Good morning beautiful people of the world,

I am still on this amazing silent Buddhist retreat in this extremely privileged location but the dear Venerable Namgyel is going to have to forgive me this naughty moment of communication because I have something to say.

I was sat, like every morning, in this amazing forest; enjoying the peace and tranquility when I started to imagine how it would feel if I was sat here and bombs were falling all around me. It was at that moment that I felt an incredible sadness for people around the world who do not have such a luxury anymore. Yes, peace for some people has become a privilege. it shouldn’t be. We should all have the right to live in peace.

I have been in a position whereby I have been awoken early morning to the sound of jet fighters chasing each other in the sky and the threat of imminent war. I have also been very close to a car bomb explosion. I know what that kind of fear feels like. For me, it was a question of weeks and months but for some people that fear has become a way of life. Can you begin to imagine the fear some people have to live with on a daily basis?

As most of you know, I have traveled to 43 countries and had the blessing to be able to see, feel and learn from people in every single one.

We think we are different because we live in ignorance of each other. I don’t mean that in a negative way. I mean it in a way that echoes not knowing about each other. We don’t understand each other or we don’t comprehend enough about each other. Again, I don’t mean it in a negative way. Nobody is to blame for that. We get so wrapped up in clinging to “my country” “my nationality” “my customs” that we fail to see the world really is only one big place where we are all human beings. We are so preoccupied with our own survival that we fail to see just how others are coping with their own survival. A few people have said to me on different occasions, we all have a watch but very few of us ever have time. It’s true, we run everywhere and we fill our days with all the necessary things we need to do to survive that we often don’t have time to talk to our family, friends, and neighbours let alone engage in meaningful conversations with strangers who have a totally different nationality and background to us.

On my travels, I have learned a great deal about just how much alike we all are. There is no separation between us except the borders governments have made in order to control our free movements. We, as humans, all want the same things in life. We want some form of income to be able to live modestly, some might want more than others and some May want less but we all want and need a little something. The big greedy corporations want it all and that is why we, as a planet, are in this position of imbalance that we are. The world is manipulated by the few.

We all want a home of some kind where we can feel safe, secure and protected from the elements. In India, people live on the riverbanks with just a plastic sheet over their heads. They collect cow’s poop to dry it and use it as a form of fuel. Can you imagine having to do that to survive?

Just recently, the Japanese government apologised to its women for forcing them into prostitution for the benefit of soldiers during the war. Can you imagine being sold out by your own government? Governments around the world have used their own people to test the effects of countless intoxicating drugs over the decades. We don’t want to believe this is true but it is. We want to have faith and believe our countries will protect us but, sadly, reality is something completely different.

In Nepal, there are areas so poor they are not even considered to be at or above the poverty line. In Haiti, years and years after the natural disaster, people are still living in tents because the money you and I donated never reached the people. Charities have become businesses and as all good businesses, they incur running costs. So a large proportion of what you donate pays salaries instead of truly helping those in need. I am not judging. Every business have to have some form of structure and someone somewhere has to do the work, and if they do the work, they deserve compensation.

Over the last few years, people have been complaining about refugees. Quite frankly the comments I have heard are heartbreaking. I think it’s very arrogant to think that refugees want to be in your country just for the benefits available. In the grand scheme of things, in all countries, I have been to there’s only a very very small percentage of people who want to leave their country to seek greener pastures. Just like you, the majority of people cling to their roots. They don’t want to leave their homeland. They have their jobs, their families, and friends.

Refugees are forced to leave their homeland. Can you imagine what it must be like to risk your own life and that of your family in order to go somewhere else? Look at all the deaths at sea. How would you feel though and what would you do if your home and that of your neighbour were being bombed. Would you risk everything to try and find peace somewhere else? Anyone who has ever been a parent or felt like a parent would never wittingly put their child’s life in danger just for the sake of it. So, try and imagine just how much pain and suffering is surrounding someone to put them in a position that may mean the loss of their child.

I’ve also read comments that accuse refugees of coming to their country and stealing their jobs. How can someone who doesn’t speak your language and have your skills, steal your job? Most refugees do the jobs that nobody else wants to do. They are janitors and clean toilets. I have met lawyers, doctors and people of great educational value doing just about everything except exercising their profession. how would you feel if you had been a doctor in your country and you were forced to clean toilets. I think there is an invaluable lesson in humility here for us all.

I have also read that it is only male refugees who arriving in different countries. We’ll, in male dominated societies it is commonplace that the men go on ahead and take the risk of traveling to the unknown in order to then bring out their female counterparts. Protecting those viewed as the weaker sex is a cultural trait. Some mothers will also sacrifice their own lives and their own well-being for the sake of their offspring.

There are also people in this world, like the Tibetan people, who no longer have a nationality. Can you imagine what it must feel like to believe you don’t belong anywhere and have nowhere to identify with? No country will accept you as theirs and you can’t go back to your homeland because another government has decided that it no longer exists. you have no passport, no identity, no place to call home. How would that affect you?

As a lot of you know, I volunteered in the major floods that took the lives and the homes of so many people in Madeira. Can you imagine losing everything overnight? Of course not. Human nature dictates that unless we actually experience something first hand and empathise with the people affected.

If we all want world peace which I believe we do then we need to try and understand each other a bit better. We need to show a little more empathy and compassion. Life is a privilege, peace and happiness nowadays are privileges and luxuries thanks to greedy corporations and governments that are shot to pieces.

You may think you have no power to change things but you do. Every choice you make, everything you say and everything you do has an impact on someone somewhere and on nature itself. If we were all a little more conscious of how we interact with this world, we could make such a difference for the better. We can save this world and everyone in it, not through HUGE gestures but through the small ones, with kindness, consideration, spreading a little happiness, giving a little more and not necessarily material things. We can just give our time, a hug, a lemon or simply just sit in silence with someone with whom we can exchange energy from the heart.

They say that hindsight is a wonderful thing but foresight is a great gift. If we’d had a bit more of it, no doubt more countries would have greater industries. They’d be mass producing at cheaper prices and we wouldn’t complain about the globalization and flooding of the market with Chinese produce. Just look at the great stories behind Apple and Facebook. They are just two examples of great foresight.

In short, as this is getting a bit long winded … If we build peace one person at a time, we can start to reconstruct countries instead of destroying them. We can change our systems of government. We can curb the greed the big corporations have and finally, we can return the privilege of being in the place they call home to the people who don’t have one.

Love each other people. Life really is too short.

Venerable Namgyel. I think during a retreat it is better to stick to the discipline of the retreat and then write whatever you want to write at the end of the retreat. Sorry Venerina Conti but the group is important!

Joyce Parker Hyde
Joyce Parker Hyde Beautiful heartwarming sincerely thought out. One of my biggest disappointments over the last decade has been that social media wasn’t used for people to get to know people of different races, cultures, and background. Rather, they have clustered into groups to support what they already think. This has been a supreme waste of a free to most of us a resource that could get us closer to peace. Thank you for all you do.
  Venerable Namgyel, I ask on behalf of my dear sister for a pardon of her transgression and propose that these particular thoughts needed to be sent out at this particular time for reasons that transcend the original purpose of the retreat? Maybe for a greater good? Namaste. Please excuse my arrogance.
Venerable Namgyel Immediately was unnecessary during a retreat. In my opinion.
Andrew Gordon Bennett- Pink ONE thing you have not said and in my opinion needs to be said is the right to express one’s opinion in thought, word or deed.However venerable you may be regarded as being we are all equal and have the right to express one’s self as we wish when we wish and where we wish.The golden rule is not to do physical or mental harm to your fellow human being.I say again we are all equal however wise or ignorant we may be perceived to be.May peace and harmony go with you all

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