Peace Days

by Catherine Sproat

On Wednesday September 16, 2015, the Winnipeg Insight Meditation Group hosted a Peace Days Meditation during our regular sitting at St. Peter’s Church. This is the 2nd year that WIMG has been supporting this event and about 50 people attended from around the city as well as members of the sangha.

The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by resolution 36/67 of the United Nations General Assembly to coincide with its opening session, which was held annually on the third Tuesday of September. The first Peace Day was observed in September 1982. This is celebrated around the world. The goal of Peace Days in Manitoba is to promote a culture of peace and compassion.

The events in the last two weeks that I heard on the news as well as experienced at work and in my personal life made me realize that attending this event was something I needed to be present for. Not that it would correct everything I personally experience, but I knew it would help settle my mind and emotions that were getting overloaded.

Jillian led the event with a short talk on “Forgiveness”. She spoke about how Forgiveness allows us to be at peace with ourselves, our families, our coworkers, neighbours and internationally.

Gina Sharpe of the New York Insight Meditation Centre, was quoted “Forgiveness is not really about someone else’?s harmful behavior, it’?s about our relationship with our past. Forgiveness is a deep process, which is repeated over and over again. It may involve working through emotions of grief, outrage, sadness and loss and that we need to feel these feelings and honour our experience.

We were reminded what The Buddha said, “if it were not possible to free the heart from entanglement and greed, hate, fear and delusion, I would not teach you or ask you to do so.”

Forgiveness comes in three parts: forgiveness from others, forgiveness for those who have hurt or harmed us, and forgiveness for ourselves. These three things are sometimes the hardest things in our lives to understand, accept and work towards.

During our sit, there was a young baby in attendance, and her calling out “dada”,dada” was very welcomed by me and others as I learned later. Witnessing her innocence was a beautiful experience for me. I found myself smiling during my meditation and felt the weight of the last few weeks being lifted off my shoulders.

We sit and we practice loving kindness every day and we work towards peace and forgiveness not only for ourselves, but also for our children, so that they may live in a peaceful world and experience and give compassion, love, kindness, peace and gratitude.

At the end of the event, people stayed for tea and goodies provided by members of the sangha. There were lots of good conversations and reflections that resulted from the talk and about personal experiences.

“Without forgiveness, we do not have the conditions for peace.”

During Jillian’s talk, she read Thich Nhat Hahn’s poem “Call Me by My True Names” which is about the interconnectedness of all beings, which may help move us towards forgiving transgressions.

Call Me by My True Names:
By Thich Nhat Hanh

Do not say that I’?ll depart tomorrow
because even today I still arrive.

Look deeply: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,

learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
in order to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and
death of all that are alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
And I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time
to eat the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond,
and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence,
feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate,
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my hands,
and I am the man who has to pay his ‘debt of blood’? to my people,
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all walks of life.
My pain is like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call my by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.

For more information about Peace Days in Winnipeg, please visit their site.