Passion for Peace: My experience at the Millennium World Peace Summit with Sadhguru

Experience of a Volunteer

For me, the significance of the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders opening at the United Nations on August 28, continues to grow with time. One of the highest privileges of my life has been being part of this process with the United Nations and being able to attend such a historic event as an assistant to our Master.

Throughout the summit, I felt that Sadhguru's presence and grace embodied each and every Isha meditator. In that sense, we were all participants. I have no doubt that he will touch, even if indirectly, millions more lives with his influence and the ideas he presented at the United Nations. This is my experience of four days there at the summit.

The entire world, it seemed, had gathered in New York. The air was charged with energy, determination, reverence and often, emotion. Holy men and women in the dress of their tradition made an almost theatrical exhibition of world cultures and faiths. But this wasn't staged; these were real people from around the world, all together in one place for the first time in history. Every nation was represented, along with 83% of the world's population, by the religious and spiritual leaders attending the summit.

As different as everyone looked, the dignity and respect they showed each other was confirmation that all were holy messengers. In fact, the commonality that was expressed right away was the unanimous faith in the Creator; maybe called by different names, but nevertheless, one Divine Source. All who had gathered there desired a peaceful planet. All wanted to ease suffering, increase prosperity and protect the Earth. The opening programs and ceremonial prayers at the United Nations General Assembly established a platform of rich diversity, yet basic and common goals.

We were in the company of some of the world's most recognized spiritual leaders and saints, or their representatives. Of course the Vatican, Islamic nations, Protestant and Orthodox Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist, and leaders of all the major faiths were highly visible, but less known sects and faiths, and the indigenous cultures of the Native American Indians, and tribes of Africa and the Amazon also found a voice. India had the largest percentage of delegates, evidence of her rich spiritual heritage.

The second day opened my heart so wide that I felt that anything and everything could happen during this summit, as world leaders of all faiths expressed their intentions to work together. Just being in the hallowed hall where so much has been done for world peace left me in deep reverence. Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations confirmed his commitment to world peace, and expressed the important steps that must be taken by the leaders at this summit. Ted Turner, head of Time-Warner and Honorary Chairman of the summit, said in the keynote address, "It's time to go beyond tolerance. We tolerate what we cannot accept." What familiar words to all of us in Isha Yoga! Frequently over the course of four days, messages of the speakers struck the familiar note of our Master's own words.

It confirmed my confidence that all we need to know about living successfully, fully and peacefully can be learned from Sadhguru. We are fortunate to be students of a living master. His greatness among men was never more clear to me than in the company of summit delegates.

And then the real work began. I wasn't prepared for what took place the next two days. Throughout history, religious wars have left scars on all civilizations and countries. These emotional wounds seemed to run deep in many of the religious leaders sharing their experiences at the summit. The very topic of world peace must naturally address the past and present activities of religions that have created and continue to create tension and conflict. I was taken aback by the honest expression of pain and suffering by many delegates on behalf of their people, cultures and countries.

I listened, learned and wept. At times, it seemed like I overflowed with the emotion and passion of the speakers. Vicariously, I felt the pain and frustration of centuries of man's persecution and prejudice. But also, I celebrated the courage it took for so many to look honestly at themselves and be willing to change. I realized clearly how most people live within the beliefs of their family and cultures, beliefs that have been deeply ingrained for generations. So ingrained that the ability to be objective about other beliefs is lost. When these beliefs are challenged, most people feel personally threatened.

World peace means understanding and acceptance of all expressions of God. How this summit was needed! It was the first opportunity in history for religious and spiritual leaders to come together in a forum as equals, and express their unique perspectives on brotherhood and peace. Although this occasionally included anger, it always ended in appeals to accept and respect all faiths as valid paths on the sacred journey to Divinity.

At this point of the summit, I had grown accustomed to the unusual outer dressing, and began seeing all delegates as people with different experiences and conditioning. I realized that beyond our titles and costumes (and the few saints and enlightened beings), we are all simply humans with the same basic wants and needs. The delegates addressed tough issues. Poverty, forgiveness, reconciliation, conflict resolution and ecology. Spiritual leaders presented their ideas and suggestions to the delegation, which were compiled for a post-summit report to the United Nations. Sadhguru spoke sound logic and offered ideas during the working sessions on poverty, forgiveness and reconciliation.

For me, the summit has already created a new desire for cooperation, a sense of urgency and inspiration to be a better member of the human family. When I lament that I am just one person, I shift my awareness to my pledge in Isha Yoga to be a parent to the world. If every person embraced this consciousness, which is the very essence of Jaggi's teachings, we would make dramatic strides. I also reflected on a comment that Sadhguru made recently, which touched me deeply. He said, "What a million hands cannot do, one teardrop can accomplish."

Understanding the pain of others, their need and despair, is a very powerful agent for change. The summit was a chance for me to experience the strength of compassion, and I will forever be more alert to the impact that society, especially of my western birthplace, has on other citizens of the world. Can we collectively eliminate poverty by the year 2025? Will countries stop wars in the name of religion? Will we save our planet from self-destruction? The goals established at the summit seem lofty, but I have faith they will be accomplished. There is a new commitment, a new sense of cooperation and urgency within the spiritual leadership of humanity.

The four days at the UN summit was an opportunity to look at ancient wisdom in its many lineages. Since finding my Guru just three years ago, I know how my awareness has shifted through Sadhguru's teachings. Yes, summits like this are good as a gauge that we as a civilization are moving in the right direction. This first of its kind endeavor marked a shift in leadership, a trend that our world governments are finally placing importance on the inward as well as outward processes of life. It showed us all that the spiritual and religious leaders are willing and ready to take up the hard task of breaking barriers to peace.

At the conclusion of the summit, all delegates signed an eleven-point, Commitment to Global Peace. It begins, "Humanity stands at a critical juncture in history, one that calls for strong moral and spiritual leadership to help set a new direction for society. We, as religious and spiritual leaders, recognize our special responsibility for the well-being of the human family and peace on Earth."

This is an important moment in time. Yet, ultimately peace can happen only because of the individual transformation of each of us.

Let us make it happen!

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