Living Together in Harmony

By Delia Steinberg
Those who are incapable of living in harmony with others are also incapable of living in harmony with themselves. What they can’t achieve when working with others they won’t achieve for themselves either. – Delia Steinberg Guzmán Human unity It is our conviction that the human soul is essentially one, so we cannot establish distinctions based on the external appearance of people and things. It is rather a question of working for the development and expression of the soul, which often lies dormant when incarnated in bodies that are attracted to or repelled by one another according to the circumstances. Against disunity: trust The word “unify” comes from the Latin unus and facere, meaning “to make one”; that is, to bring together several different but coherent parts and combine them to achieve a harmonious and homogeneous unity. It is an act of coming together, of connection. If this connection didn’t exist, each part or each being would follow a different path, which is not a bad thing in itself  except that they would be divided, disunited and in opposition to one another. Without this movement towards unification, we would live in perpetual chaos and it would be very difficult to find meaning in life and its changing circumstances. Indeed, the disease that is threatening to tear apart our present age of history  a disease that we have been carrying for quite some time in a latent state  is precisely separatism, dismemberment, an open struggle between increasingly smaller factions, which inevitably ends in conflicts between individuals. We are living this every day in the sphere of politics, culture, religion and art, and in social and family settings; we can see it on the streets of the big cities and its impact is already being felt in small towns and villages. Mistrust is the lord and master of all, resulting in rudeness, abruptness, irritability, unscrupulousness, insincerity and selfishness. A good dose of unification is what we all need in general and each of us in particular. It would help us to experience once again the sense of being part of that big family which is humanity, the happiness of friendship, of mutual trust, of the desire to cooperate and help, of being able to look each other in the eye again and find shining truths instead of fearful shadows. Philosophical friendship What we need and want to recover  because we know that it has never ceased to exist  is philosophical friendship; that friendship which is based on a mutual love of knowledge, which can withstand time and difficulties, which creates bonds of true fraternity even when there are no blood ties involved. That is why we define this kind of friendship as philosophical, even if we may not use that term in everyday life. It is philosophical because there is love and a need for knowledge. It is what makes two or more people try to get to know one another, understand one another, beginning by getting to know themselves. It is the friendship that leads to the birth of respect, patience and constancy, that forgives without failing to point out mistakes and encourages each of us to become a little better every day in order to be worthy of our friend. It is the friendship that awakens a sense of solidarity, of mutual support at all times, that is able to bear separation and sorrow, sickness and hardship. We define it as philosophical because it is only when we share ideas in common, similar goals in life and an identical spirit of service and self-improvement, that this friendship, which is not a plant of one day or a passing summer cloud, can be born. Tolerance Tolerance is indispensable among all human beings; it goes beyond superficial differences and instead is based on the deep qualities of the human being, who is the same in all places, in all physical bodies and under the most varied expressions of existence. Living in harmony with others begins with ourselves It’s not easy to separate what the body wants from what the emotions demand or what our reason  which is not always clear or constant  requires of us. However, this agreement between the constituent factors of our personality is indispensable. It is an essential formula for finding harmony within ourselves, which in turn will allow us to develop that cherished harmony with others. Bringing peace into our lives Peace is the result of neutralizing our defects by the strength of our virtues, reducing our negative aspects and allowing space for the potential of the positive but latent aspects to emerge. It is peace with oneself and with others. It is the peace of harmonious coexistence, of concord. These are the peaceful victories we can obtain every day, without getting angry with ourselves or with others. Sharing who we are It is not possible to live in harmony with others if the generosity of love is lacking and the all-absorbing sense of being unique in the world prevails. If we are to live together in harmony we need to expand our consciousness and allow space for all living beings, we need to understand the life that is in all things and perceive the infinity of the universe. We need to know and appreciate everything that exists… And have the courage to share who we are with everyone around us. No one can achieve their own fulfilment if they have no regard for the fulfilment of others.

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The need for a vision of the future

By Sabine Leitner
I recently read a review of the book “Eden 2.0: Climate Change and the Search for a 21st Century Myth”. The central argument of the book is that humanity needs to find – rather fast – a myth that would enable us to transcend our differences and inspire us to follow a radically new course. Dry facts and policies won’t be enough. We need to be inspired by a shared vision in order to bring about the change which is so urgently needed. This does not only make complete sense in our current ‘post-factual’ climate where people seem to prefer a good story to facts. It also highlights the profound lack of vision of the future of both campaigners and politicians around the world. A good example of this lack of vision is the Occupy Movement, which started in September 2011, and protested against social inequality and the lack of real democracy. Irreconcilable disagreements between its various sub-groups and endless meetings that were going nowhere stalled the movement although it had initially spread to 951 cities in 82 countries. The experience showed that new societies do not automatically emerge when people just get together to voice their shared discontent. Another example that revolutions alone don’t bring about a better society is the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. Facebook and Twitter brought hundreds of thousands of people to Tahrir Square to voice their discontent, which caused Mubarak to stand down as a president. But there was a total lack of vision of ‘what next’ and the Muslim Brotherhood, who did have a clear idea of what they wanted, moved in quickly to fill the vacuum. Within a year Egypt was governed by someone acting in an increasingly authoritarian way and trying to push through an Islamist agenda. As a result, millions went onto the streets and the same liberals who had started the movement for change were now asking the military to ‘save the revolution’. In July 2013, the military staged a coup d’état and Egypt ended up again with another ex-military man as president. Social media nowadays have the power to start revolutions and to lead to the removal of dictatorial leaders. But social media are unable to tell us how to build new societies and institutions. It will be incredibly difficult to create a shared vision that would be able to inspire the majority. We have become so ‘individualised’ that we are no longer able to subscribe to something collective. We are totally used to a ‘tailor-made’ and ‘personalised’ way of life. We wouldn’t even be able to agree on a shared vision of a great holiday, let alone a shared vision of the future. One person’s utopia would be another’s dystopia. Probably only the brutal force of sheer necessity to survive would be able to join us all together, much like the experience of the Blitz in Second World War London. But unlike the time after the Blitz in London, when people were united in their effort to re-build the nation, the future cannot be just a rebuilding of what was before. Our current systems and paradigms have reached a dead end. The future will have to be radically different, based on a completely new way of understanding society and ourselves. It took several generations of builders to build the Gothic cathedrals. Societies and institutions are much more complex than cathedrals and to renew them will also require generations of committed people to work towards the realisation of a clear vision. Yes, we do need a vision for the 21st century, but one that includes the higher potential of human beings and their real needs and not one that is based on yet another outdated economic worldview.