• 87th International Peace Meditation “Peace is not the Absence of War; Peace is the Presence of Love”

    “Peace is not the Absence of War; Peace is the Presence of Love”

    March 7, 2004-With the presence of uprisings and war in many countries now including Haiti, Iraq, and Pakistan, we are bombarded by images of suffering. Suffering is a theme of life. Suffering is a part of the human condition for all people. When we would judge others’ lives to be better than our own, we need to remember that suffering comes to each of us. What we don’t know about another person may be found in the privacy of his/her suffering.

    Suffering comes in many forms. Physical suffering comes to us through intentional ways such as war, murder, assault and battery. Emotional suffering comes to us through abuse, neglect, insults, and bullying, as well as unintentional sources such as accidents and disease. Mental suffering may come to us through deprivation of rights such as education, voting, or ability to make personal choices. Spiritual suffering can come through intentional ways such as suppression of religion, religious intolerance, religious wars, and being the target of all kinds of abuse. But spiritual suffering may have as its greatest source the neglect of one’s own spiritual life.

    ‘Peace is not the absence of war’, although war may make it extremely difficult for one to feel any sense of internal peace. However, peaceful conditions, or lack of war, do not guarantee a sense of peace.

    In the United States a movie about the Passion of Jesus Christ is receiving much attention. Its veracity has been questioned and its focus on suffering has made it the subject of debate. However, it appears to be having some impact in consciousness raising. The idea of voluntary suffering to save others is currently valued little by much of our culture.

    Alienation of the military, when they attempt to protect those in other countries against brutality of some governments, is often apparent. We in America have come through some very self-serving periods in our history. We often have forgotten all those who died for our freedom. Sometimes we forget that our way of life has only been made possible because millions have died for the sake of freedom. We may also have forgotten that the saving of humanity, and our basis for peace, is our willingness to sacrifice for causes greater than ourselves.

    I am horrified by acts of war, as probably most of us are. I am at least as horrified by the mass killings of innocent people by their governments for the access of power or the amusement of the leadership. Life is serious business. Hurting another for any reason is serious business. War is serious business. Unwillingness to sacrifice for the greater good is very serious business.

    What is the “greater good”? Is “I got mine” acceptable at the expense of the “greater good”? Is power better placed in the hands of a few, or spread for the good of many? Is peace available to all, or only those who can pay a monetary price? Is access to a greater spiritual power meant to be available only through assessment of the spiritual sojourner? Does peace represent power, or does war represent power? What is power anyway? And, what is peace?

    Many countries are struggling toward a democratic form of government. It is a harrowing struggle, and many heroes and heroines pay the ultimate price for its attainment. Some are killed as part of war. Some are targets of those seeking power. Some are ridiculed, stoned, or denied a voice. And some are at war within themselves even as they seek power over others.

    Peace is an inside job. It is not reliant upon democracies, although democracies are more supportive to overt spiritual practice. But spirituality is really a covert practice, and no one, not even the Supreme Court of the United States, can keep a child or teacher from praying in school. They can only prevent the outward expression of prayer as a part of the United States Constitutional separation of church and state. But no one, no one, can stop prayer. Only the individual person who fails to seek his/her Higher Power can stop the power of spirituality. In other words, spirituality is accessible to all people in all conditions. But lack of spirituality is also available to all in all conditions. Spirituality is not dependent upon finances, democracies, laws, or practices. Spirituality is available to any person in any life condition. However, the responsibility for accessing spiritual power is the responsibility of each of us. Spirituality is a free choice for every person regardless of who they are or where they live, and it can provide internal peace in the worst of circumstances.

    If you haven’t had the experience of great suffering, and simultaneously experiencing a Presence of something greater, talk to those who have. You may find that they will tell you that never was their sense of connection to something greater, a Higher Power, as distinct or powerful as when they felt powerless. The excruciating times that I sat next to my children’s and my parent’s bedsides when health situations were critical were extremely important times within my own spiritual development. It was at the moments when I could no longer have any control of the situations and recognized my complete powerlessness, that I relinquished my illusion of power, and trusted in a Force beyond myself. The sense of Presence made me feel comforted even as I faced what I most dreaded. It is these times of painful suffering that provide us, perhaps, the greatest spiritual growth because we may turn inward when we have no sense of control over destiny.

    When we look at the suffering of others, and feel pain even in observing or learning about it, let’s remember that even in the worst of situations, there is something positive. I am certainly not advocating suffering. I am, however, recognizing its presence as a part of all human existence. When we look at the rich and powerful, and think that they don’t suffer as we do, let’s remember that wealth and political power cannot bring internal peace. By allowing that which we cannot see, or prove, to be our source of strength, we can experience peace.

    For those who suffer, we pray. For those who sacrifice to relieve the suffering of others, we pray. For those who give their lives to others through healthcare, education, and many other kinds of human services, we pray. For those who help others become empowered and take control of their lives by overcoming addictions, we pray. For those who care for friends and family, we pray. And, especially, that our lives may be used to help others find peace, we pray.

    This Meditation is dedicated to all who sacrifice to help others, whether the sacrifice is small, or the ultimate price. It is dedicated to those seeking peace in the presence of suffering and oppression. And it is dedicated to the spiritual journeys of those who dedicate their lives to helping others.

    We hope you will visit our web site at www.humanempowerment.org and participate in this important mission to bring empowering messages and beliefs to everyone.

    And, only if you are able, please consider contributing to the mission of the International Institute For Human Empowerment, Inc. Please give so that others might more fully live.

    Sue Kidd Shipe
    Executive Director

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    International Institute For Human Empowerment, Inc.
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    The International Institute For Human Empowerment, Inc. is a 501 ( C )( 3 ) tax-exempt organization recognized by the United States Government. Your contribution within the USA is tax-exempt.
    Sue Kidd Shipe, Executive Director
    International Institute For Human Empowerment, Inc.
    P. O. Box 3920
    Albany, New York  12203   USA
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