Source: Sherman Publications

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Spiritual matters
Building a non-violent community

February 01, 2012

This is going to be an interesting year. Watching the political debate and hearing the talk of starting a new war, reading the news of another tragic death of a young person, seeing a fight break out over a minor traffic accident; I wonder when we will learn to live the principles of peace and nonviolence that are at the core of all our religious and spiritual paths?

Monday, Jan. 30 was the 64th anniversary of the death of Mahatma Ghandi and the 1st day of the 15th annual Season for Nonviolence, a national 64-day campaign dedicated to demonstrating that nonviolence is a powerful way to heal, transform, and empower our lives and our communities. We are educating ourselves about the possibilities for peace and nonviolence, and honoring those who are using nonviolence to build a community that honors the dignity and worth of every human being.

Ghandi encouraged us to "be the change you wish to see in the world." Those of us with eyes to see know that violence is not the answer to the violence we see in the world. Violence begets violence and if we keep doing what we always done we'll keep getting what we've always gotten: more violence. The Season for Nonviolence offers the opportunity for people to learn to live the principles of nonviolence for themselves, in their daily lives and in the world.

Martin Luther King Jr, said "If we assume that mankind has a right to survive, then we must find an alternative to war and so let us explore the conditions for peace." These conditions include practicing nonviolence. Our awareness must transcend the limitations of belief, fear and hatred with an awareness of peace and unity. "We must either learn to live together as brothers, or we are all going to perish together as fools."

Buddha said, "One's mind finds no peace, neither enjoys pleasure or delight, nor goes to sleep, nor feels secure while the dart of hatred is stuck in the heart."

Compassion, love, caring, forgiveness; these are the paths to peace taught by all the world's religions.

Lao Tse said "If there is to be peace in the world, there must be peace in the nations. If there is to be peace in the nations, there must be peace in the cities. If there is to be peace in the cities, there must be peace between neighbors. If there is to be peace between neighbors, there must be peace in the home. If there is to be peace in the home, there must be peace in the heart."

Muhammad said, "Hurt no one, so that no one may hurt you."

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives." John 14:27. The world thinks of peace as the absence of conflict. Spirit knows that peace is a transcendent consciousness that is mindful of the ultimate unity of all creation. A transcendent consciousness, such as that demonstrated by Jesus, Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr. and others, can be in the midst of the conflict that is inherent within the world and be at peace: calm, centered, compassionate.

The Mayan Calendar in 2012begins a new cycle. Astrologers indicate that the solar system has completed a cycle, crossing the Galactic Equator and is entering into a new phase. This can be a time of the growth of our awareness of "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding" Phil. 4:7.

During the Season for Nonviolence we have daily practices designed to foster the growth of our awareness of peace and nonviolence.

For more information see Together we can be a force for positive change in our world.

Matthew E. Long is senior minister

at Peace Unity Church & Holistic Center.