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Elements of Peace Obstacles to Peace
Human Psychology and Peace The Nature of Reality
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Hearing The Dalai Lama

On Friday we had the great privilege of hearing the Dalai Lama at his Brisbane audience. Human beings whose goodness goes all the way through are a rarity, and when you see the real thing, the difference is striking. The event started comically, with the Dalai Lama sitting with the Mayor of Ipswich and an ABC interviewer, who had probably never had their hands held in public before!

I wanted to mention just a few incidents from his answers to audience questions, first an important practical one, then an insightful emotional one.

Pascal's Wager

I recently came upon a poster in an email list, who recommended that we adopt Pascal's Wager. I can't quote the passage that moved me to write, due to the posting rules for the list in question, but the summary is that we must choose whether or not to believe in god. If we disbelieve and there is a god, we are held responsible for disbelieving; but if there is no god, we get no punishment or reward whatever we believed; so, the argument goes, it is better to wager that there is a god.

IMHO, Pascal's wager is a very, very poor argument. Consider: Suppose the real god is actually someone who hates the Christian/Moslem/Baha'i/you-name-it conception of god. He actually punishes with the most fearsome vengeance those who believe in that god, but doesn't care much if you don't believe in him.

If you think that is unlikely, here is a more likely version: God cares whether one assesses the evidence to the best of one's ability, and follows the path of intellectual honesty. He is highly offended by people who believe simply in the hope of getting a reward. Such a god will clearly punish those who choose belief from being convinced by Pascal's wager.

Or perhaps God rewards people for the good they do relative to the motivation they had for doing it - He rewards believers very little, because they expect payment (heaven) for doing good, but He rewards atheists a lot, because they did good without any expectation of payback.

Reflective Thinking

[This article is by guest author Karen Hannay. Karen is an artist and art teacher who is deeply committed to helping her students and others to explore their hidden capacities for creativity and imagination. - RH]

Never before has the world so desperately needed creative, critical thinking to solve the problems we face today and in the future. At first glance it may seem that of course people know how to think. After all, we live in an advanced society where we reap a multitude of benefits of human thinking. The problem is that the results of thinking do not always have ethical outcomes. Some or many may benefit at the expense of others.

The problem is that generally humans do not think about things in a reflective manner. Problems are often given cursory attention and solutions are arrived at without deep analysis. Humans are often swayed by one side or other of an argument and accept what they are told without critically examining the situation. Decisions are often made on emotional grounds. Creative and less obvious solutions that may have far superior outcomes are often not given consideration. If we are to aim to improve the outcomes of decisions for everyone it requires a new level of thinking, one that moves away from the obvious polarities of thought that humans fall victim to. We need to become reflective thinkers.

Reality Matrix

There is a real world out there - and in here (meaning within ourselves), an ever-developing dance of the objective and the subjective. The objective - the 'world out there', the bricks and mortar, the ideologies, religions, the living planet, the universe at large - and the subjective - the immediacy of the Self, awareness, sentience, imagination, emotion, thought, rationality - these two dance together throughout the ages; in one life, in many, in archetypal images, in secret thoughts. But make no mistake, this play of inner and outer reality is reality.

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