Posts Tagged ‘peaceful inner change’

Radical Peace: People Refusing War, by William T. Hathaway

June 10, 2010

Radical Peace: People Refusing War

World peace depends on our collective consciousness. – William T. Hathaway

William T. Hathaway’s latest literary work, is a return to journalism. Radical Peace: People Refusing War, presents the first-person experiences of war resisters, deserters, and peace activists in the USA, Europe, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Just released by Trine Day, it’s a journey along diverse paths of nonviolence, the true stories of people working for peace in unconventional ways. The first, Chapter 1: The Real War Heroes, and last, Chapter 15: Conscious Peace, are both posted on OpEdNews.com.

William T. Hathaway is a political journalist and a former Special Forces soldier turned peace activist whose articles have appeared in more than 40 publications, including Humanist, the Los Angeles Times, Midstream Magazine, and Synthesis/Regeneration. He won a Fullbright grant to teach at universities in Germany, where he continues to reside. He is an adjunct professor of American studies at the University of Oldenburg. William and his wife also run a small TM center there.

Hathaway is the author of A World of Hurt (Rinehart Foundation Award), CD-Ring, and Summer Snow. He is currently working on WELLSPRINGS: A Fable of Consciousness, which focuses on applying Vedic knowledge to ecology. A selection of his writing is available at www.peacewriter.org.

William also spent 7 years, from 1987-1993, as an assistant professor in the Master’s in Professional Writing at MIU, now MUM. The last chapter of Radical Peace, Conscious Peace, discusses his TM practice, and the vision of possibilities it holds for world peace. You can click on the Chapter 15 link above or read it here:

I was sitting in full lotus, body wrapped in a blanket, mind rapt in deep stillness, breathing lightly, wisps of air curling into the infinite space behind my closed eyes. My mantra had gone beyond sound to become a pulse of light in an emptiness that contained everything.

An electric shock flashed down my spine and through my body. My head snapped back, limbs jerked, a cry burst from my throat. Every muscle in my body contracted — neck rigid, jaws clenched, forehead tight. Bolts of pain shot through me in all directions, then drew together in my chest. Heart attack! I thought. I managed to lie down, then noticed I wasn’t breathing — maybe I was already dead. I groaned and gulped a huge breath, which stirred a whirl of thoughts and images.

Vietnam again: Rotor wind from a hovering helicopter flails the water of a rice paddy while farmers run frantically for cover. Points of fire spark out from a bamboo grove to become dopplered whines past my ears. A plane dives on the grove to release a bomb which tumbles end over end and bursts into an orange globe of napalm. A man in my arms shakes in spasms as his chest gushes blood.

I held my head and tried to force the images out, but the montage of scenes flowed on, needing release. I could only lie there under a torrent of grief, regret, terror, and guilt. My chest felt like it was caving in under the pressure. I clung to my mantra like a lifeline to sanity. I was breathing in short, shallow gasps, but gradually my breath slowed and deepened, the feelings became less gripping, and I reoriented back into the here and now: my small room in Spain on a Transcendental Meditation teacher training course.

I lay on my narrow bed stunned by this flashback from four years ago when I’d been a Green Beret in Vietnam. I had thought I’d left all that behind, but here it was again.

I sat up and was able to do some yoga exercises but couldn’t meditate. Instead I took a walk on the beach. For the rest of that day and the next I was confused and irritable and could hardly meditate or sleep. But the following day I felt lightened and relieved, purged of a load of trauma, and my meditations were clear. My anxiety about the war was much less; the violence was in the past, not raging right now in my head.

Gradually I became aware of a delicate joy permeating not just me but also my surroundings. I knew somehow it had always been there, inhering deep in everything, but my stress had been blocking my perception of it. I felt closer to the other people on the course, connected by a shared consciousness. Then I started feeling closer to everything around me; birds and grass, even rocks and water were basically the same as me. Our surface separations were an illusion; essentially we were all one consciousness expressing itself in different forms. Rather than being just an isolated individual, I knew I was united with the universe, joined in a field of felicity. This perception faded after a few days, but it gave me a glimpse of what enlightenment must be like.

The whole experience was a dramatic example of what Maharishi Mahesh Yogi called “unstressing,” the nervous system’s purging itself of blockages caused by our past actions. Since my past actions had been extreme, the healing process was also extreme.

I had begun meditating in 1968, several months after returning from the war. I’d come back laden with fear and anger, but I had denied those emotions, burying them under an “I’m all right, Jack,” attitude. I was tough, I could take it, I was a survivor. Within certain parameters I could function well, but when my superficial control broke down, I would fall into self-destructive depressions. I finally had to admit I was carrying a huge burden of stress, and I knew I had to get rid of that before I could live at peace with myself or anyone else.

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