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Investigating the Syria Crisis

SyriaThe article below is copied from the Huffington Post UK, and is President Richard Reoch’s final piece leading up to Awake in the World.

How Much Shock and Awe Will it Take to Wake Us Up?
by President Richard Reoch

The debate about bombing Syria is, in part, about the shock-and-awe policy of politics: most of us remember the shock-and-awe blitzkrieg unleashed over Baghdad as a curtain raiser to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Shock-and-awe, known in military parlance as Rapid Dominance, is a doctrine developed at The National Defense University of the United States in 1996.

Although now used as a technical military planning term, the fundamental idea is not new.

It is based on the age-old notion that using overwhelming force against your opponents, those who threaten you or who you want to eliminate, is an effective way of subduing them, disarming them or exterminating large numbers of them – and thus accomplishing a range of political purposes.

It can also be a kind of apocalyptic lashing out. Think of the people jumping hand-in-hand from the blazing, collapsing towers of the World Trade Center on the morning of 9/11. Think of the 7,000 men and boys massacred in a single day in Srebrenica. Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki; it has never been possible to know exactly how many died in the incandescent heat and radiation.

As you start to trace events like this back through history – including long, drawn-out campaigns of conquest and genocide – the mind boggles. You begin to wonder what has been accomplished, apart from an almost inconceivable self-slaughter of our own species over the centuries and a spiral of addictive recourse to armed might, terror and revenge.

I was pondering all this this past week at a meditation retreat. It might seem a bizarre, even macabre, subject to contemplate while supposedly calming the mind. But dealing with the seeds of war and peace is at the heart of working with our own minds.

You could say that a little shock-and-awe (of a different kind) goes a long way when it comes to contemplating ourselves.

Whether we are simply reflecting on how we lead our lives, or whether we are engaging in deeper purification practices, we can have shocking moments. For example, we might find we are at war within ourselves, swept away by a current of aggression. At another time, in the mirror of the mind, we might see our habits of self-centerdness, fear, anger and impatience.

There are also startling moments when we are struck by the natural, underlying health and resilience of the mind.

It becomes clear that there is a seamless connection between these seeds of war and peace in our own lives and the challenges of war and peace in the world around us.

In the same way that we feel the need to wake up from the misunderstandings, pain and conflict in our own lives; I wonder what it will take, as a species, to wake up from our larger, collective habits of inflicting harm on others and our planet.

This is the inspiration for the Awake in the World festival that kicks off at the University of London in a few days’ time. I’ll be leading one of the panels and introducing the international meditation master, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, whose recent book, The Shambhala Principle, opens with the warning, “We humans have come to a crossroads in our history: we can either destroy the world or create a good future.”

It’s a wake-up call worth meditating on, and a conversation worth being a part of.

From: From our President

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3 responses to “ Investigating the Syria Crisis ”
  1. Eleanor Bluestein
    Sep 16, 2013

    President Obama has been criticized for confusion and hesitation as he contemplated a military strike against Syria. The Sunday talking heads have been particularly brutal, which is discouraging. Our President has exemplified patience, tolerance for confusion, and acceptance of confusion.We are fortunate to have him at our helm. Indeed, confusion may dawn as wisdom.

  2. The present discussion as to whether or not to bomb Syria because of Assad’s supposed use of chemical weapons is reminiscent of the U.S.’s rush to invade Iraq in 2003. First, any aggressive action will kill people. What is the difference of killing with bombs or chemical weapons? This is hypocrisy. Second, it has not been proven that Assad used chemical weapons. Perhaps, it was the Islamist fundamentalist. Whoever it was, further aggression is not the answer. Third, follow peaceful diplomacy. Also, the U.S. government cannot afford another war. We are in an economic sequestration which is adversely impacting healthcare, education, unemployment insurance benefits, etc. Further, many continue to recuperate physically, spiritually, and psychologically from the past and present wars.

    Write to your representatives in Congress, the Senate, and the President to NOT partake in another war.

  3. The London Shambhala Centre has done a magnificent job in putting together the Awake in the World Festival. It was the Sakyong’s inspiration to host an event in London to mark the 50th Anniversary of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s arrival in the West. There’s a terrific website packed with information: http://www.awakeintheworld2013.org

    As part of taking Shambhala Vision to a wider public, I was asked to post articles on The Huffington Post (UK edition) about the festival’s themes. They covered education, the latest research on evolution, mindfulness in politics, the environment, and this one about the debate on bombing Syria. If you’re interested, there is an archive: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/richard-reoch/

    The whole festival will be filmed and we’ll be posting video highlights from the events as they unfold!

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