Shut up! or Let’s talk

Shut up! or Let’s talk
An interview with Peace of Cake

(Peace of Cake is an underground peace gorilla, I mean peace guerrilla organization that rang me up to get the perspective of the Venusian Peace Project.)

Peace of Cake: Hello. What would you like to say to people who really want peace in the world today?

LH: Don’t underestimate the task. Creating peace is not an easy, feel-good kind of thing. Peace has powerful enemies.

I know, the military industrial complex.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. You must look much farther if you want to know what you are up against. First, you have an inner enemy in this respect. We all have war seeds within us that do NOT want peace.

Then, we have the collective sphere around us. Few people will say that they desire war, but they probably want to hang on to their war seeds, war games. In order to really work for peace, you need to understand yourself, war and peace within yourself. Not just outside, which is often a simple game of finger-pointing. Finger-pointing is what keeps war going.

Are you talking about inner peace here?

Another term that we don’t really know what it is. What is inner peace?

I guess.. it is when you feel harmony between you and the outer world and maybe also within you.

Maybe there are too many maybe’s here. I suspect that outer peace (national, international peace) and inner peace are only related semantically. Same word means different things. Because how long does your inner peace stay? An hour, two days…?

Well, if I had inner peace for two days, that would be great!

So it comes and goes. Usually that is the case. We feel peace for a while, then it goes away and a new actor comes on stage. Maybe hunger, excitement, irritation or boredom. Bye bye, inner peace!

And another thing: Where does inner peace come from?

Hard to say. Things just manage to flow, everything is in the right place at the right time.

Have you created this flow?

No, I cannot claim that.

So it comes and goes by itself?

More or less so, yes.

A very popular saying or cliche is “Peace starts with the individual”. But where does it end? Well, maybe it just ends, somewhere.

We cannot talk about inner and outer peace as somehow equivalent. Imagine a country where you have war for an hour or two, then you get bored and hungry, maybe watch some TV, then war breaks out again for a day or two. Also, nobody really knows why war breaks out, what causes it to start or stop. This is not an acceptable situation in a country, village, family, company. You need more structure and stability than that.

Also in this strange country where war comes and goes according to weird winds, individuals might feel inner peace now and then, also without knowing why and where it comes from.

This to me is is a picture of some kind of insanity or mental instability, not peace.

War of cake?

OK, I see that we perhaps need to look at our terms a little closer.

Why not much closer? Peace is not rocket science, but it wouldn’t hurt if we got our thinking act together a bit more.

So if the military industrial complex is the tip of the iceberg, what’s underneath the waters then?

Good question! Such questions lead forward. There is a very very basic thing to consider when it comes to peace, wanting peace, desiring and working for peace, namely the difference between outer and inner. Are we mainly or only (very common) outer directed — or also inner directed?

In many if not most instances we are just happy to be outer directed.

What exactly do you mean by outer directed?

Looking at YOU! What you / him / her / they are doing. Observing, studying, criticizing others, from our secure position behind a screen, a shelter or trench.

And inner directed?

You look at yourself, your own hands, your face in the mirror. You measure your own acts against some kind of standard or yardstick. This is not that hard, often we just forget to do it. Or the very idea is so far from us and our culture that it never happens. This has a name: introspection, to look in the inner mirror.

And this is not something abstract or “philosophical”. It means remembering that you want peace, that peace is more important than war, and that it has a price.

Among other things we need to PAY attention. Attention can uncover for us that if we see something wrong or bad in another, answering in kind is not going to create peace. Just a circle of more mutual criticism.

Whenever WE are attacked or criticized we naturally want to defend ourselves. But we often do this by striking back, perhaps even harder than we got hit. That will make our opponent angry, so next time he might strike us even harder. And so, as the song goes, the beat goes on. The reflexes keep kicking.

This is so traditional, common and habitual that we hardly reflect on it. We believe we can reach harmony by being just as bad.

Can you give an example.

“Hate hate!” That’s is so silly and counterproductive.

Give me a practical advice, not just theories.

Take pen and paper and write a list. Think about your actions in everyday life. Ask yourself: what situations and people “light my war fire”? Or: when can I not resist the invitation to fight, the word taken in a broad sense? Know thyself, know your war seeds.

That was practical.

One more thing. Note when you are invited in a conversation, and when you are not. Two different modes. There are even specific words that I call Shut-up words. Their function is to stop further thinking, maybe make you ashamed.


“Racist”, “sexist”. Also such an innocuous term as “structure” has become Shut-up! As in “the structural oppression of the patriarchy”, a phrase that we are supposed to accept as gospel truth, not as a viewpoint or ideological formula.

The implication is that we all know what such words mean, and we all know they are bad. Thus, no need for thinking more about them. Just feel ashamed! Or make somebody else ashamed with them. Whatever you do, don’t listen!

Listening is the other mode. I call it “Let’s talk”. Which also means, let’s listen .-)

Shut-up! and Let’s talk. I will try to be more aware of these modes. Thank you.

Thank you for asking, conversing and listening.

Peace and love seeds

Gather round everybody. A sermon is coming on.

I just realized that I have talked and written a lot about war seeds, the impulse in our heart towards conflict, fighting and polarization.

Yes, I think it is important to see that war and battle is not just something outside us. However, in pointing that out one could say that I myself have committed the “sin” of finger-pointing (which I claim to be a main part of war).

So what then? Let me also talk about the Dos and not just the Don’ts. Love seeds, peace seeds, where do we find them, how to water them? How to ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive?

Water me

I feel like I should come up with a list of “positives”, things to read, see, eat, do and hear that nurtures our peace and love seeds. I admit that much effort and concentration has been directed towards the left (war) side.

So this is what comes to me in this moment. Generally, search love seeds in the analog world. And put a good distance between you and media. The digital sphere, mass media and social media sometimes seems like a monster that eats our time, attention and souls.

So log out and look up at the sky. Even on a cloudy day it is grander than Facebook or email.

I would also like to recommend something to read, and that’s a tricky one. Because books, writing, is anchored in words, and words move in a dualistic domain. There is always an opposite for a word. Bad versus good, big and small, beautiful and ugly, young and old. There are books that go beyond this mirror-image, opposites attract and repel mode. but they must we found. They might not be what we think they are.

Generally I feel that writing that truly waters our peace seeds should have no thorns. That doesn’t mean “nice”, feel-good writing without dissonance, but accusation and blame should be absent.

It is perfectly possible to tell somebody they are acting like an idiot while truly loving them. Possible, but not easy. A small art, actually, that we can try to practice in our communications. Because we need both parts, the honest, true thought, and the kind, loving concern. When these marry we have sweet (not saccharine) music.

Talking of music, what said Shakespeare? Music is the food of love. Music waters our love and peace seeds. Listen to music and try to recognize the thorns. There is music that embraces you, hugs you and calls you “darling”. Try to find that music, and stick with it. At least don’t neglect it. That would make you a poor gardener.

Peace, non-violence and ahimsa

ABSTRACT: This is no scientific article but it sill feels right to start with the conclusion.

Global peace, world peace can mean different things. The world of a single human being is also at war at times.

If one wants to help peace, if one has made a decision to abstain from the mental-emotional junk food of Conflict, there are different steps to take.

Ideally one wants to be somebody who cannot hurt others. That is a high goal, which is not a reason not to aim for it. I call that “ahimsa” (Sanskrit for harmlessness).

The step before that, easier and more available, is non-violence. One step at a time we might arrive at peace.

As I wrote earlier I now call myself peace walker. That does not mean a state but an ambition: to really walk the talk of peace.

And talking of talk, let’s look at a very common saying in the peace sphere.

“Peace starts with the individual.”

I don’t like phrases that both 1) sound good and 2) don’t have a clear meaning. This phrase qualifies for both categories. If we want to go beyond mouthing vague feel-good phrases we should have distinct follow up questions.

  • In what way does the peace of the individual lead to a larger peace?
  • What kind of individual peace are we talking about?
  • What does peace mean to the individual?

Let’s have clear answers to those questions and I might agree with that statement.  But just spreading nice-sounding memes about is of no help.

My strong belief is that clarity is a precursor of peace, so let’s think clearly. Here’s my view of how peace might/ could start with the individual.

As I have written in so many texts we humans have something that I call “war seeds” in our hearts. It is only the name that is original, the observation isn’t.

Under the right (wrong) circumstance we can easily catch fire, become angry, and verbally or physically attack each other. Look at sports, football for example, and how this gentlemanly game can turn into violent hooliganism and even killing.

This is what I term war seeds in bloom.

Seeds can be choked, dried up, not watered. Or watered a lot, which leads from sports (Agon =battle, trial of strength) to Antagonism and then Agony, then outright war.

So what can the individual do against this development, this flowering of war seeds? He can look after his own garden, keep an eye on his own weeds.

Let me be much less abstract and describe how I, a soi-disant peace walker, try to handle this. First, some coordinates.

You who are reading this of course know about non-violence. It is called ahimsa in Sanskrit.

Here I want to distinguish two gradations, nonviolence in a more Western sense versus Ahimsa. In my interpretation non-violence (civil resistance, etc.) is what somebody DOES, while ahimsa refers to what he IS (his being).

Ahimsa is obviously the higher goal, admittedly a very high goal. However, it seems important to aim higher than just non-violence. Even if you chain yourself to a tree to passively to resist police arrest you might still have many much war seeds (anger, frustration, hate) in your heart. You just don’t act them out (perhaps because you are chained?).

I don’t want to belittle non-violence. That would be stupid and unrealistic. Non-violence in general is much better than violence, giving in to antagonistic impulses and feeding our belligerent impulses . But let us also see that non-violence only refers to our actions, not to our feelings and thoughts. Our hand is peaceful and passive, but not necessarily our mind and heart.

That said, non-violence is an important step towards ahimsa. We will not get there without non-violence.

A very practical example: Let us say that I have written something on Facebook about a subject on which people have “strong feelings”. (Those words indicate presence of war seeds.) Some people agree with me, some don’t and one person really lashes out against me.

What do I do in that case?

I have a martian element within me, too. I see the impulse to strike back, say something harsh “but just” (as one is tempted to call it). But since I am a peace walker I cannot just go with the downward flow.

If I had attained ahimsa I might give a wise, loving and totally non-polarizing reply. Right now I cannot. But I CAN be non-violent.


In the spur of the moment I can’t write a balanced reply, my seeds are too agitated; I am too angry and irritated.

I see two courses from there.

1) To just ignore it and turn my back. That is a rather classic way to respond. For some people that might be the best response, personally I see that a turn-your-back-to-it response contains an element of self-fear.

“I am afraid of what I might say to that person…”

2) The other response is the break, which in effect means slowing down.

Everybody understands that the break pedal is important, nay, essential in a car. Imagine all the catastrophes that would happen without it. We also have the folk wisdom of counting to ten when we fall into the clutches of Master Anger.

Counting is like stepping on the brake. It slows down our adrenaline reaction, turns off the water supply to the war seed.

Here’s how I step on the brake: I copy the message on Facebook, go offline and read it in peace and quiet.

An important reason for this has to with perceptive clarity. It is not a great discovery to say that a message, for example 3-4 sentences in a comment online, is often not really grasped.

What is really being said,and in what relation do I stand to it?

These questions never emerge, don’t even exist, in a heated discussion. I probably will react with a reflex, a knee-jerk, and reply  something not worthy of a peace walker.

Note here that this slowing down CAN also be part of a very different process, namely showing off, demonstrating how smart and intelligent we are. The goal then is to deliver a mental blow, a “crushing reply”. That does not rhyme with peace walking.

The peaceful aim should be to 1) understand what the other person really is saying 2) understand how I as a peace walker want to relate to it. Then my reply, if I still feel that I want to reply, will come from a very different part of me, a part of the garden where the war seeds do not bloom, at least not profusely.

No, I have not attained ahimsa, the non-ability to hurt. I still have within me the attraction to conflicts and polarization, but at least I have localized my break pedal. Now it becomes a question of remembering to use it.

In this way peace can “start with the individual”.

Realistically it might not go anywhere from there; it might also remain in the individual, although I think that every person who waters his peace seeds will send out positive waves. So I change my mind on that; I think  inner peace will have an effect on outer world.

Whether it can influence world events is another question.

Also one can ask how many peaceful individuals does it take to change the light bulb of war? The TM (transcendental meditation) people claim that a certain number of meditators change the collective atmosphere for the better, thus lowering crime rate for example.

That’s interesting but too often dismissed by “rational” people with irrational reflexes who see red before words like homeopathy or meditation. Who walk, as so many of us are, on the Small War Path; the path of martian conflict and polarization enjoyment.

The path of Venusian peace tries to balance that.

PS: Of course the example with Facebook takes place in the digital domain. Other rules apply for handling war seeds face to face.

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If you don’t want weeds, don’t water the (war) seeds

It can be daunting perhaps to follow my reasoning and my “peace map” building. But from a birds eye’s view there are simple things we can do. We can ask ourselves

“Water or not water?”

I am talking about the war seeds, the impulses that draw and attract us to conflict, confrontation and quarrel.

In heavier forms against direct violence, and war.

A simple but not easy (and very important) choice:  Shall  I water my war seeds, or not?

Introspection is part of the process. Trying to see clearly what is happening, where I put my energy.

If I imagine myself to be a peace-worker while furiously shouting angry slogans at peace demonstrations, something is amiss. I might work for peace (Venus), but my way of doing it is violent and Martian.

The means will color the goal, which will not be peaceful anymore.  A paradoxical, dissonant note is in the picture.

So don’t hate hate. That’s like trying to put out a forest fire with fire. The fire will just spread.

And don’t water the war seeds. That’s like watering and saying nice words to weeds.

Try to keep your garden clean and realize that YOU are probably the most important tree in your garden.