All of us have been horrified and heartbroken by the events in Israel and Gaza. I’m calling on my entire community to turn our thoughts and prayers into action for this beleaguered corner of the world.
Please join me for an Intention Experiment for Israel and Gaza on Tuesday, October 17 at 9 am Pacific/12 noon Eastern/5 pm UK/6 pm Europe, and I invite all of you who wish to see peace in the region to take part (see details of how to join, below).
Three times before I have run Intention Experiments for peace and invited polarized and warring people to take part: first, for the 10th anniversary of 9/11, when I invited Arabs to join with Westerners to send intention to lower violence in Afghanistan, then in late 2017, when both Israeli Jews and Arabs living in many of the Gulf states took part in an experiment to lower violence in Jerusalem (the Damascus Gate section was besieged by violence at the time).
The final one was in January 2021, right after the January 6 riot on the US Capitol and before the inauguration of Joe Biden, when I invited both Republicans and Democrats to take part.
We saw a lowering of violence in all three instances (during the 9/11 experiment an astonishing 280 percent lowering violence in just the two Afghan provinces we’d targeted, according to NATO figures).
But the most pronounced effect of all happened to the participants themselves.
Both for the 9/11Peace Intention Experiment and the Jerusalem Peace Intention Experiment, I’d called upon Dr. Salah Al-Rashed, a Kuwaiti from a prominent Arab family, who’d single-handedly pioneered the human potential movement in the Arab world.
Salah is also a well-known peace activist, calling for peace in places like Palestine at a time when others in prominent positions like his demanded reprisal and continued conflict.
After our 9/11 Experiment something began happening that I began to notice on Facebook, Instant Messenger, and the two surveys I’d conducted of the participants about their experience, one in English and the other in Arabic. We appeared to be ending the war in another way.
From the first day of the 9/11 Peace Intention Experiment, the participants had made an extraordinary connection with one another—in most cases the most extraordinary connection they’d ever experienced.
During the daily broadcasts, which had an instant messenger chat room, many of our Western participants began to instant message and befriend people from the Arab countries who could write in English—and vice versa.
The resentment and suspicion about Arabs was beginning to transform into love and acceptance. The Americans began wishing the Arabs well—“Ante diemen fee kalbi” (“You are always in my Heart”).
And as they began to feel connected to the Arabs, “like a support from the right side one can virtually lean on, like feeling brothers from far away,” their attitudes toward the Middle East began to shift.
The pain of 9/11 and lingering rancor was healing. “The experience of IM’ing with people from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and many other Middle Eastern countries—during the IM messages, we wished each other peace and expressed love—made me cry,” wrote John from Tucson. “It was very therapeutic for me—a citizen of the USA.”
Arab participants reached out in friendship to the West: “We are brothers, we will always be here for you. Although I don’t know you, I feel a connection with your pure souls.”
“This day is the day that we all felt the loss and no one felt the gain,” wrote Bahareh. “Your God is my God. My God is your God.”
Those from both East and West had experienced a powerful opening of the heart, and, a majority said they were falling in love with everyone they came in contact with. They experienced a “more peaceful feeling toward everyone,” “an openheartedness that continued.”
Many had completely transformed in the way they related to other people. They felt able to see “people and situations more clearly,” noticing when they were judgmental of others and themselves.
They found anger “more uncomfortable than before,” were “more apt to apologize and forgive,” had “stopped reminding themselves” of what the other did to hurt them, and “now were not taking things so personally.”
They felt a certain “urgency to let go of the past hurts,” were “feeling feelings more,” were “listening more without judgment,” and were more desirous of sharing their personal truth.
I see myself in everyone I meet, experiencing their feelings, finding compassion.”
“Recognized my need to extend my Love to ALL Humanity.”
“More connected to strangers and the world community.”
“More compassion for all people.” “More open to make contact with strangers.”
And these positive effects seemed to spill over to other areas of their lives.
I had no idea if my experiment could take the credit for the improved peace in those two southern provinces of Afghanistan at the time.
But if the feedback from participants were anything to go by, the act of sending intention had created peace in their hearts that seemed to be transforming their lives.
A similar situation occurred with the Jerusalem experiment, as Arabs and Jews sent love to each other, and with the Inauguration Peace Intention Experiment, as some Republicans joined hands with Democrats.
The point isn’t just the intention itself but its reaction – a ripple effect of peace in the hearts of the participants that could eventually extend out to the entire world.
Joint prayer had itself brought the East and West together, had proved to be profoundly uplifting, and had given hope to many on both sides. “Thank you, world,” Yasser wrote. “You’re still a good place, with all these peaceful people.”
Perhaps these experiments carry one simple truism: To solve a seemingly intractable political situation, the fastest and most effective way forward in a war zone may not be through the military, politics, diplomacy or even economic initiatives. All you may need are people coming together as a group and praying as one.
“I had the sense that although we had a specific ‘target,’” said Aimee about the 9/11 Experiment, “we were healing everyone everywhere at once.
To take part in the upcoming Israeli Peace Intention Experiment, register here.
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