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|Fecha:||Domingo, 26 de Enero, 2003 09:42:57 (-0600)|
|Autor:||Sonsoles Ussia <jirafita @...com>
Pido disculpas al foro, por mandarlo en Ingles, asi me llego a mi.|
am passing on one woman's incredible story of peace and reconciliation based on the work of Thich Nhat Hanh. This piece appeared in the Peaceful Parenting newsletter (address below) and was sent out by Barbara Wolf of Global Meditations Network (http://www.globalmeditations.com).
PEACE IS AROUND THE CORNER
by Marion Pargaman
I would like to tell you about a quite extraordinary event that happened
to me during the walk organised by Tovana, the Vipasana meditation group
What happened was a very personal experience but I feel it is important
to share it with other people. The walk took place on the first week of
April. It intended to give an opportunity for Palestinians and Israelis
to walk together, to develop dialogue and self introspection, inspired
by the ancient traditions that guided people like Mahatma Gandi and
Martin Luther King. What I experienced on the last day was very much in
the spirit of peace and coexistence, of calm and serenity created by the
walk in the midst of the atmosphere of insanity and violence around us.
During 8 days, participants walked together from Tel Aviv-Yaffo to
Jerusalem, passing by Jewish and Arab towns and settlements, in silence
and awareness, declaring a commitment to deep listening and
I joined the Walk with a group of Palestinians and Israelis who practice
meditation and mindfulness together according to the tradition of Thich
Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk and famous peace worker. I
participated in several days of the Walk. Monday 8th of April, the last
day of the Walk, was the eve of the Holocaust day, a day of deep emotion
for the Jewish community. It went from Ein Kerem, through Jerusalem to
the foot of the old city walls. I planned to join the group from the
morning, but after a sleepless night I decided to join later.
In the early afternoon I park my car at the final meeting place of the
walk. I walk up to the walls of the old city, to meet them on their
way. When I get to Jaffa gate, I find myself in front of a very
agitated elderly Arab man exchanging insults with an elderly religious
Jew who is standing at a bus station a few meters lower down.
Some policemen from a Border Police patrol are trying to calm them down,
so that it won't turn into a fight, as they are extremely angry.
I stand beside the Arab, I speak to him calmly and ask him to sit down
without reacting to the other's provocation. I am quite impressed by
the restraint shown by the policemen. They don't defend one side or the
other and respect both sides.
The bus arrives, the Jewish man boards the bus and the situation seems
to have settled down. Then, a Jewish woman who was there in the queue
from the beginning of the argument, and who did not get into the bus,
takes upon herself to start insulting the Arab who reacts immediately.
The police have gone and I am left alone to try to calm the situation.
I give my attention to the Arab who would have stayed quiet if he was
not continually provoked by the woman. I try from a distance to reason
with her without success.
She stops a passing police car and says something to the policeman who
walks up to the Arab. I explain him what is going on and he goes back to
the woman. I am so happy that all the policemen in this situation act so
calmly and help to restore peace.
Then, a Palestinian woman on her way to Jaffa gate bursts onto the
scene; she jumps to the conclusion that the old Arab is under "attack"
and rushes in a frenzy to rescue him. She yells some insults at the
Jewish woman who was beginning to calm down, and the situation heats up
again. All my attention is now focused on her. I feel she is like a
bomb ready to explode.
I try to explain to her what is going on, but she is furious with me,
screaming out her hatred, her despair and her pain. This is Palestine
accusing Israel. At this moment I represent Israel for her. This whole
situation is greater than the two of us and takes on proportions beyond
our present meeting.
She shouts out her sorrow about what is going on now in the territories,
the military incursions into Palestinian towns. She talks in particular
about Jenin where some terrible fighting is now taking place. She has
family and friends there and she says that our soldiers are war
criminals. She is convinced that we want to kill them all. Why do we
hate them so much? They are not responsible for the Holocaust, why
should they be paying the price?
She tells me about the refugees and their constant suffering for which
we are responsible. Pointing at the Jewish woman, she assures me that
this Sephardi woman was treated with honor, as a human being, in an Arab
country from where she comes, and look at how she behaves with
It goes on and on; she shouts and spews her hatred for Israel at me. I
don't try to argue with her at all. I don't show any reaction to all
these accusations. I feel a huge compassion and an intense need to
listen to her, only listen to her. My patience is nourished by
understanding that behind this overwhelming hatred is a deep suffering
and pain aggravated by the present situation of war. It must express
itself in some way so that healing can take place.
I am ready to listen to what appears to me as the worst accusations,
distortions or calumnies, without reacting. I am aware that what
reinforces my strength at this moment is that I have absolutely no doubt
that the suffering and pain of the Israeli people is not less real and
legitimate. I don't let myself get tempted or trapped into guilt or
anger. I am sorry for the tragedy on both sides. My compassion for her
is not on the account of the compassion and sense of loyalty I have for
my own people, for myself.
For me this is not an issue of who is right and who is wrong. I feel
very very calm and peaceful deep inside. I know that it is the only way
to calm her fury. I let her express herself for a long time without
interrupting her. As she continues to shout at me, I tell her that she
has no need to speak so loudly because I am listening to her with all my
attention. At the same time I find myself caressing her arm. She lets me
do it and progressively lowers her voice, while continuing to let her
She says to me: "Do you understand why some of us come and commit
suicide among you? You kill us anyway, so why not kill you at the same
time?" She even mentions the possibility of coming and blowing herself
up out of despair. I tell her softly that I don't want her to die.
Nobody should come to this decision. We all suffer on both sides. She
goes on and on claiming that the Zionists only want to get rid of the
Palestinians. I tell her: "You see I am a Zionist and I don't want to
get rid of you. I wish we could live together as good neighbours". She
listens to me!
She tells me about the demonstration that took place the week before
near Ramallah. She complains about the Jewish organisations who took
part in it. Then she asks me to donate some money to buy phone cards for
Palestinians who need them. I give her some money. At this stage the
conversation is quite normal between us. She doesn't shout any more;
she is even able to listen to me.
She is almost calm when I notice the people of the Walk approaching us
slowly, at the top of the street. They are in a line, a hundred of them,
one after the other walking in silence, slowly, quietly, aware of each
step, creating an atmosphere of peace and safety around them. They are
very present. They radiate calm and warmth. I point them out to her and
explain that this is the reason I came here, to join a walk of peace in
which Palestinians and Israeli are together. I tell her about the Walk,
its message of coexistence and peace; peace at every step, here and now.
I suggest that she come into the line with me. She hesitates and rejects
my offer. At this moment they reach us. Several people I know shake my
hand warmly as they go by. A young woman very active in a group of
rapprochement between the two peoples, approaches her and gives her a
kiss. It appears that they know each other. I notice that she is very
moved by the Walk and the atmosphere it radiates. She seems to me calmer
and calmer. Nothing like the furious woman I met only several minutes
The end of the line passes by us and I want to join it. Again I invite
her and again she declines. I tell her that I understand and respect her
decision. Before I go I tell her: "I am sure that some day we will
succeed in building peace between us." She smiles and replies: "Me too".
Then to my total surprise, she comes close to me and kisses me on my
cheeks! She walks alongside the line for a while. She tells me that she
likes this Walk, that it makes her feel good, gives her relief and that
her mood is much better now. I am very very moved. I feel overwhelmed by
this encounter, especially by its unexpected ending. Peace was there
around the corner, I did not miss it!! I was aware that an intense
moment of real reconciliation had taken place. Everything contributed
to it. Incredible timing that brought me to this place at this time;
that brought her, in her turn, with enough time to first pour out her
anger, to receive needed listening and compassion, time to calm down, so
that she could be receptive to the subtle quiet energy of the Walk.
The Walk, emanating intense healing, bringing the tangible presence of
peace and goodwill of a whole organised group, appeared just in time to
complete the scene, adding a wider perspective to an individual
encounter. The thick walls of her hatred were shattered allowing her to
express what was deep in her heart. Kissing me was a miracle! Within a
short period of time, laden with emotions, her energy of hatred and
death underwent an incredible transformation.
I don't know if, or how quickly, she returned to her initial state or
how long she remained calm. I know that this profound transformation
was very real and intense; no matter what followed, it will leave a
trace and a memory that cannot disappear. A seed of peace was sown in
her heart. We must plant many more, and water them thoroughly. I never
understood so fully the deep meaning of the words pronounced by Thich
Nhat Hanh in Shanghai on 19th October, after the 11th September tragedy:
"Terror is in the human heart. We must remove this from the heart.
Destroying the human heart, both physically and psychologically, is what
we should avoid. The root of terrorism is misunderstanding, hatred and
violence. This root cannot be located by the military. Bombs and
missiles cannot reach it, let alone destroy it. Only with the practice
of calming and looking deeply can our insight reveal and identify this
root. Only with the practice of deep listening and compassion can it be
transformed and removed. Darkness cannot be dissipated with more
darkness. More darkness will only make darkness thicker. Only light can
dissipate darkness. Those of us who have the light should display the
light and offer it so that the world will not sink into total
This story is not mine alone. I know I have the duty to tell it to
as many people as possible, so that planting seeds of peace may go on
Marion Pargamin, Jerusalem