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Seven Tough Steps
A lot of people are talking about world peace right now, and small wonder. In the last few weeks, prophecies from a thousand years ago seem to be coming true, and every country, including the 57 Islamic countries containing over a billion Mulsims, are discussing world war-some as allies to the U.S. and some as enemies. As global voluntary mediators and Peace Makers, we don't have to take sides, regardless of what we are told, not yet. We need to listen, pray hard, and learn.
To World Peace
By Evan Pritchard
An Address Delivered
At the Marist College Teach-In
What can we do as individuals? I set this thought to prayer, and was reminded of some of the things that Algonquin Indian people remembered to practice in times of crisis. The Way of the Heron, the ancient Algonquin path of mediation, is a path to wisdom, that leads to greater understanding and peace. It is one of four paths to fearlessness and freedom that I have encountered while learning of the spirituality of the Algonquins.
I grew up learning about the importance of being in the present moment. In a world where there is no word for time, as in the Algonquin world, one only has the here and now. It is a place of small egos where pain can be faced without exaggeration. I intuitively knew that to walk in the way of the Heron one has to be at peace with oneself, even prepared to meet the Creator in the spirit world. We have the right to defend ourselves, and plan for the future, but hoping and fearing about the future can sometimes get in our way. No matter how distracted we get, we need to return to the Now, where our power is. We need to make good choices as always, but no one can make good moral, ethical decisions in an atmosphere of chaos, lying, and deception where we feel confused. We have a need for the truth as much as we need food and water, for strong words of truth have always been the main battleplan of the Peace Makers. Gandhi called it "Satyagraha," but this truth about truth has been known throughout the world for centuries. Without right thinking, we cannot have right speech, we can't make right decisions, or initiate right actions. This is perfectly in harmony with the Buddha's teaching called the eightfold path.
To understand the current situation we need to see both sides of the equation, and be prepared to hold a moderate position, even when challenged or threatened about it. Surely, the Talaban represents some of the most blatant violators of human rights in the world, who bring disgrace to the name of Islam, and surely the United States is a country with a great people, and a remarkable Constitution, however there are dark forces working on all sides, all leading to a possible Armageddon. As if that were not tough enough, the news is not telling the truth, so we must go digging for it. Without the truth, we are helpless.
Here are five steps to peace based on the Way of the Heron, the path of nonviolent conflict resolution and negotiation . They are tough, but if enough people attempt them, we have an excellent chance of emerging as a free people, alive and well and happy.
Five Basic Steps to Peace from The Way of the Heron.
1. Make peace with others. Resolve all differences with friends and family. Finish all unfinished projects, within reason. Plan your time carefully and efficiently so that this is possible. Work diligently towards clearing away all unfinished business both emotionally and economically. Get your house in order. Give away what you don't need.
2. Make peace with yourself. Bring your level of creature expectations to an absolute minimum. Take that yardstick of status and cut it down to six inches, then an inch, then nothing, until you are happy with bread and water, the sun and the moon and stars. When you are dependent on outer comforts and stimulation for happiness, then others can take it from you, and knowing that, they might just do so. Stop fighting with yourself, defending yourself against others. Just be, be in the present place and time.
3. Make peace with the Creator. Make offerings to the Creator with gratitude for every new day of life that is lived as a free being. With the completion of step three, work on becoming fearless of death so that you live purposefully rather than reactively. Be calm.
4. Learn the Facts: Form study circles, or study projects, to review world events and information. Keep an open mind and don't assume anything. Keep your eyes open. Don't trust what you read, but look for clues and signs. Ask questions. Study the stock market, the economy, the oil industry, the opium industry, the main players and places, (including Kazakhstan and Afghanistan) plus the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Make a timeline of news events of the past year that relate to the current situation. Keep track of your sources. Being informed will help us mediate between our neighbors. There are two sides to every issue, so as Peacemakers we need to know both.
5. Communicate. Share your knowledge with others. If you find answers, share them in your circle, your friends, or via the internet. Be sensitive to the feelings of others as you speak, but don't let their illusions silence you. If you are well armed with information, they will be moved by your calm resolve. In old times, this communication was not always verbal; It was sometimes symbolic.
These five steps to peace have long been part of The Way of the Heron as I understand it. In mediating a conflict, a Heron Man would prepare himself first by making peace with the Creator, and then patiently going into council with the parties, listening to both sides, then asking questions, striving for truth, and communicating what was learned. If wrongdoing was found, the Peace Maker would speak truthfully and non-judgmentally to the wrong-doer. This is the position we are in today, only we must walk the way of the Peace Maker without invitation, because it is our own well-being that is at stake.
Given the current situation, I would like to add two more steps that are also part of the old spiritual teachings of the Algonquin, and which could help bring about a more peaceful resolution to the "war on terrorism."
6. Pray Hard: We can't always change the course of events by our actions, especially in the affairs of nations, however we can always "pray hard" as the elders say. This means allowing your emotions to come forth, to tell the Creator how you feel. It means "speaking as one with the creator," which is al-soo-to-my Geezoolgh in Micmac language. Throw yourself totally into your prayers for peace and justice, and for the wellbeing of the planet, whatever that is.
7. Become the Tool of the Creator: Wait for guidance, in whatever form you are used to, and has worked for you in the past. Some get a nudge, a piece of information, an inspiration, a voice, a vision. Rather than just going into action, allow yourself to become part of a greater action; allow yourself to be moved by the hand of Creation. You might feel guided to write your congressman, or to boycott a certain brand name product or resource. It may be to move to a new job or location. No one can tell spirit what to do, but it can tell us what to do very effectively. If communication was blocked, or they felt restrained from following the directions from Spirit, the ancient ones devised a method now known as civil disobedience. They "demonstrated," in a way that harmed no one. We are the sixth estate, we are all part of the government. We need to be strong in our resolve yet peaceful so our civil liberties are not removed.
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