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Peace Is the Way: Bringing War and Violence to an End Hardcover – January 18, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Chopra's latest work is prefaced by endorsements from four Nobel Peace Laureates, Muhammad Ali and an impressive array of other notables. Here, the Indian-born doctor and author of the bestselling The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success and other popular spiritual guides contends that the deeply ingrained human habit of resorting to violence can be ended by raising the consciousness of individuals until there is a global change in awareness, similar to the shift that took place when the age of science took hold. Chopra, whose bestsellers and celebrity-friendliness have saddled him with a reputation for being guru to the rich and comfortable, is refreshingly honest about the way our comfort and security are ultimately the fruits of war. "The satisfaction of waging war cannot be replaced by philosophy or religion," he writes. In addition to analysis, he offers daily practices of meditation, thought and actions on behalf of others as a way to live the truth of Mahatma Gandhi's famous quote: "There is no way to peace. Peace is the way." Ultimately, however, the ego itself has to be disarmed to live the way of peace, he says: "For me as an individual to be free, I have to confront myself with questions about who I really am, and this is done in large part by examining the layers of false identity that I mistakenly call me." This is clearly harder to practice than it is to read. Still, Chopra's affirmation that "our true identity is at the level of spirit and nowhere else" has the ring of truth and so does the rest of this simple, practical, inspiring book. Major ad/promo. (Jan. 18)
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Chopra takes his belief in the ability of the mind to move mountains and applies it to the biggest mountain of all--war. Taking the title of his book from Ghandi ("There is no way to peace. Peace is the way"), Chopra begins with the observation, "Today is a good day for war to come to an end." For all those who hunger to make that statement true, he offers what he believes is a pathway. He begins with a discussion of the reasons for war--it's a habit, and it has the eternal appeal of good battling evil--and then shows how the myriad justifications are all illusions. Also discussed is the toxicity of nationalism, a notion that is applied to the U.S and to those who believe in this country's right to make the world adhere to its will. Whether Chopra's admonitions will have an effect on the powerful around the world is certainly arguable, but he counters such skepticism with the unswerving belief that change occurs only when there is a leap of consciousness. If enough people change their minds about peace, the world can transform itself. Not content with broad platitudes, Chopra offers a seven-point plan for every individual; each step, from meditating for peace to acting peacefully, seems painfully simple, but Chopra makes a convincing case that peace must begin with each of us. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
I have read a number of Deepak Chopra's books, but none have evoked the intense joy that I felt while reading Peace is the Way. I heard about the book the day before it came out, and was probably one of the first to purchase a copy. The quote above is from page eight. By page twenty I was wanting to jump with joy. By page 118, I was inwardly shouting, "Yes!"
Chopra outlines the thought processes and belief systems that keep war within our experience. Yet throughout the book, he shows that there is another way, the way of peace in one heart at a time, my heart, and your heart. Stopping war seems like an impossible task from such small beginnings, but Chopra reminds us on page nineteen that Christianity started with just thirteen people. Not only does Chopra show us the flaws in our war supporting beliefs, he gently leads us through new ways of thinking, encouraging us to open ourselves to Consciousness, to that which is beyond the duality of good and evil, "us" and "them".
Peace is the Way is a controversial book. It will make people uncomfortable, and some will blame Chopra instead of realizing the discomfort is within themselves. I am thinking of the last time I had my piano tuned. It was noticeably off key, but I had grown accustomed to the sound. The piano tuner began with one firm A, pounding out that beacon of true vibration over and over as he tightened the strings one by one, drawing me and my entire house into discord and discomfort until finally all was in harmony. Deepak Chopra's book is like that, vibrating the tone of peace so strongly that we feel the discord in our world and in our hearts, and one by one we are drawn into harmony.
You will be touched by this book. You may be angry. You may weep at the stories he tells. You may, like me, be filled with joy at the vision of a peace which is not accomplished through blood shed. You will definitely be changed. Chopra concludes with the words: "Right now there are 21.3 million soldiers serving in armies around the world. Can't we recruit a peace brigade ten times larger? A hundred times larger? The effort begins now, with you."
Deepak Chopra has written a beautiful new book called "Peace is the Way." I love the way Deepak writes because he expresses so well what is really important. It's so clear. I'd love it if this book could be in every classroom. We need to learn to get along! And some of these basic lessons can be learned in school. Peace is a possibility. A definite possibility.
In negotiations, the author recommends showing respect for the other side, recognizing perceived injustice, believing in forgiveness, bonding at the emotional level, recognizing values that are opposed to you own, desisting in belligerent actions, avoiding ideological talk, and avoiding passing judgment (and especially in making others out to be Wrong). And, most important, confronting the underlying factor of fear, the single most important element in conflicts.
While I don't always agree with Chopra, I think these points are always worth considering.
Chopra also discusses the role of religion. He says that religion must place responsibility for violence in the mind of every person. That it must stop judging others negatively for being outside the faith, it must stop defending war, it must stop claiming to be the only True Path, it must give up its arrogance and claim to authority, it must renounce its covert greed and desire for power, and it must discover how to return love to its place of primacy. Again, I think that while he is demanding quite a bit here, we all ought to think about this.
The author also discusses how terrorists are created. His seven step recipe: group pressure, secrecy, an atmosphere of fear, a hierarchy that demands obedience, a nearby authority that makes cruelty a duty, permission to disregard morality, and no threat of punishment for evil deeds.
Chopra notes that many very sweet people actually enable violence by refusing to oppose it. There are numerous reasons for this but a key is false hope. That enables victimhood, it serves as a mask for denial that there is a problem, it papers over conflicts, and it causes many people to suffer in silence. One example of this is the hope many of us had for peace in the Levant when Rabin shook hands with Arafat. But as Chopra points out, nothing positive happened from this pretence of friendship. "Conflicts are not resolved when two parties walk away with residual animosity." I may not fully agree with Chopra here, but I think he's on the right track.
The author says that in the short run, we see Islamist terrorists boasting that their violence has helped get their coreligionists to "rise up" against some presumed oppressor. But he explains that the truth is that "governments everywhere are rising up against" the Islamists. And he gives Beslan as an example. Here he gives us some friendly advice. We may be tempted to call support for terror "evil." That's not always the best idea. Many people do support terror and most do not think they themselves are evil. We won't be very convincing if we call them evil.
Instead, Chopra encourages to speak to these people, but change the subject from "evil" to "chaos." While it may be difficult to see which side is evil, it is much easier to see if specific strategies will simply lead to chaos. And it is easy to argue that chaos is counterproductive and that it is a poor idea to promote it.
While the author does not give us much advice on exactly what to do about violent aggressors who insist on bullying us, I think he makes some really good points about how we all can help. If those of us who refuse to stop thugs physically would simply support those who are against aggression instead of making excuses for the thugs, I think we'd be making plenty of progress. In any case, the key is to react soberly. "The world has become a better place because of the dominance of reason over irrational impulse."
I recommend this book.