The amazing story of the 'meditating president' Joachim Chissano of Mozambique
'Can Meditation Change the World?'
By Steve Taylor,
Out Of Darkness blog, Psychology Today.
What would happen if every member of a country's government and army started to meditate, asks author Steve Taylor writing in his Psychology Today blog.
Would the country become peaceful and crime-free? And would meditation prove to be the best way to stop famine, as the spiritual psychologist Ken Wilber once controversially asserted?
The amazing story of Mozambique and its former president Joachim Chissano provides us with answers to these questions, writes Taylor, who is a university lecturer in psychology. As under Chissano’s leadership, from 1994 to 2005, the entire government, military and police force of Mozambique were required to practise Transcendental Meditation twice a day.
The result was peace and prosperity. A country that had been torn apart by civil war for 15 years was ‘brought back from the brink of self-destruction and has instead become one of Africa's most stable and peaceful countries’.
Joachim Chissano first became president in 1986, but it was in 1992, in the wake of the civil war, that he first learned Transcendental Meditation. His government forces had won the war, but Mozambique showed all the signs of being trapped in a cycle of conflict and corruption.
Instead Chissano made peace with the rebel forces and promised that there would be no prosecutions or punishments. He offered them 50 percent of the positions in the Mozambiquan army[ and encouraged the rebels to establish their own political party.
Chissano introduced Transcendental Meditation to other government officials and their families and two years later, in 1994, he and his generals ordered all police and military (half of whom would have been from the rebels’ side) to meditate twice per day for 20 minutes. In addition 30,000 civilians were reportedly taught Transcendental Meditation and its advanced techniques.
After winning the 1994 election against the rebels, Chissano set about establishing lasting peace by reducing poverty. By 2003, almost three million people were rescued from extreme poverty, out of a total population of almost 20 million. This lead to a 35 percent decrease in the number of children dying under the age of five, and an increase of 65 percent in the number of children going to school.
Joachim Chissano, who is now a UN peace envoy, is in no doubt that collective Transcendental Meditation was responsible for the end to conflict and the increasing prosperity. He said, "The result has been political peace and balance in nature in my country. The culture of war has to be replaced by the culture of peace. For that purpose, something deeper has to be changed in our mind and in our consciousness to prevent the recurrence of war.
Steve Taylor goes on to explore some research on other types of meditation, Mindfulness and Buddhist, and the mechanism by which meditation might lead to such rational and compassionate behaviour.
In support of Ken Wilber's statement that ‘meditation is the best way to eliminate famine in the world’, Taylor concludes ‘Human social behaviour is a manifestation of our inner state. Discord in the world stems from discord in our minds, and there will only be harmony and peace in the world once there is harmony and peace inside us’.
Read the full article at Steve Taylor's blog, Out Of the Darkness, at Psychology Today
Steve Taylor is a lecturer in psychology at Leeds Metropolitan University, UK. He is the author of Back to Sanity: Healing the Madness of the Human Mind. Eckhart Tolle has called his work 'an important contribution to the shift in consciousness happening on our planet at this time.'