Here’s one simple answer to all important questions.
Many years ago, I was asked a few questions by a gathering of world-renowned experts on education, the environment, religion, and various other fields. They asked me these questions because I had been introduced to them as an “enlightened man from the East,” but really, I don’t think they expected answers. That’s how big these questions were. Even all these years later, the questions they asked still apply because we still haven’t solved the issues they addressed.
I would summarize them into three main questions:
- How can we live a good life?
- How can we overcome inter-group conflicts?
- How can we live harmoniously with the earth’s environment?
How would you attempt to answer these questions? If you start by looking at the small details, you could discuss possible answers forever. But if you take a step back, you might see only one response: We just have to play well with each other.For peace and harmony, let's learn to play well with each other. Click To Tweet
Play Well with Ourselves
Of course, if we’re going to play well with each other, we need to learn to play well with ourselves first. That’s our first hurdle—and our first solution—to a more harmonious world. Many people struggle with being alone. In the absence of external stimulation or support, we feel anxious, bored, and especially, lonely. That’s why we turn to entertainment, retail therapy, or drugs. But if we don’t let ourselves be with, empathize with, and accept ourselves, we start running on a self-love deficit, and it becomes harder to empathize with others. Then under stress, we may lash out against others, or ourselves, in ways we may regret.
But we don’t need much to entertain ourselves or get to know ourselves. We have the best medium of all—our body. When I’m alone, I stretch and exercise, or sometimes just observe my breathing. As I keep focusing on my body this way, I find my thoughts ceasing, and I reach a state of lightness and peace.
From that state beyond thought or emotion, I can meet and hang out with my true self in my heart. Being with that inherently harmonious and loving self, I realize how valuable I am, and I gain respect for myself.
Enjoy Ilchi Lee’s blog posts?
Keep up-to-date with weekly wisdom delivered directly to your email inbox.
Harmony Begins with Respect
To play well with ourselves and others, we need respect more than anything else. It’s the same with all “tribes,” however we choose to define them. It is because we cannot respect each other that we cannot play well, and we fight.
It’s the same with the earth. If we don’t respect the earth, how can we consistently treat it well? How can we make it a prominent factor in our decisions instead of merely an afterthought or a point of contention?
Why then can’t we respect each other and play well with each other? It’s because we have incorrect information in our brains. We have too much information that’s based on our collective and individual egos, rather than peaceful information based on a higher standard.
The political, societal, and environmental crises we face exist because we neglect the principle of harmony in favor of unbalanced self-centeredness. Therefore, recovering our harmonious minds and living by the principle of harmony is the way to establish world peace and environmental sustainability. In other words, it is the way to discover our true nature.
The Information of Harmony
What information do we need, then, in order to live by the principle of harmony with ourselves, society, and the earth? The first is: “I am an Earth Citizen.” I live on earth; I’m dependent on the earth; and the earth depends on me. If we make this realization an axiom of our lives, then all other information and realizations can flow from it.
This idea may make sense when we think about how interconnected the world is today. However, we don’t need to accept it with only the logical side of our minds. Such a “truth” can actually be felt with our hearts if we connect our minds, hearts, and even bodies.
The fact that we all can do this is a source of hope for me. Since we are all able to do it, I work every day to help people feel that they are Earth Citizens who live from the perspective of managing the earth.
It’s a matter of managing our priorities, as I believe was expressed by one of the leaders of the liberation movement that worked to free Korea from Japanese colonization in the early 20th century. Kim Gu, who I consider to be an Earth Citizen, said: “I want our country to become the most beautiful nation in the world, not the most powerful. My heart aches because of the invasion of others, so I don’t want my country to invade the countries of others. It’s enough if we have the economic power to lead abundant lives and the military power to defend ourselves from the aggression of others. What I really want to have without limit is the power of high culture. For the power of high culture will make us happy and bring happiness to others, too.”
Together, we can make an earth-centered culture that places harmony and sustainability above our others wants and needs. For in the end, that’s the only way we’ll be able to play well with each other.
- Poem: Earth Whispers
- An Enlightened Culture
- This Is My Wish for Us All This Year
- How to Bring the World Together
- For New Hopes and Dreams of Creating Human Peace