Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Email sent on August 9


Today they bombed Nagasaki.

In June I read an article by Mel Duncan, executive director of Nonviolent Peace Force (www.nonviolentpeaceforce.org), in Yes! magazine (www.yesmagazine.org), about Shanti Sena, a GandhianAndCompany idea of a force for peace and nonviolence, the celebration of September 11 2006 as the hundredth anniversary of the day Mahatma Gandhi first declared Satyagraha in Johannesburg, and the Shanti Sainik (member of Shanti Sena) pledge that will take place that day (www.swarajpeeth.org/events/birthsatyagraha2006/index.php).

Chug chug tinkaloo went my brain.

I had planned to be in Delhi (the only place I know of in India where this is taking place) to take part in the pledge and to contribute to the events a performance project I've been working on (the one that came from the chug chug...) called One Hundred Years of Silent Seeds, the script of which includes
- "Moment of Silence", a poem by Emmanuel Ortiz,
- "O Hidden Life", a prayer written by Annie Besant, and
- "On Getting Along", an informal email Howard Zinn wrote that got circulated widely cuz he's phat like that,
The project is getting ready; I rehearsed/performed it for the first time for a small group yesterday. I hope to bring it to more places and groups over the next weeks of travel to Bangalore, Bhopal, Khandwa, Hyderabad, and Kochi. But for the big day, Delhi is not where the Way seems to be going. All's I know is, wherever I am, I will be taking the oath of a Shanti Sainik.

In Silent Seeds, I'd like to say that people are taking the oath all over the world, instead of just in Delhi, and wherever the heck I'll be. But where else is this happening? Then I started thinking, where else can I ask this to happen? The first answer is, I have no clue yet, I'm waiting on a response from knowledgeable people. The second is, hmm, let's see...

If you're getting this email, its because there's a chance that one or more of the following applies to you:
- You'd like to know about my space-time-body-mind coordinates.
- You contributed to Silent Seeds somehow or other.
- You might be interested in taking the oath.
- You might know people who might want to know about this and might be interested in taking the oath.
- You might be interested, willing, and able to help me figure out how in the doozie to go about this whole Shanti Sainya thing (it's usually Sena, but my mom and I prefer Sainya).
- There are things in this that might make you laugh or smirk or generally feel a little lighter than before.
If you are none of these, feel free to stop reading.

A word to the people interested in taking the oath: I think this is something not to be taken lightly. It is a lifelong commitment, or at least until you become a boddhisatva and therefore have attained the enlightenment to take on the karma and occasionally choose a violent measure when that is the dharma and the Way. So think about it. You have a month. Or however long it takes you to decide this is Your way. If you are taking the oath, I would love it if you let me know, so I can include the whens, wheres, hows, and whos in Silent Seeds.

Some words about the oath:
- The Swarajpeeth pledge is online (www.swarajpeeth.org/program/pledgeofshantisainik.php). I've included my version below.
- The phrases have personal meaning for me. So, for instance, "life form" includes a rock. And the "body [as a] weapon of love" includes taking part in growing my/our food and building my/our house and cleaning up my/our messes. Feel free to make it mean what you want. Feel free to change it and use it how you want. If you make changes, I would love it if you let me know, cuz mebbe I dig em.
- It's an oath that's phrased to convey a process, a movement towards something, not a final product, an achievement of greatness. If something in the oath or the person taking it suggests hypocrisy or self-righteousness or complacency, and you can suggest how to change it, feel free to tell that person.

As A.J. Muste of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and others said in the 1940s (the decade for which I found the least examples of non-violent creative resistance), this is a time for revolutionary non-violence (see Howard Zinn, People's History of the United States, Chapter 16).

TTFN. with love, Malavika
"It is stupefying that society does not revolt as a unit against the very sound of the word "War"." -Guy de Maupassant

"The objective of Christiania is to create a self-governing society whereby each and every individual holds themselves responsible over the well-being of the entire community. Our society is to be economically self-sustaining and, as such, our aspiration is to be steadfast in our conviction that psychological and physical destitution can be averted."
-mission statement, Freetown Christiania, Copenhagen

at the risk of overloading peoples inboxes:I forgot to include my personal version of the oath, the one that includes "lifeform" and "body as weapon of love" etc. here it is:

Oath of a shanti sainik
Beginning today, September 11, 2006,
I will
seek the good, the wild, and the sacred in all;
see the interconnectedness between every lifeform
and the bliss in every moment;
observe and dissolve my fear and my perception of need;
move towards ahimsa, active non-violence,
in every breath, thought, word, and deed;
aspire to be someone in whose company
it is easy to be peaceful and joyful;
learn to be gentle;
commit myself to truthforce, soulforce, satyaagraha;
turn my heart, mind, and body into weapons of love,
and take them with me as I step into the depths of hate.

Tonight, I will be a shanti sainik.


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