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    Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation

June 1, 2015

Robert V. Taylor: Peace Within through Ubuntu

The work of peace-making always includes being grounded in your own inner peace. At The Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation we provide tools for young people to create what we call Peace3 or peace to the third power: peace within, between and among people. They’re all inter-connected and essential in creating lives of well-being.  Peace and well-being within your own life is the foundation for contributing to peace between the people in your community or country and among the diverse global human family.

In 2015-16, the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation is focused on the first part of the campaign, Peace Within – how cultivating one’s inner peace lays the foundation for peace in all aspects of one’s life. We will be sharing personal stories from luminaries, celebrities and unsung heroes as to how they achieve inner peace, and how it empowers them in their day to day existence.

When examining peace for myself, I often think of the transformative power of the African wisdom tradition of “Ubuntu”. Ubuntu says that a person is only a person in the context of others. In other words we need one another in order to each discover our magnificence and allow it to shine by what we do with our lives. It is a way of life that acknowledges that every person is of infinite value. It replaces fear and distrust of others with an expectancy, curiosity and celebration of them.

Living a life of Ubuntu is a way of active engagement with the world. It means that whenever the magnificence of others is confined, scorned or dismissed you intuitively join with others in actively seeking to expand our consciousness of what it means to be human.

This affirmation of the dignity of each person often involves the pursuit of justice so that the magnificence and well-being of all can be celebrated. It is ultimately a joyful way of life.

Here are three practices by which this Ubuntu way of life finds expression in creating peace within so that we can also create peace between and among peoples.

1.     Be attentive to those around you. In the bustle of daily life it is common to take those around you for granted as a known quantity. You may admire, tolerate or be dismayed at people for qualities or behaviors they display. Those who dismay or anger you will drain your energy if you cede them that power. Your bandwidth for engaging with others is a limited and precious resource. The choices of whom to surround yourself with will either detract or enliven your vow.

Mindfully choose those whose lives exhibit well-being for themselves and others. Create time to be in conversation with them. Glean from them their truths and discoveries about living in peace. The magnificence of your mutual quest for living in peace will radiate beyond the borders of your own life creating a rippling effect in the world.

2. Own your cluttered conversations. The things that clutter our lives are not necessarily bad but they distract and detract us from the path to well-being. Old story lines and conversations that rattle around inside of us are a pernicious clutter because of their toxicity. You need to own their existence before you can detach and set yourself free from them.

These are the conversations that undermine you by keeping you ensnared in their hurt, pain, betrayal and fear. They undermine and detract you from knowing that living in peace is possible. Name them and detach from them by offering them to the care of the Universe.  It is a toxic cleanse for your well-being. Choose instead to pay attention to the comments and conversations that express a desire for your highest good.

3. Forgive instead of paying back. When you are unable to forgive someone you harm yourself by allowing part of your life to be occupied by an egregious person. The one who harmed you through a previous act gives little thought to you or what they did. Instead it is you who choose to be a victim of the past. To forgive does not mean forgetting but it does mean not seeking payback. It is a choice to be free.

I ran into someone who had led a malicious agenda against me that disrupted my life in unexpected ways. Years ago I had chosen to forgive him and my life opened to new possibilities. But there he was professing to not know me. The unexpected encounter brought back memories of a traumatic experience. Would I allow him to reoccupy my life? I was reminded that the choice to forgive often presents itself repeatedly. Forgiving is a choice to be free.

With these practices for peace within and the desire to live a life of Ubuntu, you turn your back on settling for serial moments of peace and instead choose a way of life in which to ground your work in making the world a more hopeful and just place.


About the Author

Robert V. Taylor has dedicated his life to helping individuals and organizations live beyond their limitations. He challenges leaders to live beyond the fears and self-assessments that hold them hostage. Robert is the voice of a generation empowered by the potential of living beyond the restrictions of labels. He is passionate about helping people find a deeper connection to themselves and the world at large. Author of “A New Way to Be Human,” Robert shares his own struggles and global journeys as an example of what is possible when we all live beyond labels.

As an internationally known speaker, author and media commentator, Robert is an engaging and compelling communicator of values, leadership and ethics. He is a frequent speaker for professional organizations, conferences and non-profit groups worldwide.

Robert is Chair of the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation in New York, and serves on the Board of the Endowment for Equal Justice. He was Founding Chair of the Committee to End Homelessness in King County WA and an organizer of Seeds of Compassion. 

He is a native of Cape Town, South Africa. Robert lives in Seattle and on a farm in rural Eastern Washington.

Visit www.robertvtaylor.com

May 29, 2015

Can America Heal After Ferguson? A discussion with Archbishop Tutu and Mpho Tutu

Archbishop Desmond Tutu is perhaps the closest thing the world has to an expert on forgiveness. A Nobel Peace Prize laureate, he led the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was charged with healing the wounds inflicted by generations of institutionalized racism.

His work helped South Africa transition from an apartheid state to a multiracial democracy. In the process, Tutu and the Commission considered more than 7,000 applications for amnesty, acting on the idea that everyone deserves the chance to walk the road of redemption.

Tutu remains widely sought after for his wisdom, particularly as countries around the world attempt to use the process of truth and reconciliation to heal from their own legacies of conflict and hurt. He and his daughter the Rev. Mpho Tutu recently released their Book of Forgiving, a guide for both perpetrators and victims of violence to embrace their mutual humanity and learn how to forgive, and how to be forgiven.

For the Summer 2015 issue of YES! Magazine, titled “Make It Right,” Desmond and Mpho Tutu were interviewed by YES! Editor in Chief Sarah van Gelder and contributor Fania Davis, a civil rights attorney and executive director of Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth.

Click here for the full YES! Magazine interview with Archbishop and Mpho Tutu.

May 27, 2015

‘Use Myanmar aid to save Rohingya’: Tutu in Oslo

South Africa’s Archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu yesterday called for international aid to Myanmar to be linked to the plight of the country’s persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority.

“2015 is a big year for Myanmar with both a referendum on its constitution and a general election,” Tutu told an Oslo conference on the Rohingya.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that the plight of the Rohingya is not lost,” he said in a pre-recorded message aired to participants.

“We have a responsibility to persuade our international and regional aid and grant-making institutions, including the European Union, to adopt a common position making funding the development of Myanmar conditional on the restoration of citizenship, nationality, and basic human rights to the Rohingya,” he said.

The 1984 Nobel laureate is an anti-apartheid hero respected around the world as a moral authority.

Tens of thousands of Myanmar’s 1.3 million Rohingya have fled the country in recent years, to escape sectarian violence as well as suffocating restrictions preventing travel and employment.

Each year thousands of Rohingya try to flee Myanmar by boat headed for other Southeast Asian countries, spurring a human trafficking trade in often dramatic conditions.

Source: AFP, Oslo

May 1, 2015

How to achieve Joy and Happiness

Last week, Archbishop Tutu was the guest of the Dalai Lama and they visited the Tibetan Children’s Village, a school His Holiness has established for Tibetan refugee children living in India. They participated in a Q&A session with children from the school asking questions. One question posed to the Archbishop was, “How can we achieve true joy and happiness?”

Watch the video for the Archbishop’s thoughtful response. Click here to watch the entire video: https://youtu.be/-DZ55YGgKeA

April 29, 2015

What is “Ubuntu”?

Our work at the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation is grounded in the South African philosophy of “ubuntu”. Many of you have asked of us, “what does ubuntu mean?” In the following video, Reverend Mpho Tutu, youngest daughter of the Archbishop and ED of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, explains.


April 23, 2015

Archbishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama Visit the Tibetan Children’s Village

Dharamsala, HP, India, 23 April 2015 – The Upper Tibetan Children’s Village School was host to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, his good friend Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Team Joy this afternoon. As they drove there from His Holiness’s residence the streets were lined with smiling people eager to catch a glimpse of them.

Reverend Mpho Tutu comforts a young Tibetan girl as she emotionally tells the story of her journey from Tibet to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu during their visit to Upper Tibetan Children's Village School (TCV) in Dharamsala, HP, India on April 23, 2015.

On arrival at TCV His Holiness and the Archbishop were escorted into the small library adjacent to the basketball court. Amidst the neat bookshelves and displays of projects the children had done writing about ‘joy’, several students, girls and boys, recounted their own journeys from Tibet to the school. The first, who had come with her grandmother, leaving the rest of her family behind, broke down in sobs and tears. Archbishop Tutu’s daughter, Mpho, stepped forward to hug and comfort her. She completed her tale, but when the next student too was overcome with emotion His Holiness intervened, suggesting:

“You should think about how as a result of coming here you have been able to receive not only a modern education, but also to learn about our rich culture. You’ve been able to study our language. This is the best language for explaining the profound traditions of Nalanda University. This is something to be proud of. And yours may be the generation that can rebuild Tibet.”

The final student to make a presentation spoke of his appreciation for what he had received and how he tries to take joy in everything.

The children, who filled the basketball court, sang a song in Tibetan celebrating His Holiness’s 80th birthday as he and Archbishop Tutu emerged to take their seats in the middle of the throng. They then followed it up with a Tibetan rendition of ‘If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.’

When His Holiness was invited to address the gathering, he turned to the Archbishop and said that since he teases him so much about his English, on this occasion he would speak in Tibetan. He stated that although our various religious traditions have different philosophical viewpoints, they share a common message of love and compassion. This is clearly reflected in the Archbishop and is why he admires him.

Commenting on the hardships faced by the parents of the students who were present His Holiness said:

“We received immense help from the Indian government. The world helped us. Because of the kindness we have received you have the opportunity to study today. Please, work hard. We Tibetans are going through a very difficult time, but we still have our own language and culture. Please take full advantage of your educational opportunities.”

Archbishop Tutu acknowledged His Holiness, the beautiful children and those in the crowd who were not children.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu's taking questions from students during their visit to Upper Tibetan Children's Village School (TCV) in Dharamsala, HP, India on April 23, 2015.

“It’s a great honour and privilege to be here. You are beloved throughout the world and we want to say to you, young people, that it might not seem possible to you that you will one day return to a free Tibet. But we in South Africa lived for many years under a system of injustice and oppression. Many of our leaders and young people went into exile. It seemed as if the chains of oppression would never be broken, that our prisoners on Robben Island would never come home. And yet,” and he let out his characteristic high pitched chuckle, “it happened.”

“In 1995, our beloved Nelson Mandela and the others were released and the exiles came home. One day, you too, all of you, will see your beloved Tibet again. You’ll be free of the oppression that has driven you here. The Chinese government will discover that freedom is actually cheaper than oppression.”

He spoke of the deep honour he feels to count His Holiness as his friend and that the world feels the same way. He continued:

“I want to thank the Indian government and the Indian people who opened their arms to welcome you, because they preserved for us a great treasure that would otherwise have been lost.”

Looking round at the students, he exclaimed:

“Look how beautiful you are! One day you’ll be dancing and singing in the streets of Tibet.”

Students were then able to put questions to the two spiritual leaders starting with one to His Holiness asking whether we can ever hope to live in a violence free world. He replied that there are many different kinds of violence, including exploitation and corruption.

“If you are thinking about serious physical violence involving war and people killing each other, then yes, I think we can eliminate that if we make the right effort.”

Archbishop Tutu was asked his advice about the way people seek happiness in material things. He answered that more and more people are realizing that they will not get real satisfaction from things alone. He said you can have many possessions while your heart remains empty.

“I meet many young people from well-off homes who go out to help others and find a much greater satisfaction in that.”

When His Holiness was asked about how he controls his anger in daily life, he replied that when he’s angry he shouts. He told a story of an occasion in 1956 when he was watching the driver and mechanic who looked after one of the cars that had belonged to the 13th Dalai Lama. While working on it he accidentally banged his head on the car. In anger he then deliberately banged it against the car again and His Holiness wondered: “What’s the use of that?” He remarked that anger destroys our peace of mind.

Some of the younger students listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archibishop Desmond Tutu during their visit to Upper Tibetan Children's Village School (TCV) in Dharamsala, HP, India on April 23, 2015.

“Reciting ‘manis’ won’t help, even reciting the refuge prayer won’t help. Training our minds is the only solution.”

Asked whether joy could really be a source of world peace, His Holiness replied:

“I think so and that’s why people should have a clear understanding of how to create joy. Doing to harm to others may bring some temporary satisfaction, but being helpful to them is the only real source of lasting joy.”

Archbishop Tutu was also asked how true joy and happiness can be achieved and he answered:

“If we think we want joy for ourselves that’s short-sighted and will only be short-lived. Real joy is the reward of acting to bring joy to others. Deep joy is what happens when you show love, care and compassion to others. You can’t get it any other way. You can’t buy it.”

In reply to a final question about the environment, the Archbishop said:

“We have to remind people that this is our only home and if we treat it badly we’re done for. The ice caps are melting. The summers and winters are too long. We need to say ‘Yes, something is wrong’. People are beginning to hear what many religious leaders are saying, that this is our only home and we have to care for it.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu dancing to all the children singing 'We are the World' during his visit with His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Upper Tibetan Children's Village School (TCV) in Dharamsala, HP, India on April 23, 2015.

A band on the stage led the whole crowd in singing, ‘We are the world’. Archbishop Tutu got to his feet, dancing and swaying to the music. At the end he took the microphone and led everyone in singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to His Holiness as a large cake ablaze with candles was placed before them. He called for children to come and help His Holiness blow the candles out. The cake was cut and as it was distributed among children and guests, His Holiness, the Archbishop and Team Joy returned to McLeod Ganj.

This article originally appeared on the Dalai Lama’s web site: http://www.dalailama.com/news/post/1268-his-holiness-the-dalai-lama–archbishop-tutu-at-tcv

Photos courtesy of Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL