Peace Revolution Fellowship for Youth - February 2010
One year after the success of Peace Revolution’s Pilot Fellowship, the next generation of peace rebels arrive in Thailand to continue the movement of Global Peace through Inner Peace. 30 Youths from 23 countries (including: Kenya, Italy, Liberia, Australia, USA, Uganda, Switzerland, Pakistan, Malawi, Ethiopia, Mongolia, Canada, Nepal, South Africa, Bhutan, Romania, Paraguay, Peru, UK, Hong Kong, Ghana, Bulgaria and Brazil) met each other for the first time on Thai soil on the 20th of February 2010. They were about to set global peace in motion.
The Peace Revolution, under the direction of the World Peace Initiative, organized this two week meditation retreat and conference, for a selection of global peace agents to study the art of inner peace through meditation, and how to incorporate this art into daily life and their community.
The conference kicked off with a week-long meditation retreat, at the picturesque and idyllic Suk Sawang Retreat Center, situated in the serene hills of Chiang Mai. Experienced Thai and international teaching monks shared ancient wisdom and principles of living a life of peace, that still applies to a modern society.
The first part of the fellowship focused on “peace in” or inner peace aspect of the Peace Revolution. Guest speaker Dr Richard Espozito, who had already addressed the United Nations on the topic of World Peace through Inner peace, addressed the group in his opening speech. This set the tone for the first part of the fellowship, which was a one week meditation retreat. From Ayuttahaya, the oldest city in Thailand, they set off to Chiang Mai to start their inner peace training and the idyllic retreat site of Suk-Sawang. The location provided a peaceful, secluded space where peace rebels could deepen their inner peace by learning the finer arts of meditation.
Their daily routine was not easy, waking up at 5am for morning meditation, followed by either Thai Chi or Yoga. Breakfast was served from 7:30, and the late morning meditation commenced at 9am. A healthy Thai lunch was served before midday. The next meditation session and teaching by the monk was given from 2-4:30pm, but before that they had some personal time to reflect on their day, and record insights and lessons in their journals. The afternoon was time for some group activities for eg. group sharing, bubble blowing, releasing floating lanterns or visits to nearby temples or local hill tribe colonies. At 7pm the final meditation session started and the day concluded with another beautifully delivered teaching.
Jacqueline Hurard from Paraguay shares how meditation has affected her. “The meditation has impacted me in a great and amazing way. I’m now more calm, my mind is still. I’m more aware of my actions, my communication and the energy that I generate. My habits are different, the people around me notice the difference and they feel more alive because of the energy that I send to them…My self-esteem has grown a lot, I feel so good, capable of doing whatever I commit to do.”
Teaching Monks from Thailand lovingly revealed the secrets of meditation practice and delivered teachings on many topics such as, life-goals and wisdom, the nature of the body and mind, how to share inner peace effectively and knowing oneself.
“It is a privilege to be with the monk’ presence and feel their pure energy. The monks are easy to talk to and their wise words are gratefully received. It is also a delight when humour is used and we can laugh together. Moreover, it is wonderful to see so many young people committed to bringing about a greater sense of peace to the world. The retreat center was a wonderful place, we felt safe and peaceful in this place where our activities consisted mostly of meditation, eating and conversing with our new friends. I’ve learned to connect to the center regularly so that not only do you feel more at peace, but you actions and speech also have a higher quality of kindness and compassion.” Emma Lau, Hong Kong.
After days training themselves in meditation self-discipline and being imparted a great wealthy of knowledge on personal development, and sustainable peace practices they developed greater character. Self-discipline is the chief element in self-respect, and self-respect is the chief element in courage. They became courageous peace agents, with the characteristics of a peaceful mind, ready to share the miracle that they have discovered within themselves.
“I feel amazing, like I’m in a fairytale, like I’m Alice in Wonderland! The nature is astonishing, the people are so nice, kind and polite. Everything is extraordinary. And here I am now, surrounded by mountains, forests, birds, butterflies…Doing meditation with Buddhist monks. When you open up your heart to all the wonders around you, when you open your mind to the “impossible”, then you understand that life is the most exciting adventure and you should live it with eyes wide open!” Stefi, Bulgaria
The group could explore Thai Buddhist culture by visiting a Lanna Monastery (Wat Baan Kuun), one of the largest novice training temples. The temple is famous for its grass-root ethical development project for the local community. The visit ended with a beautiful floating lantern ceremony, symbolizing the brightness of a mind cleansed through meditation and the light of peace that exists within them, and every human being.
“It was WOW! I was jumping and singing when we lit the lanterns” Bereket, Ethiopia
“I had never been to such a peaceful place before” Chhetin, Nepal
Next the Peace Rebels took part in the Magha Puja ceremony, one of the most important Buddhist ceremonies of the year, at Wat Phra Dhammakaya in Bangkok. Thousands of candlelights were lit, starting from the sharing of a single light. This was a powerful metaphor for the rebels about the power of inner peace, which shines like a light within every human being. A stream of lanterns flowed around the Dhammakaya Cetiya representing the flow of wisdom when recognizing the Truth within.
“The Light of Peace Ceremony is uniting people to show global peace in the world” Kondawni, Malawi
The second part of the fellowship focused on “peace out”, or outer peace, creating peace in the family, world and community through various workshops and guests speakers. A special appearance by Grammy award nominee, Howard McCrary, who inspired them with moving peace songs. Some of the notable workshops included: “Complete Your Life with Meditation” Facilitated by Shahyar Gorji, “Inner Peace and Human Security” by Dr Aaron Stern, “Meditation and Mediation” by Dr Samantha Hardy and a panel discussion by those in the entertainment industry, business sector, government and academic officials on “How to incorporate IPT into your professional life?”.
“It was great to hear from real people giving their real experiences and discussing the tangible results they had experienced. This has begun to tie in the meditation theory to practice.” Claire Holland, Australia.
“learned a lot from the workshops, especially about designing a culture of peace. How different each culture might be, or what peace means in any culture, there will be a common element among them all.” Bonface Witaba, Kenya.
The basic principle of true sustainable work peace has to balance, both inner peace and outer peace, and this Fellowship served as the model for developing the rising generation of global youth to be empowered with both ‘peace in’ and ‘peace out’, or PIPO, to lead humanity into the next age of Global Peace. “With Peace Revolution, I think global peace is on the move and on the right track. This project promotes unity though we are from different backgrounds, it really shows that we hae one commonness and a collective cause that makes us one family – living in the same house, eating at the same table, and working in and for the same cause.” - Peace Agent Karchung, Bhutan
In many ways peace is one of the most sought after commodities in the world, this is perhaps because true peace is so rarely found. The greatest miracle of a human being is that peace is always within reach, in fact, it does not lie any further than where we are right now.
“Global peace on the move is a movement of young people coming together all over the world for meditation and attain inner peace in their lives and bring it to communities or countries which they are coming from. ” Wisdom Addo, Ghana
With peace in and peace out, a peace revolution is set in motion.