What is peace, to you? – 2009

Dear Friends & Taimyo Practitioners:

Greeting from Maslives, France!

911 has come again…..

What is your plan for praying “World Peace” today?

I would like to share the responses to my question I received from some of you this time!

Hope it will help you deepen your meditation!

What is peace, to you?

Just wanted to share another Kansha (gratitude) experience with you. We just got back from a week camping near Yosemite where I had the chance to climb Half Dome. What an experience! it is truly a grueling, spectacular hike. I started at 7AM and finished by 5PM — an all day 18 mile round-trip hike with an elevation gain of 4800 feet. Probably the toughest hike I have ever done. When you get to the base of Half Dome, you finish by climbing 400 feet of cable. It really takes full body/mind focus and determination to make it to the top. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in such a beautiful and amazing hike (and to have made it to the top!). This was my 50th birthday present to myself and I am grateful to be genki (vital) enough to undertake such challenges.

I experienced many wonderful things on this hike, but the most meaningful was observing people relate to one another. Because we were all facing an extreme situation – a very difficult hike coupled with a challenging, scary climb – we recognized we were “all in the same boat.” When humans realize this it tends to bring out the best in the human character, i.e. cooperation, mutual concern, kindness, helpfulness, encouragement, inspiration, etc. This is what I found all along the trail – people genuinely helpful, caring and encouraging to one another – especially during the really difficult parts. It reminded me of what happens after natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes, where people recognize they are “all in the same boat” and need to row together to survive. This ties in perfectly with Peace. In my opinion, for Peace to be possible, we must experience the interconnection of being “all in the same boat.” Without interconnectedness, we fall prey to division and separateness, and then we can justify war, and evil in general.

My wish for all of us is that we regularly touch the experience of all being in this together, “all in the same boat.” This is the foundation for Love and Peace.

Brian Johnson
Massage Practiyioner
San Francisco, California USA


This a question that often goes straight into war. . . ! Especially if I try to give MY POINT OF VIEW . . . . For me, this is not my first wish. My first wish is to be inhabited by love. And LOVE, when it arrives, makes it possible for peace to come with others . . . and in me . . . .

Francoise Leclercq,
Retired Teacher/Meditant
Eragny s/ Oise, Paris, France


I am currently putting together the next edition of Taimyo, the British Shintaido newsletter, in which I asked Masashi Minagawa a similar question:

BSN: What do you think the connection is between Shintaido and world peace?

“Peace is very important to many Shintaido practitioners. In 2000 I went to Northern Ireland for a ‘Way of Peace’ conference with the Dalai Lama; I did a small demonstration there. A Christian priest asked the Dalai Lama what we could do to promote peace, and his response inspired me . . . He said he personally believed that if we keep the light inside us first and then give it to the person next to us to brighten them, our community will become bigger and brighter. That is the way to make peace. The important point is nonviolence . . . So I showed Tenshingoso and thought ‘I must keep the light of Tenshingoso and Shintaido in my heart and not let it go out.’ Whenever, wherever you are, you can always do a performance of Shintaido and share something. Even with a far-away conflict, our small community can make a contribution to world peace. I am trying to find partners with whom I can do this and I think that also connects with making world peace. I don’t try to do anything big, just small things: that’s a Buddhist idea too. I read this a long time ago, but only recently have I really come to understand it.”
– Masashi Minagawa

As you may know, I am a Quaker, and Quakers talk a lot about peace. The founder of the Quakers, George Fox, once said “Some people say ‘Paul said this’ and ‘Jesus said that,’ but I ask you: What canst THOU say?” In Shintaido terms that translates as, “Some people like to quote what Aoki Sensei wrote, or what Minagawa Sensei said in an interview, but I am far more interested in what you think yourself.” So I had better answer this question for myself too!

To me, the first condition of peace is absence of violence — not absence of conflict. We can never achieve that nor would we want to. But conflict can result in violence – i.e. destructive behaviour of any sort – unless it is resolved in a way such that all parties have the opportunity for growth. So peace is making, and taking, the opportunity for growth (Tsuki kumite – karate partner engagement).

But that’s abstract and theoretical. Peace can obviously be described in terms of sensations: sights, sounds, actions and feelings, and that’s what you have asked us to do. The media fills us with a lot of clichés: children laughing, sunsets over mountaintops, people from different backgrounds hugging, incense in churches and temples. For me, it’s about being with people I used to be wary of – people who feel different, dangerous – then discovering they are human like me, finding how much we share, listening with humility and respect, and being heard, too. It’s about encounter, surprise, a sudden expansion of my world combined with the awesome sense that I might have helped expand their world too. So my answer is – peace is about feeling surprise, excitement, hope.

Peter Furtado
Oxford, England, UK


To me, peace equals harmony. Whether one speaks of or experiences world peace, inner peace or peace of mind, one is talking about harmony: a social agreement, amicability, cooperation, consensus, good will, sympathy, tranquility, unity, understanding, oneness, togetherness, balance, accord, fitness, and in musical terms, consonance, concert, melodiousness, etc. Peace is not the absence of conflict but the right mixture of apposing elements, collaborating to create a better resulting element: harmony. peace. When we manage to achieve it, the results can be a mixture of contentment, sadness and fulfillment.

As a Libra, harmony is the balance I strive for constantly, if not successfully.

Mario Uribe
Santa Rosa, California, USA


Inner Peace means something that can give power to me for controlling anger, envy or a wicked heart. If individuals could have such power, it would lead to World Peace.

Akira Watari,
Weekend Shintaido Practitioner
Fuchu, Tokyon, Japan


Peace is very much related to freedom. There is no possibility for peace without freedom. So, what is freedom? I have lyrics from a song in my mind:
“The only true freedom is freedom from our heart’s desires . . . .”
The moments in my life I felt in peace were the moments I wanted nothing.
Nothing to say, nothing to think about, nothing to do. Quietness.

Kirsten Reinders
Shop Manager/Mother
Cologne, Germany


Peace for me is to look to the world without an emotional prism, even when there are troubles around us. The emotional prism comes with ego and fear. Without it, the world is bigger and we have a better relationship with ourselves and others. It’s like having no fight with the present.

Julio Dain
Rio de Janeiro, Brasil


For me, peace isn’t quiet and it isn’t calm. It’s very active. Its smell changes constantly, ranging from smells I recognize and love, to others I don’t really care to smell. I guess it’s fair to say that peace for me isn’t especially peaceful as some people might define the word.

I’m most at peace when I’m doing something I love and believe in. Those are the times I feel like I’m closest to getting it right. The times when I feel I’m fully appreciating my time here. Sometimes peace can be quiet and meditative, but the peace I cherish most is active. It’s the peace I find when I’m working on something important to me or when I travel to new places. It’s the peace that comes from learning and having fun while learning that rings my bell.

I never really thought about it in these terms before, but maybe this is what world peace looks and smells like too.

Lee Phillips
Software Enginieer
Richmond, California, USA


For me, Peace is a vast ocean totally being lulled (凪の大海), probably in the midnight with a full moon at the top of the sky, without any perturbations. But if there are any perturbations, they are merged in the big stillness of the ocean.

Shin-Ichi Matsuyama
Practitioner in Accupancture & Moxibustion
Oosaka, Japan


Peace for me . . . .
A calm, quiet, aware connection to Source, which brings me into the oneness of the All – being one with Source. When I am able to carry this peace in/with me I am able share it – send it out to All. For me the look, sound, feel, smell and taste of Peace is that of the beauty of nature.

Joanne Watson
Home Maker/Caregiver
San Francisco, California, USA


I saw a 1964 film clip on TV of Duke Ellington playing “Mood Indigo” and I heard Peace all around me; the trio of clarinet, trombone, saxophone breathed mellow wind notes that were whole, round, complete. The musicians’ effort came by way of their practice, expertise, effort and their love. There were long exhalations of smoothly flowing air and close harmonies that went to their very edge. As I watched them play, it seemed each of them was truly present to each part of the sound. The sound is exquisite and the pleasure complete. So the sound is one of balance and completeness and moving beyond to another song, another place or another time. The effort is one of individual effort and discipline and love performing in concert with others who have similar backgrounds and focus.

At the Ocean Beach workshop, when you were demonstrating a move with Shin Aoki, you cautioned, “Don’t get involved.” We laughed because it seemed as though we weren’t to get involved with Shin. But the larger instruction, it seemed to me, is to not get involved in my partner’s response, and continue my movement in concert with my partner’s movement. Now, I’m thinking of it again, having read Tom Brown, Jr. and his report of Grandfather’s lesson: Vary your vision. Now, I think these two instructions are about peaceful action on my part: focus, deliberate attention and full commitment to the personal task and, AT THE SAME TIME, awareness of all that surrounds the two of you in this moment. In other words, stay alert in both worlds — the personal and the outer.

Up to now, I guess I have assumed Peace is a static equilibrium, comfortable for everyone. Right now, I’m wondering if Peace is moving, always moving with energy and full presence and all the resources I’ve gained so far with others, who are also sending our their ‘whole selves’ through their action.

Barbara Barnard
Pacific Shintaido
San Francisco, California, USA


My mum is asking me to translate the following quote from Oscar Wilde:

“Il ne faut jamais rencontrer les gens que l’on déteste parce qu’on finit par les aimer”
– Oscar Wilde
Et alors tout commence . . . .

“We should never meet the people we hate, lest we end up loving them”
She then adds:
And then everything begins…

Patrick Bouchaud
Shintaido Instructor
Zurich, Switzerland


a state of constantly changing/transformative equilibrium, where no information or energy is lost

Henry Kaiser
Scientific Diver
Oakland, California USA

I think that a dynamic, or living, peace is well defined by the traditional Buddhist precepts, or guidelines, for living:

1. Do not kill, but cherish all life.
2. Do not steal, but respect the things of others.
3. Do not cause harm with one’s sexual actions, but help to preserve harmony in all relationships.
4. Do not lie, but tell the truth.
5. Do not intoxicate body and mind, but be clear in one’s thought and actions.

Mushim Ikeda-Nash
Buddhist Meditation Teacher of Retreat for People of Color and Social Justice Activists
Oakland, California, USA


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