialization of violence as passive evil and warns us that prolonged exposure to viciousness can damage the core of our soul.

But harmlessness has also to be practiced in our normal daily interaction with others. In these occasions, we do not tend to keep mindful of our opinions, judgments or thoughts and its repercussions on other’s lives. If we create an impact as a result of our actions in someone’s life that is adverse, the negative effect will also weight on us. Even if the action or thought were motivated by good intentions, but the end result end up being undesirable, we still altered a path and somewhat overruled the weaving of the circumstances: hence the old adage, “The way to hell is paved with good intentions”.

A spiritual activist, or world server, should keep in mind one’s own responsibilities and limitations with the same vivacity they should also consider other’s sovereignty. In no circumstances should one forget the limitation on acting upon other’s problems and challenges. By no means judge this article as an apologetic essay on Non-action, but just the opposite, we promote action with consciousness, with awareness. To exemplify this, remember how one of the precepts of the Healing Code of Ethics: the energetic healer is allowed to take the pain, but never overrule or take away the lesson which is manifested through the painful situation.

A true spiritual activist differs greatly from an individual that professes to be a simply a humanitarian per se. The difference mainly resides not in the actions that both may come to perform, but in the underlining intent that engenders the call for action. Both may assist the emergency needs of others, but only the Spiritual Activist will act with the purpose to empower the helped being to take charge on his situation and create change in his life; therefore keeping him aligned with the purpose of his soul and not affecting his karmic contracts. Spiritually, the intention is to bring a hand up, not a hand out. Ideally, spiritual activists can be seen as facilitator of life transforming experiences. To illustrate this thought, we share the Sufi tale of the Seventeen Camels.

The Seventeen Camels

Once upon a time that was a compassionate and wise merchant that owned seventeen camels. Despite of his good relations to many prominent members of his town, the camels were all his had as his prized possession. When he died he left behind three sons.

In his will, he wrote expressed orders that his valuable property should be divided as follows:

He bestowed 1/2 of his property to his eldest son, 1/3 of his property to his second son and 1/9 of his property to his youngest son.

The sons were in a predicament wondering how to divide seventeen camels into one-half, one-third and one-ninth parts. They decided to visit another merchant, a very successful business man to ask for his interpretation on their dilemma. The man looked at the will and said that he was sure the father meant camel meat instead of the camels themselves. He suggested them to slaughter the camels and divide the meat among themselves. They were not satisfied by his answer.

They continue to ponder and then they decided to visit yet another of their father’s friend. The young man, also a merchant, suggested them to sale the camels and to share among themselves the sum of money from the sale. The three sons were not content with his answer either and decided to leave.

Feeling that they were running out of options, they decided to visit an old holy wise man said to live outside of the city walls, to ask for his insight and advice.

The old sage patiently heard the story with half of his eyes closed. After they finished, the old man finally spoke:

“I am on old man; I only have one possession which is my own camel. Even needing it for my daily activities, I will gladly give it to the three of you. “

“Add my camel to yours and now how many camels do you have?”

“Eighteen camels,” they all said.

“Good,” the Wise Man said.

He looked at the eldest son and said, “Your share is half the total camels – half of eighteen works out to be nine – so take your nine camels and go.”

Then he looked at the second son, “Your share is one third the total camels – one third of eighteen works out to be six – so take your six camels.”

Finally he looked at the youngest son, “Your share is one ninth the total camels – one ninth of eighteen works out to be two – so take your two camels.”

When finally the youngest son took his share of two camels, the old wise man asked the three of them at the same time. “Now that you all resolve this problem without dishonoring the will of your late father, I will ask you a favor. One camel was left behind, I am old and weak, may I take the last camel that happens to be the one I gifted you. The three sons agreed gladly and gave the wise man his camel.

The Wise Man took his camel, having successfully divided the seventeen camels amongst the three sons as per the share decreed in their father’s will, diverting what could have been a pit of karmic resentment among the brothers.

MINEFIELDS AND MIRACLES: WHY GOD AND ALLAH NEED TO TALK – A Global Adventure in Interfaith ~ Ruth Broyde Sharone

In 2006 Ruth Broyde Sharone, filmmaker and journalist, was the first woman and the first Jew invited to address more than 1,500 Muslim participants at a peace rally organized by the conservative Muslim Shi’a community of Los Angeles, one of the highlights of her colorful and adventurous interfaith career. She is willing to enter the minefields of interfaith because, as she writes in her memoir, “I come from a long line of dreamers.”

Miracles and Minefields opens in the 60’s in Chicago with Ruth’s “wake up call,” a jarring encounter with institutional anti-Semitism at a private university. After graduation, she decides to travel to Latin America, Europe and Israel, crossing geographical, cultural, religious and linguistic borders, while trying to understand “why it appears so hard for people of different faiths to get along with one another, considering that we are all part of the same human family.”

In the 70’s, she comes face to face with her loyalties to her Jewish homeland, the painful political realities of the war-torn Middle East, and the dilemma of the Palestinian refugees.

Back in the States in the 80’s and 90’s, while working on a new film project about Passover, Ruth is led to a serendipitous meeting with a black Christian minister who also celebrates Passover. They join forces to organize a series of interfaith journeys for Christians, Muslims and Jews. They encourage participants to share their faith stories as they retrace the steps of the Exodus, beginning in Egypt, continuing through the Sinai, and culminating in a Universal Freedom Seder on Passover in Jerusalem. The ongoing minefields and miracles of interfaith engagement are plentiful along the way, which Ruth comes to see as an inevitable part of the human journey towards wholeness and peace.

Ruth’s evolving role in interfaith engagement intensifies in Los Angeles after 9/11 when she sees a disturbing billboard in Hollywood which reads “God & Allah Need to Talk.” She feels compelled to make a film by the same title in order to explore the new religious and civic landscape as Americans of all backgrounds deal with their 9/11 trauma. A sold-out premiere and a standing ovation convince Ruth that she is “on to something.” She takes her film on the road, to mosques, synagogues, and churches across the country, and abroad. In her call to action, the lynch pin of her inspirational talks, Ruth urges her audiences to engage in “Interfaith Pilates” to stretch from the core, leave their comfort zone, and commit to performing “one, small profound act that could change the world.”

In 2007, at an interfaith conference in Monterrey, Mexico, Ruth screens God & Allah Need to Talk, this time with Spanish subtitles. She speaks to the crowd of 600 in Spanish and, as she concludes, the audience goes wild, treating her like a rock star, begging for photos and autographs. Ruth, unsettled by this turn of events, ultimately interpreted their reaction as an indication that people around the world are preparing for a new form of social interaction in which interfaith activity will be one of the most popular themes of their lives. And not a minute too soon, she believes.

Ruth intuits new possibilities for the 21st century. There are enough of us now who believe that, “just beyond the horizon, there is a land of unity within diversity, and diversity within unity, a land so rich in potential for inner and outer peace, that we are willing to risk all.”

This book is bound to inspire a new generation of peace builders, willing to risk all.

A self-appointed peacemaker since she was a young girl, Ruth Broyde Sharone is convinced that people—not governments—will ultimately bring about the long- awaited and eagerly hoped-for era of global peace. Her combined talents as a journalist, filmmaker, community organizer, and peace activist all converged in the spring of 1991 when she orchestrated her first interfaith Passover Seder in Los Angeles. She brought together 95 people of diverse faiths to celebrate the universal theme of freedom which later evolved into a world interfaith movement called Festival of Freedom.

From that definitive moment in 1991, Ruth has not looked back, except to marvel at the variety of places her mission has taken her beyond the US: the Middle East, Latin America, Africa, Europe, and now Asia. She has created a noteworthy legacy for the interfaith movement by documenting the minefields and miracles she encountered along the way, which formed the basis for her book, Minefields and Miracles: Why God and Allah Need to Talk.

The mother of two grown children, Alexander and Leora Sharone, Ruth has not slowed her pace. Wherever she goes she uses her energy, passion, and charisma to challenge and empower people to go beyond their comfort zone in multifaith encounters. She affectionately refers to that activity as “Interfaith Pilates,” explaining, “To be an interfaith activist, you have to stretch from your core until you feel the sting. Then you know you are really doing the work.” After every keynote and interfaith conference, her parting words, never vary. She always proclaims them with conviction and humor:

The woman behind the film – God and Allah need to talk

A one on one talk with Ruth Broyde Sharone a film maker and an interfaith activist from Los Angeles. According to her recent documentary film “God and Allah need to talk” she is on a path to unite humanity.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on the Bhagawad Gita

Terrorists are cowards. Whenever terror has struck in any part of the world, we have heard people say it is an act of cowardice. A coward runs away from action but harbours all negative feelings and does it surreptitiously.

This is exactly what happened to Arjuna. Arjuna was angry, upset, sad and wanted to run away. In the Bhagawad Gita, Lord Krishna said not to be a coward. So, it is an antidote to terrorism. Shri Krishna said bravery is the way – face the war when it is inevitable and do your duty.

A terrorist is stuck in his identity – he hides it, has no rationale and inflicts pain. Whereas Bhagawad Gita helps one to transcend one’s identity, encourages reason and infuses wisdom. In this sense, it could be called the antidote to terrorism.

The duty of a policeman, a soldier or a king is to be impartial for the sake of the nation, whether it is their mentors or relatives. Terrorists are never impartial. A soldier is brave and a terrorist is a coward. A soldier is protecting and preventing violence and a terrorist is inflicting pain and suffering. The Bhagawad Gita is the scripture of bravery in both realms of physical and metaphysical.

Terrorism is deeply steeped in hatred. An act without hatred is what Gita propounds. The Gita epitomizes the correct action – of righteousness, of upliftment of spirit and an action or duty that ought to be performed even in the most compelling situation.

In the last 5149 years of the existence of the Gita, there is no evidence of someone becoming a terrorist after reading it. In fact, Mahatma Gandhi wrote commentaries on the Bhagawad Gita and it was an inspiration for his non-violent movement. The Bhagawad Gita is a unique scripture which caters to the entire range of human evolution, comprising every level of this vast existence.

Gita stands for poise and equanimity and for performing one’s designated duty. Krishna does not encourage everyone to take the weapons and fight but a soldier cannot sell bananas in the market. He has to take his weapon to bring security to his people. If Bhagawad Gita is a terrorist scripture then all military academies in the world are nothing but terrorist organizations. Doesn’t this sound strange? Would the courts ban Lenin, Marx and Mao Tso-Tung, who to stay in power inflicted terror on millions?

A terrorist or a coward hides and inflicts pain on others whereas a soldier sacrifices his own life to bring security and peace to people. They both may take the gun but their intentions are poles apart.

Gita encourages reasoning and dialogue while terrorists are blind to any reasoning and are closed to any form of dialogue.

Interestingly, in any military training all over the world, the soldiers are asked to see the enemies as dangerous objects which need to be eliminated. The psychology behind indoctrination of such an idea is that when they think the enemy is a human being the soldiers are unable to raise their arms. There are many such survival tactics where the army men are desensitized.

A similar situation happened to Arjuna. Lord Krishna went step by step to deal with Arjuna’s emotions, ego, mindsets and concepts. He finally touched on the nature of his spiritual being; revealing him the highest knowledge and making him realize his eternal nature. This brought him enormous strength and then propelled him to perform his worldly duties. A doctor cannot be taken as a dacoit just because he opens up the stomach of the patient.

Krishna says, no sin begets him whose intellect is unattached and free from cravings and aversions, even if he kills the whole world. Now, the condition of an intellect free from cravings and aversions itself counters terrorism. Terrorism is done when the intellect is deeply attached and is hateful. The metaphors and the high standards of humanism exhibited in the Gita are unparalleled.

Jesus had said, “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.” In the Quran, there are many verses which talk about striking terror in the hearts of the infidels and cutting off their fingers. By these standards if you still call Gita a terrorist scripture then you have to precede such statements by Bible and Quran.

The fact is that it is not the scriptures that inflict terrorism; it is the mis-interpretation of an ignorant and stressed mind which justifies their actions quoting scriptures.

By Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

This article is to cater to the common man. This piece was written in December 2011, in the midst of a Russian court case against the Bhagawad Gita. The case ended with the Russian court rejecting the ban.

Rubin Museum shows Bhagavad Gita film by Joshua Seftel (updated)

The film ‘Invitation to World Literature: the Bhagavad Gita’ (WGBH, Annenberg Media) will screen at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City on Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 1 p.m. The following is filmmaker Joshua Seftel’s interview with Hindu monk and Columbia University Chaplain Gadadhara Pandit Dasa, who appears in the film.

Joshua Seftel: When I was in college, I was walking through Washington Square Park, and a Hindu monk came up to me and handed me the Bhagavad Gita, and I remember I was too shy to know what to say so I just took it and I brought it home. But I didn’t open it for 20 years. The reason was I felt intimidated by it, and I felt it wouldn’t be relevant to me. It wasn’t until I worked on the film about the Bhagavad Gita that I realized it’s everywhere. It has influenced so many things I already knew about.

Gadadhara Pandit Dasa: The Bhagavad Gita did influence the lives of very prominent western people — not just Indian people like Ghandi — but Martin Luther King Jr., and Emerson, Thoreau, Oppenheimer.
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Seftel: If you had to tweet what Bhagavad Gita is about, what would you say?

Pandit: (laughs) OK, what Bhagavad Gita is about (pause), “The guide to overcoming life’s biggest obstacles, which are caused by the mind and understanding the difference between the body and soul.”

Seftel: Would you say the main character, Arjuna, is having a nervous breakdown?

Pandit: Well, here is what Arjuna says: “My hair is standing on end. My skin is burning. My mind is whirling; my bow is slipping from my hand. I can no longer stand here any longer.” I would say that if you can’t stand on your own feet and things that you are holding are slipping from your hand, then that would qualify as a nervous breakdown.

Seftel: Arjuna, and his chariot driver, Krishna, have a relationship that is timeless and relatable. There’s a little “Tony Soprano and Dr. Melfi” or “Tiger Woods and his caddy” here.

Pandit: I don’t know if you saw the movie “The Legend of Bagger Vance” with Will Smith and Matt Damon? That’s based on Bhagavad Gita actually, because Matt Damon’s golfer character is named Rannulph Junuh. So that’s Arjuna. And Will Smith, his caddy, is named Bagger Vance. If you take Bag and Vance, that’s Baggavan which means “god” (laughs). And there’s some Karate Kid here too. You know they’ve got Mr. Miyagi and Danielson (laughs). So Danielson, when he wants to learn he goes to Mr. Miyagi and asks him about karate and Mr. Miyagi then becomes a teacher. I think you can find this relationship everywhere in contemporary life.

Seftel: What about “The Matrix”?

Pandit: There’s definitely a good amount of the Gita in The Matrix. Neo is very much like Arjuna because in the movie you see that Neo is looking for something. He sits on his computer. He knows that the world he sees around him isn’t everything. He knows that there is something more out there. He just can’t figure out what it is. When he finally meets Morpheus, his guru or teacher, Morpheus says, “You know it’s out there, you just don’t know what it is. It’s kind of like a thorn. You have always felt it.”

Seftel: In our film, Amitav Kaul says that he had a breakthrough in understanding Hinduism and the Gita after seeing Star Wars.

Pandit: Yes, the scene where Obi Wan tells Luke about “the force.” That’s why in Hinduism many say “Happiness is found within,” because the divine is there. We are not able to access it because we are so busy doing so many things and progressing materially that we are not able to access that divine. So I think that is what he was referring to. The force is the divine.

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Seftel: How does the story of the Bhagavad Gita end?

Pandit: It ends in a really beautiful way. One of my favorite passages in the Gita is where Krishna says to Arjuna that I’ve told you everything that I want to tell you, deliberate on it fully. And now, you do as you wish to do. I think that is so wonderful from a spiritual point of view that God is detached from our life to some degree. He’s interested in educating us, but ultimately he says: You make your own decisions.

Seftel: I went to a bar mitzvah a few months ago, and I met a boy named Arjuna. Do you think Arjuna is going to become a popular name in the States?

Pandit: Well, it all depends on how well this documentary does (laughs). I think that is largely in your hands (laughs).

Seftel and Pandit will speak after the January 25th screening of the film at the Rubin Museum of Art.
If you missed the show, you can watch Joshua Seftel’s 26 minute film on-line.
Click here watch and view the transcript of the video clip on the top right hand column.

The Real Challenge of Our Times: The Need for a New Worldview By Anne Baring

Neither do men put new wine into old bottles; else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles and both are preserved. Matt. 9:17

To reclaim the sacred nature of the cosmos – and of planet Earth in particular – is one of the outstanding spiritual challenges of our time. Diarmuid O’Murchu, Quantum Theology

The threat of global warming, the urgent need to free ourselves from dependency on oil and the current financial crisis could be the triple catalyst that offers us the opportunity of bringing about a profound shift in our values, relinquishing an old story and defining a new one. Our lives and well-being depend upon the fertility and resources of the Earth, yet in relation to the Earth, it would seem that we have been autistic for centuries. Now, instead of treating our planetary home as the endless supplier of all our needs, without consideration for Her needs, we could rethink beliefs and attitudes which have influenced our behaviour for millennia.

Because of those beliefs we have come to look upon nature as something separate from ourselves, something we could master, control and manipulate to obtain specific benefits for our species alone because ours, we were taught, has been given dominion over all others and over the Earth itself. It has come as a bit of a shock to realise that our lives are intimately bound up with the fragile organism of planetary life and the inter-dependence of all species. If we destroy our habitat, whether inadvertently or deliberately by continuing on our present path, we may risk destroying ourselves. We have developed a formidable intellect, a formidable science, a formidable technology but all rest on the premise of our alienation from and mastery of nature, where nature was treated as object with ourselves as controlling subject.

Yet now, the foundation that seemed so secure is disintegrating: old structures and beliefs are breaking down. It is as if mortal danger is forcing us to take a great leap in our evolution that we might never have made were we not driven by the extremity of circumstance. Many people are defining a new kind of relationship with the Earth, based not on dominance but on respect, responsibility and conscious service. Because our capacity for destruction, both military and ecological, is so much greater today than it was even fifty years ago, and will be still greater tomorrow, we have only decades in which to change our thinking and respond to the challenge of this evolutionary leap.

There is a second problematic legacy from the past: the image of God shared by the three Abrahamic religions. This has presented God as a transcendent creator, separate and distinct from the created order and from ourselves. Western civilisation, despite its phenomenal achievements, developed on the foundation of this fundamental split between spirit and nature—between creator and creation. Only now are we brought face to face with the disastrous effects of this split.

Once again, as in the early centuries of the Christian era, it seems as if new bottles are needed to hold the wine of a new revelation, a new understanding of reality which could heal this split. But how do we create the vessel which can assimilate the wine of a new vision of reality and a different image of God or Spirit? How do we relinquish the dogmatic beliefs and certainties which have, over the millennia of the patriarchal era, caused indescribable and quite unnecessary suffering and the sacrifice of so many millions of lives?

I cannot answer these questions. But I do know that as the new understanding, the new wine comes into being, we have to hold the balance and the tension between the old and the new without destroying the old or rejecting the new. It must have been like this two thousand years ago when the disciples of Jesus tried to assimilate what he was telling them, something so utterly different from the belief-system and the brutal values which governed the world of their time. Even today, the revolutionary teachings and the different values he taught have barely touched the consciousness that governs the world of our time, however much political and religious leaders proclaim allegiance to them. What would Jesus have thought of WMD, depleted uranium and cluster bombs, and the massacre of helpless civilians in war, let alone the destruction of vast swathes of the Earth’s forests to supply crops for biofuels? What would he have thought of the fact that colossal sums of money are spent on the military when 17,000 children die every day from hunger and disease?.

The need for a more conscious relationship with both nature and spirit, bringing them closer together, is intrinsic to the creativity of the life-impulse itself—urging us to go beyond the boundaries of the known, to break through the concepts and beliefs, whether religious, scientific or economic, which currently govern our culture and constrict the expansion of our understanding and our compassion.

What is the emerging vision of our time which could offer a template for a new civilization? I believe it is a vision which takes us beyond an outdated paradigm or worldview where we are held in bondage to beliefs and habits specific to race, nation, religion or gender, which have led us to exclude and devalue those who are different from ourselves and neglect our relationship with the Earth, our planetary home. It is a vision which offers us a totally new concept of spirit as an energy field — a limitless sea of being — as well as the creative consciousness or organising intelligence active within that sea or field, and a totally new concept of ourselves as belonging to and participating in that incandescent ground or sea of consciousness.

It is a vision which recognises the sacredness and indissoluble unity of the great cosmic web of life and imposes on us the responsibility of becoming far more sensitive to the effects of our decisions and our actions. It invites our recognition of the needs of the planet and the life it sustains as primary, with ourselves as the humble servants of those needs. It invites us, as Einstein asked us to do, to widen our circle of compassion, to look upon every child as our child, every woman as our daughter or our mother, every man as our father or our son, every creature as our responsibility. Above all, it is a vision which asks that we relinquish our addiction to weapons and war and the pursuit of power; that we become more aware of the dark shadow cast by this addiction which threatens us with ever more barbarism, bloodshed and suffering—ultimately with the possible extinction of our species.

From this perspective, the crisis of our times is not only an ecological and political crisis but a spiritual one. The answers we seek cannot come from the limited consciousness which now rules the world but could grow from a deeper understanding born of the union of heart and head, helping us to see that all life is one, that each one of us participates in the life of a cosmic entity of immeasurable dimensions. The urgent need for this psychic balance, this deeper intelligence and insight, this wholeness, could help us to recover a perspective on life that has been increasingly lost until we have come to live without it — and without even noticing it has gone — recognising the existence of nothing beyond the parameters of the human mind. It is a dangerous time because it involves transforming entrenched belief systems and archaic survival habits of behaviour that are rooted in fear, as well as the greed and desire for power that are born of fear. But it is also an immense opportunity for evolutionary advance, if only we can understand what is happening and why.

For a rapidly increasing number of us, there is the possibility of choosing whether to follow in the tracks of the past, continuing to live our lives in servitude to the power principle and the institutions which embody it, however subtly expressed. Or to live and act from a different relationship with life and commit ourselves to the immense effort of consciousness we need to make to understand and serve its mystery.

Surely, after so many billion years of cosmic evolution, it is simply unacceptable that the beauty and marvel of the earth should be ravaged by us through the destructive power of our weapons, our insatiable greed and the misapplication of our science and technology. It is inconceivable that our extraordinary species, which has taken so many million years to evolve, should destroy itself and lay waste to the Earth through ignorance of the divinity in which we dwell and which dwells in us.

THE WAY OF THE BODHISATTVA: A Translation of the Bodhicharyavatara by Shantideva

Extract :
Foreword by The Dalai Lama

The Bodhicharyavatara was composed by the Indian scholar Shantideva, renowned in Tibet as one of the most reliable of teachers. Since it mainly focuses on the cultivation and enhancement of Bodhichitta, the work belongs to the Mahayana. At the same time, Shantideva’s philosophical stance as expounded particularly in the ninth chapter on wisdom, follows the Prasangika Madhyamika viewpoint of Chandrakirti.

The principal focus of Mahayana teachings is on cultivating a mind wishing to benefit other sentient beings. With an increase in our own sense of peace and happiness we will naturally be better able to contribute to the peace and happiness of others. Transforming the mind and cultivating a positive, altruistic and responsible attitude is beneficial right now. Whatever problems and difficulties we may have, we can thereby face them with courage, calmness and high spirits. Therefore, it is also the very root of happiness for many lives to come.

Based on my own little experience I can confidently say that the teachings and instructions of the Buddhadharma and particularly the Mahayana teachings continue to be relevant and useful today. If we sincerely put the gist of these teachings into practice, we need have no hesitation about their effectiveness. The benefits of developing qualities like love, compassion, generosity, and patience are not confined to the personal level alone; they extend to all sentient beings and even to the maintenance of harmony with the environment. It is not as if these teachings were useful at some time in the past but are no longer relevant in modern times. They remain pertinent today. This is why I encourage people to pay attention to such practices; it is not just so that the tradition may be preserved.

The Bodhicharyavatara has been widely acclaimed and respected for more than one thousand years. It is studied and praised by all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism. I myself received transmission and explanation of this important, holy text from the late Kunu Lama, Tenzin Gyaltsen, who received it from a disciple of the great Dzogchen master, Dza Patrul Rinpoche. It has proved very useful and beneficial to my mind.

I am delighted that the Padmakara Translation Group has prepared a fresh English translation of the Bodhicharyavatara. They have tried to combine an accuracy of meaning with an ease of expression, which can only serve the text’s purpose well. I congratulate them and offer my prayers that their efforts may contribute to greater peace and happiness among all sentient beings.

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Treasured by Buddhists of all traditions, The Way of the Bodhisattva (Bodhicharyavatara) is a guide to cultivating the mind of enlightenment, and to generating the qualities of love, compassion, generosity, and patience. This text has been studied, practiced, and expounded upon in an unbroken tradition for centuries, first in India, and later in Tibet. Presented in the form of a personal meditation in verse, it outlines the path of the Bodhisattvas–those who renounce the peace of individual enlightenment and vow to work for the liberation of all beings, and to attain buddhahood for their sake.

This version, tranlated from the Tibetan, is a revision by the tranlators of the 1997 edition. Included are a foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a new translators’ preface, a thorough introduction, a note on the translation, and three appendices of commentary by the Nyingma master Kunzang Pelden.

Bodhisattvas renounce nirvana and vow to work for the welfare of all beings. This pivotal work outlines the path that bodhisattvas should follow as they seek to teach others the path to nirvana. It contains moral instruction and meditation exercises for bodhisattvas to practice as they engage in their work. One of the great classics of Mahayana Buddhism, this text is beloved by Buddhists of all traditions.

“Shantideva’s work is required reading for an understanding of Tibetan Buddhism, and the clarity and crispness of this new translation makes it an accessible way into this world.”–Publishers Weekly

Buddhism Is More than Meditation: A Conversation with Sulak Sivaraksa ~ Katherine Marshall

Sulak Sivaraksa, Buddhist spiritual leader and international activist, is known for advocating social change and development based on an engaged Buddhism. Over the course of his long career, he has been arrested three times for his criticism of the Thai monarchy. Katherine Marshall sat down with him recently to discuss his own spiritual journey and his vision for Buddhism.

Can you speak a bit about how you got where you are, and particularly about how faith came into play in your life?

I was born in 1933 and was brought up as a Buddhist. My parents were not very spiritual. I was sent to a Catholic school, and I got my degree from the Anglican college. I didn’t like the school. They used to treat me very badly, and they used to beat me because I didn’t want to learn by rote. My parents said, “We have tried to bring you up in a Catholic and a Protestant school. Would you like to be a monk?” I said, “Yes, why not?”

So I became a monk at the age of 13. As a monk, they treat you as a grown up. It was the first time I was able to connect with and learn about my society and my culture, because the temple was open for everyone. I was very happy.

In 1953, I went to London to study. In our family background, which was middle-class and upper-class, being educated in Britain meant that you were educated properly, and that could help you get ahead. England was the place to be. While I was in England, I joined the Buddhist Society. Mr. Christmas Humphreys, founder of the Society, was a very great man.

But I did not agree with his approach. His view was that a Buddhist must concentrate on meditation, even when they are part of the society. He said that Christian men are wrong because they got involved in society and politics and lost their spirituality. To be Buddhist, he argued, you must concentrate on meditation. I felt that he was fundamentally wrong. Meditation is a good thing, but it does not mean only looking inwards. I realized that many Buddhists were from middle-class backgrounds. They didn’t realize the suffering of the majority of our people. They didn’t even question their own lifestyles. I think that is escapism, not Buddhism.

And what came next?

I returned from England to Siam in 1961. Probably because of my British education, I was very much influenced by Plato. In The Republic, he argued that we should all become philosopher kings, and that we should lead the poor. At first, when I went home to Siam, I thought the poor were so stupid and ignorant. But when I was exposed to them, I realized that I had much to learn from them and that they had much wisdom to share with me. Ever since my return to Siam, I have become more and more involved with the poor.

To make a long story short, I feel that to practice Buddhism, you must care not only for yourself but for society. To be Buddhist, you should not only adhere to the main teachings — not killing, stealing, having sexual misconducts or lying — but you also have to consciously distance yourself from the structures of violence that frame our lives. You may not kill directly, but you kill through the social structure. You don’t steal directly, but you let the bank steal. So, I became more involved in addressing what you could term “structural violence.”

Last year, you celebrated the 20th anniversary of the founding of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists. What were some of the highlights?

A real highlight was to see and to build networks of friendships. In Buddhism, the main priority, externally, are good friends. Good friends are those who tell you what you don’t want to hear. They are your external voice of conscience. I feel we have done that for 20 years.

We have also worked to develop an important side of Buddhism. Some Buddhists, for example, the Japanese, are wonderful with funerals and with thinking of the next world, but they have no care for the present world. Now they care more for the present world, and I am happy for that. The Taiwanese Buddhists have begun to help the poor in Bangladesh and Cambodia. I say that’s good but not good enough. To help the poor is social welfare, but Buddhism demands social change. I think the Taiwanese are doing that, and I am very proud that the anniversary sees us with good friends who are challenging each other in good spirit, while we are changing.

When you look at the Buddhist establishments in Thailand, and the monks and the structures, how much of that would you say is engaged and how much of it is in a more traditional role?

The Thai monks, as a whole, cannot be completely traditional. We have been uprooted, if I may say so, because of the American hegemony. The Americans came in during the 1950s to save us from communism. They felt that Buddhism was not good because it does not teach about God, but teaches about contentment. They thought that Buddhism was all negative. I said: no sir. No to hatred, no to greed.

They came to our country with good intentions. But they wanted us to become industrialized and destroyed our whole agricultural system. Traditional Buddhism depends on farming, which was destroyed. Now, there is a new group of monks who go along with and rely on capitalism and consumerism.

Having said that, there are also some young monks who feel they must go back to the traditional Buddha. They try to understand suffering, and to see greed in the form of capitalism. They try to understand violence, hatred, ignorance and illusion in the forms of mass media and industry. There are more and more young people who are very helpful and work with us in Laos, Cambodia, Burma, India and Sri Lanka.

But they are a minority?

Yes. But, small is beautiful. And I believe that quality is more important than quantity.

What about interfaith work?

Friendship has no barriers, whether gender, nationality or faiths. Friends are friends. The Christian, the Muslim, or the atheist — they are friends. Friends must not belittle each other’s beliefs. My teacher taught that, to understand the basis of Buddhism, you have to know that there are a lot of dreadful things in Buddhism, also. He taught that Buddhism is how to learn how to change greed into generosity, hatred into compassion and friendship, delusion into wisdom and understanding. He said that other religions are the same but use different terms. They teach people to be selfless, not selfish. They teach to be brave, humble and generous. Don’t think that other religions are inferior to your own. Respect other religions as your own. Buddhadasa, my teacher, taught me that we must unite people of different faiths — whether agnostic or atheist — because they are also spiritual beings.

Can you speak a bit about how you got where you are, and particularly about how faith came into play in your life?

I was born in 1933, and was brought up as a Buddhist. As a Buddhist, you care for yourself and you care for others, and you try to clear your mind through meditation. In 1953, I went to London to study. I studied philosophy, literature, and history, in Wales. Then I worked for the BBC, and also taught at the London School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). I was called to the bar in London.

While I was in England, I joined the Buddhist Society. The Buddhist Society helped me to broaden my outlook. Mr. Christmas Humphreys (founder of the Society) was a very great man. But I did not agree with his approach. His view was that a Buddhist must concentrate on meditation, even when they are part of the society. He said that Christian men are wrong because they got involved in society and politics, and lost their spirituality. To be Buddhist, he argued, you must concentrate on meditation. I felt that he was fundamentally wrong. Meditation is a good thing, but it does not mean only looking inwards. I realized that most European Buddhists are from middle-class backgrounds. They didn’t realize the suffering of the majority of our people. They didn’t even question their own lifestyles. I think that is escapism, not Buddhism.

I met the great Vietnamese Buddhist leader, Thich Nach Hanh, for the first time in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), about thirty-five years ago. The World Council of Churches organized a large meeting there between Buddhists and Christians and that is where we met. He was trying to get Buddhists engaged with society, and I thought that it was a good goal.

And what came next?

I returned from England to Siam in 1961.

To make a long story short, I feel that to practice Buddhism, you must care not only for yourself but for society. Even thirty years ago, I found a number of internationally engaged Buddhists. I feel that Buddhists must care for other people – not only other Buddhists, but also other human beings. To be Buddhist, you should not only adhere to the main teachings – not killing, stealing, having sexual misconducts, or lying – but you also have to consciously distance yourself from the structures of violence that frame our lives. You may not kill directly, but you kill through the social structure. You don’t steal directly, but you let the bank steal. So, I became more involved in addressing what you could term structural violence.

Probably because of my British education, I was very much influenced by Plato. In The Republic, he argued that we should all become philosopher kings, and that we should lead the poor. At first, when I went home to Siam, I thought the poor were so stupid and ignorant. But when I was exposed to them, I realized that I had much to learn from them and that they had much wisdom to share with me. My elite upbringing gave me an idea that was wrong. We should learn from the poor, because they have so much wisdom to teach us.

Ever since my return to Siam, I have become more and more involved with the poor. I have paid the price for it; because I come from an elite background, my fighting for the poor makes my colleagues begin to feel that I have betrayed my class. On top of that, in my country, which is a constitutional monarchy, the dictators tried to make the monarchy divine. I challenge that, because in Buddhism, the king is the first among equals. Again, I pay for that.

Right now, I have three charges against me . Today is the King’s birthday. There is a lot of campaigning around the world for the King to pardon me on his birthday. In Buddhist culture, the King should release turtles, fish, and birds to give them their freedom on his birthday. He should release me from the charges, and give me freedom. I think that would be much more meaningful than giving freedom to animals. I don’t think he’ll do it. He’s a nice man, but he is also very sick now.

The International Network of Engaged Buddhists just celebrated its twentieth anniversary last week. What were the highlights?

A real highlight was to see and to build networks of friendships. Internationally as Buddhists, we have worked over the years to build up networks of friendships. In Buddhism, the main priority, externally, are good friends. Good friends are those who tell you what you don’t want to hear. They are your external voice of conscience. I feel we have done that for 20 years. We have good friends. We have Christians and Muslims as our good friends.

We have also worked to develop an important side of Buddhism. Some of our Buddhists, for example the Japanese, are wonderful with funerals and with thinking of the next world. But they have no care for the present world. Now they care more for the present world, and I am happy for that. The Taiwanese Buddhists have begun to help the poor in Bangladesh and Cambodia. I say that’s good but not good enough. To help the poor is social welfare. But Buddhism demands social change. I think the Taiwanese are doing that, and I am very proud that the anniversary sees us with good friends who are challenging each other in good spirit, while we are changing.

Also, in India, the Buddhists are the poorest of the poor. For fifty years, the Tibetan Buddhists have been in India, although they have never met those Indian Buddhists. This is because the poorest Buddhists feel that the Tibetans are foreigners and mix with the Brahmins. I was the one to bring the Dalai Lama to meet the poor Buddhists. People around him told him not to go, because he had been accepted by the Brahmins and the top intellectuals. The poor also challenged Gandhi in the same way. But the Dalai Lama said: I am a monk. If I am invited and don’t go, I am not a real monk. So he came four years ago to meet our Buddhist groups, and now the Buddhists in India are learning with the Tibetans, and are being helped. This friendship, for me, is tremendous.

Before INEB, the foundation Fellowship of World Buddhists was started in 1956 by Dr. Malarasekera from Sri Lanka. Now, these Buddhists meet every two years in five star hotels, and don’t meet the poor. Yet they think they are the best in the world. I challenge them. I tell them that if you don’t expose yourself to the poor, you are not following Buddha. There are the four noble truths, and the first truth is the truth of suffering. You have to find out the course of suffering, and to overcome suffering nonviolently.

I am happy to say that the World Fellowship of Buddhists is now changing. At one time, they wouldn’t even welcome the Tibetans. Now the Tibetans are coming, and have social justice. So, if you keep on pushing positively and cheerfully for social friendship, it will work.

Please tell us about your involvement with the World Faiths Development Dialogue. You were involved in it from the beginning.

I thought it was wonderful, as I mentioned in my opening remarks at the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Jim Wolfensohn had a good idea, and has a very open mind. I think he is committed to spirituality in a way that I have not seen from anyone else from the World Bank at his level. It’s a very good initiative. I hope you will carry on with it, more effectively. If this could influence the World Bank, IMF, and the WTO, that would be excellent. These ideas are even being discussed at Davos. A Buddhist monk, Matthieu Riccard, gave a talk there on Gross National Happiness and people were willing to listen. This is a good sign. I must say, this is something that is also due to the WFDD, not directly but indirectly. Everything links together.

What do you see happening with what you would call “development” in Thailand? What direction are things going?

The mainstream government links with international cooperation, and there is more investment taking place. The people at the bottom are challenging development, which is very curious. There is a place called Mabtaput that is heavily industrialized, where people suffer much from the pollution and are dying. Now, the people there are suing the government, and for the first time, they are winning. Secondly, the poorest people in the country are being listened to more.

So, as I see in my country for the first time, that development has been challenged by the people. The middle class are coming out to be with the poor, and the poor have been effective because deep down they are Buddhists. Deep down they are nonviolent, and deep down they have their roots. The middle class have lost their roots. They are addicted to television, and to the computer. Their family structure is broken up. Now, the middle class is listening to the poor. I am very proud of the poor. I have been working with them for the past 20-30 years, and I have been arrested because of that.

How do you see the challenges for education?

The Ministry of Education unfortunately teaches people to climb up the social ladder – socially, economically, and politically. I think that for people to become clever, without being good, is very dangerous. The Ministry of Education cannot teach people to be good. Only spiritual, religious people can do this. Religious people can be too dogmatic and too churchy, and so you need the spiritual people to help. When I received the Right Livelihood Award in 1995, I used that money to start an education movement. It has done so much now for education. Education must linger in both the heart and the head. It must be meditative, and include contemplation. You don’t need to be Buddhist, or you don’t need to be Christian. The idea is to be spiritual in the heart and the head. You have to expose yourself to suffering, and if you are middle class, you need to work with the poor.

So it’s a set of schools and networks?

It’s an educational alternative to the Ministry. Now, the Ministry has invited us to work with them. This year, we have created a school of well-being, in collaboration with the center of Bhutan Studies in Thimphu. They feel that to be clever is not enough, and that you have to be happy. We have contributed that in a small way to the country. The Ministry has invited us to help them. Even business people have asked us to help them. Social Venture Networks try to be different and don’t want to be goody-goody, but want to care for the labor unions and the environment. They don’t want to advertise lies. We are working with them, also in Burma, Laos, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, and Cambodia.

Are you working through alternative education?

Yes. The first day I arrived here, the monks from Burma came to talk to us. They said they have been influenced by us. They have become more and more positive. At one time, the Burmese monks felt they had bad karma that caused dreadful dictatorships. I say, that is not true Buddhism. In Buddhism, bad karma can be changed with goodwill, through restructuring consciousness and by challenging the regime through good friends. They are now doing that in Burma.

How do you manage the challenges of the politics you’re involved in? Challenging the King, challenging the generals?

I don’t challenge the kings or the generals. I challenge the system. I feel the King is a nice but weak man. He has no good friends, and I feel sorry for him. Some generals are wonderful people but they feel that there are so many enemies around. I say the worst enemy is in yourself! In the South they think the Muslim is the enemy. I say, no, the enemy is corruption in yourself!

Some of the generals are now taking me seriously and have asked me to help them and teach them about nonviolence. They even asked me to solve the issue in the South, because they know I have friends in Malaysia like Anwar Ibrahim. I’ve known Anwar since he was a student leader thirty years ago. I knew Abdurrahman Wahid, former president of Indonesia, thirty years ago. They are helping me. Friendship is for me the most important thing. Friendship and networks.

What about health care?

Health is important. It is not only physical health that is important, but also mental, spiritual, and social health. Society also must not be sick, and the environment should be healthy. In the Buddhist context, the Buddha said that the best thing in life is health.

But does the Buddhist system have a tradition of hospitals, like the Catholics? Is it involved in a systematic way?

I think that that is the wrong conception. The first hospital was founded by Ashoka, the great King, more than 2,300 years ago. It was a hospital not only for humans but also for animals. The western concept is different, in that it is separate from the religion. We have hospitals, but not as a separate institution. The hospitals are in religious areas, they are in the temples. The temple cures the sick while helping the poor. It’s holistic, and it’s not compartmentalized like in the West.

Now, the Thai government has adopted more of the Western system, where patients stay on the bed and are only seen between 8 o’clock and 5 o’clock. Now, things are changing. They have a Shaman come in with holy water. In the past ten years, things have been changing. If I may say so, I played a small role in that.

How did that role happen?

Friendships. I’ve known some of the doctors from when they were very young. They regard me as a friend. Some of them I have helped. I tell them, “Whatever you do, you must understand your roots! Your own culture. There may be something that is not entirely positive. It may be a little bit negative, but it’s there.”

So, you’re seeing a difference in the whole approach to health in Thailand? Is there an official role for the temples?

Yes. Once I proposed that temples look after HIV. They were shocked, and said that HIV came from nuisance sets activities. One monk, whose name was Alongkot, was convinced that his temple could help HIV patients. He became very famous. Now, his whole temple is a hospice. The good thing about me is that I sell initiatives. I’m good at initiatives.

What are your main priorities now?

I’m an old man now. I try to do less because I feel I have built up good friendships that I think can carry on. Sometimes, they come to ask me for advice. But, the younger people can carry the friendships on much better.

When you look at the Buddhist establishments in Thailand, and the monks and the structures, how much of that would you say is engaged and how much of it is in a more traditional role?

The Thai monks, as a whole, cannot be completely traditional. We have been uprooted, if I may say so, because of the American hegemony. The Americans came in during the 1950’s, to save us from Communism. They felt that Buddhism was not good because it does not teach about God, but teaches about contentment. They thought that Buddhism was all negative. I said: no sir, no to hatred, no to greed.

They came to our country with good intentions. But they wanted us to become industrialized, and destroyed our whole agricultural system. Traditional Buddhism depends on farming, which was destroyed. Now, there is a new group of monks who go along with and rely on capitalism and consumerism.

Having said that, there are also some young monks who feel they must go back to the traditional Buddha. They try to understand suffering, and to see greed in the form of capitalism. They try to understand violence, hatred, ignorance, and illusion in the forms of mass media and industry. There are more and more young people who are very helpful and work with us in Laos, Cambodia, Burma, India, and Sri Lanka.

But they are a minority?

Yes. But, small is beautiful. And I believe that quality is more important than quantity.

What about gender relations in Buddhism?

The Buddha taught that men and women are equal, but we have oppressed women over the years. We now have women ordinations, but we are the only country to do so in mainland SE Asia. There are also women ordained by a man in Perth, Australia, but he was ostracized by his order. In Burma, they put the women in jail for being ordained. The monk who ordained the women was also shut out from his village and community. They are much more backwards than in my country. There are still very few women monks, but more and more.

The male monks are behaving very badly, while the female monks behave beautifully. The female monks have spiritual depth, intellectual power, and authority. In Taiwan, there are better nuns than monks. Some monks have sex and financial scandals, but none for the nuns who are more numerous than monks.

Do you see tremendous differences amongst Buddhists in different countries?

Well, you make it into black and white. You care for suffering, the poor, the environment, even though you speak in different languages. Those who are not engaged with the poor sometimes become nationalistic, like in Sri Lanka. They become involved in capitalism, superstition, and so on. But you don’t claim to be better than them – you have to work with them.

There is a movement in my country called Santi Ashoka that is thirty years old. It first was very fundamentalist, but is now much more mature. Once they regarded me as the enemy, but I told them that the best friend is the one who tells you what you don’t want to hear. They are wonderful people, and listen to criticism. They are widespread in the country.

What about Cambodia? Have you been very involved there?

Cambodia is much more difficult. I used to be involved there in the resurrection of the Sangha, celebrating its first anniversary with the march from our ashram to Cambodia. We worked with the great leader, Patriarch Maha Ghosananda. We supported his peace march tremendously. But unfortunately, it was largely a one-man show. Following the leader’s death, the movement was not so strong. There’s no leadership right now. Secondly, the government is very dictatorial. It is very complicated, but there are good things when you think about it.

What about on the environmental movement? You’re not going to Copenhagen?

No, I am not going, but I am very concerned about the environment.

It seems that Buddhism has very strong roots that give it a very environmental message for the respect for life.

Yes, in fact, in the late 1960’s, the World Council of Churches requested that the Buddhists teach them. I shared everything from Buddhism. I taught them that living beings are not only animals, but also plants and trees, and that we must care for all. We are all interconnected; we are taught that without trees we could not live. The Buddha himself told us to look at trees as examples. Of course, the Buddha himself was one with the trees. He was born under a tree, enlightened under a tree. He preached the first sermon in a deer park. He died under a tree. The tree is very important to us, and we must care for the forests and for the environment. In my country, we have a movement for ordaining trees. Once trees are ordained, they cannot be cut. This movement helps to preserve trees. Max Weiner is one who has helped to spread a trend which is to ordain trees. He was from Harvard. When the tree is ordained, no one can cut it. So there is a movement to preserve the trees, working with the monks.

What about interfaith work? How do you see the Parliament turning ideals into practice?

It’s a network of friends. Friendship has no barriers, whether gender, nationality, or faiths. Friends are friends. The Christian, Muslim, or the Atheist – they’re friends. Friends must not belittle each other’s beliefs. My teacher taught that, to understand the basis of Buddhism, you have to know that there are a lot of dreadful things in Buddhism, also. He taught that Buddhism is how to learn how to change greed into generosity, hatred into compassion and friendship, delusion into wisdom and understanding. He said that other religions are the same but use different terms. They teach people to be selfless, not selfish. They teach to be brave, humble, and generous. Don’t think that other religions are inferior to your own. Respect other religions as your own. Buddhadasa, my teacher, taught me that we must unite people of different faiths – whether agnostic, or atheist – because they are also spiritual beings.

Taking this back to my questions from the beginning for a moment – you were raised in a Buddhist framework? How did your parents instill that?

My parents were not very spiritual. I was sent to a Catholic school, and I got my degree from the Anglican college. But, in the war, my Catholic school was bombed and we had to move.

I didn’t like the school. They used to treat me very badly, and they used to beat me because I didn’t want to learn by rote. I didn’t like it. My parents said, “We have tried to bring you up in a Catholic and a Protestant school. Would you like to be a monk?” I said, “Yes, why not?” So I became a monk at the age of thirteen. I didn’t leave because I loved it. As a monk, they treat you as a grown up. They pay respect to you because of your yellow robes, and I like to be paid respect to. It was the first time I was able to connect with and learn about my society and my culture, because the temple was open for everyone. I was very happy.

And how did you happen to go to London?

In our family background, which was middle class and upper class, being educated in Britain meant that you were educated properly and that could help you get ahead. England was the place to be. That’s why, when I was called to the bar, I thought I would become Prime Minister!

After the 1932, Coup which ended the absolute monarchy, a number of our princes who were shut out of power were in England. I met a marvelous princess there, who later became the first to open a Siamese restaurant abroad, 1957. Her father would have become King of Siam. But of course, he was pushed out and died in exile. She was a lovely lady, and said to me, “Sulak, my ambition is to work as a charwoman in front of the English public lavatory. The English lavatory is not that dirty, and maybe I could do some knitting.” Her own father could have been a King, and she her grandfather was a great king, but this was her ambition! But this was Buddhism. That was when I gave up my ambition to climb up the ladder and become somebody great.

Katherine Marshall

Katherine Marshall is a Senior Fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, where she leads the Center’s program on Religion and Global Development. After a long career in the development field, including several leadership positions at the World Bank, Marshall moved to Georgetown in 2006, where she also serves as a Visiting Associate Professor in the Department of Government.

She helped to create and now serves as the Executive Director of the World Faiths Development Dialogue.
Marshall has close to four decades of experience on a wide range of development issues in Africa, Latin America, East Asia, and the Middle East, with a focus on issues facing the world’s poorest countries. She led the World Bank’s faith and ethics work between 2000-06. Marshall graduated from Wellesley College and has an MPA from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

She is the author of several books about religion and development, including (co-authored with Marisa Van Saanen) Development and Faith: Where Mind, Heart and Soul Work Together (World Bank, 2007) and (with Lucy Keough) Mind, Heart and Soul in the Fight against Poverty (World Bank, 2004). She also has written extensively on international development, also the focus of her most recent book, The World Bank: from Reconstruction to Development to Equity (Routledge, 2008). She writes a blog, “Faith in Action,” for the Newsweek/Washington Post website On Faith.

Ms. Marshall serves on the Boards of several NGOs and on advisory groups. Assignments include several years as a core group member of the Council of 100, an initiative of the World Economic Forum to advance understanding between the Islamic World and the West, and membership on the Council on Foreign Relations. She is a Trustee of Princeton University. She serves on the board of IDEA (International Development Ethics Association) and as advisor to several non-governmental organizations, including CARE. She has served as co-moderator of the Fes Forum, which has been part of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music since its inception. She speaks and publishes widely on issues of international development.

Katherine Marshall is a Senior Fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, where she leads the Center’s program on Religion and Global Development. After a long career in the development field, including several leadership positions at the World Bank, Marshall moved to Georgetown in 2006, where she also serves as a Visiting Associate Professor in the Department of Government. She helped to create and now serves as the Executive Director of the World Faiths Development Dialogue.


Katherine Marshall discusses religious leaders and environmental concerns. She is a Senior Fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, where she leads the Center’s Program on Religion and Global Development. Faith Complex is a co-production of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs,

One on One – The Dalai Lama – Part 1 & 2

The Nobel Peace Laureate talks to Riz Khan about being a ‘simple Tibetan monk’.

One on One – The Dalai Lama – Part 2

Oprah Talks to Thich Nhat Hanh


Oprah: Thank you for the honor of talking to you. Just being in your presence, I feel less stressed than when the day started. You have such a peaceful aura. Are you always this content?

Nhat Hanh: This is my training, this is my practice. And I try to live every moment like that, to keep the peace in myself.

Oprah: Because you can’t give it to others if you don’t have it in yourself.

Nhat Hanh: Right.

Oprah: I see. I know that you were born in Vietnam in 1926. Is there any wonderful memory of your childhood that you can share?

Nhat Hanh: The day I saw a picture of the Buddha in a magazine.

Oprah: How old were you?

Nhat Hanh: I was 7, 8. He was sitting on the grass, very peaceful, smiling. I was impressed. Around me, people were not like that, so I had the desire to be like him. And I nourished that desire until the age of 16, when I had the permission of my parents to go and ordain as a monk.

Oprah: Did your parents encourage you?

Nhat Hanh: In the beginning, they were reluctant because they thought that the life of a monk is difficult.

Oprah: At 16, did you understand what the life would be?


Nhat Hanh:
Not a lot. There was only the very strong desire. The feeling that I would not be happy if I could not become a monk. They call it the beginner’s mind—the deep intention, the deepest desire that a person may have. And I can say that until this day, this beginner’s mind is still alive in me.

Oprah: That’s what a lot of people refer to as passion. It’s the way I feel about my work most days. When you’re passionate about your work, it feels like you would do it even if no one were paying you.


Nhat Hanh:
And you enjoy it.

Oprah: You enjoy it. Let’s talk about when you first arrived in America. You were a student at Princeton. Was it challenging as a Buddhist monk to form friendships with other students? Were you lonely?


Nhat Hanh:
Well, Princeton University was like a monastery. There were only male students at that time. And there were not many Vietnamese living in the United States. During the first six months, I did not speak Vietnamese. But the campus was very beautiful. And everything was new—the trees and the birds and the food. My first snow was in Princeton, and the first time I used a radiator. The first fall was in Princeton.

Oprah: When the leaves are changing.


Nhat Hanh:
In Vietnam we did not see things like that.

Oprah: At the time, were you wearing your monk robes?


Nhat Hanh:
Yes.

Oprah: Never have to worry about buying clothes, do you? Always just the robe.


Nhat Hanh:
Yes.

Oprah: Do you have different robes for different occasions?


Nhat Hanh:
You have a ceremonial robe, saffron color. That’s all. I feel comfortable wearing this kind of robe. And it happily reminds us that we are monks.

Oprah: What does it mean to be a monk?


Nhat Hanh:
To be a monk is to have time to practice for your transformation and healing. And after that to help with the transformation and healing of other people.

Oprah: Are most monks enlightened, or seeking enlightenment?


Nhat Hanh:
Enlightenment is always there. Small enlightenment will bring great enlightenment. If you breathe in and are aware that you are alive—that you can touch the miracle of being alive—then that is a kind of enlightenment. Many people are alive but don’t touch the miracle of being alive.

Oprah: I’m sure you see all around you—I’m guilty of it myself—that we’re just trying to get through the next thing. In our country, people are so busy. Even the children are busy. I get the impression very few of us are doing what you just said—touching the miracle that you are alive.


Nhat Hanh:
That is the environment people live in. But with a practice, we can always remain alive in the present moment. With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment. It is possible to live happily in the here and the now. So many conditions of happiness are available—more than enough for you to be happy right now. You don’t have to run into the future in order to get more.

Thich Nhat Hanh defines happiness and reveals how to achieve it

Oprah: What is happiness?


Nhat Hanh:
Happiness is the cessation of suffering. Well-being. For instance, when I practice this exercise of breathing in, I’m aware of my eyes; breathing out, I smile to my eyes and realize that they are still in good condition. There is a paradise of form and colors in the world. And because you have eyes still in good condition, you can get in touch with the paradise. So when I become aware of my eyes, I touch one of the conditions of happiness. And when I touch it, happiness comes.

Oprah: And you could do that with every part of your body.


Nhat Hanh:
Yes. Breathing in, I am aware of my heart. Breathing out, I smile to my heart and know that my heart still functions normally. I feel grateful for my heart.

Oprah: So it’s about being aware of and grateful for what we have.


Nhat Hanh:
Yes.

Oprah: And not just the material things, but the fact that we have our breath.


Nhat Hanh:
Yes. You need the practice of mindfulness to bring your mind back to the body and establish yourself in the moment. If you are fully present, you need only make a step or take a breath in order to enter the kingdom of God. And once you have the kingdom, you don’t need to run after objects of your craving, like power, fame, sensual pleasure, and so on. Peace is possible. Happiness is possible. And this practice is simple enough for everyone to do.

Oprah: Tell me how we do it.


Nhat Hanh:
Suppose you are drinking a cup of tea. When you hold your cup, you may like to breathe in, to bring your mind back to your body, and you become fully present. And when you are truly there, something else is also there—life, represented by the cup of tea. In that moment you are real, and the cup of tea is real. You are not lost in the past, in the future, in your projects, in your worries. You are free from all of these afflictions. And in that state of being free, you enjoy your tea. That is the moment of happiness, and of peace. When you brush your teeth, you may have just two minutes, but according to this practice, it is possible to produce freedom and joy during that time, because you are established in the here and now. If you are capable of brushing your teeth in mindfulness, then you will be able to enjoy the time when you take a shower, cook your breakfast, sip your tea.
Oprah: So from this point of view, there are endless conditions of happiness.

Nhat Hanh:
Yes. Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes.

Oprah: With you, the tea is real.


Nhat Hanh:
I am real, and the tea is real. I am in the present. I don’t think of the past. I don’t think of the future. There is a real encounter between me and the tea, and peace, happiness and joy are possible during the time I drink.

Oprah: I never had that much thought about a cup of tea.


Nhat Hanh:
We have the practice of tea meditation. We sit down, enjoy a cup of tea and our brotherhood, sisterhood. It takes one hour to just enjoy a cup of tea.

Oprah: A cup of tea, like this? [Holds up her cup.]


Nhat Hanh:
Yes.

Oprah: One hour.


Nhat Hanh:
Every moment is a moment of happiness. And during the hour of tea meditation, you cultivate joy, brotherhood, sisterhood, dwelling in the here and the now.

On how community played a crucial role during his 39-year exile


Oprah: Do you do the same thing with all food?


Nhat Hanh:
Yes. We have silent meals eaten in such a way that we get in touch with the cosmos, with every morsel of food.

Oprah: How long does it take you to get through a meal? All day?


Nhat Hanh:
One hour is enough. We sit as a community, and enjoy our meal together. So whether you are eating, drinking your tea, or doing your dishes, you do it in such a way that freedom, joy, happiness are possible. Many people come to our center and learn this art of mindful living. And go back to their hometowns and set up a sangha, a community, to do the same. We have helped set up sanghas all over the world.

Oprah: A sangha is a beloved community.


Nhat Hanh:
Yes.

Oprah: How important is that in our lives? People have it with their own families, and then you expand your beloved community to include others. So the larger your beloved community, the more you can accomplish in the world.

Nhat Hanh: Right.

Oprah: On the subject of community, let’s go back to 1966. You were invited to come and speak at Cornell University, and shortly after that, you weren’t allowed back into your country. You were exiled for 39 years. How did you deal with those feelings?


Nhat Hanh:
Well, I was like a bee taken out of the beehive. But because I was carrying the beloved community in my heart, I sought elements of the sangha around me in America and in Europe. And I began to build a community working for peace.

Oprah: Did you feel angry at first? Hurt?


Nhat Hanh:
Angry, worried, sad, hurt. The practice of mindfulness helped me recognize that. In the first year, I dreamed almost every night of going home. I was climbing a beautiful hill, very green, very happily, and suddenly I woke up and found that I was in exile. So my practice was to get in touch with the trees, the birds, the flowers, the children, the people in the West—and make them my community. And because of that practice, I found home outside of home. One year later, the dreams stopped.

Oprah: What was the reason you weren’t allowed back in the country?


Nhat Hanh:
During the war, the warring parties all declared that they wanted to fight until the end. And those of us who tried to speak about reconciliation between brothers and brothers—they didn’t allow us.

Oprah: So when you were a man without a country, you made a home in other countries.


Nhat Hanh:
Yes.

Oprah: And the United States was one.


Nhat Hanh:
Yes.

Oprah: How did you meet Martin Luther King?



Nhat Hanh:
In June 1965, I wrote him a letter explaining why the monks in Vietnam immolated themselves. I said that this is not a suicide. I said that in situations like the one in Vietnam, to make your voice heard is difficult. Sometimes we have to burn ourselves in order to be heard. It is out of compassion that you do that. It is the act of love and not of despair. And exactly one year after I wrote that letter, I met him in Chicago. We had a discussion about peace, freedom, and community. And we agreed that without a community, we cannot go very far.


Oprah: How long was the discussion?


Nhat Hanh:
Probably five minutes or so. And after that, there was a press conference, and he came out very strongly against the war in Vietnam.

Oprah: Do you think that was a result of your conversation?


Nhat Hanh:
I believe so. We continued our work, and the last time I met him was in Geneva during the peace conference.

Thich Nhat Hanh describes the best and only way to eliminate terrorism

Oprah: Did the two of you speak then?


Nhat Hanh:
Yes. He invited me up for breakfast, to talk about these issues again. I got caught in a press conference downstairs and came late, but he kept the breakfast warm for me. And I told him that the people in Vietnam call him a bodhisattva—enlightened being—because of what he was doing for his people, his country, and the world.

Oprah: And the fact that he was doing it nonviolently.


Nhat Hanh:
Yes. That is the work of a bodhisattva, a buddha, always with compassion and nonviolence. When I heard of his assassination, I couldn’t believe it. I thought, “The American people have produced King but are not capable of preserving him.” I was a little bit angry. I did not eat, I did not sleep. But my determination to continue building the beloved community continues always. And I think that I felt his support always.

Oprah: Always.


Nhat Hanh:
Yes.

Oprah: Okay. We’ve been talking about mindfulness, and you’ve mentioned mindful walking. How does that work?

Nhat Hanh:
As you walk, you touch the ground mindfully, and every step can bring you solidity and joy and freedom. Freedom from your regret concerning the past, and freedom from your fear about the future.

Oprah: Most people when they’re walking are thinking about where they have to go and what they have to do. But you would say that removes us from happiness.


Nhat Hanh:
People sacrifice the present for the future. But life is available only in the present. That is why we should walk in such a way that every step can bring us to the here and the now.

Oprah: What if my bills need to be paid? I’m walking, but I’m thinking about the bills.


Nhat Hanh:
There is a time for everything. There is a time when I sit down, I concentrate myself on the problem of my bills, but I would not worry before that. One thing at a time. We practice mindful walking in order to heal ourselves, because walking like that really relieves our worries, the pressure, the tension in our body and in our mind.

Oprah: The case is the same for deep listening, which I’ve heard you refer to.


Nhat Hanh:
Deep listening is the kind of listening that can help relieve the suffering of another person. You can call it compassionate listening. You listen with only one purpose: to help him or her to empty his heart. Even if he says things that are full of wrong perceptions, full of bitterness, you are still capable of continuing to listen with compassion. Because you know that listening like that, you give that person a chance to suffer less. If you want to help him to correct his perception, you wait for another time. For now, you don’t interrupt. You don’t argue. If you do, he loses his chance. You just listen with compassion and help him to suffer less. One hour like that can bring transformation and healing.

Oprah: I love this idea of deep listening, because often when someone comes to you and wants to vent, it’s so tempting to start giving advice. But if you allow the person just to let the feelings out, and then at another time come back with advice or comments, that person would experience a deeper healing. That’s what you’re saying.


Nhat Hanh:
Yes. Deep listening helps us to recognize the existence of wrong perceptions in the other person and wrong perceptions in us. The other person has wrong perceptions about himself and about us. And we have wrong perceptions about ourselves and the other person. And that is the foundation for violence and conflict and war. The terrorists, they have the wrong perception. They believe that the other group is trying to destroy them as a religion, as a civilization. So they want to abolish us, to kill us before we can kill them. And the antiterrorist may think very much the same way—that these are terrorists and they are trying to eliminate us, so we have to eliminate them first. Both sides are motivated by fear, by anger, and by wrong perception. But wrong perceptions cannot be removed by guns and bombs. They should be removed by deep listening, compassionate listening, and loving space.

Why suffering is important, and how to heal it

Oprah: The only way to end war is communication between people.


Nhat Hanh:
Yes. We should be able to say this: “Dear friends, dear people, I know that you suffer. I have not understood enough of your difficulties and suffering. It’s not our intention to make you suffer more. It is the opposite. We don’t want you to suffer. But we don’t know what to do and we might do the wrong thing if you don’t help us to understand. So please tell us about your difficulties. I’m eager to learn, to understand.” We have to have loving speech. And if we are honest, if we are true, they will open their hearts. Then we practice compassionate listening, and we can learn so much about our own perception and their perception. Only after that can we help remove wrong perception. That is the best way, the only way, to remove terrorism.

Oprah: But what you’re saying also applies to difficulties between yourself and family members or friends. The principle is the same, no matter the conflict.


Nhat Hanh:
Right. And peace negotiations should be conducted in that manner. When we come to the table, we shouldn’t negotiate right away. We should spend time walking together, eating together, making acquaintance, telling each other about our own suffering, without blame or condemnation. It takes maybe one, two, three weeks to do that. And if communication and understanding are possible, negotiation will be easier. So if I am to organize a peace negotiation, I will organize it in that way.

Oprah: You’d start with tea?


Nhat Hanh:
With tea and walking meditation.

Oprah: Mindful tea.


Nhat Hanh:
And sharing our happiness and our suffering. And deep listening and loving speech.

Oprah: Is there ever a place for anger?


Nhat Hanh:
Anger is the energy that people use in order to act. But when you are angry, you are not lucid, and you might do wrong things. That is why compassion is a better energy. And the energy of compassion is very strong. We suffer. That is real. But we have learned not to get angry and not to allow ourselves to be carried by anger. We realize right away that that is fear. That is corruption.

Oprah: What if in a moment of mindfulness you are being challenged? For instance, the other day someone presented me with a lawsuit, and it’s hard to feel happy when somebody is going to be taking you to court.


Nhat Hanh:
The practice is to go to the anxiety, the worry—

Oprah: The fear. First thing that happens is that fear sets in, like, What am I going to do?


Nhat Hanh:
So you recognize that fear. You embrace it tenderly and look deeply into it. And as you embrace your pain, you get relief and you find out how to handle that emotion. And if you know how to handle the fear, then you have enough insight in order to solve the problem. The problem is to not allow that anxiety to take over. When these feelings arise, you have to practice in order to use the energy of mindfulness to recognize them, embrace them, look deeply into them. It’s like a mother when the baby is crying. Your anxiety is your baby. You have to take care of it. You have to go back to yourself, recognize the suffering in you, embrace the suffering, and you get relief. And if you continue with your practice of mindfulness, you understand the roots, the nature of the suffering, and you know the way to transform it.

Oprah: You use the word suffering a lot. I think many people think suffering is dire starvation or poverty. But when you speak of suffering, you mean what?


Nhat Hanh:
I mean the fear, the anger, the despair, the anxiety in us. If you know how to deal with that, then you’ll be able to handle problems of war and poverty and conflicts. If we have fear and despair in us, we cannot remove the suffering in society.

Oprah: The nature of Buddhism, as I understand it, is to believe that we are all pure and radiant at our core. And yet we see around us so much evidence that people are not acting from a place of purity and radiance. How do we reconcile that?


Nhat Hanh:
Well, happiness and suffering support each other. To be is to inter-be. It’s like the left and the right. If the left is not there, the right cannot be there. The same is true with suffering and happiness, good and evil. In every one of us there are good seeds and bad. We have the seed of brotherhood, love, compassion, insight. But we have also the seed of anger, hate, dissent.

Oprah: That’s the nature of being human.


Nhat Hanh:
Yes. There is the mud, and there is the lotus that grows out of the mud. We need the mud in order to make the lotus.

Oprah: Can’t have one without the other.


Nhat Hanh:
Yes. You can only recognize your happiness against the background of suffering. If you have not suffered hunger, you do not appreciate having something to eat. If you have not gone through a war, you don’t know the value of peace. That is why we should not try to run away from one thing after another thing. Holding our suffering, looking deeply into it, we find a way to happiness.

Learn about the 4 mantras Thich Nhat Hanh uses during meditation

Oprah: Do you meditate every single day?

Nhat Hanh:
We try to do it not only every day but every moment. While drinking, while talking, while writing, while watering our garden, it’s always possible to practice living in the here and the now.

Oprah: But do you ever sit silently with yourself or recite a mantra—or not recite a mantra?


Nhat Hanh:
Yes. We sit alone, we sit together.

Oprah: The more people you sit with, the better.

Nhat Hanh:
Yes, the collective energy is very helpful. I’d like to talk about the mantras you just mentioned. The first one is “Darling, I’m here for you.” When you love someone, the best you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there?

Oprah: That’s a lovely mantra.


Nhat Hanh:
You look into their eyes and you say, “Darling, you know something? I’m here for you.” You offer him or her your presence. You are not preoccupied with the past or the future; you are there for your beloved. The second mantra is, “Darling, I know you are there and I am so happy.” Because you are fully there, you recognize the presence of your beloved as something very precious. You embrace your beloved with mindfulness. And he or she will bloom like a flower. To be loved means to be recognized as existing. And these two mantras can bring happiness right away, even if your beloved one is not there. You can use your telephone and practice the mantra.

Oprah: Or e-mail.


Nhat Hanh:
E-mail. You don’t have to practice it in Sanskrit or Tibetan—you can practice in English.

Oprah: Darling, I’m here for you.


Nhat Hanh:
And I’m very happy. The third mantra is what you practice when your beloved one is suffering. “Darling, I know you’re suffering. That is why I am here for you.” Before you do something to help, your presence already can bring some relief.

Oprah: The acknowledgment of the suffering or the hurting.


Nhat Hanh:
Yes. And the fourth mantra is a little bit more difficult. It is when you suffer and you believe that your suffering has been caused by your beloved. If someone else had done the same wrong to you, you would have suffered less. But this is the person you love the most, so you suffer deeply. You prefer to go to your room and close the door and suffer alone.

Oprah: Yes.


Nhat Hanh:
You are hurt. And you want to punish him or her for having made you suffer. The mantra is to overcome that: “Darling, I suffer. I am trying my best to practice. Please help me.” You go to him, you go to her, and practice that. And if you can bring yourself to say that mantra, you suffer less right away. Because you do not have that obstacle standing between you and the other person.

Oprah: “Darling, I suffer. Please help me.”


Nhat Hanh:
“Please help me.”

Oprah: What if he or she is not willing to help you?


Nhat Hanh:
First of all, when you love someone, you want to share everything with him or her. So it is your duty to say, “I suffer and I want you to know”—and he will, she will, appreciate it.

Oprah: If he or she loves you.


Nhat Hanh:
Yes. This is the case of two people who love each other. Your beloved one.

Oprah: All right.


Nhat Hanh:
“And when I have been trying my best to look deeply, to see whether this suffering comes from my wrong perception and I might be able to transform it, but in this case I cannot transform it, you should help me, darling. You should tell me why you have done such a thing to me, said such a thing to me.” In that way, you have expressed your trust, your confidence. You don’t want to punish anymore. And that is why you suffer less right away.

Thich Nhat Hanh shares what he knows for sure

Oprah: Beautiful. Now I’m going to ask just a few questions about monkdom. Do you exercise to stay in shape?


Nhat Hanh:
Yes. We have the ten mindful movements. We do walking meditation every day. We practice mindful eating.

Oprah: Are you vegetarian?


Nhat Hanh:
Yes. Vegetarian. Complete. We do not use animal products anymore.

Oprah: So you wouldn’t eat an egg.

Nhat Hanh: No egg, no milk, no cheese. Because we know that mindful eating can help save our planet.

Oprah: Do you watch television?


Nhat Hanh:
No. But I’m in touch with the world. If anything really important happens, someone will tell me.

Oprah: That’s the way I feel!


Nhat Hanh:
You don’t have to listen to the news three times a day or read one newspaper after another.

Oprah: That’s right. Now, the life of a monk is a celibate life, correct?


Nhat Hanh:
Yes.

Oprah: You never had trouble with the idea of giving up marriage or children?


Nhat Hanh:
One day when I was in my 30s, I was practicing meditation in a park in France. I saw a young mother with a beautiful baby. And in a flash I thought that if I was not a monk, I would have a wife and a child like that. The idea lasted only for one second. I overcame it very quickly.

Oprah: That was not the life for you. And speaking of life, what about death? What happens when we die, do you believe?


Nhat Hanh:
The question can be answered when you can answer this: What happens in the present moment? In the present moment, you are producing thought, speech, and action. And they continue in the world. Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature. Action is called karma. And that’s your continuation. When this body disintegrates, you continue on with your actions. It’s like the cloud in the sky. When the cloud is no longer in the sky, it hasn’t died. The cloud is continued in other forms like rain or snow or ice.

Our nature is the nature of no birth and no death. It is impossible for a cloud to pass from being into nonbeing. And that is true with a beloved person. They have not died. They have continued in many new forms and you can look deeply and recognize them in you and around you.

Oprah: Is that what you meant when you wrote one of my favorite poems, “Call Me By My True Name”?


Nhat Hanh:
Yes. When you call me European, I say yes. When you call me Arab, I say yes. When you call me black, I say yes. When you call me white, I say yes. Because I am in you and you are in me. We have to inter-be with everything in the cosmos.

Oprah: [Reading from the poem] “I am a mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river. And I am the bird that swoops down to swallow the mayfly…. I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones, my legs as thin as bamboo sticks. And I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda. I am the 12-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat, who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate. And I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving…. Please call me by my true names, so I can hear all my cries and laughter at once, so I can see that my joy and pain are one. Please call me by my true names, so I can wake up and the door of my heart could be left open, the door of compassion.” What does that poem mean?


Nhat Hanh:
It means compassion is our most important practice. Understanding brings compassion. Understanding the suffering that living beings undergo helps liberate the energy of compassion. And with that energy you know what to do.

Oprah: Okay. At the end of this magazine, I have a column called “What I Know for Sure.” What do you know for sure?


Nhat Hanh:
I know that we do not know enough. We have to continue to learn. We have to be open. And we have to be ready to release our knowledge in order to come to a higher understanding of reality. When you climb a ladder and arrive on the sixth step and you think that is the highest, then you cannot come to the seventh. So the technique is to abandon the sixth in order for the seventh step to be possible. And this is our practice, to release our views. The practice of nonattachment to views is at the heart of the Buddhist practice of meditation. People suffer because they are caught in their views. As soon as we release those views, we are free and we don’t suffer anymore.

Oprah: Isn’t the true quest to be free?


Nhat Hanh:
Yes. To be free, first of all, is to be free from wrong views that are the foundation of all kinds of suffering and fear and violence.

Oprah: It has been my honor to talk to you today.


Nhat Hanh:
Thank you. A moment of happiness that might help people.

Oprah: I think it will.

Glenn Beck on Martin Luther King and Gandhi By Jim Wallis


Given Glenn Beck’s threat that “the hammer is coming,” I have been keeping my eyes and ears open to see and hear what attacks he might next make on us or the growing movement of Christians who share with us the call to faith-based social justice. Well, imagine my delight when I heard Glenn offer words of praise on his show last night for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi! For people like me, who first felt drawn to the struggle for social justice over the sins of racism, Dr. King remains more than a mentor. He was deeply committed to the transformation (one of Glenn Beck’s bad words) of unjust societal structures, recognizing that love also marches for justice. For Dr. King, as for me, engaging the struggle for social justice was not something we add to the gospel of Jesus, but rather is integral to what it means to follow Christ.

I was heartened to hear Beck affirm the nonviolence of King, but I would also like to remind him of King’s tireless commitment to social justice. Dr. King was the archetypal “social justice Christian,” and the one from whom most of the rest of us have drawn inspiration. So then, what’s so wrong with “social justice Christians?” King inspired me to build movements for change, not to build big and tyrannical governments as Beck has been charging us as wanting to do. King clearly called for more than private charity: he called for the changing of structures and yes, for using the “government” to end racial segregation and establish voting rights for our African-American citizens. And it was King acting in what he believed to be obedience to God, not a preference for totalitarian governments, that led to remarkable achievements of helping to realize a more just society.

But Beck should remember that the primary attack on Dr. King in the fifties and sixties was that he was a “Marxist” and a “Communist.” Billboards throughout the South depicted King at a “communist training camp,” which, of course, wasn’t true. So Glenn, you should be much more careful whom you label as communist, Marxist, socialist; or whom you accuse of using the term “progressive” as just a clever guise for hiding totalitarian communist intentions. Dr. King was the leading “progressive” in our nation’s history, and a progressive Christian at that. So thank you for lifting him up as a model, but be careful whom you call a communist.

Perhaps you should stop throwing all those words around on your show every night, against whomever you disagree with, even the president. Wouldn’t it be better to actually look at what people really think and say (not the doctored and edited clips you keep using)? And by the way, my offer of a civil and respectful conversation with you on the meaning of social justice still stands.

Beck went on to praise the work of Gandhi, another of my heroes. It was Dr. King who once said that the gospel of Jesus gave him the motivation for his work, and Gandhi who gave him the method — nonviolent resistance. For my whole ministry, I have shared with King and Gandhi that dual commitment–both to resist unjust social structures and to use nonviolence as the means of change. When I was a young activist in the 1960s — the people and the period that Beck criticized tonight — I was a disciple of King and strongly opposed the violence of those in groups like the Weather Underground. By the way Glenn, I was never a member of SDS (Students for Democratic Society — another Fox research fact that should have been checked!), but I did indeed march for civil rights and against the war in Vietnam–just as King did.

So, I offer a hearty amen to Beck’s praise for these two giants of social justice. In fact, I can go a step further. Glenn encouraged his listeners to refrain from the use of violence, no matter how high their frustrations may get. I second that. To all on both sides of contentious issues, let us never be so bereft of ideas, creativity, courage, and civility (remember that word that both King and Gandhi always demonstrated), and never resort to violence in the attempt to make our points. And given that violent threats against Members of Congress who voted for the health care bill are now being reported–that message of non-violence and civility couldn’t be more timely.

Jim Wallis is the author of Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street — A Moral Compass for the New Economy, CEO of Sojourners and blogs at http://www.godspolitics.com.

Love Moves the World – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is one of the most magnetic men in the world. He is a man whose presence and grace have touched and transformed millions of people all over the world—from Bangalore to Bosnia, Surinam to South Africa, Tamil Nadu to Trinidad. A tireless traveler, he has addressed the United Nations, the World Economic Forum, and bright young minds at Harvard University. In a world torn with strife, he has carried the eternal message of love and revival of human values. Wherever he goes, people from all walks of life seek his blessings and advice. Amazingly, he manages to make each one feel special and cherished. He is playfully profound, childlike, ever-smiling whose avowed mission is to “put a smile on the face of every person he meets”

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar interview

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was invited to the International Peace Congress on 5th november 2006 in Bad Soden,Germany.

His response to it was this interview with the congress management.

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