Practicing Peace in Times of War
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With war and violence flaring all over the world, many of us are left feeling vulnerable and utterly helpless. In this book Pema Chödrön draws on Buddhist teachings to explore the origins of aggression, hatred, and war, explaining that they lie nowhere but within our own hearts and minds. She goes on to explain that the way in which we as individuals respond to challenges in our everyday lives can either perpetuate a culture of violence or create a new culture of compassion.
"War and peace begin in the hearts of individuals," declares Pema Chödrön at the opening of this inspiring and accessible book. She goes on to offer practical techniques any of us can use to work for peace in our own lives, at the level of our habits of thought and action. It's never too late, she tells us, to look within and discover a new way of living and transform not only our personal lives but our whole world.
themselves—but this does not mean pampering our neurosis. The kindness that I learned from my teachers, and that I wish so much to convey to other people, is kindness toward all qualities of our being. The qualities that are the toughest to be kind to are the painful parts, where we feel ashamed, as if we don’t belong, as if we’ve just blown it, when things are falling apart for us. Maitri means sticking with ourselves when we don’t have anything, when we feel like a loser. And it becomes the
being oppressed or abused, and it’s 24 Practicing Peace in Times of War harming those who are oppressing and abusing. And from a Buddhist point of view, those who are being oppressed have a chance—just as people did in the civil rights movement—to be purified by what is happening to them. They have the opportunity to let hatred be replaced by love and compassion and to try to bring about change by nonviolence and nonaggression. Instead of sinking into self-absorption they have a chance to let
their suffering link them with the suffering of all beings—those harming, those helping, and those feeling neutral. In other words, they have a chance to soften what is rigid in their hearts and still hold the view that injustice is being done and work toward unwinding that injustice or that cruelty. But those who are oppressing may be 25 pr acticing peace in times of war so prejudiced and rigid in their minds that there’s very little opportunity for them to grow and learn. So they’re the ones
would like to share with you what I’ve understood and to encourage you to find out for yourself how patience can dissolve the mean-heartedness that results in us harming one another. Most importantly, I learned about patience and the cessation of suffering—I learned how patience is a way to de-escalate aggression and its accompanying pain. This is to say that when we’re feeling aggressive—and I think this would go for any strong emotion—there’s a seductive quality that pulls us in the direction
52 The Courage to Wait make mistakes. And that’s more important than getting it right. This whole process seems to work only if you’re willing to give yourself a break, to soften up, as you practice patience. As with the rest of the teachings, you can’t win and you can’t lose. You don’t get to just say, “Well, since I never can do it, I’m not going to try.” It’s like you never can do it and still you try. And, interestingly enough, that adds up to something, it adds up to appreciation for