“On November 7, 2008, at 9:45 am, the 500 people attending the Alliance for a New Humanity Human Forum in Barcelona took a vow for non violence in their thoughts, speech and actions. Each person decided to ask other people in their lives to join them in taking the vow. The goal then became to create a global movement, which would mobilize 100 million people to make the same commitment. We, at the Alliance for a New Humanity believe that if a critical mass of people commit to this vow, the world would be transformed. If you are seriously committed to peace, join us in this global movement and take the vow.
President and Founder of the Alliance For A New Humanity”
The vow that Deepak Chopra is asking us to make is a noble gesture towards creating world peace. Yet I have some reservations about taking the vow myself. I feel that with much vigilance, the vow of non-violence in speech and actions is doable but I question my ability to commit to non-violence in thoughts.
The warfare that rages without is a reflection of the warfare that rages within us all, and indeed we first have to work at stopping the war within before we can achieve world peace. What I am wary of is what it means to people to take a vow of non-violence in thoughts. A vow is a serious commitment one that should not be taken unless you are prepared to be bound by it. Taking a vow because your friends are doing it and because of the hype around it, when you do not understand what it means, is making a mockery of such a sacred undertaking.
I believe in a middle path in spiritual practices. There are various traditions that teach control of the mind by getting rid of thoughts. I have tried that and it never worked for me. My belief is that we do not create thoughts, neither can we get rid of them. They are blips of energy configurations that arise from consciousness and float randomly across the screen of our mind. We cannot control them but we can become aware of them, and not engage them so that they do not have power over us. We cannot reason with our thoughts to stay away, or negotiate with consciousness to send us only good thoughts and keep away the bad ones or what we perceive to be good and bad.
In my practice of meditation, after relaxing my body, what works to quiet my mind and the onslaught of unwanted thoughts is to observe them, to witness them and create some space, disengaging them by staying with my breath. I name them: anger, worry, needy etc. In this way I am not buying into the story they tell me and get sucked into going with them into the quagmire of their drama. Soon, thoughts slow down, and my awareness of the deep stillness of what lies behind my thoughts, begins to prevail. And then more thoughts come and I do it again and again; relax my body, and witness my thoughts. Some days are easier depending on the contents of my outer life that day. When I begin my day with meditation, it is easier to navigate the ups and downs of the day. I am always reminded to come back to center, when my mind or body is feeling uneasy. Life is always pulling us in the direction where the energy charge is greatest and at present, chaos rules.
I may not be able to choose what thoughts decide to show up. What are thoughts? Are they our own, is there a field of consciousness of mass thoughts from which we attract like energy to ourselves? If this is so, then working at creating an INTENTION for peace rather than making a vow seems doable for me. With intention, I am setting my energy to attract what I want so that I am putting a request into the universe for that particular vibration. This intention, like meditation has to be practiced daily until it becomes engraved in our neural and psychic pathways to attract the quality of energy that we desire.
As much as our intention for peaceful thoughts is sincere, we are not perfect beings and we have much baggage from lifetimes of psychic conditioning. We will always have those rogue thoughts that come from nowhere and assault our well-being and peace. It is in these times that we practice Loving-Kindness, holding our selves with compassion for not being perfect, and forgiving ourselves for yet again being human. With love and forgiveness we honor ourselves for who we are, who we were, and who we will be. We are not beating ourselves up for not being perfect, for not keeping any vows that we cannot uphold.
This is the practice of the middle path that is gentle and compassionate towards ourselves. When we can be compassionate with ourselves, we are inclined to do the same for our fellowmen. We set ourselves up for peaceful encounters with our inner and outer world.
So my friends, I ask you to consider deeply before you take this vow for non-violence in thoughts. If you cannot keep this vow and repress unwanted aspects that arise, think of the consequences of repression and the possibility of setting yourself up for self-degradation. Maybe there are some people who will succeed. We are all different and so we must have choices as to how to go about achieving the good of all.