From a Yogic perspective

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." Gandhi


From Inspiring Quotes From a Contemporary Yoga Master, edited by Richard Faulds

The Highest principle of Sanatana Dharma is "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam", the whole world is one family.
God is the father of this whole universe. That is why we are all brothers and sisters and belong to one family. No matter what religion we are following, if we cannot love others then we are not following religion but the illusion of religion. Religion teaches oneness of all. Where there is no unity, no love, no harmony among each other, how could there be religion?  -- Swami Kripalu      


The Challenge: The vast majority of human beings would like to have peace and security but feel creating it is beyond the scope of their abilities.

The Solution: We must recognize and promote the recognition of the basic truth that The World Is One
Family. We can join in a vast network of like individuals who are steadily, often quietly, reaching toward the creation of a peaceful, loving, and harmonious planet. Spiritual teachers from all faiths, including Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, and others reveal a single basic truth-that love can be our guide and can unite us all. A love for all members of the human family around the globe, and an acknowledgment of our obligations to our fellow beings, will lead us to actions that reach across boundaries to extend kindness and material help to people in need.

Goals of the World Is One Family Initiative: First, we hope to add to the global movement toward peace and unity that is already experiencing much growth but needs all our support. In addition, we hope to launch a new initiative that uses our logo to communicate a shared vision. We hope to bring together different religious and secular groups and individuals to help focus attention on our message: that people everywhere, no matter what their differences, are part of a larger human family. Finally, we want to raise awareness about our great need for spiritual leaders and other public leaders who strive to live exemplary lives-true role models who walk as they talk. Our leaders may never be perfect, but they ought to be a source of inspiration to good conduct and living.

The only prerequisite for joining in this work is a sincere desire to help advance harmony on the planet.

Let's dream together. Imagine this logo, conveying our common vision, displayed across lands in churches, temples, mosques, and other places of worship. Imagine corporations displaying this logo publicly on their products and designers displaying it on their clothing. Imagine public media displaying it. Imagine this logo riding alongside a national flag. Imagine it spreading to many countries. This symbol will demonstrate an individual, group, or nation's participation in and commitment to creating lasting peace and security. Some may say this is the case of a dreamer, but together we can help create peace! This is surely the direction in which we must travel.

Let's look at a challenge of the 21st century. The violence involved in our attempts to squelch terrorism actually creates an environment likely to breed more of the same. Ultimately, we can not defeat this kind of violence by more of the same. Violence needs to end. Of course vicious individuals or groups do need to be controlled, but life must be valued and we must keep to the goal of peaceful co-existence.

Many people say, "But it's impossible to negotiate with fanatics!" Acts of loving kindness go far.

When we can't demonstrate our loving intentions directly with the person who is enraged we try to reach someone else in his or her life-a spouse or child, for example. If this will not work we try to do a kindness for his friend. If this still does not work we act to soften the heart of his mechanic. Little by little our love will prevail.

Language can either bring people together or create a greater divide. It is important that people from different lands, cultures, religions, and political parties begin to choose and use language very carefully to create accord. When we speak of others we should always speak of them with love, as if they are members of our own family. Even if they are sick with rage and violence we should not, with our angry words, create a greater chasm. To do so lays the ground for more polarized thinking and destructive behavior.

God is the word used by diverse peoples to refer to the One Creator. God is too big for any one religion. God is the foundation of most religions and by whatever name we call it: Allah, Adonai, Great Spirit, the Father, or if we don't "call it," we are all from the same Source. Even the atheist who seeks an ethical life in cooperation with others should be at home in this work.

We must take advantage of the resources available in order to experience and maintain our own inner peace. The next step is to consider our own family of origin. The importance of this work can not be overstated: Make peace with your own family! World peace is dependent upon the sum of many parts and this includes each one of us doing our part. It is easy to advocate for world peace and fail to do the real work right at home.

While religions differ and these differences all too often lead to discord, spirituality is the same around the whole world. When we look closely at the spiritual teachings from the major religions, we see that, far from pulling us apart, these teachings are really leading us forward in one direction-the direction of love for others, service to others, good conduct, finding one's purpose, and ultimately peace.

Please use our logo and help spread the message. Let's promote tolerance and cooperation among people and groups of people.  

© Copyright, October 17, 2004. This writing may be duplicated in part or entirely so long as the author is properly credited.


Below is the full essay:

Creating Peace in Our Current World:
The World Is One Familyby Andrew Martin Kahn
First Edition 2004

The Challenge: The vast majority of human beings would like to have peace and security but feel creating it is beyond the scope of their abilities.

The Solution: We must recognize and promote the recognition of the basic truth that the world is one family. We can join in a vast network of like individuals who are steadily, often quietly, reaching toward the creation of a peaceful, loving, and harmonious planet. Spiritual teachers from all faiths, including Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, and others reveal a single basic truth—that love can be our guide and can unite us all. A love for all members of the human family around the globe, and an acknowledgment of our obligations to our fellow beings, will lead us to actions that reach across boundaries to extend kindness and material help to people in need.


Goals of this Initiative

Our overarching goal is to facilitate the creation of a strong global network committed to the realization of a peaceful, loving, harmonious planet. First, we hope to add to the global movement toward peace and unity that is already experiencing much growth but needs all our support. In addition, we hope to launch a new global movement called “The World is One Family Initiative” that uses our logo to communicate a shared vision. It will bring together different religious and secular groups and individuals to help focus attention on our message: that people everywhere, no matter what their differences, are part of a larger human family. What does that mean? A family is a related group of people working, struggling, sharing, caring and settling disputes in a way that does not destroy, but nurtures the individual and serves the welfare of the whole. Only this way of relating will bring us to lasting peace and security.

Finally, we want to raise awareness about our great need for spiritual leaders and other public leaders who strive to live exemplary lives—true role models who walk as they talk. Our leaders may never be perfect, but they ought to be a source of inspiration to good conduct and living.

The aim here is to have the widest possible appeal and to avoid unnecessary controversy.  In this document there are repeated references to yoga and its teachings. We hope the reader will not be put off by this messenger, but will concur with and help advance the great message.

Together we need to strive to make our love felt by those who are suffering with the disease of hate born of desperation. We need to approach people who feel embittered, providing them with both kindness and the material things they need: food, water, clothing, and shelter. Love in action is the way. Yet in giving help we must be wary of aiding corrupt governments or regimes. As in any family, members of the world family will go astray. We must strongly condemn acts of terror and all forms of unnecessary violence. At the same time, we must try to understand what led to the acts so that we may prevent more. Knowing where to send our help may not always be simple, but that doesn’t mean we can send none.

In the Jewish “Sayings of The Fathers” we read, “You do not have to finish the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” This effort is going to take time! To be sure, this work of creating peace will not be completed for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. Yet we must not wait. We should act now with full devotion and determinaton.


Who Will Join Us and How Should We Begin?

The only prerequisite for joining in this work is a sincere desire to help advance harmony on the planet.

Focusing together on “The World is One Family” as a basic truth will help create the needed shift in perspective. We need to begin to look at people from other cultures and in other places as part of “our group.” History illustrates again and again that intolerance, hate, and violence, even in the

name of peace, does not create lasting peace. In the human body the hand and the heart are both important. The heart would be foolish to stop sending blood to the hand. We are no less foolish when we try to starve or crush a part of our own world body. Harsh treatment and destruction will not help our world body to heal. We know that only an all-inclusive vision and a love for all of humanity, and the right actions that follow from this vision, will bring us the peace we seek.

We must seek to understand what is going wrong, and consider the course necessary to make it right.

This suggested prayer can help bring us together with a constructive perspective: “May each part of my body work in harmony with the other parts to serve the whole. May there be love and compassion in all of my relationships. May each nation teach peace and that we are all One in Spirit. Through love may humankind fulfill its potential and find true peace and security.”


Along with the first edition of this booklet comes a logo which, when displayed, will promote and demonstrate acceptance of the inclusive message.

Let’s dream for a moment. Imagine this logo, conveying our common vision, displayed across lands in
churches, temples, mosques, and other places of worship. Imagine corporations displaying this logo publicly on their products and designers displaying it on their clothing. Imagine public media displaying it. Imagine this logo riding alongside a national flag. Imagine it spreading to many countries. Displayed in such a way, this symbol would demonstrate an individual, group, or nation’s participation in and commitment to creating lasting peace and security. This is surely the direction in which we must travel.

Acts of loving kindness go far. If you can’t communicate your loving intentions directly with a person who is enraged try to communicate with someone else in his or her life—his spouse or child. If this will not work try to do a kindness for his friend. If this still does not work see if you can soften the heart of his mechanic… Little by little our love will prevail.

How can we communicate our loving intentions to a person half a world away who is enraged? Giving money to, or volunteering in, reputable aid organizations that promote tolerance and cooperation are a couple of ways.

Language can either bring people together or create a greater divide. It is important that people from different lands, cultures, religions, and political parties begin to choose and use language very carefully to create accord. When we speak of others we should always speak of them with love, as if they are members of our own family. Even if they are sick with rage and violence we should not, with our angry words, create a greater chasm. To do so lays the ground for more polarized thinking and destructive behavior. Here is an example of constructive language: “Our brothers over there have become ill with rage and vengeance, what can we do to help them?”

By using inclusive and loving language we foster cooperation and we do not degrade ourselves. Love heals. In order to be successful in this united work we will need humility. As much as we cherish our own group, political party, religious approach, or philosophy we will better advance this cause if we can recognize a reality that was well spoken by Swami Kripalvanandji:

“Truth cannot belong to any one race, creed or country; it cannot know such narrow distinctions. Truth is available to the whole world.”

Today there is a dire need to focus on this unifying truth; the inclusive love for all of humanity. Gandhi knew that only from peaceful means come peaceful ends and that it is kindness that begets kindness.  Kindness then is the action that demonstrates a commitment to our goals that goes beyond words. Kindness is the key.

Working Together: Believers, Agnostics, and Atheists
Whether one believes in God or not, one can help in the work at hand. Those who don’t believe need only consider God to mean Good Orderly Direction. We can all work together with respect. There is no need for unnecessary argument or strife.

God is the word used by diverse peoples to refer to the One Creator. God is too big for any one religion. God is the foundation of most religions and by whatever name we call it: Allah, Adonai,

Great Spirit, the Father, or if we don’t “call it,” we are all from the same Source.  One might say that God is alive and breathes in all of those who breathe. Whatever language we use to reference this One, as God’s creatures (from the same source) we are One Family.

Let peace spread from the inside out. On the largest scale, there is a great need to rethink and rebuild relationships with estranged world family members everywhere. Yet if we wish to make peace in our world family we must first learn to create peace within ourselves. To assist us there are wonderful resources like12-step programs, peace-loving religious teachings and institutions, yoga, tai chi, teachings of various saints and masters, meditation practice, time communing with nature, and many helpful books. Discover and nurture what creates a genuine serenity (peace of mind) for you.

The next step is to consider your own family of origin. The importance of this work can not be overstated: Make peace with your own family! World peace is dependent upon the sum of many parts and this includes each one of us doing our part. It is easy to advocate for world peace and fail to do the real work right at home.

Why “peace in my own family”? Peace must begin at home. What if my own family is broken, or if I have no family? Then your work is with your closest relations. If the word “family” makes little sense in your life or if you haven’t had a positive family experience, what would you have liked your family to be? What is your best concept of a loving family? The definition given above bears repeating: A family is a related group of people working, struggling, sharing, caring and settling disputes in a way that does not destroy, but nurtures the individual and serves the welfare of the whole. We all have necessary work to do as we diligently attempt to repair relationships with our family members or with the important people in our lives.


Cause and Effect

The enlightened beings who first expressed the spiritual concept known as Dharma believed there was an order to the universe and that individuals were a part of this order.

In fact, they believed our unique abilities are needed to complete the whole.

For example, an apple seed has a certain dharma. If it is nurtured with enough rain and sunshine, it will follow its design and one day it will yield fruit. In the same way, this concept holds, each individual has a blueprint to follow that brings him or her on a unique path toward full actualization. When you follow this path, it naturally helps to create harmony, balance, and completeness in the world.

Each one of us has something to bring to the whole of creation. Thus, we should never wait for someone else to take care of what we see needs to be done.  Instead, we should focus on doing our part and we should do all we can today. With regard to creating peace, with each one accepting responsibility for the whole, our common work will make rapid progress.

While religions differ and these differences all too often lead to discord, spirituality is the same around the whole world. When we look closely at the spiritual teachings from the major religions, we see that, far from pulling us apart, the major religions are really leading us forward in one direction—the direction of love for others, service to others, good conduct, finding one’s purpose, and ultimately peace.

Once again, Swami Kripalvanandji, a highly evolved yogi who taught about love and peace, had words of great wisdom to impart. Let’s carefully consider these quotes and see if we can agree on all or some of these.


(1) True dharma is what creates harmony and love in the world. Adharma, or irreligion, is what creates disharmony and hatred. Wherever we see unity, there we find dharma; and wherever we see disunity, there we find adharma. Dharma is like a needle and thread: it unites many pieces into one whole. Adharma is like scissors, which cut the whole into many pieces.

(2) Evolution of the soul comes from purification of mind, body and ego. Degradation of the soul happens though impurity of mind, body and ego. The individual has a choice to move in the direction of spiritual evolution or in the direction of spiritual decline. True progress for individual, family, society and nation is spiritual progress.

(3) True culture is what protects man’s divine qualities and character; restraint, love, good conduct, service and surrender. It keeps him traveling on the path of spiritual evolution.

(4) No matter what religion we are following, if we cannot love others, we are not following religion but the illusion of religion, for religion teaches oneness of all.


It is our job to find peace within ourselves and to discover our own purpose and path. Further, we must create a supportive culture that is filled with abundant love for our fellow humans, places a high value on family integrity, and that values the practice of nonviolence. Love has a way of softening the hardest of hearts. When those who are troubled or enraged are loved and given what they need, they may find fewer reasons to be angry and destructive.


Energy centers and levels of motivation/pleasure

In the yogic philosophy, there are seven chakras or energy centers, which begin at the very base of the spine and end at the very crown of the head.

Understanding how these centers of conscious energy work can create a language bridge to help differing peoples and religious groups communicate and act in concert.

It is time for us all to focus on developing cultures that help its members rise above the first three chakras, which are associated with survival or security (money), sex, and power. Once an individual (or a society) reaches the fourth or heart charka and higher, yogic thinking goes, he is much less likely to engage in unnecessary violence. This is because he is becoming conscious of a larger picture beyond his own limited, narrow, and selfish aims.

Whenever one engages in unnecessary violence, he demonstrates that he is operating from a lower level of consciousness. It is the job of those who are conscious to bring peace to the situation. Peace is created through a balance of justice and mercy and it is our job to faithfully carry this out. We must exercise great care in facilitating this delicate process. Advertisers and other media outlets can begin to support this movement by shifting the emphasis from violent messages toward messages of cooperation. We can all give our support to positive, peace-seeking organizations. We need to recognize that unlike certain economic theories, a nation’s success is not determined solely by how much material is sold and purchased. Excessive materialism can distract attention from what is of true and lasting importance.

Breaking the Cycle of Violence: The Power of Nonviolence

Today greed, hate, violence and religious divisiveness are an ominous threat. As God’s children and agents we must unite and be a strong advocate for non-violence.

James H. Cohen, a writer who is quoted in a work on Gandhi, said “We must break the cycle of violence in America and around the world. Human beings are meant for life and not death. They are meant for freedom and not slavery. They were created for each other and not against each other.

We must therefore, break down the barriers that separate people from one another…for America and the World, and for all who have given their lives in the struggle for justice, let us direct our fight toward one goal-the beloved community of humankind. (From “Nonviolent Power in Action,” pages 186-187.)


In yoga philosophy we begin with an assumption that all beings are in essence Divine. The first Yama

(yogic restraint) is non-violence (called Ahimsa in Sanskrit). It is primary to all the other yogic precepts and entails not harming ourselves or other beings. Because the Divine Spirit is everywhere, according to this thinking, violence is always against an aspect of the Divine.

While sometimes it is necessary to stay alive or protect others’ lives, practicing nonviolence means avoiding violence whenever possible!

Even with our shields and swords raised, we should be looking for an olive branch—a message that we can find true refuge and safety. The sword should be the very last alternative. Again, defense is sometimes necessary to preserve life. Yet when defense turns proactive there runs the great risk that the aggression will beget more violence. As we can see, this turns into a harmful, self-perpetuating cycle. The practice of non-violence allows us to become free of this cycle. Here are three things to keep in mind about nonviolence:

(1) Nonviolence needs to be role-modeled more than lectured about. The power of nonviolence is that, like violence, it too spreads.

(2) It is not by might and power but by the Spirit of love that we will live in peace. We must remember and act on this!

(3) Gandhi taught that the means and ends ought to be related. If we want peace in the end we need to begin with peace and use peaceful means. If one desires an apple tree, one must plant an apple seed. If one desires peace in the world, one must plant many seeds of peace with love.


Let’s bring nonviolent teachings into the classrooms throughout our land and all lands.
Dealing with the Cancer of Greed, Hate, and Violence
There is intelligence in this universe that knows how to heal and how to create harmony. It knows about balance.

A cancer in any part of the body is a problem to the whole body. This brings us to a question of what to do with a cancerous tumor? Should it be cut out? Should it be treated with chemotherapy and radiation?

What is happening in the world body? There is too much greed, hate, and violence. There is also fear, desperation, domination, and the experience of being dominated. There is a time and a place for military intervention as there is a time and place for aggressive cancer treatment.

Nevertheless, there are more holistic ways to deal with destructive elements within the human body and within the world body.

Let’s look at a challenge of the 21st century. The violence involved in our attempts to squelch terrorism actually creates an environment likely to breed more of the same. Ultimately, we can not defeat this kind of violence by more of the same. Violence itself needs to end. Of course vicious individuals or groups do need to be controlled, but life must be valued and we must keep to the goal of peaceful coexistence.

Instead, the “enemy" must be transformed. This is so for both sides of the conflict. This is true whether the “enemy” is called the infidels or the terrorists; religious fanaticism or unrestrained Western capitalism; suicide bombers or militaristic occupiers. We need to examine what is going wrong in the places terrorists come from—the poverty and lack of hope that helps make individuals decide to blow themselves and others up. Alleviating poverty and creating opportunities would go a long way toward solving these problems, but angry and disaffected people also need positive role models and strong leaders who can help them make their own lives better.

Progress is a seed of peace, planted with love. The spirit of love transforms.

Great spiritual masters from varied disciplines have taught that the real enemy is within us. As we can rise above our own selfish desires (like pride, anger, greed, gluttony, lust, envy and sloth) we will, by and by, discover a world that is increasingly loving and beautiful. Ultimately, perhaps the greatest thing we can contribute to world peace is to do our own spiritual work, to rise above our own self-centeredness and self-will. Doing this vital work, we can create peace within us, help make order in our own families, and foster harmony in the larger world.


Summary and Conclusion

Mahatma Gandhi taught a constructive way to act with great power. The power lies in truth and love. Gandhi would have agreed with the following suggestions:

(1) Look deeply at your own motives. Whether an individual or a nation, when the intent is only to attain victory or satisfaction of a selfish interest, resulting actions create discord.

(2) We need spiritual leaders as role models to embolden the rest of us to live according to our best selves, to be active, insistent and resolute. Great spiritual leaders will emancipate and empower their followers in the ways of peace. Followers should not imagine that leaders are infallible, however, as all humans are likely to err or misjudge at one time or another.

(3) A real democracy mobilizes the physical, economic, and spiritual resources of a people.

(4) Strive in every way to provide for the basic needs of all humans. Freedom from want promotes non-violent independence and interdependence. Some ways to bring this into being are to support international aid organizations and to lobby our government to forgive the debt of poor nations.


Creating Peace Within—Going Forward

Find what brings you lasting peace of mind and nurture it. Practice spiritual principles and practices. Religion is good when it promotes spirituality, helping both the individual and the community come closer to the Spirit or God. There are many paths to this closeness and if you seek, you will find. Your sincerity will take you where you need to go. Let’s always remember our goal: peace, harmony, love, and One Family living and working together.

The reader is encouraged to have his or her own vision and to bring to the task his or her unique skills. Perhaps the reader would like to write his own commentary on what a loving planet would be and how to get there. This work is large enough to include all who wish to participate. We welcome your input to help make this undertaking a greater success.

Follow the right means. If the means you are considering include any form of hate, prejudices, or violence, question them. Arrogance and exclusivity take many forms and often sound like this: “We are better than them” or “We must make them change” or “Only our group is saved or bound for heaven, everyone else is damned.” If we believe that all people must understand the truth precisely as we do, we need to look at whether we are fostering the accord we long for or discord among people.

You may wish to further explore the teachings of Gandhi, Swami Kripalvanandji or whatever scripture or approach brings you a sense of personal peace, helps you see the big picture, and promotes a larger well being.

Let us join together in spreading the basic truth that The World Is One Family. It may be a very large family, a somewhat dysfunctional family, but it is our family!

May we create peace together. May we create strength among one another. May there be no enmity between us.

©, Copyright, August 18, 2004. This writing may be duplicated in part or entirely so long as the author is properly credited.


If you would like to contribute to this Initiative or to take on a project and want some direction, please send an email.

About the Author: Andrew Martin Kahn is a yoga teacher and a longtime spiritual seeker. You can find out more about him at his

website: www.peacefulpresence.com.

Author’s Acknowledgements
I must thank my mother, father, and family -great blessings. I also wish to thank the 12-step fellowships, Swami Kripalvanandji, Kripalu Center and family, my students and clients, and other loving souls who have been or still are in my life. There are too many for me to name here.


Bibliography

Dennis Dalton, Nonviolent Power in Action, Columbia University Press, 1993. (Pages 186-187.)
Louis Fischer, Gandhi: His Life and Message for the World, A Mentor Book (Penguin Putnam), 1982
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 82-61771.
Mohandas K. Gandhi, Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth with a foreword By Sissela
Bok. Translated from the original in Gujarati by Mahadev Desai, Beacon Press/ Boston, 1957.
Swami Kripalvanandji, Bapuji In America, Darshans at Kripalu Ashram. Kripalu Yoga Retreat, 1979.
Contact Kripalu Center in Lenox Massachusetts for a copy of this and other works by Swami Kripalvanandji.  (Telephone: 888-399-1332 or visit www.Kripalu.org)

Please send an email if you'd like to add to this collection.

More from The Yogic Tradition

"In search for the Divine we go everywhere. We go to the places of pilgrimage, visit the temples of God. We follow many paths and disciplines, and yet often we ignore our own bodies. Your body is the most sacred place of pilgrimage you will ever come to.  It is the dwelling place of the Divine Spirit. It is truly the temple of God."                                 

Yogi Amrit Desai or Swami Kripalu



"The only way to shift your consciousness & personality is to act according to your commitment. If you stick with your commitment, by and by your habits and patterns die of starvation.
We can use service to overcome all of the confusion and pain and resistance that comes because of the split that occurs in us from taking a selfish ego-centered approach to life. Trying to control the world for our own enjoyment creates a split from our true selves as well as for those around us. Ego never heals this split."

Yogi Amrit Desai



"In this culture, it is a predominant belief that I can find what I am missing outside of myself."

Yogi Amrit Desai


Look to this day,
For it is life,
The very life of life.
In its brief course lies all
The realities and verities of existence,
The bliss of growth,
The splendor of action,
The glory of power-

For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision,
But today, well lived,
Makes every yesterday a dream
of happiness
and every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well, therefore, to this day.

Sanskrit Proverb


Yoga Teacher Student Prayer:

May we be protected together
May we be nourished together
May we create strength among one another.
May our study be filled with brilliance and light
May there be no enmity between us
Peace, Peace, Peace

The Yogic Tradition

External  Link

call/text us at  (516) 371-3715
​andrewkahn@peacefulpresence.com