25 April 2011

Ian Gawler Blog: War and Peace and a Great Loss

Anzac Day in Australia and our thoughts turn to the sacrifices made in war so those living in this great country could continue to enjoy the great freedoms that we do.

But let us go "Out on a Limb" and consider how much better still it would be if there were no wars and no-one needed to die in this way.

The truth of it seems pretty obvious to me. You cannot impose peace on anyone.

The only way we will ever have a world at peace is when we have a world filled with people who have peace in their hearts.

So anything we can do personally to engender more peace in our own hearts, to be more at peace; every little step we can make in this direction, is actually working towards world peace.

I feel an enormous sense of gratitude for the freedoms that are so much a part of the Australian lifestyle. Every time I travel freely interstate, every time I reflect on the freedom of speech I have, every time I walk through one of our cities and see such cultural diversity working well, I give thanks for the sacrifices of my forebears.

My Grandfather was a stretcher-bearer at Gallipoli. He then fought in France as an Artillery Officer; being gassed and suffering stoically into his eighties.

During the Second World War my father flew in Hudson and Liberator bombers in the Pacific and managed to survive two pretty exciting crash landings.

One of his brothers died during his second mission for Bomber Command in Europe, while his other brother survived the war after having been torpedoed and pulled out of the water.

So much to be grateful for.

But now, for each of us, what can we do to honour the freedoms we enjoy, and what can we do to be more peaceful so that war becomes less likely?

What suggestions do you have? Here are a few things that occur to me:

1. Smile at someone who has a different skin colour or comes from a different country.

2. Smile at someone who has the same skin colour or comes from the same country.

3. Observe yourself. Did you smile with the same ease at both? Is there any awkwardness? Sometimes reverse racism (overcompensating) can be an issue, just like racism always is.

4. Can you generate more peace in your own heart? Meditation is such a good way to make peace with ourselves and as the great Vietnamese Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh said:

“Peace in ourselves
Peace in the world”.

5.Is there someone you can make peace with? What would it take?


Just as this blog was about to be posted, the sad news was received from India that Sai Baba died on Easter Sunday morning at the age of 84 following complications of an illness.

Many who know my own story will be aware of the pivotal role he played in my healing and I can say he was a great influence for good in my life. Sai Baba embodied love.

Next blog I will share some experiences. I feel a great sense of gratitude for having met him, for his presence in my life and for all the good works he achieved. I also feel at something of a loss right now as to how to mark the death of such a great spiritual figure; but we will light a candle, do some meditation and no doubt feel the acute paradox of thanks and grief.

Here is a quote from Sai Baba’s early days:

I have come to light the lamp of Love in your hearts, to see that it shines day by day with added luster. I have not come on behalf of any exclusive religion. I have not come on a mission of publicity for a sect or creed or cause, nor have I come to collect followers for a doctrine. I have no plan to attract disciples or devotees into my fold or any fold. I have come to tell you of this unitary faith, this spiritual principle, this path of Love, this virtue of Love, this duty of Love, this obligation of Love.

                                                             4 July 1968


BOOKS: Peace is every step - Mindfulness in daily life: Thich Nhat Hahn

                Sai Baba - Man of Miracles  Howard Murphet

                Meditation An In-depth Guide: Ian Gawler & Paul Bedson

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