Om Shanti Shanti ShantiOm Peace Paz PaixOm Shalom Salam Frieden
Blessed Self,The eternal prayer of humanity is: “Lord grant us peace.” Yet, as much as we pray and talk about it, peace continues to elude most of us. Of course, peace means different things to different people. To some peace means nuclear disarmament, to others it is an end tohostilities in any of the many other troubled spots of the world. Still others are sure that peace would come if government budgetswere sufficient to provide proper schools, hospitals, programs for the aged and handicapped. For some peace means financial security.The first week of August presented an extraordinary experience. Peace advocates and spiritual aspirants from many traditions gatheredat the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Camp in Quebec. They lived together in peace, acknowledging their differences, but trying to findsolutions that they could carry home with them and share with their communities and friends. Yet even while this enthusiastic groupof citizens of the world were happily waving flags, praying for peace, and basking in the sunlight of Canada’s beautiful LaurentianMountains, what were their fellow citizens doing? Even within a few miles, how many people were being robbed, humiliated,murdered? How many children abused and beaten by frustrated parents? How many people were dealing with the pain of facingtheir own minds by dulling them with drugs and alcohol? Was hatred not rampant in the world during that week? Where were angerand greed? For there to be peace in the world, each person must go within to find that “peace that passeth all understanding.” Lust,anger, greed, hatred, jealousy, envy and fear cannot be banished by public declaration, laws or treaties.As long as we hate and fear each other there can be no peace. To abolish these negative qualities, which are part of all of us, theteachings of Yoga can be of great value to the modern world. Through the scientifically designed techniques of Yoga, one learns towatch, control, and be able to deal with his/her own mind. Negative emotions and energies are channeled into positive directions.One learns to identify with the divine nature rather than with the apparent, emotional qualities.Peace is not an accident. It can only be accomplished by working at it on a daily basis. This was the message of ‘Into the 21st Century’Peace Festival. We have dedicated this issue of Yoga Life to giving a report of that event.Yours,OM Namah SivayaDear Friends,
This past summer, I attended ‘Into the 21st Century’, a moving and impressive Festival forWorld Peace hosted by the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Camp. African drum and Andian flutemusic moved the spirit. Interesting and informative talks moved the mind. Hindu homas andnative American sunrise rites opened the heart.I had the karma yoga of setting up and taking down the translation equipment; this had the verypleasant result of enabling me to attend all of the programs. I must admit that I initially approachedthe Festival with some trepidation as I did not want to be bombarded with activist cant targetingthis or that global hot spot and urging us to write our Member of Parliament and to donategenerously to the committee to free some unfortunate people from tyranny. The unspoken theme of ‘Into the 21st Century’ was in fact the opposite: “Reform yourself and let the rest of the world reformitself”, one of my favourite of all of Swami Sivananda’s injunctions. The underlying message was thatyou can’t create peace in the world or any part of it unless you have peace in yourself.Much of the Festival was devoted to giving people the incentive and a variety of tools with which todevelop inner peace, each in their own way and each according to their ability and their need.Another re-occurring theme was that a person could best contribute to world peace not by becominga political activist but by becoming personally involved in resolving a local need, providing his or herown labor rather than making political demands that merely urge someone else to fix the problem.Yes, there were presentations and references to global peace issues but they too promoted theapplication of one’s skills and interests to long-term, low-key and interactive projects. Projects thatcould change perceptions so that there would be less need to make the type of political changes thatusually result in deaths, injuries, dislocation and alienation.The Festival fully reflected the teachings of Swami Sivananda and Swami Vishnu-devananda andshowed how those teachings had direct application to issues of personal and internationalsignificance. Swamiji’s teachings elevate the consciousness, open new perspectives on situations of concern and point to new and more useful approaches to resolving those situations.Many participants commented on the overall good feeling that the Festival engendered. My ownperspective on the Festival is that it was a five-star success. The speakers were professional in approachand personal in their message. From the exuberance of Rabbi Gelberman to the disciplined compassionof Zen Roshi Bernie Glassman and the sophistication of Mrs. Eirwen Harbottle representing the Centreof International Peacekeeping. Their messages inspired all who attended and helped to focus ourenergies.All the speakers were approachable throughout the week of the Festival with meal times being aparticularly good time for speaking with them at length. Organizationally, everything seemed smooth;this was due to the constant attention of Shambhavi of the Yoga Camp and Jyoti from Montreal. Staff were open, approachable and enthusiastic. The food was excellent, the grounds were well maintainedand even the weather cooperated. All in all, one of the most outstanding events that I’ve attended inyears.
- Sankara, Ottawa
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Swami Saradananda, Editor
MAY PEACE PREVAIL ON EARTH