Saturday, 17 November 2012

Practicing Peace in times of War - An open letter to Israeli and Palestinian Doves of Peace

To Israeli and Palestinian Doves of Peace,

When all around you are losing their heads and you stay connected to your heart, it is a torturous time. But I am so thankful you stay connected. Even though I have not met as many of you as there are I wish to offer my sympathy, empathy and compassion for the pain this must cause you.
The energy put into war mongering at this time looks to be paying off, with what appears to be a majority support for killing and destruction within your society. You are not to blame for this, and it is not your responsibility to change it. But feel fully supported to try, to follow any idea through any peaceful means that might just work. 

The world we live in is not guided towards peace. This is but one reason to not judge those who fall to the strong seduction of war. We may be looking for peace more than ever before, but for every dollar spent by the UN on finding peace, $2,000 is spent by UN member countries on developing their war machines. And sadly yet unsurprisingly, 4 out of the 5 members of the UN Security Council are the largest weapons manufacturers on the planet.

It may be that this war in Gaza is no accident, but part of a cynical plan to strengthen the right wing in Israel. How many times does such an event happen before an election or when there is strong opposition? The situation in Gaza before the recent devastating bombings was terrible, not to say that firing rockets is justified, it is at least understandable. Israel’s retaliation as always is extreme and terrific, and, if not aimed at escalation, is simply idiotic.

That in the face of all this you continue to wish for peace is admirable. Whether the present situation energises you or depletes you, know that that is OK. Whether you feel hope or despair makes only a slight difference. For what you are working towards is not dependent on anything. The very next thing you do can be an act of peace, and peace will be manifest. It can be towards yourself, and why shouldn’t it be. It can be towards a loved one, that can only help surely. Or it can be for someone who you do not presently feel love, and they could probably really do with it.

It is not up to you to solve this problem in the world. It is up to all of us wherever we are to not support it. What form this takes will be divulged by the individual consciousness that guides your heart. You will know what you will do. This is not a path that is laid out on a map and can be followed by a memorised intelligence. This is a path that is seen only once it is created. It is created by the next right thing, one step at a time. It is appropriate to the moment, for it is the moment that creates it. This is not some airy excuse for inaction, inaction will not help. But neither does it exclude the possibility that it may be absolutely right to get enough rest, do something for oneself or focus on something other than the terrible things that are happening.

For those that can, or feel moved to, wherever they are, this is a time to practice peace. We could say that peace begins within if it were not, in reality, always present, like silence supporting all sounds. Peace is within, presently covered in layers of thoughts, feelings and emotions. One very effective way of accessing this inner peace is through meditation. But anything that works is the right thing to use. 

Meditation is the practice of letting things settle. As a muddy pool of water left unstirred will clear as the mud settles to the bottom, so too will our mind and in this way we can reach Peace. This can be so helpful when we are feeling burnt out, lost or incapacitated by despair.

To be clear, meditation is not about retreating from the world, turning your back on suffering, or becoming free for one’s own benefit. It is about gathering ourselves together from our greatest depths that we may bring into being, through our own actions, the type of world our hearts tell us is possible.

This Peace we find within is eternally available, it is beyond even self-sustainment. I hope you will find your way there, and that you will manifest it in the world. Peace is possible, even when it looks improbable.

If you are interested in finding support to practice this simple art of meditation contact Engaged Dharma at and if they cannot help you directly they will connect you with the right people. Their Hebrew language blog can be found at They offer actions from the heart, engagement in dharma, and acts of peace in times of war.

In Peace, Nathan
Photos from SanghaSeva's Being Peace 2008