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Perspectives on the 2017 International Peace Training

Self-Transformation Sprouted from the Goodness Within
By Lino M Sanjoyo 

In an Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshop, I found myself working hard to look over the violence that I have experienced in my life. I am used to accompanying people who have experienced violence. Moreover, the violence I experienced was far from significant and seemed to evaporate with forgiveness and tolerance. It seemed irrelevant to recall it again.

Lino Marcelino Sanjoyo talking to Ninok Sasmito, with Yehudah Winter listening to Joyce Howland and Hayley Hathaway listening to Joanie Levine in the background. People enjoy listening and sharing our stories in pairs. February 12, 2017 at Peace Place, Central Java, Indonesia.

The opening session of finding goodness inspired me to see how far I know myself. It was actually the introduction session that encouraged me to introspectively recognize goodness within. Am I as perfect as people say that I am a good person? I began to wonder if I fell into the same fate as Moses, who could not enter the promised land, as he did not carry out just one of the orders of the Lord in Kadesh, nearby the waters of Meribah, or Yudhisthira, who could not directly enter Heaven as he was once dishonest or did not speak clearly about the death of Ashwatthama, son of Drona.

Pondering self-knowledge led me to the idea that it was not the violence that I had endured, but the violence I had done. Apparently this became my starting point for self-transformation. I saw something bad that I had to change. 

However, was this fragility a means of this transformation? It seemed illogical, since the instruction was to find goodness and strengths! AVP offers positive perspective. People are born with goodness inside. Many people ignore this reality. Goodness is the nature of human life. Human beings are born with the Spirit of Goodness deep in the soul. It is the Inner Light, a part of God’s Spirit that dwells in every human soul. I came to understand that the awareness of the potential goodness was the stepping stone and even resource of self-transformation. I get this transformative power, since there is potential goodness that I may realize. 

AVP Principles guide our work at the International Peace Training. February 12, 2017 at Peace Place, Central Java, Indonesia.

I was struck by a sharing of a participant on the first day. His experience of violence in Aceh and North Sumatra risked his life and his family. The man realized that violence could not be solved with violence. Communication and sitting down in peace were the only ways of solution, for sure the only durable one. “The process of finding seeds of goodness through the self-fragility of a grudge, hurt and anger is really awakened in an AVP workshop,” said the old man.

My co-participants in a session called ‘whisper circle’ on the third day performed in reverence or better said in ritual way encouraged us well through words of goodness whispered into the ears of one after another from behind. The whispers were able to tap on the very inner self and attune it to Goodness of Virtues. The gentle voice of friends whispering into the ears really affirmed that depth inside our soul, we have the inheritance of goodness. The whisper was a kind of fertilizer for the seed to grow and transform into virtues.

I was encouraged by this writing: Give over thine own willing, give over thy own running, give over thine own desiring to know or be anything and sink down to the seed which God sows in the heart, and let that grow in thee and be in thee and breathe in thee and act in thee; and thou shalt find by sweet experience that the Lord knows that and loves and owns that, and will lead it to the inheritance of Life, which is its portion.” (Isaac Penington, 1661, Ch 26 pg 70)

In the Whisper Circle, people whisper positive messages we wish we had heard as children at the International Peace Training, February 11-18, 2017 at Peace Place, Central Java, Indonesia, realizing how much our words matter to one another.

The sharing in twos on the first day played a big role in starting the transformation process that would be performed in each hometown. I was miraculously empowered when my stories and wishes were heard, accepted and owned by my partner. I was motivated as well by points of transformation shared on the second day in a session about ‘transforming power. It was formulated in the Mandala of Transforming Power. My simple but important wish was to renouncing any violence, especially from imposing my own will and ideas, and uncaring habit for my wife and daughter by putting aside my cellular phone and spending more time with them. I intended to do it secretly when I got home. I would let my wife and daughter notice and state it themselves that I had changed for the better. 

The strength of kinship and communal connection gave a strong influence in the transformation process. It was realized not only through sharing, but also by melting the ice of strangeness through the games facilitated by the team. Sense of togetherness, community, kinship, and mutual trust that each had goodness and acceptance of one another created a fertile ground promoting the process of transformation. The united and connected community was a means to confirm the truth and reality found within each of us that will be incarnated in sharing goodness for others.

Since the first day, I felt the warm sphere of the participants. I felt like I was meeting with my own family. I was amazed by the enthusiasm, openness and innocence of their hearts. Through the facilitation and games, the atmosphere melted. I saw the participants washed and turned to tabula rasa as a blank paper ready for any writing or drawing.

I felt proud of their diverse cultural backgrounds of 34 participants: the United States, Nepal, Sumatra, Papua, and Java. They came from various professions: teachers, school administrators, religious leaders, social workers, farmers, tour officer, trainer, students, and housewives. The religious background proved not insulating: Islam, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Hindu and Quaker. The youngest participants were in their 20s and the eldest in their 70s mingled in equality, accord and mutual respect. I was amazed by the team who worked together to assist the process. They even prepared and cleaned the place without regard to age.

AVP Mandala give everyone a place to start practicing opening to transforming power in our lives at the International Peace Training. February 12, 2017 at Peace Place, Central Java, Indonesia.

I was so grateful staying at the training place, not going home as many did. I learned a lot of things from the participants in personal encounters outside the meeting. They shared their life experiences endeavoring efforts to take peaceful ways in places full of violence (Aceh, North Sumatra, Nepal, and Papua). Some shared experiences and views on religion, Islam, Hindu, and Quaker, and experiences of social relations in West Papua. 

At the end of the third day of the workshop, I felt like I was on a very fast track. It seemed to me I was just nibbling an appetizer, especially in integrating the deep points of AVP principles. I found that to root the principles within myself I needed more time to learn them, perhaps by doing some simulations or stimulations of my past experiences. 

I need to learn slowly and to unhurriedly follow the AVP process. Fewer participants with more time to absorb and conduct simulations of the material would have greatly helped. Also, I would recommend providing a sheet for those who wish to offer a written evaluation, allowing for further reflection and communication. But the experience was invaluable. Thank you.