Building a Culture of Peace and the Evolution of Consciousness

Seminar; Wednesday, 2 June 2004; 3:00 P.M.- 6:00 P.M.

The Evolution of Human Consciousness and the Role of Culture—Some Keynote Thoughts And, Information on the Roerich Pact and Banner of Peace Forerunners, UNESCO World Heritage Program—Part II

Iris Spellings1

Culture sheds light on the meaning of our time, and can inspire us to be all that we are capable of being. War has been the result of an emphasis upon a material culture. Now is the time, as we enter into the Aquarian Age, to focus on creating a spiritual culture—a culture based on loving understanding, goodwill and right relations with all life. This is not an impossible dream, but the next step.

Culture is the essence of a civilization, and the objective of all education. According to the Ageless Wisdom,

"Culture is the approximation of the two ways—heart and mind; of the two worlds—sensitivity and thought; and of the attitudes, relational in nature, which will enable a man to live as an intelligent, subjective being in a tangible physical world. The man of culture relates the world of meaning, or the vertical way of life, to the world of appearances, or the horizontal way of service, and regards them in his mind...as constituting one world with two aspects."2

"Without culture there can be no international agreement or mutual understanding."3

UNESCO, understanding the importance of this, proclaimed 2002 as the United Nations Year For Cultural Heritage. This marked the 30th Anniversary of an international agreement, signed to date by more than 150 countries that protects World Cultural and Natural Heritage. Right now 754 sites on the World Heritage List are protected worldwide—18 are in the United States. They include, but are not limited to, national parks, historic centers of cities, churches, architecturally important buildings, rock paintings, and more recently, wine regions, mining areas and landscapes. The Statue of Liberty is a site protected by the WHC, along with the Grand Canyon; and Stonehenge, to name a few.

A forerunner to this UNESCO program is Roerich's Pact and Banner of Peace introduced in 1929. This treaty provided that the Banner fly over all historic monuments and educational, artistic and scientific institutions to indicate neutrality, special protection and respect in times of war and of peace. Roerich is known for saying: "Where there is Peace, there is Culture; Where there is Culture, there is Peace."

The Banner of Peace symbol, three spheres within a circle, is an ancient and universal symbol dating back to the Neolithic Age. It may be found all over the world, and has had many meanings, yet it clearly represents a deep and sophisticated understanding of unity—the triune nature of existence within the circle of infinity.4

While the Roerich Pact was primarily an appeal to governments, the Manifesto 2000 pledge, formulated by the Nobel Peace Laureates at the end of the century, is directly aimed at raising public awareness on the need for the commitment of us all to live by values indispensable for creating a good and neighborly culture. Signed to date by more than 75 million people, the Manifesto 2000 offers 6 clear and simple guidelines which they believe will, if applied, bring about a peaceful and non-violent civilization: "Respect all life; Reject violence; Share with others; Listen to understand; Preserve the planet; Rediscover solidarity".

Gita & Anthony Brooke, cofounders of Operation Peace Through Unity (OPTU), explain, "Based on the foundation of this pledge all our many campaigns, projects, resolutions and strivings towards building a better, fairer and more enlightened world can be united, and this unity be made visible through the banner of peace, which carries a symbol belonging to us all." These 6 guidelines in their simplicity comprise every aspect of our complex global community. OPTU therefore proposes that all institutions concerned with education on all levels, all places of worship and of cultural significance, governments and their agencies, etc. be informed of the Roerich initiative, the Banner of Peace and the Manifesto 20005; and that they be encouraged to sign a simple statement of commitment and display the banner of peace as a symbol of unity of purpose.

Humans create evolution; nothing can impede it. As the UNESCO constitution affirms, "since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed." For peace, we know, is not the absence of civil or industrial strife, spiritual peace is something each must find for oneself. The peace Divine—that power of divine equipoise, which nothing in the outer world can shake, which no opposing circumstance can destroy.

The Dalai Lama's response when asked why he didn't fight back against the Chinese comes to mind. He said, "Well, war is obsolete, you know. Of course the mind can rationalize fighting back...but the heart, the heart would never understand. Then you would be divided in yourself, the heart and the mind, and the war would be inside you."

We can accomplish only what we can first imagine. Following in the footsteps of the UK, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich in the US, who proposed a Department or Ministry of Peace, the government of New Zealand has been approached by OPTU to do the same based on the idea that perhaps a ministry for peace within each government (working in close cooperation with the UN) could help bring the principles enshrined in the UN Charter into all human affairs everywhere and help make "the word become flesh".

This effort and many others—including the many plans for the International Day of Peace, celebrated on September 21st—are vital projects we are all called upon to support. For we are our own saviors, we are the world. All of us are the United Nations. And without our transformation, there can be no transformation of the world.

God made of one blood all the peoples upon the Earth. No country exists in the world today that is made up of only one race. Culture expresses synthesis. That synthesis exists, but unity must be created. A sense of unity will be the foundation on which a culture of peace can be built. Distinctions and nationalities will be preserved and celebrated in the realization that the many aspects of human unfoldment and differentiation contribute to the significance of humanity and produce one noble whole all of whose parts are interdependent. — Not to lose our individual qualities, but to lose selfishness and competition, and instead, to work in cooperation with each other and the other kingdoms.

Remembering the value of the individual and the fact of the one Humanity, may we contribute to the spiritual evolution of our culture by seeding the mental plane with thoughtforms of a better world—a world based on goodwill, human unity, responsibility, compassion and right human relations, and thus through the willingness of our everyday actions build a culture upon these principles. We are one Humanity, yet each has a responsibility.

We are asked to make the complicated simple, for only in simplicity is kindness reflected. Simplicity possesses the magnetic power of attraction. Beauty is the result of simplicity. Beauty will be the evidence of this cooperation.

Please allow me to close with a passage from The Brotherhood of Angels and Men by Geoffrey Hodson:

"You shall build cities fairer than were ever seen in Greece, for you are Greece reincarnate; but you have grown since then; the angels who taught in Greece have grown since then. Together we might fill whole continents with cities fairer than those of old.

"You shall mould your thoughts, your feelings and your flesh; you shall build a Race godlike in its beauty and its strength; the angel hosts will come to aid you in your task.

"This is the vision of the future that we bring, a future of limitless possibilities of splendour, when once more the children of God, angels and men [humans] come together for the fulfillment of the Plan."


1 Among her many roles, Iris Spellings is an artist. She is an active member of the Aquarian Age Community, having helped organize today's meeting. Ms. Spellings has served at the UN for the last six years as the NGO representative for the organization, Operation Peace Through Unity, based in New Zealand.
2 Education in the New Age, Alice A. Bailey, Lucis Publishing Co., p. 43.
3 Hierarchy, (331) Agni Yoga Society.
4 Roerich Banner of Peace information from the Nicholas Roerich web site: http://www.roerich.org/nr.html?mid=pact.
5 http://www3.unesco.org/manifesto2000/.

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