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Colombian guerrillas to embrace Gandhism, ready for peace talks with Cuba

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Havana: Colombian guerrillas are now holding peace talks with their government here in Cuba have agreed to embrace Gandhism, the Art of Living said on Monday.

The guerrillas made the commitment to Art of Living’s spiritual leader Ravi Shankar when he met them during a three-day visit to Cuba, an Art of Living statement said.

The statement quoted Ivan Marquez, a commander of FARC, as saying: “We will work for peace and justice for all the people of Colombia.”

Marquez, Pablo Catatumbo, and his group thanked Ravi Shankar for his “patience, understanding and wisdom”, the statement said.

After a lot of discussions, the FARC finally agreed to embrace the Gandhian principle of non-violence. Marquez announced this at a press conference.

“We will work for peace and justice for all the people of Colombia,” he was quoted as saying.

One of the members, Commander Pastor Alope, remarked that spiritual wisdom had been missing and was very much needed.

The Art of Living Foundation said there had been “a historic change of heart and strategy” by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC.

The FARC, a leftist group, and has been waging  bloody guerrilla wars in Colombia since 1964. Varying reports put its current military strength at around 10,000 fighters.

The statement said FARC requested Ravi Shankar to actively participate in the peace process which is currently on in Havana.

“In this conflict, everyone should be considered victims. And inside every culprit there is a victim crying for help,” Ravi Shankar said.

The FARC has agreed to speed up the process and give a surprise breakthrough for peace building in the coming days.

On June 24, Ravi Shankar had an hour-long meeting with Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos in Bogota.

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US Restricts Visas for Cambodians ‘Undermining Democracy’

As a response to anti-democratic actions, Trump administration restrict VISA for Cambodians

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Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen attends a ceremony at the Angkor Wat temple to pray for peace and stability in Cambodia, Dec. 3, 2017.

The Trump administration announced Wednesday it will restrict visas for Cambodians “undermining democracy” in the Southeast Asian nation following the dissolution of the main opposition party and a crackdown on independent media.

The State Department said it was a direct response to “anti-democratic actions” by the Cambodian government but did not disclose which individuals would be affected. It said visa records are confidential under U.S. law.

Spokeswoman Heather Nauert called on the Cambodian government to reinstate the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, which was dissolved by Supreme Court order last month, and free its leader Kem Sokha, imprisoned since September. She also urged Cambodia to allow civil society and media to operate freely.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has held power for more than three decades, has sought to neutralize political opponents and silence critics ahead of national elections next year. Kem Sokha has been charged with trying to topple the government with U.S. support, which Washington has said is a baseless accusation.

Supporters of Kem Sokha, leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, stand outside the Appeal Court during a bail hearing for the jailed opposition leader in Phnom Penh, Cambodia Sept. 26, 2017.

Nauert said Cambodia’s actions run counter to the Paris Peace Agreements of 1991. The United States and 18 other governments signed the accords, which ushered in democracy after the genocidal rule of the Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970s, then occupation by Vietnam and civil war.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will restrict entry into the United States of “those individuals involved in undermining democracy in Cambodia,” Nauert said in a statement, adding that in certain circumstances, family members of those individuals will also be subject to visa restrictions. The department cited a provision of U.S. immigration law under which individuals can be denied entry if the secretary determines it would have “adverse foreign policy consequences.”

The White House has already terminated U.S. support of Cambodia’s national election committee, saying last month that the July 2018 vote “will not be legitimate, free or fair.”

“We will continue to monitor the situation and take additional steps as necessary, while maintaining our close and enduring ties with the people of Cambodia,” Nauert said.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivers remarks during a press availability at NATO in Brussels, Belgium, Dec. 6, 2017.

​Monovithya Kem, an opposition spokeswoman currently in the U.S., welcomed the visa restrictions and called for targeted financial sanctions on senior officials in Hun Sen’s government. Kem, who is the daughter of Kem Sokha, urged the U.S., Japan, Australia and the European Union to coordinate responses to the “crisis” in Cambodia and help win her father’s freedom.

Like many prominent opposition figures, Kem has fled Cambodia as she fears arrest.

Hun Sen has been in office since 1985 and has held a tight grip on power since ousting a co-prime minister in a bloody 1997 coup.

In recent months, the government has intensified restrictions on civil society groups and independent media outlets. In September, it shut down the English-language Cambodia Daily. Authorities have shuttered radio stations that aired programming from U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, whose reports they allege are biased.

The government also expelled the U.S. National Democratic Institute, which helped train political parties and election monitors, accusing it of colluding with its opponents.

Hun Sen has moved Cambodia closer to China in recent years and become increasingly critical of Washington. However, he’s been complimentary of President Donald Trump.

Speaking at Asian leaders’ summit attended by Trump last month, Hun Sen praised the U.S. leader for non-interference in affairs of other nations, but complained the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia was not adhering to the policy. (VOA)

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Divert a Portion of Peacekeeping Budget to Under-Funded Peace-Building Activities: India

India highlights huge mismatch b/w funds for peacekeeping & peace-building among challenges for sustaining peace

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UN General Assembly elect 15 new members of Human Rights Council. Wikimedia
  • The 2017-18 UN budget for peacekeeping operations is $7.3 billion
  • Peacekeeping operations rely on the deployment of troops contributed by member-nations to try to physically prevent conflict
  • Peace-building and finding political solutions require civilian developmental, diplomatic and institution-building resources

United Nations, Aug 30, 2017: India has suggested diverting a portion of the peacekeeping budget to the under-funded peace-building activities because there can be lasting peace only with development and political solutions.

Criticising UN peacekeeping, India’s Deputy Permanent Representative Tanmaya Lal called on Tuesday for reforming the operations to align them with peace-building objectives and finding political solutions to conflicts — a view shared by UN experts and several countries, including the US.

“There is an obvious lack of appropriate investment into the political dialogue and a huge mismatch between resource allocation for peacekeeping and peace-building,” he told a Security Council debate on peacekeeping and sustaining peace.

While this problem was acknowledged, only lip service was paid finding the resources, he said.

Lal noted that only meagre resources are now available for development programmes and peace-building is allocated less than one per cent of the funds set aside for peacekeeping.

The 2017-18 UN budget for peacekeeping operations is $7.3 billion.

Therefore, he said: “We may consider whether the allocation of an appropriate percentage of funds from the peacekeeping budget to activities related to peace-building and sustaining peace in those situations could be an option to move forward to achieve sustaining peace in the various intra-state conflicts we are facing.”

“The long extending peacekeeping missions that go on for decades and elusive political solutions remind us the need to focus on long-term investment in sustainable development or institution building and inclusive political processes,” he added.

While peacekeeping operations rely on the deployment of troops contributed by member-nations to try to physically prevent conflict, peace-building and finding political solutions require civilian developmental, diplomatic and institution-building resources.

Lal welcomed Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s idea of ensuring greater cooperation between different departments of the UN, in particular bringing together the department of political affairs and peacekeeping operations for closer internal coordination, to effectively carry out its role of ensuring peace and security.

The Chair of Advisory Group of Experts on UN Peacebuilding Architecture Review, Gert Rosenthal, pointed out that organisationally the responsibilities for peacekeeping and development were split between the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly.

“While there is considerable overlapping in carrying out these functions, generally the traditional ‘pillars’ of peace, human rights and development do operate in the proverbial ‘silos’ we all sadly have become accustomed to,” he said.

Also Read: UN Human Rights Chief Urges Iraqi Government to help Victims of Islamic State (ISIS) Sex Abuse 

“Peacekeeping missions alone cannot produce lasting peace,” US Permanent Representative Nikki Haley said.

“They can help create space for peace to take hold, but they must be a part of a larger strategy of coordinating the resources of the UN to prevent conflict to begin with and to address its causes,” she said.

Haley called for “a larger strategy of coordinating the resources of the UN to prevent conflict to begin with and to address its causes”.

Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said that the Security Council should set realistic, up-to-date mandates that also have the flexibility to evolve over time.

“Looking ahead, we must work together to ensure that peacekeeping lives up to its full potential as an essential tool for sustaining peace, not in isolation, but as part of our new, integrated approach,” she said.

Lal also drew attention to a major challenge to peacekeeping which has changed its very nature — armed conflicts taking place within a country often involving non-state actors and international terrorist networks.

A member of the UN’s High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, Youssef Mahmoud, acknowledged this fact. He said: “Given that the drivers of instability tend to be transnational in origin and effect, the analysis should assess the drivers of peace and conflict from a regional perspective.” (IANS)

 

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Why is Spirituality Independent of any Religion? Read Here!

Bypassing difficult certainties and the truth of the human condition or getting a handle on at transient or deceptive joys both in the long run lead to misery and disappointment

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Spirituality does not need religion. Pixabay
  • The Buddha didn’t encourage open deliberations around the idea of a “Self” or Atman
  • The upheaval of the Buddha was encouraging his voyagers to shed their individual histories and the aggregated baggage of custom
  • it is vital to remember the inherent holiness of human life and the glue that ties all of us together

New Delhi, July 29, 2017: Wise men frequently talk about the evasive present, a transient piece of time that vanishes the minute one endeavors to bind it. It is the thing that spiritualists have endeavored to verbalize, at times using words, and frequently without them.

Is it safe to say that it isn’t a paradoxical expression to touch base at the nonconceptual state portrayed by soothsayers through the guide of concepts?

Koans are utilized by Zen Buddhists for expression of the inconceivable. For Instance, “What is the sound of one hand clapping? It is a rhetorical question, meant to evoke a moment of Satorior momentary realization when one has the experience of the ‘NOW’ between thoughts which the statement evokes.”

ALSO READ: Ram Sethu: Why the Spiritual Importance attached to it is Debatable!

The Buddha didn’t encourage open deliberations around the idea of Atman or a “Self”, not on the grounds that he didn’t have confidence in that, but rather in light of the fact that he knew very well indeed the pointlessness of utilizing ideas to touch base at a nonconceptual state. Most importantly he focused on the significance of landing at an individual comprehension of reality; checking truth for yourself as opposed to relying upon literary expert or what somebody may have recorded thousand years back.

A Bodhisattva plays out a spiritual practice for testing situations like battle areas, brothels and untouchable provinces, comprehending agony and delight, aversion, and longing for, “sacred” and “profane” are insignificant constructs that must be broken up to land at reality.

Bypassing difficult certainties and the truth of the condition of human or getting a handle on at deceptive or transient joys both in the long run can lead to misery and disappointment.

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People get a handle on at religion and gratification for the very same reasons – so as to accomplish transitory help or maybe freedom from the torment of the condition of human and be informed that all is going to be well only if a particular path or a particular Guru is followed, or change over to Scientology, Hinduism, Christianity or Islam.

The Buddha’s revolution was to motivate his fellow voyagers to shed down their past and the aggregated baggage of custom, as he considered them to be nothing more than hindrances to spiritual development, and make on caught up in the jail of desiring and aversion, feelings of grievances and spite.

As the maxim says, “If you see the Buddha on the road, kill him.” A point in the trip comes where the Buddha also ends up noticeably superfluous and can be abstained from.

He urged us to face reality. For instance, in the event that one feeling low, under the heavy baggage of one’s issues, it is very likely to be unhelpful to get a religious content on unique ideas of “enlightenment” believing that this will improve the circumstance. Despite what might be expected we are suggested to do meditation during upsetting sensations, clinically watch them, face them and remain with them for whatever length of time they are present; without grasping, judgment or aversion.

When we follow this for a sufficient duration; see our mental tides rising and falling and prepare ourselves to watch them as waves on a sea, composure, and peace will become conceivable. More essentially, compromise with the present minute, not getting away or fantasizing over the Shangri-La which the scriptures guaranteed.

The significant insight bestowed by the Indian seers to us  can be an impetus for individual change yet can likewise be utilized for spiritual bypassing, an expression which alludes to the utilization of spiritual practices as well as ideas as an instrument of denial – to abstain from managing uncomfortable sentiments, uncertain injuries, subdued traumas and essential psychological and emotional needs.

While exploring the regularly muddled and complicated world we occupy, it is vital to help ourselves on numerous occasions to remember the inherent holiness of this life along with the glue that ties all of us together.

-prepared by Harsimran Kaur of NewsGram. Twitter @Hkaur1025