where is peace... Deepak Chopra
Where Is Peace In a Time of War?
By Deepak Chopra - July 31, 2006
I'm in contact with many peace workers, especially in the Middle
East, who want to be part of a larger movement. One of them, Ms.
S--, wrote to me form Israel about her despair. She has worked for
peace from a kibbutz and personally runs a radio station that
attempts to bridge the Muslim and Jewish worlds.
Needless to say, M. S-- feels desperate and rather hopeless right now.
Reading her first-hand account of what it feels like to stand for
peace in a raging war zone moved me deeply. I wanted to give a few
points that may help all of us who are asking ourselves, "Is it
realistic to hope for a new kind of humanity when the same old
aggressions keep coming back?"
1. Change doesn't start on the surface. It's generated from
consciousness. This has been true throughout history. If Buddhism
can begin with one person and Christianity with twelve, let us not
think in terms of numbers and odds. It may sound grandiose to
compare ourselves to great spiritual guides, but we act
collectively, as an alliance. Our strength comes from critical mass.
2. We aren't here to make the world evolve. We are here to evolve as
individuals and then to spread that influence. In the wisdom
tradition of Vedanta, the stream of evolution is known in Sanskrit
as Dharma, from a root verb that means 'to uphold.' This gives us a
clue how to live: the easiest way for us to grow is to align
ourselves with Dharma.
We don't have to struggle to grow--that would be unproductive, in fact.
The Dharma has always favored non-violence. If we can bring
ourselves to a state of non-violence, and connect with others who
are doing the same thing, We have done a huge thing to reinforce
3. Societies get into the grip of their own self-created story. It's
helpful to realize that we can choose not to participate in that
Realize that national and tribal stories are limited, self-serving,
based on the past, reinforced by orthodoxy, and therefore opposed to
real change. Stories are incredibly persuasive. Wars are fueled by
victimization that runs deep, for example. So let us not try to
change anyone's story. Let us only notice and observe ourselves when
we buy into it and then let us back away from participating in it.
4. Let us not demand of ourselves that we alone must be the agent of
change. In a fire brigade everyone passes along a bucket, but only
the last person puts out the fire. None of us know where we stand in
We may be here simply to pass a bucket; we may be called on to play
a major role. In either case, all we can do is think, act, and say.
Let us direct our thoughts, words, and actions to peace. That is all
we can do. Let the results be what they will be.
5. Let us realize that engagement and detachment aren't
opposite--the more engaged we become, the more detached we will have
Otherwise, we will lose ourselves in conflict, obsessiveness,
anxiety over the future, and feelings of guilt and inadequacy. Keep
in mind that we are pioneers into the unknown, and uncertainty is
When our minds want closure, certainty, and finality, let us remind
ourselves that these are fictions. Our joyous moments will come from
riding the wave, not asking to get off at the next station.
6. Since most misery is born of failed expectations let us learn to
minimize expectations so that we will feel far less guilt and
7. We aren't here to be good or perfect. We are here as the antennas
for signals from the future. We are here to be midwives to something
that wants to be born. Good people have preceded us. They solved
some problems and created others. As once wise teacher said, "You
aren't here to be as good as possible. You are here to be as real as
8. I know this sounds difficult, but let us try to be tolerant of
intolerance. This is a hard one at times, but if you try the
opposite--showing a hard heart against those with hard hearts of
their own -- all we've done is expand the problem. It's helpful (but
often difficult) to remember that everyone is doing the best they
can from their own level of consciousness. Trying to talk a
terrorist out of his beliefs is like trying to persuade a lion to be
a vegetarian. All we can realistically do is seek openings for
9. Let us resist the lure of dualities. These include us versus
them, civilized versus barbarians, good versus evil. The good,
civilized people of Europe managed to kill millions of themselves,
along with millions of "them." In reality we are all in the same
boat of human conflict and confusion. Sometimes it helps to admit
that the doctor is not far from being a patient.
10. Let's create an atmosphere of peace around ourselves. Imagine
that we are like a mother whose children come home crying about
fights at school. Would it be her job to soothe their wounds or to
arm them for fighting back tomorrow? Simplistic as it may sound, the
male principle of aggression can only be healed by the feminine
principle of nurturing and love.