A Path to Peace

Over the years, I have spent a lot of time meditating and reflecting on world peace. I have even wondered if it was even possible. I concluded that it is not only possible, but also essential for humanity. It is complicated, multifaceted and requires cooperation, but it is achievable.

World peace is important because it is the foundation for global prosperity, stability, and security. Without peace, individuals, communities, and nations are vulnerable to conflict, violence, and instability. War and conflict result in the loss of human lives, destruction of infrastructure, displacement of populations, and economic devastation, which can have long-lasting and far-reaching effects. In contrast, peace promotes cooperation, understanding, and respect for human rights, and creates an environment where individuals and societies can thrive and reach their full potential. World peace is essential for achieving sustainable development, promoting social justice, and ensuring a better future for all.

After deliberating, I have identified these six points that I believe could pave the way towards peace.

Understanding World Peace

Understanding what world peace is, and why it is important, is crucial for individuals and societies alike. World peace refers to a state of harmony and absence of conflict on a global scale. It is a state where nations, communities, and individuals work towards mutual understanding, respect, and cooperation, without resorting to violence or aggression. 

The importance of world peace can be approached from different angles. Firstly, peace is a basic human right, and every individual deserves to live in a peaceful environment. The absence of peace can lead to physical and psychological harm, and it can negatively impact people’s lives and well-being. For example, in areas of conflict, people may experience displacement, trauma, and loss of life and property. Therefore, understanding the concept of world peace can help individuals appreciate the value of peace and work towards achieving it.

Secondly, world peace is essential for global stability and prosperity. In a world where nations are interconnected and interdependent, conflict and instability in one region can have far-reaching consequences. Conflict can lead to economic downturns, political instability, and the displacement of people, which can cause a ripple effect across the globe. Therefore, understanding the importance of world peace can help individuals and nations work towards creating a stable and prosperous global environment.

World peace is a mindset and understanding world peace requires individuals to adopt a holistic and inclusive perspective. It involves acknowledging and respecting diverse cultures, beliefs, and values. It requires individuals to embrace open-mindedness, empathy, and compassion towards others, even those with whom they disagree. It also requires individuals to recognize that peace is not just the absence of conflict, but it is a positive state that requires active efforts towards justice, equality, and human rights.

It isn’t just about a mindset though; it also has to become a way of life. Understanding world peace requires individuals to adopt a lifestyle that promotes peace and non-violence. It involves avoiding behaviours that contribute to conflict, such as discrimination, prejudice, and aggression. It also involves promoting behaviours that contribute to peace, such as dialogue, cooperation, and mutual understanding. Individuals can also promote peace by participating in peace-building activities, such as volunteering, advocating for human rights, and supporting non-profit organizations.

Importance of Education

Education is a key part of world peace because it provides individuals with the knowledge, skills, and values they need to understand and engage with the world in a positive and constructive way. By providing people with access to education, we can help them to develop a broader perspective on life, to appreciate diversity, and to learn how to solve problems in a peaceful and collaborative manner.

Here are a few reasons why education is critical for promoting world peace:

1. Education promotes understanding: Education helps people to understand different cultures, beliefs, and perspectives. It teaches individuals to respect diversity and to appreciate the value of different opinions and worldviews.

2. Education fosters critical thinking: Education provides individuals with the skills and knowledge they need to analyse complex issues and to think critically about the world around them. This helps to prevent conflicts and promotes peaceful resolution of disputes.

3. Education promotes equality: Education is a powerful tool for promoting equality and reducing inequality. By providing individuals with equal access to education, we can help to level the playing field and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to succeed.

4. Education promotes tolerance: Education teaches individuals to be tolerant of others and to respect differences. This helps to reduce prejudice and discrimination, which are often underlying causes of conflict.

5. Education promotes economic development: Education is a key driver of economic development, which in turn promotes stability and peace. By providing individuals with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the workforce, we can help to reduce poverty and promote prosperity.

Overall, education is a critical component of building a more peaceful and just world. By investing in education, we can help to create a brighter future for all. That is why I believe peace should be taught in schools. This will give students the tools and skills required for world peace.

Eradicating Poverty and Inequality

This is a key parts of world peace because poverty and inequality are often underlying factors that contribute to conflict, violence, and social unrest. When people are struggling to meet their basic needs for food, shelter, and healthcare, they may become more vulnerable to extremist ideologies or resort to violence as a means of survival. Similarly, when there are large disparities in wealth and power between different groups in society, this can create tensions and fuel resentment and conflict.

Here are a few reasons why eradicating poverty and inequality is critical for promoting world peace:

1. Poverty and inequality can fuel extremist ideologies: When people are struggling to meet their basic needs, they may be more vulnerable to extremist ideologies that promise a better life. By eradicating poverty, we can help to reduce the appeal of these ideologies and promote more peaceful and inclusive societies.

2. Poverty and inequality can lead to social unrest: When there are large disparities in wealth and power, this can create tensions and lead to social unrest. By promoting greater equality, we can help to create more stable and harmonious societies.

3. Poverty and inequality can exacerbate conflicts: Poverty and inequality can exacerbate conflicts by creating grievances and increasing the likelihood of violence. By addressing these underlying factors, we can help to prevent conflicts from escalating and promote peaceful resolution of disputes.

4. Poverty and inequality can undermine human rights: Poverty and inequality can undermine human rights by limiting access to education, healthcare, and other basic services. By promoting greater equality, we can help to ensure that everyone has equal access to these essential services and can live with dignity and respect.

Overall, eradicating poverty and inequality is critical for promoting world peace because it helps to address the root causes of conflict and instability. By creating more equitable societies, we can help to build a more peaceful and just world for all.

Protecting Human Rights

Human rights are a key part of world peace because they provide a framework for promoting dignity, equality, and justice for all individuals. When people’s rights are respected and protected, they are more likely to live in peace and security, and less likely to engage in conflict or violence.

Here are a few reasons why human rights are critical for promoting world peace:

1. Human rights promote equality: Human rights principles such as non-discrimination and equal treatment help to promote greater equality in society. By ensuring that everyone is treated with dignity and respect, we can help to reduce tensions and foster greater social harmony.

2. Human rights promote justice: Human rights principles such as the right to a fair trial and due process help to promote greater justice in society. By ensuring that everyone is held accountable for their actions and that justice is applied equally, we can help to prevent conflicts and promote peaceful resolution of disputes.

3. Human rights promote freedom: Human rights principles such as freedom of expression, association, and assembly help to promote greater freedom in society. By ensuring that individuals are free to express themselves and to associate with others, we can help to create more open and inclusive societies where everyone feels valued and respected.

4. Human rights promote security: Human rights principles such as the right to life and security of the person help to promote greater security in society. By ensuring that everyone is protected from violence and abuse, we can help to create more stable and peaceful societies.

Overall, human rights are critical for promoting world peace because they provide a framework for promoting dignity, equality, and justice for all individuals. By upholding these principles, we can help to create more peaceful and just societies where everyone can thrive.

Developing Forgiveness and Reconciliation

These are key parts of world peace because they help to break the cycle of violence and promote understanding and harmony between individuals and groups. When people or groups have been wronged or harmed, it can create deep-seated anger and resentment, which can fuel a desire for revenge or retaliation. This can lead to an endless cycle of violence, as each act of revenge leads to further retaliation.

Forgiveness is the act of letting go of anger and resentment and choosing to extend compassion and understanding to those who have wronged us. It can be a difficult process, but it has the potential to break the cycle of violence and promote healing and reconciliation.

Reconciliation, on the other hand, is the process of restoring relationships and rebuilding trust between individuals or groups. It involves acknowledging past wrongs, seeking forgiveness, and working towards a shared vision for the future. Reconciliation is a powerful tool for promoting peace, as it helps to address the underlying causes of conflict and promote understanding and empathy between people.

Ultimately, forgiveness and reconciliation are essential for world peace because they promote healing, understanding, and cooperation between individuals and groups. By breaking down barriers and promoting understanding and empathy, they help to create a more peaceful and harmonious world.

Starting Dialogues

Dialogue and nonviolent conflict resolution are key parts of world peace because they promote understanding, cooperation, and respect for human rights. In situations of conflict, people often resort to violence because they feel that it is the only way to achieve their goals. However, violence only perpetuates the cycle of conflict and can lead to further suffering, death, and destruction.

Dialogue, on the other hand, is a process of communication that involves listening to and understanding the perspectives, needs, and interests of all parties involved. It requires a willingness to engage with others in a respectful and constructive manner, and a commitment to finding mutually acceptable solutions. Dialogue helps to build trust, reduce tensions, and promote cooperation, which are essential for sustainable peace.

Nonviolent conflict resolution is a process of resolving conflicts without the use of physical force. It involves a range of strategies, such as negotiation, mediation, and arbitration, which help to address the underlying causes of conflict and find mutually acceptable solutions. Nonviolent conflict resolution promotes respect for human rights, encourages peaceful coexistence, and fosters a culture of nonviolence.

Together, dialogue and nonviolent conflict resolution are powerful tools for promoting world peace. They help to create a culture of peace and respect for human rights, build trust and cooperation between individuals and groups, and promote sustainable solutions to conflicts. By promoting understanding, cooperation, and nonviolence, they help to create a more just, equitable, and peaceful world.

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Are We Born with Compassion?

It is widely believed these days that compassion is an innate phenomenon. We have a natural, automatic desire to help others who are suffering. We have a built-in urge to engage in compassionate behaviours to help fellow humans overcome obstacles without obtaining any reward. The act of helping is itself a reward.

When we feel compassion, our heart rate slows down, we secrete the “bonding hormone” oxytocin, and regions of the brain linked to empathy, caregiving, and feelings of pleasure light up, which often results in us feeling like we want to care for other people.

It is my understanding that we are born with compassion as part of our survival instincts, which means compassion is essential to human relationships and to help humanity. The problem is these days we spend an awful lot of our day in the fight or flight mode, and this blocks our compassion. This is because we are stressed and under pressure for large parts of the day and the brain sees this as a threat. It is difficult for us to be compassionate if our brains are focused on survival. 

Compassion involves feeling another person’s pain and wanting to take steps to help relieve their suffering. The word compassion itself derives from Latin and means “to suffer together.” It is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering. That means it’s not simply an emotion, it is accompanied by a strong desire to act and alleviate the suffering you witness, which makes it a verb.

If you break it down to its essential parts, it means we have a strong aspiration that all beings are happy and free from suffering. 

Though compassion is innate it does not always come easily. Here are seven ways to help build your compassion.

We can be hard on others, but usually the person who gets the brunt of our harshness, is ourselves. It is hard to offer compassion to others when you can’t even extend it to ourselves.

Self-compassion isn’t about loving ourselves, being self-indulgent or narcissistic. It’s about being kind and supportive to ourselves when we are facing difficulties or have made a mistake.  

We all know that life can be challenging, and it can be difficult to have compassion for ourselves when we must face suffering on a daily basis. But we have to understand that being human is a difficult thing and we are doing our best. We are not failing when we’re having a hard time, we are just being human.

Being compassionate to ourselves means offering support by empathising with ourselves. We can do this by talking positively with ourselves, take time out to reflect and regroup, giving ourselves a hug (I especially recommend doing this. It feels so supportive), give ourselves reassurance and be kind.

It’s important to understand that we are wired to feel, and these feelings are important. They give meaning to our lives. So, the first part of self-compassion involves accepting that it’s OK to feel. Don’t override or suppress feelings – just feel them.

Nobody knows us like we do. Nobody understands us like we do. Nobody knows just what we are going through. This is why we have to care for ourselves, have compassion for ourselves and become our own best-friend.

Look for things we have in common with others, not differences. It can be easier to identify how you differ from another person, but we should at least try to find commonalities.

This will help you to relate to them and not see them as a different. In the end, this will help you create a bond with them enabling you to feel compassion.

When speaking to others we need to engage our brains before we open our mouths. Check that what you are about to say is helpful, kind, and compassionate. If it isn’t, I would suggest you stay quiet.

We all know that words are powerful tools which can empower or harm, uplift or drag someone down. So, in order to build compassion, we need to ensure our words do not bring about harm.

We can get caught up in our own viewpoints. It can be a real challenge to step outside of ourselves and see another perspective. Try to consider how another person is influenced by a situation, and ask yourself some simple questions:

  • How would I be feeling if this happened to me?
  • How would my family and friends feel if it was me?
  • How would I respond?
  • What would I find helpful at a challenging time like this?

By considering the other person’s perspective, you are more likely to feel positive and connected to them.

When in conversation with another person, we don’t usually full listen to them. After a certain time, we start thinking about what we want to say next, and sometimes even interrupt them.

When trying to generate compassion for another, try to abandon your desire to give advice. Instead, actively listen. Suspend making any conclusions and simply offer the other person you full attention. It isn’t easy to do but with practice it is certainly achievable.

Present Moment
When we are distracted by our thoughts, emotions, memories, imagination, and perspectives, we cannot focus on what is right in front of us. That means we are unable to identify those in need of compassion. The only way we can do that is by being present in the moment.

You can help yourself to become more present by practicing mindfulness. By bringing yourself back to what is happening right at this moment you will be better able to concentrate and focus on the people around you who may need your time and attention.

A simple way to bring yourself back into the moment is to count your breaths. Count ten

in-breaths and then ten out-breaths. Ensure you focus your whole attention on the breath, and this will bring your awareness back to the here and now.

Generosity is a wonderful way to build compassion. Try contributing your time, unwanted possessions or make donations.

Compassion is contagious. Acts of generosity and thoughtfulness inspire more of the same, into a chain reaction of goodness.

Getting caught up in ourselves and our needs can kill compassion. But if you can look beyond yourself, cultivate compassion for yourself and others and truly engage with others, your life will be more fulfilling. Not only that, but you will also feel more connected and less stressed and anxious.

You can read more blogs, listen to podcasts, watch videos and practice guided meditations on my website.

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Living Responsibly – The Buddha Dharma Series

The second aspect of the eight-fold path is living responsibly. We can achieve this by being mindful of our communication, actions and livelihood.


Appropriate communication is a big part of this path and can help us live a more responsible life. Traditionally, there are four different aspects of this, and they are refraining from lying, divisive speech, using abusive words and gossiping.

I am sure the majority of us wish to live in a kind and compassionate place where people communicate wisely and appropriately, contributing to a more harmonious world. We can go some way in achieving this by being truthful, using words that bring us together, being polite and talking meaningfully. These are skilful ways for us to connect with each other.

Of course, we shouldn’t fool ourselves and think that we can always be truthful, polite and meaningful. There are going to be occasions where it makes sense to stretch the truth, talk harshly and spend time in idle chatter.

Not telling the truth

once we have lied to someone, we invariably have to tell another lie to cover the first one, and then another, and another, until we have created a web of lies. It truly harms someone when they realise they have been lied to, and it will harm us when we are branded a liar.

Some say they lied so as not to hurt the other person’s feelings, but have you considered how they will feel when they find out you lied? Maybe the truth is painful or difficult to say, but there are various ways of breaking it to someone. You can tell them in a kind and sympathetic way. You can support them once you have told them the truth. What you do not have to do is charge in like a bull in a china shop. However, it is kinder in the long run to tell someone the truth.

I get very upset when I have been lied to, as most people do, and so I keep this fact in mind when I am talking to others.

Divisive speech

When people use divisive speech they are hell-bent on causing a severance between a person and a group of people. Divisive speech is never positive or productive. It is used only to harm.

This type of speech mainly stems from jealousy, pride or hatred. I have come across it several times in the workplace. A colleague has been promoted and some people are jealous, so they try to split the workforce. This is divisive speech.

You are jealous of your sibling, so you tell divisive stories to your parents in the hope they will favour you over your sibling. This is divisive speech.

When I lived in London, before I was a monk, I had a large group of friends who used to meet at least once a week to have some fun. One of the group members introduced to us a very attractive woman he had gone to school with. Several of the guys took a fancy to her and started to flirt. Several women took a dislike to her because of her beauty and bubbly personality. All of them started to be divisive. It eventually split the group and we stopped meeting. This is divisive speech and shows how destructive it can be.

These are just a few examples, but what is clear is that we must refrain from this type of speech because it will harm others and eventually harm ourselves. You will get a reputation for being someone who is always trying to cause trouble, and people will disassociate themselves from you.

Harsh Words

These are swear words, bad language or words that are said only to cause harm. They are never useful or kind, and usually stem from anger or impatience.

If someone upsets us we can lose control and say things we do not really mean. The words are meant to hurt the other person, but usually, after we have calmed down, we regret them and the words come back to hurt us also. We must stay mindful of our speech and not allow this to happen.

Sometimes we get impatient with people when they are not doing what we want, they are doing it wrong or just differently, they are not being open and truthful or they are not doing anything and it is just us who is irritable. At these times we tend to get angry and start saying harsh words. Obviously, the way around this is to be more patient and have respect for other people’s viewpoints and feelings.

Every time you raise your voice or say harsh words, you have lost the argument. When your voice goes up, your credibility comes down.


Gossip stems from jealousy, hatred, aversion, ignorance or just having nothing better to do with your time. It is very destructive, cruel and can never be classed as helpful. At the time we may enjoy spreading some rumour or other, but just think how you would feel if people were saying the same things about you.

Gossip is both harmful and a waste of time. I do believe that social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, encourage such unhelpful and wasteful gossip. I am not saying these sites are not of any use—I use them every day—but they can be used wrongly and end up ruining someone’s reputation or career.

So, the antidote to these four unhelpful ways of talking are: speak only truthful words, words that spread harmony and not discord, words that are kind and compassionate, words that help and not harm others.

I understand that this isn’t always possible, so let’s look at some examples. If a seriously ill person asked you if they are going to die and by telling them the truth you would be making matters worse, it is better to lie to them and allow them to have some peace. Maybe one of your friends has gotten in with the wrong crowd, so you decide to speak divisively and try to break up the group. Your young child is about to put their hand into a fire and out of compassion you speak harshly to stop them. A work colleague is having a rough time and is finding it hard to open up, so you indulge in idle chatter to win their trust, so they can finally feel comfortable to talk about their problems.  

All these examples show that appropriate communication isn’t always black and white. I think as a rule of thumb, we should ensure that if we do lie, are divisive, talk harshly or gossip it is for the benefit of others and not just for our own selfish gain.

The final word I will give to Buddha, he said this is appropriate communication:

 ‘It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of goodwill’.


Appropriate action traditionally covers those actions we should refrain from. We are advised to avoid violent acts, to refrain from taking what has not been given, to limit our consumption of intoxicants and to refrain from causing harm through sexual activity. However, I believe the concept of appropriate action should cover all the actions we undertake in our lives. The more we can bring mindfulness to our everyday actions the more our life improves and the impact our life has on others will also grow.

Violent Acts

This doesn’t just cover violence towards humans; it also covers animals, big or small. I should make it clear here that I am talking about intentional and/or unnecessary acts of violence, which include killing as well as physically harming. We have to understand that all beings have the equal right to live and be free from suffering, so that is why we have to refrain from doing them any intentional harm.

It is very difficult to go through life without unintentionally killing or harming things. When we wash vegetables, we are more than likely killing small insects, but this is not our intention. Our intention is to prepare the vegetables for eating, so this is not what I am talking about here. Having said that, we should check the vegetables beforehand to ensure there are no insects on them.

Once you get into the habit of killing, it is very hard to break that habit. You may see a mosquito on your arm and squash it. You do the same the next time a mosquito lands on you and the time after that. Eventually you do not even have to look; you just automatically squash it. This is when the act of killing has become a habit.

The way to prevent ourselves from killing/harming is to understand that all beings are the same as us. They want to be happy and not suffer. So, if we know this, a feeling of compassion will rise in us and it will become much harder to kill/harm.

Taking what has not been given

If we take something that has not been given or belongs to someone else, this is stealing, no matter how big or small the item is.

The first time we steal we may feel guilty and scared of being caught. However, the more you steal the less guilty and scared you are. In the end you steal just because you can and not because you need to. This is when stealing has become a habit.

In Buddhism, we talk about five factors relating to taking what has not been freely given and they are: someone else’s belongings, the awareness that they are someone else’s, the thought of theft, the action of carrying it out, the taking away as a result of it. All five factors have to be in play for a theft to take place.

We don’t like people stealing from us, so we should refrain from stealing from them. Once we get the reputation of being a thief, it will be very hard for people to trust us. So, by stealing we are hurting both ourselves and others.

Sexual misconduct

This is causing harm to someone by the use of the sexual act, such as rape, sex with someone underage or sex with a married person—here the victim being the person’s partner. If we physically, emotionally or mentally force someone into sex, this is causing him or her harm and must be refrained from. There are many people today still carrying the scars of sexual misconduct. So, this precept should not be taken lightly.

It is important to keep in mind that Buddha taught the precept on sexual misconduct to help us refrain from harming someone through the sexual act. He did not teach it to be moralistic or make people feel guilty for their sexual orientation.


This is an important aspect of the path and one we probably do not give a lot of thought to. We should aim to engage in compassionate activity and earn our living in a way that does not cause harm and is ethically positive. Most of us spend a large part of our waking hours at work, so it’s important to assess how our work affects us and those around us. We need to work to earn money, without money we cannot survive, this is an unavoidable fact of life. But have you ever stopped to think whether your work is helping or harming? Come to think about it, have you ever stopped to think what is an ethically appropriate livelihood at all?

Do you have an appropriate livelihood? It may not be as black and white as you first think. You may sell guns to the army to keep the country safe, but those guns could fall into the hands of a terrorist and be used to kill innocent people. You may make cars, so people can get around, but one of those cars may be involved in an accident and someone is killed. You may make rope and it is used by someone to commit suicide. I know I have given extreme examples here, but I just want to get you thinking about the consequences of your livelihood.

It would be impossible to examine all the possible effects our work has in the world, but we should certainly contemplate whether we are causing harm in any obvious or direct ways, to humans, to animals, and to the planet.

I recently met a young biologist and he had a dilemma. He had just graduated and was looking for work, but every job he applied for required testing on animals. He said he just couldn’t bring himself to kill animals, even if it meant he might discover a new way to help humans. Our choices are not always clear cut, we need to think very carefully about what path we decide to take. We should consider the consequences, to ourselves and to others, of any choice we make.

I fully understand that we need to work to earn money and sometimes we have to do the jobs we find unpalatable. So, I am not being judgemental here. I am just pointing out that we have to be mindful of our livelihoods, and reiterating the fact that actions have consequences.

Pause here for a moment and give your livelihood some thought.

  • Is it ethical?
  • Am I forced to do things that go against my redlines?
  • Do I fully understand the consequences of my livelihood?

Living responsibly highlights the importance of acting in an appropriate way physically, verbally and psychologically. If we don’t, we can often inadvertently cause conflict and bitterness amongst the people we come into contact with. We must integrate this part of the path into our daily lives and be constantly mindful of the actions we are carrying out.

The key point about living responsibly is to have integrity. I find that the best way for my actions to remain skilful is to keep the view of cause and consequences in the forefront of my mind. Whenever a thought arises, I try to gauge whether it will be helpful or harmful and what the consequences are going to be. This is no easy task and requires us to be mindful of our thoughts.

When we are being mindful it gives us the space to think before we act. An alert mind has the opportunity to override unhelpful or destructive thoughts. It brings awareness into whatever we are intending to do. This is how we can ensure our actions are appropriate and skilful.

This ends the ‘living responsibly’ aspect of the eightfold path.

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Mindful Communication

Now, I am not one of those people who think things were better in the past. Of course, some things were and other things weren’t. However, where social media is concerned, I feel troubled about the way it is making us communicate these days. (more…)

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