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The peace koan

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — turning the wheel ]

When Erik Schelzig tweeted:

Kevin Kruse responded

— and that’s about as neat and sweet a statement of the peace paradox as any I’ve seen.


War and Peace: yang and yin?


John 14.27:

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.

I don’t believe there’s any promise of the cessation of war here — the peace offered here is a peace that’s operative in times of both war and peace.

It must be peace from the warness of war, peace even in fighting, no?

To my mind this is the koan all peace-lovers, peace-keepers, and peace-makers must grapple with: stillness within?

I’ll be returning to this — “the dance at the still point of the turning wheel..”

Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — what color does a chameleon turn in a hall of mirrors? ]



There’s an interesting ascetic aesthetic in photography which prefers black and white to full spectrum color, but the black and white in question has a rich spectrum of its own, a continuum of shades of grey between black and white poles. Not so with black and white choices of the sort President Bush proposed when he said:

Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.


Some of the nuances to consider:

David Kilcullen on this video at 48.55:

A lot of families in Afghanistan have one son fighting with the government, and another son fighting with the Taliban. It’s a hedging strategy.


In Syria, many families face a terrible dilemma

In recent months I have noticed a trend of some families sending at least one of their children to join ISIL because that was the only way for them to generate an income in the family.


And then this:

U.S. Soldiers Told to Ignore Afghan Allies’ Abuse of Boys

Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed commanders who dominate much of the rural landscape and can bully the population. The practice is called bacha bazi, literally “boy play,” and American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene — in some cases, not even when their Afghan allies have abused boys on military bases, according to interviews and court records.



Is the CIA undercounting civilian deaths from drone strikes?

Determining the number of civilian casualties under such circumstances is a difficult task — even for the human rights groups that devote significant resources to doing so. If the CIA is simply counting zero civilians killed in operations where it can’t say for certain who the agency is even firing at, that doesn’t inspire much confidence in their numbers.
assumed to be combatants.


And then there’s the paradox, found even in scripture:

The Synoptic Gospels attribute the following quote to Jesus of Nazareth: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Matthew 12:30), as well as its contrapositive, “Whoever is not against us is for us” (Luke 9:50; The Synoptic Gospels attribute the following quote to Jesus of Nazareth: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Matthew 12:30), as well as its contrapositive, “Whoever is not against us is for us” (Luke 9:50; Mark 9:40)


As I said at the top of this post —


Warrior / Spirit

Sunday, September 6th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — is “conflict resolution” in conflict with “conflict” — and if so, what’s the appropriate resolution? ]

In Search of Warrior Spirit Yoga Joe
[left] Strozzi-Heckler’s book, now in its fourth edition; [right] one of a series of figures called Yoga Joes.


Craig Davies at a site called Art-Sheep has a post titled Classic Green Army Figures Practicing Yoga Instead Of Holding Guns, and sees thing in black and white, or perhaps better, darkness and light:

If something is a total opposite to war, that is the practice of yoga. Concentrating or relaxing your muscles and mind in order to release tension, is something a soldier would never have the luxury to do under the dangerous circumstances of war.

Inventor Dan Abramson thought of a amazingly creative and beautiful way to connect the two, by creating “Yoga Joes”, a series of simple green plastic army men that have some killer… yoga moves.

Apart from artistically interesting, Abramson’s cool idea to create a series of yoga soldiers gives an essence of serenity to the cruel and violent nature of war.

“I made Yoga Joes because I thought that it would be a fun way to get more people into yoga – especially dudes… beyond that, I wanted to make a violent toy become peaceful,” he says.

That’s glib, and wrong, and not too far from what many people think who identify with the “peace” side of “war and peace”.


Richard Strozzi-Heckler, on the other hand..

Well, he was one of them, teaching Aikido, arguably the most openly pacifistic of the martial arts — and when he got invited to train some Green Berets, in the words of George Leonard:

Even before the program got started, Richard was excoriated by people he respected for even considering teaching aikido and other awareness disciplines to Green Berets, to “trained killers.”

Leonard goes on to ask some probing questions:

Does this imply that those of us who love peace would have no soldiers at all? And if we do have soldiers, do we really want them to be deprived of the best possible training? Do we want low-grade soldiers with no awareness or empathy? And if we do teach awareness and empathy to our soldiers, will they be able to perform the brutal tasks sometimes assigned them? Surely we don’t want a horde of Rambos loosed upon the world. But if not Rambo, then who?


Think for a minute:

If something is a total opposite to war, that is the practice of yoga.

Yeah? And the total opposite of one is many? or none? or minus one? or all?

If I asked you, what is the opposite of yoga, would you say war?

And what’s the opposite of peace?

I wrote above of those who identify with the “peace” side of “war and peace” — and there are, by contrast, those who who identify more readily with the “war” side — but are those two sides “at war” with one another? Can, to press the point, “peace” be “at war” with anything?



  • Dan Abramson, Yoga Joes: here to keep the inner peace
  • George Leonard, intro to Strozzi-Heckler, In Search of the Warrior Spirit: Teaching Awareness Disciplines to the Green Berets
  • **

    Comparative realities?

    toy & statue

    The Buddha‘s Diamond Sutra:

    So I say to you –
    This is how to contemplate our conditioned existence in this fleeting world:

    Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble floating in a stream;
    Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
    Or a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream.

    So is all conditioned existence to be seen.

    Seen through the fog of war..

    Thursday, August 20th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — truth is always the first causality casualty ]

    SPEC dolphin robot


    The big question these days is no longer Nature or Nurture, it’s Nature and Nurture — or Tech?

    Opposites attract?

    Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — stunned ]

    This has got to be one of the strangest DoubleQuotes, referencing one of the strangest DoubleLives, that I have ever seen:


    Oh, and are they opposites?

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