“Human presence is a creative and turbulent sacrament, a visible sign of invisible grace”. John O'Donohue

Friday, 12 October 2012

Messenger of Peace - who me?

I came across this quote this week, looking at materials on non-violent alternatives and communication, and it has had me thinking and thinking.

It has been a week where I have been more the usually sensitive to images and words of violence in the media and in daily life and, inevitably, on Facebook. I have been shocked and distressed by some of things some people have chosen to share!  I am not easily shockable. I've seen and experienced some pretty horrendous stuff. By shocked, I suppose I don't mean that I was so much distressed by the violent ideas as surprised by the people that appeared to be supporting and/or advocating the behaviour. This itself has led to some revealing conversations, some deep reflection and some very interesting reading. 

I am very much an advocate of non-violence. This has meanings on a number of levels. At its basic level, it means Peace. On a political level, non-violence is about commitment to non-violent direct action, conflict resolution and protest - the way of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King. And on an interpersonal level, non-violence is about committing to mindful techniques of communication and creative ways of managing conflict.

However I look at it - and believe me I have looked at it - I do struggle to see how anything other than non-violence can be seen as a way forward for humanity.

In this week where the European Union has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (???) I am forced to examine my thoughts around what Peace and non-violence actually mean to people.

Swami Vishnu's Peace Plane
photo courtesy of www.sivananda.eu
 I did my first Yoga teacher training with the International Sivananda Centres in India. One of the Gurus of that organisation was Swami Vishnu-Devananda (1927-1993) who was also known as the Flying Yogi, flying his "Peace Plane" over conflict zones around the world. He also believed wholeheartedly that training yoga teachers was one way towards achieving world Peace, believing that if enough people were taught Yoga - the "Spiritual roadmap to Peace" - then worldwide Peace was inevitable. We, the yoga teachers trained in his tradition, are Messengers of Peace.

This is not an Ego trip, simply the reality of the job and it is not a task I hold lightly. As a practitioner and teacher of Yoga, I cannot see how there is any other way to be. Not because Patanjali says it, or Swami Vishnu, or Gandhi, or Martin Luther King, or John Lennon or the Buddha or Jesus. Yes, we have their teachings and their example of how to live Peace. But they are all messengers of Peace. No, there is simply no other way to be, because without it there is no hope and without hope, no future.

Gandhi also said that we should "Be the change you want to see in the world". And so, I am starting with myself.

I choose Peace.


  1. definitely on the right path, Jude

  2. I really enjoyed this and as a follower albeit of a different approach but the same intention, I have found that in recent months and perhaps if not a little longer to the point of stemming into recent years.

    The increase of violence and violent intention along with this almost sense of acceptance and apathy towards these intentions are troubling. Peace it can be argued is subjective depending on the person but I disagree.

    Your views on peace are much more sensible and agreeable to what pop-culture and the media (inc. social) would have us think,