How Do Teasdale and Vaillant Perceive Spirituality and Mysticism as Contribution to Peace and Intercultural Understanding?

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How do Teasdale and Vaillant perceive Spirituality and Mysticism as Contribution to Peace and Intercultural Understanding? Nowadays peace is striven to be achieved through different methodologies – starting from grass root and civilian initiatives to participation of NGO’s and intergovernmental military alliances. However, new perspective has originated, welcoming to apply spirituality and mysticism as tools for peace implementation and development of intercultural understanding. This essay is going to discuss this argument from the view point of Wayne Teasdale and George Vaillant. First, it will explain the interdependence of peace an intercultural understanding. Second, it is going to discuss Teasdale’s arguments of mysticism and spiritualities’ capacity to create global society with a heart. Finally, it will explore Vaillant’s argument of positive emotions being a product of spirituality that can be a long-time provider of peace. Albert Einstein has said that ‘peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved through understanding’, thus introducing idea of interdependence of both concepts - peace and intercultural understanding. As culture is the pattern of people basic assumptions according to which their identities are filtered, it is very crucial to establish healthy grounds of intercultural understanding, to be able to build up tolerance that is so vital for peace.1 However, for a long – time peace voluntary participation and sense of equality are vital that can be achieved if mysticism and spirituality are involved in this process, as they show the unifying nature of all spiritual people. Thus it can be argued that both mysticism and spirituality can be perceived as useful tools for peace building, as without mutual respect and comprehension peace cannot be achieved. According to Teasdale’s view mysticism and spirituality are useful for establishment of peace and intercultural understanding at first, as they require full individual’s commitment.2 Jewish philosopher Martin Buber has argued that nowadays word has lost its respect, as people are self- centred and their actions are rather manipulations concentrated on the self-interest, that contribute to the failure of any peace talks.3 However, it can be argued if spiritual person participates in the negotiations for peace, his commitment to achieving the goal is total and as both concepts are cultivating good ethical norms of being honest, unselfish, and patient, peace talks would be more fertile as there would be total mutual trust in other’s words and intentions. Second, Teasdale argues of spirituality being a universal tradition that is a part of human experience signifying possible grounds for dialogue. Every spiritual person goes through the growth than can be also characterized as transformation. 4 Via this process person changes from self- centeredness to focusing on the needs of others, changing his priorities to the greater good of others basing his entire understanding, decisions on the unifying grounds. 5 Person’s inner character is fully committed to kindness, compassion, mercy and love, perceiving every human being as precious and sacred. Aspect of transformed memory is very crucial for peace building as Douglas Johnston has 1Ki-moon, B., Intercultural Understanding, Tolerance Vital for Peace, Sustainable Development, United Nations, 2013, last viewed 16March 2013 http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2013/sgsm14837.doc.htm 2Teasdale, W., ‘Spirituality as a Primary Resource in Promoting Peace’, Integral World, last viewed 16 March 2013, http://www.integralworld.net/teasdale.html. 3‘Can we save true dialogue in an Age of Mistrust? The encounter of Dag Hammarskjold and Martin Buber.’ Critical Currents, No 8, 2010, last viewed 12. March 2013, available from: http://www.dhf.uu.se/pdffiler/cc8/critical_currents_vol8.pdf 4Tesdale, W., The Mystic Heart,New World Library, California, 1999, p. 51- 79. 5Tesdale, op.cit.

Zane Liepinlauska
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