Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan

Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan

Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan is an international humanitarian activist and an outspoken voice on issues of world peace and justice. She was born Lisa Najeeb Halaby, to an Arab-American family distinguished for its public service. After receiving a B.A. in Architecture and Urban Planning from Princeton University in 1974, Queen Noor worked on international urban planning and design projects in Australia, Iran, the United States, and Jordan.

Since her marriage in 1978 to King Hussein, she has initiated, directed, and sponsored projects and activities in Jordan to address specific national development needs in the areas of education, culture, women and children’s welfare, sustainable community development, environmental conservation, human rights, and conflict resolution.

Queen Noor is also the founder and chair of the King Hussein Foundation International, a non-profit, non-governmental organization established in 1999 to promote and build on King Hussein’s humanitarian vision and legacy. The Foundation fosters peace and security through programs that promote cross cultural understanding and social, economic and political opportunity in the Muslim and Arab world.

The Noor Al Hussein Foundation (NHF), founded in 1985 to consolidate and integrate the Queen’s diverse development initiatives, has received international recognition for its institutions and programs, particularly in the areas of empowering women, community development and micro-finance. NHF programs have successfully advanced and modernized development thinking in Jordan by progressing beyond traditional charity-oriented social welfare practices to integrate social development strategies more closely with national economic priorities.

Queen Noor is actively involved in a number of international organizations advancing global peace-building and conflict recovery, and advises the United Nations on these issues. She is president of the United World Colleges, Chair of the United Nations University International Leadership Academy, Advisor to Women Waging Peace, Seeds of Peace and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Patron of the World Conservation Union, trustee of the Aspen Institute, Conservation International, World Wildlife Fund International, Refugees International, and a member of the International Commission on Missing Persons among other affiliations.

In recognition of her efforts to advance development, democracy, and peace, Queen Noor has been awarded numerous international awards and honorary doctorates in international relations, law, and humane letters.

Her autobiography, Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life (Miramax Books, 2003) was a New York Times bestseller published in 15 languages.

Jiddu Krishnamurti on War

Jiddu Krishnamurti on War

Q-How can we solve our present political chaos and the crisis in the world? Is there anything an individual can do to stop the impending war?

Krishnamurti: War is the spectacular and bloody projection of our everyday life, is it not? War is merely an outward expression of our inward state, an enlargement of our daily action. It is more spectacular, more bloody, more destructive, but it is the collective result of our individual activities. Therefore, you and I are responsible for war and what can we do to stop it? Obviously the ever-impending war cannot be stopped by you and me, because it is already in movement; it is already taking place, though at present chiefly on the psychological level. As it is already in movement, it cannot be stopped- the issues are too many, too great, and are already committed. But you and I, seeing that the house is on fire, can understand the causes of that fire, can go away from it and build in a new place with different materials that are not combustible, that will not produce other wars. That is all that we can do. You and I can see what creates wars, and if we are interested in stopping wars, then we can begin to transform ourselves, who are the causes of war.

An American lady came to see me a couple of years ago, during the war. She said she had lost her son in Italy and that she had another son aged sixteen whom she wanted to save; so we talked the thing over. I suggested to her that to save her son she had to cease to be an American; she had to cease to be greedy, cease piling up wealth, seeking power, domination, and be morally simple – not merely simple in clothes, in outward things, but simple in her thoughts and feelings, in her relationships. She said,” That is too much. You are asking far too much. I cannot do it, because circumstances are too powerful for me to alter.” Therefore she was responsible for the destruction of her son.

Circumstances can be controlled by us, because we have created the circumstances. Society is the product of relationship, society changes; merely to rely on legislation, on compulsion, for the transformation of outward society, while remaining inwardly corrupt, while continuing inwardly to seek power, position, domination, is to destroy the outward, however carefully and scientifically built. That which is inward is always overcoming the outward.

What causes war – religious, political or economic? Obviously belief, either in nationalism, in an ideology, or in a particular dogma. If we had no belief but goodwill, love and consideration between us, then there would be no wars. But we are fed on beliefs, ideas and dogmas and therefore we breed discontent. The present crisis is of an exceptional nature and we as human beings must either pursue the path of constant conflict and continuous wars, which are the result of our everyday action, or else see the causes of war and turn our back upon them.

Obviously what causes war is the desire for power, position, prestige, money; also the disease called nationalism, the worship of a flag; and the disease of organized religion, the worship of a dogma. All these are the causes of war; if you as an individual belong to any of the organized religions, if you are greedy for power, if you are envious, you are bound to produce a society which will result in destruction. So again it depends upon you and not on the leaders – not on so-called statesmen and all the rest of them. It depends upon you and me but we do not seem to realize that. If once we really felt the responsibility of our own actions, how quickly we could bring to an end all these wars, this appalling misery! But you see, we are indifferent. We have three meals a day, we have our jobs, we have our bank account, big or little, and we say, “For God’s sake, don’t disturb us, leave us alone”. The higher up we are, the more we want security, permanency, tranquility, the more we want to be left alone, to maintain things fixed as they are; but they cannot be maintained as they are, because there is nothing to maintain. Everything is disintegrating. We do not want to face these things, we do not want to face the fact that you and I are responsible for wars. You and I may talk about peace, have conferences, sit round a table and discuss, but inwardly, psychologically, we want power, position, we are bound by beliefs, by dogmas, for which we are willing to die and destroy each other. Do you think such men, you and I, can have peace in the world? To have peace, we must be peaceful; to live peacefully means not to create antagonism. Peace is not an ideal. To me, an ideal is merely an escape, an avoidance of what is, a contradiction of what is. An ideal prevents direct action upon what is - which we will go into presently, in another talk. [not on this website] But to have peace, we will have to love, we will have to begin, not to live an ideal life, but to see things as they are and act upon them, transform them. As long as each one of us is seeking psychological security, the physiological security we need – food, clothing and shelter – is destroyed. We are seeking psychological security, which does not exist; and we seek it, if we can, through power, through position, through titles, names – all of which is destroying physical security. This is an obvious fact, if you look at it.

To bring about peace in the world, to stop all wars, there must be a revolution in the individual, in you and me. Economic revolution without this inward revolution is meaningless, for hunger is the result of the maladjustment of economic conditions produced by our psychological states – greed, envy, ill-will and possessiveness. To put an end to sorrow, to hunger, to war, there must be a psychological revolution and few of us are willing to face that. We will discuss peace, plan legislation, create new leagues, the United Nations and so on and on; but we will not win peace because we will not give up our position, our authority, our money, our properties, our stupid lives. To rely on others is utterly futile; others cannot bring us peace. No leader is going to give us peace, no government, no army, no country. What will bring peace is inward transformation which will lead to outward action. Inward transformation is not isolation, is not a withdrawal from outward action. On the contrary, there can be right action only when there is right thinking and there is no right thinking when there is no self-knowledge. Without knowing yourself, there is no peace.__To put an end to outward war, you must begin to put an end to war in yourself. Some of you will nod your heads and say, “ I agree”, and go outside and do exactly the same as you have been doing for the last ten or twenty years. Your agreement is merely verbal and has no significance, for the world miseries and wars are not going to be stopped by your casual assent. They will be stopped only when you realize the danger, when you realize your responsibility, when you do not leave it to somebody else. If you realize the suffering, if you see the urgency of immediate action and do not postpone, then you will transform yourself; peace will come only when you yourself are peaceful, when you yourself are at peace with your neighbour.
1948, second public talk, Bangalore, India; Collected Works of J. Krishnamurti, Vol V, CD-Rom code BA48T2

Questioner: Why do men fight?

Krisnamurti: why do young boys fight? You sometimes fight with your brother, or other boys here, don't you? Why? You fight over a toy. Perhaps another boy has taken your ball, or your book and therefore you fight. Grown-up people fight for exactly the same reason, only their toys are position, wealth and power. If you want power and I also want power, we fight, and that is why nations go to war. It is as simple as that, only philosophers, politicians, and the so-called religious people complicate it. You know, it is a great art to have an abundance of knowledge and experience-to know the richness of life, the beauty of existence, the struggles, the miseries, the laughter, the tears- and yet keep your mind very simple; and you can have a simple mind only when you know how to love.
"Think on These Things"(1964, 1970 reprint), p. 32

Jiddu Krishnamurti on Peace

Jiddu Krishnamurti on Peace

Bombay, 5th Public Talk, March 12, 1950
Question: How can I as an individual meet, overcome and resolve the growing tension and war-fever between India and Pakistan? This situation creates a mentality of revenge and mass retaliation. Appeals and arguments are completely inadequate. Inaction is a crime. How does one meet a problem like this?
Krishnamurti: Sir why do you call inaction a crime? There are only two ways of dealing with this, according to you, which is either to become a pacifist or to take a gun. That is the only way you respond, is it not? That is the only way most people know in which to answer a problem of this kind.
Surely, the whole thing is wrong, pacifism as well as carrying a gun, because they are mere reactions, and through reaction you will never solve any problem. You will solve the problem of war only when you yourself are the challenge, and not merely a reaction.
So, the man who carries a gun does not solve the problem, he only increases the problem; for each war produces another war, it is an historical fact.
That is why it is important to understand yourself, your conditioning, your upbringing, the way you are educated; because, the government, the whole system, is your own projection. The world is you, the world is not separate from you; the world with its problems is projected out of your responses, out of your reactions, so the solution does not lie in creating further reactions.

There can be a solution only when there is action which is not reaction, and that can come into being only when you understand the whole process of response to stimuli both from outside and inside, which means that you understand the structure of your own being from which society is created.

But all those methods are obviously mere postponement of peace. Only when you are directly in touch with the problem, when you see that without peace today you cannot have peace tomorrow, when you have no reason for peace but actually see the truth that without peace life is not possible, creation is not possible, that without peace there can be no sense of happiness— only when you see the truth of that, will you have peace. Then you will have peace without any organizations for peace. Sir, for that you must be so vulnerable, you must demand peace with all your heart, you must find the truth of it for yourself, not through organizations, through propaganda, through clever arguments for peace and against war. Peace is not the denial of war. Peace is a state of being in which all conflicts and all problems have ceased; it is not a theory, not an ideal to be achieved after ten incarnations, ten years or ten days. As long as the mind has not understood its own activity, it will create more misery; and the understanding of the mind is the beginning of peace.

From the Krishnamurti Foundation of America
Selection from On War and Peace by Krishnamurt

The Importance of Civil Society in Arms Control - by Oscar Arias

The Importance of Civil Society in Arms Control - by Oscar Arias

During my term as president of Costa Rica from 1986 to 1990, I learned first-hand the devastating effects of arms transfers on poor and war-torn places. In Central America, the arms shipments that were supposed to resolve the region’s ideological clashes in fact prolonged and exacerbated them. We would later learn that the civil wars in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua had caused more than two hundred thousand casualties, mostly civilian. Conventional weapons imported from the Soviet Union and the United States were involved in the vast majority of these deaths.

Peace cannot take root unless the deepest causes of conflict are brought to light, examined, and publicly discussed. Arms betray this delicate process by adding to intolerance, deepening present grievances and making agreement more distant. Today, in troubled regions such as Sudan and Colombia, cheap and readily available weapons continue to poison efforts to establish peace for future generations.
By the end of my presidency, I was convinced that the arms trade represents the single most significant perversion of human priorities in our era. In talks at universities and political forums, I have emphasized that the arms trade, and its accompanying glut of military spending, exacerbates and prolongs wars, criminal activity and ethnic violence; destabilizes emerging democracies; and inflates military budgets to the detriment of health care, education and basic infrastructure.
I have not found this theme completely and utterly depressing over the years, thanks to a stubborn faith that speaking out will always galvanize at least one person in the audience to action. Also, I know that my efforts are not for the sake of rhetoric, but for publicizing and reinforcing an Arms Trade Treaty movement in close collaboration with members of civil society.
The Arms Trade Treaty, originally known as a Code of Conduct on Arms Transfers, was formulated in 1997 by eight Nobel Prize laureates: me, Ellie Wiesel, Betty Williams, the Dalai Lama, José Ramos-Horta, and representatives of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, the American Friends Service Committee and Amnesty International. The treaty calls for a ban on transfers of weapons to governments that repress fundamental democratic and human rights, or that commit acts of armed international aggression. To date, over twenty Nobel Prize winners, a growing group of governments and thousands of individuals and organizations have expressed their faith in the ATT as both morally sound and politically necessary.
Since October of 2003, a grassroots campaign to ratify this treaty into a binding piece of international law has been advancing in seventy countries around the world. Building consensus for international arms control implies simultaneous action in a kaleidoscope of social, political and economic issues: police training in human rights, and military accountability to democratic governments; anti-corruption controls at the local and federal level; better educational opportunities for children, and peace curriculums in the schools; gender equity and access to employment. Civil society groups have found innovative and dynamic ways to combine the cause of arms control with human development agendas. In Brazil, for instance, the NGO Viva Rio has advocated national gun control laws, while building youth clubs and microcredit programs in poor neighborhoods affected by gun violence. And in Costa Rica, the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress has launched a public education campaign on the public health impact of small arms, with a special component for peace training in the public schools.
The Arms Trade Treaty has roots in many different regions, historical experiences and individuals; and this diversity is a great strength, driving the movement’s dynamic growth. Clearly, a campaign to regulate the global arms trade brings us head to head with some very entrenched interest groups, and it could take years, even decades, to move forward. In this struggle, the moral and political leadership of civil society, from schools to church councils to public action groups, is fundamental. It has been thrilling to watch in the past decade as the ATT has gathered worldwide momentum, a rising tide that grows out of the tiny ripples of every individual act of creativity and leadership.

Dr. Oscar Arias Sánchez was president of Costa Rica from 1986 until 1990. Within this capacity he initiated a regional peace process, which cumulated in 1987 in the signing of the Equipulas II Accord by all Central American presidents. It was for this work he won the Nobel Peace Prize of 1987. He used the monetary award to establish the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress, from which he has continued his pursuit of global peace and human security.

Understand the differences; act on the commonalities - by John Marks

Understand the differences; act on the commonalities - by John Marks

I was 22 years old in 1966 when I joined the US Foreign Service. I anticipated a diplomatic career which, to me, meant a life of negotiating treaties, driving a sports car around Europe, and becoming an ambassador. My first assignment, however, was Vietnam in the midst of war, and I spent 18 months working as a civilian advisor in the pacification programme. This experience definitely knocked me off my linear career path, as I became convinced that American policy was wrong. In 1970, after the US invasion of Cambodia, I resigned in protest.

I found a job as the principal assistant for foreign policy to a US Senator who opposed continuation of the American war. For three years, my main task was to help pass legislation that would end direct US involvement in the war. Next, I co-authored a best-selling book that explored the workings of US intelligence agencies, and then I wrote myself an award-winning book on the secret connections between American intelligence and the behavioural sciences.
I had become an advocate for reform and social change. At the same time, I realised that I was increasingly defined by what I opposed. I came to see another possibility: Namely, that I could live my life and do my work from a place, not of being against the old system, but of being for a new one. In 1982, I founded Search for Common Ground, a non-governmental organization (NGO) with a lofty vision: To shift the way the world deals with conflict – away from adversarial, win-lose approaches, toward non-adversarial solutions.
I saw myself as a social entrepreneur. Unlike a business entrepreneur, my bottom line is not to acquire wealth, but to change the world. Search for Common Ground provides the organisational base – the place to stand – from which to do this work.
When I started, I had one co-worker, a handful of supporters, and a miniscule budget. With the Cold War raging, we focused on building bridges between the United States and the Soviet Union. In the early 1990s, as global conflict became more diffuse, so did our search for common ground.
We began working closely with governments and multi-lateral organisations, as we expanded our work into the Middle East, the Balkans, Africa, Indonesia and the United States. We currently have a staff of about 375 people, operating out of headquarters in Washington and Brussels and field offices in 11 countries. Thousands of people participate directly in our programmes, and we reach millions more through media projects.
We try to carry out work on a realistic scale – one step at a time. Indeed, we strive to be incrementally transformational. We appreciate that people and nations will act, as they always have, in their perceived best interest. We believe, however, that everyone’s best interest is served by solutions that maximise the gain of those with a stake in the outcome. Current problems – whether ethnic, environmental or economic – are simply too complex and interconnected to be settled on an adversarial basis. The earth is running out of space, resources and recuperative capacity to deal with wasteful conflict.
The methods we use vary as greatly as the places where we work. However, our methodology is based on the one basic operating principle: Understand the differences; act on the commonalities. Within this framework, we have developed a diverse toolbox for conflict prevention and transformation. It includes such well-known techniques as mediation, facilitation and training, along with less traditional ones like TV production, radio soap opera, back-channel negotiations and mobilising women and youth.
Above all, we do our work because we believe it makes a difference. For example, in Burundi, we apply our toolbox across an entire country. In order to promote peace and national reconciliation, we produce 15 hours a week of original radio programming that reaches 90% of the population; we work directly with hundreds of women’s associations to empower women as peacemakers; we sponsor numerous projects to reintegrate youth who have been involved in violence; and we make wide use of music and culture to try to heal ethnic differences.
Not surprisingly, we have also had our share of setbacks. We have worked for 13 years in the Middle East – where we have held scores of workshops for Arabs, Israelis and Iranians, produced several TV series and a radio soap opera, operated a weekly news service and sponsored the Middle East Consortium for Infectious Disease Surveillance. Yet, despite our best efforts – and those of many other would-be peacemakers – the conflict has escalated. In Liberia in 2003, looters ransacked and destroyed our radio studio. Still, we remain engaged for the long haul – in Liberia, in the Middle East and everywhere else we work. We believe that our work represents hope for the future.

Although the world is overly polarized and violent behavior is much too prevalent, we remain essentially optimistic. Our view is that, despite numerous setbacks, history and human consciousness are moving in positive directions. Failures in peacemaking do not cause us to give up. Rather, they convince us that we – and the world – must do much better.
The challenge is extraordinary, and I consider myself immensely privileged to be able to do the work that I do.

John Marks is founder and president of Search for Common Ground in Washington, D.C., and the office in Brussels. He is also a best-selling, award-winning book author, and has produced numerous television series and programs

The Dalai Lama: Solving Human Problems

The Dalai Lama: Solving Human Problems

The Dalai Lama on solving human problems:

Of the many problems we face today, some are natural calamities and must be accepted and faced with equanimity. Others, however, are of our own making, created by misunderstanding, and can be corrected. Of the many problems we face today, some are natural calamities and must be accepted and faced with equanimity. Others, however, are of our own making, created by misunderstanding, and can be corrected. One such type arises from the conflict of ideologies, political or religious, when people fight each other for petty ends, losing sight of the basic humanity that binds us all together as a single human family. We must remember that the different religions, ideologies, and political systems of the world are meant for human beings to achieve happiness. We must not lose sight of this fundamental goal and at no time should we place means above ends; the supremacy of humanity over matter and ideology must always be maintained.

By far the greatest single danger facing humankind – in fact, all living beings on our planet – is the threat of nuclear destruction. I need not elaborate on this danger, but I would like to appeal to all the leaders of the nuclear powers who literally hold the future of the world in their hands, to the scientists and technicians who continue to create these awesome weapons of destruction, and to all the people at large who are in a position to influence their leaders: I appeal to them to exercise their sanity and begin to work at dismantling and destroying all nuclear weapons. We know that in the event of a nuclear war there will be no victors because there will be no survivors! Is it not frightening just to contemplate such inhuman and heartless destruction? And, is it not logical that we should remove the cause for our own destruction when we know the cause and have both the time and the means to do so? Often we cannot overcome our problems because we either do not know the cause or, if we understand it, do not have the means to remove it. This is not the case with the nuclear threat.
Whether they belong to more evolved species like humans or to simpler ones such as animals, all beings primarily seek peace, comfort, and security. Life is as dear to the mute animal as it is to any human being; even the simplest insect strives for protection from dangers that threaten its life. Just as each one of us wants to live and does not wish to die, so it is with all other creatures in the universe, though their power to effect this is a different matter.

Broadly speaking there are two types of happiness and suffering, mental and physical, and of the two, I believe that mental suffering and happiness are the more acute. Hence, I stress the training of the mind to endure suffering and attain a more lasting state of happiness. However, I also have a more general and concrete idea of happiness: a combination of inner peace, economic development, and, above all, world peace. To achieve such goals I feel it is necessary to develop a sense of universal responsibility, a deep concern for all irrespective of creed, colour, sex, or nationality.

The premise behind this idea of universal responsibility is the simple fact that, in general terms, all others' desires are the same as mine. Every being wants happiness and does not want suffering. If we, as intelligent human beings, do not accept this fact, there will be more and more suffering on this planet. If we adopt a self-centred approach to life and constantly try to use others for our own self-interest, we may gain temporary benefits, but in the long run we will not succeed in achieving even personal happiness, and world peace will be completely out of the question.

In their quest for happiness, humans have used different methods, which all too often have been cruel and repellent.

Behaving in ways utterly unbecoming to their status as humans, they inflict suffering upon fellow humans and other living beings for their own selfish gains. In the end, such short-sighted actions bring suffering to oneself as well as to others. To be born a human being is a rare event in itself, and it is wise to use this opportunity as effectively and skillfully as possible. We must have the proper perspective, that of the universal life process, so that the happiness or glory of one person or group is not sought at the expense of others.

All this calls for a new approach to global problems. The world is becoming smaller and smaller – and more and more interdependent – as a result of rapid technological advances and international trade as well as increasing trans-national relations. We now depend very much on each other. In ancient times problems were mostly family-size, and they were naturally tackled at the family level, but the situation has changed. Today we are so interdependent, so closely interconnected with each other, that without a sense of universal responsibility, a feeling of universal brotherhood and sisterhood, and an understanding and belief that we really are part of one big human family, we cannot hope to overcome the dangers to our very existence – let alone bring about peace and happiness.

One nation's problems can no longer be satisfactorily solved by itself alone; too much depends on the interest, attitude, and cooperation of other nations. A universal humanitarian approach to world problems seems the only sound basis for world peace. What does this mean? We begin from the recognition mentioned previously that all beings cherish happiness and do not want suffering. It then becomes both morally wrong and pragmatically unwise to pursue only one's own happiness oblivious to the feelings and aspirations of all others who surround us as members of the same human family. The wiser course is to think of others also when pursuing our own happiness. This will lead to what I call 'wise self-interest', which hopefully will transform itself into 'compromised self-interest', or better still, 'mutual interest.'

Although the increasing interdependence among nations might be expected to generate more sympathetic cooperation, it is difficult to achieve a spirit of genuine cooperation as long as people remain indifferent to the feelings and happiness of others. When people are motivated mostly by greed and jealousy, it is not possible for them to live in harmony. A spiritual approach may not solve all the political problems that have been caused by the existing self-centered approach, but in the long run it will overcome the very basis of the problems that we face today.

On the other hand, if humankind continues to approach its problems considering only temporary expediency, future generations will have to face tremendous difficulties. The global population is increasing, and our resources are being rapidly depleted. Look at the trees, for example. No one knows exactly what adverse effects massive deforestation will have on the climate, the soil, and global ecology as a whole. We are facing problems because people are concentrating only on their short-term, selfish interests, not thinking of the entire human family. They are not thinking of the earth and the long-term effects on universal life as a whole. If we of the present generation do not think about these now, future generations may not be able to cope with them.

Compassion as the Pillar of World Peace
According to Buddhist psychology, most of our troubles are due to our passionate desire for and attachment to things that we misapprehend as enduring entities. The pursuit of the objects of our desire and attachment involves the use of aggression and competitiveness as supposedly efficacious instruments. These mental processes easily translate into actions, breeding belligerence as an obvious effect. Such processes have been going on in the human mind since time immemorial, but their execution has become more effective under modern conditions. What can we do to control and regulate these 'poisons' – delusion, greed, and aggression? For it is these poisons that are behind almost every trouble in the world.

As one brought up in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition, I feel that love and compassion are the moral fabric of world peace. Let me first define what I mean by compassion. When you have pity or compassion for a very poor person, you are showing sympathy because he or she is poor; your compassion is based on altruistic considerations. On the other hand, love towards your wife, your husband, your children, or a close friend is usually based on attachment. When your attachment changes, your kindness also changes; it may disappear. This is not true love. Real love is not based on attachment, but on altruism. In this case your compassion will remain as a humane response to suffering as long as beings continue to suffer.

This type of compassion is what we must strive to cultivate in ourselves, and we must develop it from a limited amount to the limitless. Undiscriminating, spontaneous, and unlimited compassion for all sentient beings is obviously not the usual love that one has for friends or family, which is alloyed with ignorance, desire, and attachment. The kind of love we should advocate is this wider love that you can have even for someone who has done harm to you: your enemy.

The rationale for compassion is that every one of us wants to avoid suffering and gain happiness. This, in turn, is based on the valid feeling of 'I', which determines the universal desire for happiness. Indeed, all beings are born with similar desires and should have an equal right to fulfil them. If I compare myself with others, who are countless, I feel that others are move important because I am just one person whereas others are many. Further, the Tibetan Buddhist tradition teaches us to view all sentient beings as our dear mothers and to show our gratitude by loving them all. For, according to Buddhist theory, we are born and reborn countless numbers of times, and it is conceivable that each being has been our parent at one time or another. In this way all beings in the universe share a family relationship.

Whether one believes in religion or not, there is no one who does not appreciate love and compassion. Right from the moment of our birth, we are under the care and kindness of our parents; later in life, when facing the sufferings of disease and old age, we are again dependent on the kindness of others. If at the beginning and end of our lives we depend upon others' kindness, why then in the middle should we not act kindly towards others?

The development of a kind heart (a feeling of closeness for all human beings) does not involve the religiosity we normally associate with conventional religious practice. It is not only for people who believe in religion, but is for everyone regardless of race, religion, or political affiliation. It is for anyone who considers himself or herself, above all, a member of the human family and who sees things from this larger and longer perspective. This is a powerful feeling that we should develop and apply; instead, we often neglect it, particularly in our prime years when we experience a false sense of security.

When we take into account a longer perspective, the fact that all wish to gain happiness and avoid suffering, and keep in mind our relative unimportance in relation to countless others, we can conclude that it is worthwhile to share our possessions with others. When you train in this sort of outlook, a true sense of compassion – a true sense of love and respect for others – becomes possible. Individual happiness ceases to be a conscious self-seeking effort; it becomes an automatic and far superior by-product of the whole process of loving and serving others.

Another result of spiritual development, most useful in day-to-day life, is that it gives a calmness and presence of mind. Our lives are in constant flux, bringing many difficulties. When faced with a calm and clear mind, problems can be successfully resolved. When, instead, we lose control over our minds through hatred, selfishness, jealousy, and anger, we lose our sense of judgment. Our minds are blinded and at those wild moments anything can happen, including war. Thus, the practice of compassion and wisdom is useful to all, especially to those responsible for running national affairs, in whose hands lie the power and opportunity to create the structure of world peace.

World Religions for World Peace

The principles discussed so far are in accordance with the ethical teachings of all world religions. I maintain that every major religion of the world – Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism – has similar ideals of love, the same goal of benefiting humanity through spiritual practice, and the same effect of making their followers into better human beings. All religions teach moral precepts for perfecting the functions of mind, body, and speech. All teach us not to lie or steal or take others' lives, and so on. The common goal of all moral precepts laid down by the great teachers of humanity is unselfishness. The great teachers wanted to lead their followers away from the paths of negative deeds caused by ignorance and to introduce them to paths of goodness.

All religions agree upon the necessity to control the undisciplined mind that harbours selfishness and other roots of trouble, and each teaches a path leading to a spiritual state that is peaceful, disciplined, ethical, and wise. It is in this sense that I believe all religions have essentially the same message. Differences of dogma may be ascribed to differences of time and circumstance as well as cultural influences; indeed, there is no end to scholastic argument when we consider the purely metaphysical side of religion. However, it is much more beneficial to try to implement in daily life the shared precepts for goodness taught by all religions rather than to argue about minor differences in approach.

There are many different religions to bring comfort and happiness to humanity in much the same way as there are particular treatments for different diseases. For, all religions endeavour in their own way to help living beings avoid misery and gain happiness. And, although we can find causes for preferring certain interpretations of religious truths, there is much greater cause for unity, stemming from the human heart. Each religion works in its own way to lessen human suffering and contribute to world civilization. Conversion is not the point. For instance, I do not think of converting others to Buddhism or merely furthering the Buddhist cause. Rather, I try to think of how I as a Buddhist humanitarian can contribute to human happiness.

While pointing out the fundamental similarities between world religions, I do not advocate one particular religion at the expense of all others, nor do I seek a new 'world religion.' All the different religions of the world are needed to enrich human experience and world civilization. Our human minds, being of different calibre and disposition, need different approaches to peace and happiness. It is just like food. Certain people find Christianity more appealing, others prefer Buddhism because there is no creator in it and everything depends upon your own actions. We can make similar arguments for other religions as well. Thus, the point is clear: humanity needs all the world's religions to suit the ways of life, diverse spiritual needs, and inherited national traditions of individual human beings.

It is from this perspective that I welcome efforts being made in various parts of the world for better understanding among religions. The need for this is particularly urgent now. If all religions make the betterment of humanity their main concern, then they can easily work together in harmony for world peace. Interfaith understanding will bring about the unity necessary for all religions to work together. However, although this is indeed an important step, we must remember that there are no quick or easy solutions. We cannot hide the doctrinal differences that exist among various faiths, nor can we hope to replace the existing religions by a new universal belief. Each religion has its own distinctive contributions to make, and each in its own way is suitable to a particular group of people as they understand life. The world needs them all.

There are two primary tasks facing religious practitioners who are concerned with world peace. First, we must promote better interfaith understanding so as to create a workable degree of unity among all religions. This may be achieved in part by respecting each other's beliefs and by emphasizing our common concern for human well-being. Second, we must bring about a viable consensus on basic spiritual values that touch every human heart and enhance general human happiness. This means we must emphasize the common denominator of all world religions – humanitarian ideals. These two steps will enable us to act both individually and together to create the necessary spiritual conditions for world peace.

We practitioners of different faiths can work together for world peace when we view different religions as essentially instruments to develop a good heart – love and respect for others, a true sense of community. The most important thing is to look at the purpose of religion and not at the details of theology or metaphysics, which can lead to mere intellectualism. I believe that all the major religions of the world can contribute to world peace and work together for the benefit of humanity if we put aside subtle metaphysical differences, which are really the internal business of each religion.

Despite the progressive secularization brought about by worldwide modernization and despite systematic attempts in some parts of the world to destroy spiritual values, the vast majority of humanity continues to believe in one religion or another. The undying faith in religion, evident even under irreligious political systems, clearly demonstrates the potency of religion as such. This spiritual energy and power can be purposefully used to bring about the spiritual conditions necessary for world peace. Religious leaders and humanitarians all over the world have a special role to play in this respect.

Whether we will be able to achieve world peace or not, we have no choice but to work towards that goal. If our minds are dominated by anger, we will lose the best part of human intelligence – wisdom, the ability to decide between right and wrong. Anger is one of the most serious problems facing the world today.

Individual Power to Shape Institutions
Anger plays no small role in current conflicts such as those in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, the North- South problem, and so forth. These conflicts arise from a failure to understand one another's humanness. The answer is not the development and use of greater military force, nor an arms race. Nor is it purely political or purely technological. Basically it is spiritual, in the sense that what is required is a sensitive understanding of our common human situation. Hatred and fighting cannot bring happiness to anyone, even to the winners of battles. Violence always produces misery and thus is essentially counter-productive. It is, therefore, time for world leaders to learn to transcend the differences of race, culture, and ideology and to regard one another through eyes that see the common human situation. To do so would benefit individuals, communities, nations, and the world at large.

The greater part of present world tension seems to stem from the 'Eastern bloc' versus 'Western bloc' conflict that has been going on since World War II. These two blocs tend to describe and view each other in a totally unfavourable light. This continuing, unreasonable struggle is due to a lack of mutual affection and respect for each other as fellow human beings. Those of the Eastern bloc should reduce their hatred towards the Western bloc because the Western bloc is also made up of human beings – men, women, and children. Similarly those of the Western bloc should reduce their hatred towards the Eastern bloc because the Eastern bloc is also human beings. In such a reduction of mutual hatred, the leaders of both blocs have a powerful role to play But first and foremost, leaders must realize their own and others' humanness. Without this basic realization, very little effective reduction of organized hatred can be achieved.

If, for example, the leader of the United States of America and the leader of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics suddenly met each other in the middle of a desolate island, I am sure they would respond to each other spontaneously as fellow human beings. But a wall of mutual suspicion and misunderstanding separates them the moment they are identified as the 'President of the USA' and the 'Secretary-General of the USSR.' More human contact in the form of informal extended meetings, without any agenda, would improve their mutual understanding; they would learn to relate to each other as human beings and could then try to tackle international problems based on this understanding. No two parties, especially those with a history of antagonism, can negotiate fruitfully in an atmosphere of mutual suspicion and hatred.

I suggest that world leaders meet about once a year in a beautiful place without any business, just to get to know each other as human beings. Then, later, they could meet to discuss mutual and global problems. I am sure many others share my wish that world leaders meet at the conference table in such an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding of each other's humanness.

To improve person-to-person contact in the world at large, I would like to see greater encouragement of international tourism. Also, mass media, particularly in democratic societies, can make a considerable contribution to world peace by giving greater coverage to human interest items that reflect the ultimate oneness of humanity. With the rise of a few big powers in the international arena, the humanitarian role of international organizations is being bypassed and neglected. I hope that this will be corrected and that all international organizations, especially the United Nations, will be more active and effective in ensuring maximum benefit to humanity and promoting international understanding. It will indeed be tragic if the few powerful members continue to misuse world bodies like the UN for their one-sided interests. The UN must become the instrument of world peace. This world body must be respected by all, for the UN is the only source of hope for small oppressed nations and hence for the planet as a whole.

As all nations are economically dependent upon one another more than ever before, human understanding must go beyond national boundaries and embrace the international community at large. Indeed, unless we can create an atmosphere of genuine cooperation, gained not by threatened or actual use of force but by heartfelt understanding, world problems will only increase. If people in poorer countries are denied the happiness they desire and deserve, they will naturally be dissatisfied and pose problems for the rich. If unwanted social, political, and cultural forms continue to be imposed upon unwilling people, the attainment of world peace is doubtful. However, if we satisfy people at a heart-to-heart level, peace will surely come.

Within each nation, the individual ought to be given the right to happiness, and among nations, there must be equal concern for the welfare of even the smallest nations. I am not suggesting that one system is better than another and all should adopt it. On the contrary, a variety of political systems and ideologies is desirable and accords with the variety of dispositions within the human community. This variety enhances the ceaseless human quest for happiness. Thus each community should be free to evolve its own political and socioeconomic system, based on the principle of self-determination.

The achievement of justice, harmony, and peace depends on many factors. We should think about them in terms of human benefit in the long run rather than the short term. I realize the enormity of the task before us, but I see no other alternative than the one I am proposing – which is based on our common humanity. Nations have no choice but to be concerned about the welfare of others, not so much because of their belief in humanity, but because it is in the mutual and long-term interest of all concerned. An appreciation of this new reality is indicated by the emergence of regional or continental economic organizations such as the European Economic Community, the Association of South East Asian Nations, and so forth. I hope more such trans-national organizations will be formed, particularly in regions where economic development and regional stability seem in short supply.

Under present conditions, there is definitely a growing need for human understanding and a sense of universal responsibility. In order to achieve such ideas, we must generate a good and kind heart, for without this, we can achieve neither universal happiness nor lasting world peace. We cannot create peace on paper. While advocating universal responsibility and universal brotherhood and sisterhood, the facts are that humanity is organized in separate entities in the form of national societies. Thus, in a realistic sense, I feel it is these societies that must act as the building-blocks for world peace.

Attempts have been made in the past to create societies more just and equal. Institutions have been established with noble charters to combat anti-social forces. Unfortunately, such ideas have been cheated by selfishness. More than ever before, we witness today how ethics and noble principles are obscured by the shadow of self-interest, particularly in the political sphere. There is a school of thought that warns us to refrain from politics altogether, as politics has become synonymous with amorality. Politics devoid of ethics does not further human welfare, and life without morality reduces humans to the level of beasts. However, politics is not axiomatically 'dirty.' Rather, the instruments of our political culture have distorted the high ideals and noble concepts meant to further human welfare. Naturally, spiritual people express their concern about religious leaders 'messing' with politics, since they fear the contamination of religion by dirty politics.

I question the popular assumption that religion and ethics have no place in politics and that religious persons should seclude themselves as hermits. Such a view of religion is too one-sided; it lacks a proper perspective on the individual's relation to society and the role of religion in our lives. Ethics is as crucial to a politician as it is to a religious practitioner. Dangerous consequences will follow when politicians and rulers forget moral principles. Whether we believe in God or karma, ethics is the foundation of every religion.

Such human qualities as morality, compassion, decency, wisdom, and so forth have been the foundations of all civilizations. These qualities must be cultivated and sustained through systematic moral education in a conducive social environment so that a more humane world may emerge. The qualities required to create such a world must be inculcated right from the beginning, from childhood. We cannot wait for the next generation to make this change; the present generation must attempt a renewal of basic human values. If there is any hope, it is in the future generations, but not unless we institute major change on a worldwide scale in our present educational system. We need a revolution in our commitment to and practice of universal humanitarian values.

It is not enough to make noisy calls to halt moral degeneration; we must do something about it. Since present-day governments do not shoulder such 'religious' responsibilities, humanitarian and religious leaders must strengthen the existing civic, social, cultural, educational, and religious organizations to revive human and spiritual values. Where necessary, we must create new organizations to achieve these goals. Only in so doing can we hope to create a more stable basis for world peace.

Living in society, we should share the sufferings of our fellow citizens and practise compassion and tolerance not only towards our loved ones but also towards our enemies. This is the test of our moral strength. We must set an example by our own practice, for we cannot hope to convince others of the value of religion by mere words. We must live up to the same high standards of integrity and sacrifice that we ask of others. The ultimate purpose of all religions is to serve and benefit humanity. This is why it is so important that religion always be used to effect the happiness and peace of all beings and not merely to convert others.

Still, in religion there are no national boundaries. A religion can and should be used by any people or person who finds it beneficial. What is important for each seeker is to choose a religion that is most suitable to himself or herself. But, the embracing of a particular religion does not mean the rejection of another religion or one's own community. In fact, it is important that those who embrace a religion should not cut themselves off from their own society; they should continue to live within their own community and in harmony with its members. By escaping from your own community, you cannot benefit others, whereas benefiting others is actually the basic aim of religion.
In this regard there are two things important to keep in mind: self-examination and self-correction. We should constantly check our attitude toward others, examining ourselves carefully, and we should correct ourselves immediately when we find we are in the wrong.

Finally, a few words about material progress. I have heard a great deal of complaint against material progress from Westerners, and yet, paradoxically, it has been the very pride of the Western world. I see nothing wrong with material progress per se, provided people are always given precedence. It is my firm belief that in order to solve human problems in all their dimensions, we must combine and harmonize economic development with spiritual growth.

However, we must know its limitations. Although materialistic knowledge in the form of science and technology has contributed enormously to human welfare, it is not capable of creating lasting happiness. In America, for example, where technological development is perhaps more advanced than in any other country, there is still a great deal of mental suffering. This is because materialistic knowledge can only provide a type of happiness that is dependent upon physical conditions. It cannot provide happiness that springs from inner development independent of external factors.

For renewal of human values and attainment of lasting happiness, we need to look to the common humanitarian heritage of all nations the world over. May this essay serve as an urgent reminder lest we forget the human values that unite us all as a single family on this planet.

I have written the above lines
To tell my constant feeling.
Whenever I meet even a 'foreigner',
I have always the same feeling:
'I am meeting another member of the human family.'
This attitude has deepened
My affection and respect for all beings.
May this natural wish be
My small contribution to world peace.
I pray for a more friendly,
More caring, and more understanding
Human family on this planet.
To all who dislike suffering,
Who cherish lasting happiness –
This is my heartfelt appeal.