“If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.”The Dalai Lama
Yes, I believe world peace is possible. That may sound idealistic or naive, but I believe it is a realistic result.
Will it take hard work? Of course. But I believe if humanity learns one thing, we can achieve world peace.
What is that one thing? Meditation.
Since you’re already interested in how to achieve world peace, I can probably safely assume you’re already familiar with the power of meditation, or have a meditation practice yourself.
In that case, you can probably understand why something as simple as meditation can change the world, because it probably transformed you. It certainly transformed me.
But how exactly can meditation accomplish this? I believe it is because it is the single greatest truth that can unite humanity, and the single greatest wisdom that can guide humanity.
The Truth of Meditation for World Peace
The truth of meditation can create world peace through two mechanisms:
- It helps us become more open minded, inclusive, non-judgmental, and compassionate towards one another, which creates unity despite our differences
- It can also create religious unity, which is one of the biggest causes of conflict in the history of humanity
The first point above is probably obvious to you if you’re familiar with the practice of meditation. The second point may not be as obvious.
I believe that meditation can create religious unity because some form of meditation, contemplation, or prayer is at the root of all religions and spiritual traditions. This perspective is known as perennial philosophy.
“Throughout history, there have always been rare individuals who experienced a shift in consciousness and so realized within themselves that toward which all religions point.”Eckhart Tolle
The symbols, rituals, and deities vary widely in every tradition, but ultimately these are peripheral differences. What they have in common is that they all have practices that bring the same spiritual awakening.
- In Buddhism, this is called enlightenment, “no mind”, liberation, awakening, accessing our universal nature, or satori
- In Hinduism, this is nirvana, samadhi (which means meditative absorption), direct experience, or union with God (which is what the word yoga means in Sanskrit)
- In Christianity, this is contemplative prayer, salvation, abiding in Christ, becoming one with the Father, meditating on infinite love, the crucifixion of self, or the atonement of sin (which is another word for the sins of the flesh, or ego – including desire, greed, pride, etc)
- In Islam, there is Sufism (of which Rumi is its most popular teacher, who you’ve probably heard of). They also teach direct experience with God.
For you afficionados, I know that there are varying levels of enlightenment, samadhi, or satori, but these ranges of experience are still all within the same category of experience.
Often these practices are found in the contemplative or mystical forms of the world’s spiritual traditions. The literal definition of mysticism is not crystals, tarot, or magic, it is simply direct experience or union with God.
They all end in nondual awareness, which is a state of consciousness that perceives no difference between the self and the universe. The self and the universe become one, and one becomes aware of how all things are connected (which some traditions call the presence of God).
This is the goal of all meditation.
Side note: I personally think that this is not taught clearly enough in the West. Many apps and teachers talk about focusing on the breath, but ultimately we have to let go of the breath itself and rest only in our own infinite awareness (aka, the presence of God).
Regardless, since all traditions are the same at their core, this is humanity’s greatest opportunity for religious unity. If religious adherents can recognize this truth, we can become more open minded to each other’s shared humanity, cultural differences, and political views. Many of the world’s political differences have religious differences at their core. Many wars are fought over these political and religious differences.
These conflicts can become a thing of the past, and I believe they will be.
Ego Death at the Core of All Religions
“The greatest achievement of humanity is not its works of art, science, or technology, but the recognition of its own dysfunction, its own madness. To recognize one’s own insanity is the arising of sanity, the beginning of healing and transcendence.”Eckhart Tolle
Another critical aspect of meditation that is at the core all religions, is their teaching about the ego and karma. Humanity has to understand both if we are to achieve world peace.
All traditions teach that in order to be saved, find God, become enlightened, or become awake, you have to let go of yourself – your ego. According to Jack Kornfield, the most important teaching of Buddhism is that there is no self.
This is because the ego – our identity or self – creates attachments to what we desire or have an aversion to. These attachments all serve to strengthen the ego, and are the cause of all suffering.
For instance, when we desire power or pleasure, we often end up hurting ourselves and others. When we have an aversion to people groups or ideas, we can become fearful and become racist or bigoted.
All traditions teach that we need to let go of these attachments in order to become liberated and at peace. But trying to force yourself to let go of these attachments is not enough. We are too deluded into thinking that we are our thoughts and feelings.
In order to let go of these attachments and achieve peace, you first have to let go of the delusion that our identity depends on these attachments. We are not our thoughts. We are the awareness behind our thoughts. To realize the impermanence of these egoic attachments, and to realize that our sense of self does not depend on them, is the first step to spiritual awakening.
More Like An Ego Nap Than Ego Death
Technically, during this process the ego does not die permanently. It is only temporarily suspended and purified, so it becomes more effective when we use it again. In Christian thought, this is crucifying the self, letting go of “sin”, becoming “transformed by the renewing of your mind”, or being “born again”.
Regardless, the ego must die temporarily so that we can become awake, achieve inner peace, and create peace in the world around us.
To quote Seeking the Heart of Wisdom by Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein, “This is illustrated by a story of an old Chinese Zen monk who, after many years of peaceful meditation, realized he was not really enlightened. The monk then met an old man, carrying a big bundle. The old man asked, “Where are you going, monk?” The monk answered, “I’m going to the top of the mountain to sit and either get enlightened or die.” Since the old man looked very wise, the monk was moved to ask him, “Say, old man, do you know anything of this enlightenment?” The old man, who was really the Bodhisattva Manjusri – said to appear to people when they are ready for enlightenment – let go of his bundle, and it dropped to the ground. As in all good Zen stories, in that moment the monk was enlightened. “You mean it is that simple; just to let go and not grasp anything!” Then the newly enlightened monk looked back at the old man and asked, “So now what?” In answer, the old man reached down and picked up the bundle again and walked off toward town.”
We need the ego. The ego is the source of our identity. We cannot survive without it. The ego gets tasks done on our to-do lists, feeds our children, and pays our bills, because we want to do things that confirm our egoic identity as a responsible person.
But the ego is prone to error and can cause suffering when we attach ourselves to desires and aversions in a way that hurts ourselves and others. When a dictator desires power and control, a corporation damages the planet to increase its stock price, or a parent or entrepreneur demeans others to make them feel better about themselves, that is the egoic identity at work. Our ego – left unchecked to cravings of pleasure, power and self-importance – attaches to thoughts, feelings and desires that satisfy itself. And that is our major human dysfunction.
But in meditation, we let go of the ego temporarily. We realize we are not our thoughts, feelings, and desires. We are the awareness behind those thoughts. When we rest in pure awareness, we are able to transcend the ego, look at it objectively, let those thoughts go without judgment, and even question those thoughts when necessary.
Meditation and prayer helps us purify the ego so the ego doesn’t just act for our sake, but for the good of others. By elevating our awareness, we become more mindful of how our thoughts and actions affect others and the planet. This is what’s known as karma, which is just another way of saying that we reap what we sow. This concept of how our actions impact our results in life, is also at the core of all religions.
If we are at peace within, we will plant seeds of peace, which eventually will create a world full of peace.
And then, the next time we feel the urge to act in greed, selfishness, or anger, we can notice what we are feeling, let those negative thoughts and emotions go, and not harm others. This helps us create healing and peace in all of our relationships.
Of course, this is massively beneficial for everyday people. But imagine when a world leader, CEO, or influencer can act with this level of mindfulness. Their right thinking and right action can plant massive seeds of peace in the world.
The Wisdom of Meditation for World Peace
Not only is mindfulness, meditation and prayer the single greatest truth necessary for world peace, but these practices are also the greatest wisdom necessary for world peace.
This is because meditation directly makes us more wise. It wasn’t until I took regularly time for solitude and meditation, that I was able to properly navigate my life, make better decisions, think better thoughts, and act in a way that produces better fruit in my life. It was only then that I stopped living in foolishness.
Multiply this fact by 8 billion people and you can start to see how meditation is critical for a peaceful human future. Without some form of mindfulness practice, world leaders, politicians, CEO’s and influencers will not act for the good of humanity, they will act for the good of themselves.
There are 2 reasons that meditation can bring great wisdom to human leaders:
Awareness and objectivity go hand in hand. It is not until we realize that we are not our egoic thoughts that we can touch our higher awareness. And it is not until we touch our higher awareness that we can become truly objective. We cannot think objectively about a decision, thought, or desire, unless we gain an awareness beyond them.
It’s just like an eagle high in the sky, or looking at your surroundings from a high tower or at the top of a mountain. The vantage point is drastically different. We are able to see the bigger picture, and then better able to navigate what to do next.
It’s the same with meditation. By cultivating our higher awareness and consciousness, we are better able to see the bigger picture, and make decisions from a place of awareness within ourselves and compassion for others. This awareness is critical for leaders today to navigate our complex human condition. With it, we can look beyond our tribalism, bigotry, racism, greed, and lust for power, and do what’s best for all organisms: human, animal and planetary.
“By far the greater part of violence that humans have inflicted on each other is not the work of criminals or the mentally deranged, but of normal, respectable citizens in the service of the collective ego.”Eckhart Tolle
Gratefully, it seems that awakening is already happening in droves. There are pockets of hope where we are transcending our racism, sexism, desire for power, fear of others, anxiety, worry, stress, insecurity, trauma, and more. Many people are transcending their egos and awakening to the higher consciousness within them.
Do we have more work to do? Oh, absolutely. But there are many teachers and organizations doing amazing work – please check out my meditation resources to check them out. Let’s keep a good thing going. 😉