Peaceful Thoughts

January 27, 2009

“On November 7, 2008, at 9:45 am, the 500 people attending the Alliance for a New Humanity Human Forum in Barcelona took a vow for non violence in their thoughts, speech and actions. Each person decided to ask other people in their lives to join them in taking the vow. The goal then became to create a global movement, which would mobilize 100 million people to make the same commitment. We, at the Alliance for a New Humanity believe that if a critical mass of people commit to this vow, the world would be transformed. If you are seriously committed to peace, join us in this global movement and take the vow.
Love,
Deepak Chopra
President and Founder of the Alliance For A New Humanity”

The vow that Deepak Chopra is asking us to make is a noble gesture towards creating world peace. Yet I have some reservations about taking the vow myself. I feel that with much vigilance, the vow of non-violence in speech and actions is doable but I question my ability to commit to non-violence in thoughts.

The warfare that rages without is a reflection of the warfare that rages within us all, and indeed we first have to work at stopping the war within before we can achieve world peace. What I am wary of is what it means to people to take a vow of non-violence in thoughts. A vow is a serious commitment one that should not be taken unless you are prepared to be bound by it. Taking a vow because your friends are doing it and because of the hype around it, when you do not understand what it means, is making a mockery of such a sacred undertaking.

I believe in a middle path in spiritual practices. There are various traditions that teach control of the mind by getting rid of thoughts. I have tried that and it never worked for me. My belief is that we do not create thoughts, neither can we get rid of them. They are blips of energy configurations that arise from consciousness and float randomly across the screen of our mind. We cannot control them but we can become aware of them, and not engage them so that they do not have power over us. We cannot reason with our thoughts to stay away, or negotiate with consciousness to send us only good thoughts and keep away the bad ones or what we perceive to be good and bad.

In my practice of meditation, after relaxing my body, what works to quiet my mind and the onslaught of unwanted thoughts is to observe them, to witness them and create some space, disengaging them by staying with my breath. I name them: anger, worry, needy etc. In this way I am not buying into the story they tell me and get sucked into going with them into the quagmire of their drama. Soon, thoughts slow down, and my awareness of the deep stillness of what lies behind my thoughts, begins to prevail. And then more thoughts come and I do it again and again; relax my body, and witness my thoughts. Some days are easier depending on the contents of my outer life that day. When I begin my day with meditation, it is easier to navigate the ups and downs of the day. I am always reminded to come back to center, when my mind or body is feeling uneasy. Life is always pulling us in the direction where the energy charge is greatest and at present, chaos rules.

I may not be able to choose what thoughts decide to show up. What are thoughts? Are they our own, is there a field of consciousness of mass thoughts from which we attract like energy to ourselves? If this is so, then working at creating an INTENTION for peace rather than making a vow seems doable for me. With intention, I am setting my energy to attract what I want so that I am putting a request into the universe for that particular vibration. This intention, like meditation has to be practiced daily until it becomes engraved in our neural and psychic pathways to attract the quality of energy that we desire.

As much as our intention for peaceful thoughts is sincere, we are not perfect beings and we have much baggage from lifetimes of psychic conditioning. We will always have those rogue thoughts that come from nowhere and assault our well-being and peace. It is in these times that we practice Loving-Kindness, holding our selves with compassion for not being perfect, and forgiving ourselves for yet again being human. With love and forgiveness we honor ourselves for who we are, who we were, and who we will be. We are not beating ourselves up for not being perfect, for not keeping any vows that we cannot uphold.

This is the practice of the middle path that is gentle and compassionate towards ourselves. When we can be compassionate with ourselves, we are inclined to do the same for our fellowmen. We set ourselves up for peaceful encounters with our inner and outer world.

So my friends, I ask you to consider deeply before you take this vow for non-violence in thoughts. If you cannot keep this vow and repress unwanted aspects that arise, think of the consequences of repression and the possibility of setting yourself up for self-degradation. Maybe there are some people who will succeed. We are all different and so we must have choices as to how to go about achieving the good of all.

Peace to you!

Related post: The Inner Battle

{ 20 comments }

1 Maithri 01.28.09 at 12:23 am

My dear, Beautiful Sister,

You are my definition of an enlightened being…

It is this middle path… the human path to which we are called…

I love your way of meditating… Of becoming the witness and allowing thoughts to arise and pass like clouds across the sky…

I feel so peaceful after reading your post…

You have reminded me of my desire to return to a daily meditation practice… Truly returning to wholesome silence… is healing…

Thank you for your powerful light,

You shine like the summer sun and flow like the quiet river…

My deepest love to you,

Maithri

2 Mark 01.28.09 at 4:29 pm

I understand and respect your thoughts on this. For me this is an easy vow to take. I do practice “do no harm” which means no harmful thoughts, words or actions. Taking the vow is stating an intention, it does not mean that we will never have a harmful thought or in this case a violent thought, what it does mean is that we are aware of the power of our thoughts, the energy which thoughts produce and through our awareness we vow to not give weight to these thoughts and if they do pass through, we allow them to pass through without guilt or self-degradation. We each should take your question seriously and consider how taking this vow would affect us and all that we touch.

3 Alexys Fairfield 01.28.09 at 8:07 pm

Hi Miruh,
A very provocative post. For me (and I know we are all different), I believe that I create my thoughts, not in a sense that I can control ALL of them, but in a way that I can be aware and give more energy to positive ones. That way, positive thoughts will always supersede any negaitve ones.

Although a vow of non violence is an important one, I think people will eventually evolve to that way of thinking as part of their evolution regardless of taking an outer vow.

Thank you for sharing your insight.

4 Linda Neas 01.28.09 at 8:24 pm

Dear Miruh,

I admire your ability to look critically at this request. I received it sometime back and had similar reservations.

Peacemaking is a huge part of my life. I have worked to bring peace to the myself, my family, community, the world, since I was quite young.
It does begin from within. This I know for sure. Like love, it cannot be shared unless it exists within the giver.

Vows can be nooses around our souls. I “vowed” to be with one person as a wife, caring, loving, obeying. I took the vow very seriously, trying to “fix” myself when I was not broken. It nearly killed me to keep that vow. Since my divorce, I have been very cautious. I often say, I will attempt to do something but I can’t promise I will do it.

To some this philosophy is a cop out. But, I find it is liberating. Usually, I do what ever it is that I am asked to attempt. However, on the time I don’t fulfill the expectations, I do not beat myself up for not “keeping my promise.”

A wise person said, “All things in moderation, including moderation.” This will surely keep one on the middle path.

May you be filled with Peace and may the Light you shine continue to warm those souls you meet along the path.

Namaste!

5 Miruh 01.29.09 at 12:05 am

Hello Maithri,

My friend, thank you for these kind beautiful words. I believe in everyday enlightenment in the sense of awareness, if that is what you mean by your definition of enlightenment but some would beg to differ that it is a state beyond that. :D

I believe we are spiritual beings having a human experience and that to accept all parts of ourselves, is to live fully in this paradoxical existence.

Yes, meditation is our powerful ally and even great masters continue to meditate daily even after attaining great spiritual states.

May you find strength, deep peace, and soft love as you walk the path of the peaceful warrior!

6 Miruh 01.29.09 at 12:20 am

Hello Mark,

Thanks for clarifying what it means to you to take this vow. You say it is stating an intention. It is an attitude with some modifications which I think is a lot less solemn that a vow. Your awareness and clarity reflects a deep contemplation on this subject.

I hope that all who make this vow, come to a similar understanding. We have enough trouble with New Years resolutions and vows to lose weight, and to quit whatever. It is a vow to be taken with great awareness on the participant.

Much love and deep peace to you my friend

7 Miruh 01.29.09 at 12:28 am

Hello Alexys,

Thank you for engaging in this conversation, it certainly is provocative.

I agree that awareness will give us greater stewardship of our minds.

From the perspective of Awareness, thoughts are just energy. It is the label of positive or negative that we assign to them, that keeps us bound.

Hanging out in Awareness, resting in its peace, joy and truth is the goal. However in the mean time, thoughts will have their way with us and the practice of not giving energy to them, whether we label them positive or negative will loosen their grip on us.

Yes, it is our destiny to evolve to be peace.

May you bask in the peace, joy and light of Awareness!

8 Miruh 01.29.09 at 12:35 am

Hello Linda,

Thanks for sharing your experience of how it felt to break a vow.

All of our life experiences make us stronger and wiser. The ability to forgive ourselves is healing. We become more aware of our humanness and compassion grows.

We uncover the jewel in the heart through the middle path of moderation, the path of compassion, of Loving Kindness.

May loving kindness uncover the jewel in your heart of compassion!

9 Grace 01.29.09 at 3:17 pm

Someone once said (about thoughts): You can’t keep a bird from flying overhead, but you can keep him from nesting in your hair.

I think that in the very loosest of terms, a vow of non-violent thoughts is absolutely doable as perfection is just an illusion anyway :).

THis isn’t about those fly-by-night thoughts that come unbidden, but those thoughts that we mentally chew on – over and over again – like dogs with their bones.

10 Simon 01.29.09 at 4:36 pm

Wow, this is a great post and a great discussion. Thanks so much for it Miruh (and for your recent response to me about watching our thoughts.) It’s funny – I’ve been writing my blog for over two years with what seemed to me to be clarity, but recently that clarity has deserted me. The conversations on my blog have become increasingly convoluted as I’ve struggled to describe this ‘middle path’. Indeed, it has come to seem less like a path than a tightrope! : a precarious balance between expressing our light and acknowledging our darkness, between acceptance of what is and intention to change.

The comments here explain what may be part of the reason for my confusion, and it’s a simple, obvious one really, that everyone’s experience is different. Some of us genuinely have no problem with this non-violent commitment, while others of us realize that it is presently not within our grasp. I agree that there is the potential for unhealthy suppression here, and suppressed anger is already causing so many problems in our world – but perhaps most of us could commit to it at some level. I think I could aspire to Grace’s version, for instance: to stop those thoughts that come nesting in my hair.

I think that the most important thing – as you very eloquently urge – is that people should think very carefully about what they are taking on. It is easy to get ahead of ourselves and ‘pretend’ we’re already enlightened. I love what Alexys says: “I think people will eventually evolve to that way of thinking as part of their evolution regardless of taking an outer vow.” Absolutely. It will all be so natural then. We will walk the path with ease. But unfortunately some of us aren’t there yet…

11 Miruh 01.29.09 at 10:24 pm

Hello Grace,

A warm welcome to you and thanks for joining in on this hot topic.

Haha! I like this comparison of difficult thoughts to a bird nesting in your hair. Very appropriate analogy.

I am so glad that you and Mark are expanding on what taking the vow means. I looked on Mr Chopra’s websit to see if he explains it, but I couldn’t find anything. I like what you said, “in the very loosest of terms..” because some people may take this in the most literal sense, as an oath, a solemn promise as some people who are extremist can do.

You differenciate the thoughts that we dwell on and the ones that just pop in and out. I suppose taking this vow is a good practice in letting go and if one has trouble letting go, the vow is an incentive. This is hands on learning.

I appreciate your input.

May you find peace and have no birds landing on your head. :D

12 Miruh 01.29.09 at 10:42 pm

Hello Simon,

I always feel a warm glow when you visit here. That must be the aura you carry!
Thanks for stopping by.

Well my friend, this is an issue that we all have, and I have learned that the word, “struggle” is the red flag. The teachers who teach this middle path talk about letting-go, allowing and making space for what is. I have found too that it does work. That when it is okay that things are wild and woolly there is a lightheartedness, sometimes I have to look for it, but it is there, beside or behind the dark clouds. It is easier to be doing than being for us, but all things do shift if we just let them be. The awareness is the ticket.

I agree, “perhaps most of us could commit to it at some level…” My intention for doing this post was to point out the power of INTENTION for peace as a balanced alternative to a solemn vow.

There is no doubt that we all want to find peace in ourselves and in the world and as you said, most of us are not enlightened yet, so we need to be gentle with ourselves and work at the level that we are comfortable with.

Thank you for participating so wonderfully!

May soft peace and warm love follow you my friend!

13 Pamir | Reiki Help Blog 01.31.09 at 5:19 am

I’m in agreement with Mark. Taking the vow isn’t about perfection, but about aspiration. Intention is also built-in. Would it be better not to take it?

Personally I’d taken this vow many moons ago & have again since. This isn’t a cut & dry, simple issue. The pitfalls you point out Miruh are real. I feel it’s a commitment you keep kneading with awareness, and start with clear awareness first. It’s best not to approach it as a fad, as you say.

Insight meditation & the middle way are certainly like a gentle breeze, amongst the many types of practice available to us. These are kind & gentle to us, cultivate that spaciousness & can be present in one’s experience as a safety valve.

Thoughts are karmic. We’re having thoughts we’ve had for many incarnations. In addition to everyday enlightenment, which keeps us sane, there are practices that can let the pre-thought state emerge.

I feel it serves us best to practice both. And here’s another perspective:

Manifesto of Peace: A prose poem

14 Liara Covert 01.31.09 at 7:29 am

People will discuss what they do not fear and remain quiet through periods of discomfort. Negative energy prompts some people to express harsh words. Valuable lessons of courage evolve in silence. Fears only impede you so long as you refuse to transcend it. The way to truly live is to permit yourself to feel everything and learn from it. This does not require you to react outwardly or vent as you move to inner peace. You come to recognize valuable lessons to be learned through observation. Hatred is not meant to teach hatred but to reinforce the power of love, compassion, empathy and acceptance.

15 Miruh 01.31.09 at 3:52 pm

Hello Pamir,

Happy to see you here, joining in on this interesting conversation!

It is great to have the input of all of you who are taking this vow and shedding light on what it means. This is exactly what I was hoping to see. There seems to be an agreement that it is an intention that is reinforced by awareness and self- forgiveness.

My overactive imagination pictured yogis with impaled tongues, standing on one leg for several years. LOL. Just kidding!

I will be over to read your Peace Manifesto. Thanks for participating!

May you bask in the light of the Self with deep stillness!

16 Miruh 01.31.09 at 4:08 pm

Hello Liara.

You so rightly suggest that we have to feel everything and learn from it. The ability to do so without getting enmeshed in the contents takes awareness and detachment. With compassion and vigilance we are able to enjoy the beauty of this journey.

Much love and deep peace to you!

17 Liara Covert 02.01.09 at 10:16 am

Miruh, with patience and deliberate intention, every human being progresses along paths to deeper emotional and soul-level awareness. As Simon pointd out, not every human being “is there yet.” However, this reality is not as unfortunate as he believes. Without ignorance, there is no reason for evolution toward new levels of awareness and new ways of seeing. The physical world would be less exciting if humans were all consciously aware of everything simultaneously. If you believe you exist to progressively gain deeper insight into fragments of your perception on physical existence, then knowing everything consciously would render physical existence less meaningful and even pointless.

18 Miruh 02.02.09 at 7:50 pm

Hello Liara,

Aah, The Play of Consciousness! If we can but see the play for what it is, we will appreciate ourselves, each other and this journey for the adventure ride that it is.

Thanks for joining in again with your beautiful insights!

Soft peace to you my friend!

19 Simon 02.07.09 at 2:31 pm

Hi Miruh – Thanks for mentioning the warm glow! I often get a similar experience when I come here and also some of the other blogs I visit – especially a warmth around my heart chakra. It’s wonderful – like getting healing! It’s nice to know I’m giving a bit of it back…
I hope you’re having a great weekend! Watch out for those bears…

20 Miruh 02.07.09 at 7:57 pm

Hello Simon,

Thanks for returning. It is phenomenal that through the blogosphere we can feel energy. It transcends all time and space.

It feels wonderful to give and we always receive in return, the magic of love. One wonders why there is anything but love in the world!

The bears are still sleeping, I think!

Do have a wonderful weekend too!

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