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My Vow of Nonviolence

How an unlikely, spontaneous decision improved my life

Heal

Illustration Credit: Blooming by Jennifer Davis

On a bright, crisp Saturday in 2008, about 500 people from all over the world gathered at The Alliance for a New Humanity conference in Barcelona, Spain, where Deepak Chopra opened the plenary session with a radical challenge. He explained that just before stepping onstage he had taken a vow of nonviolence in his thoughts, his speech, and his actions, and he wanted all of us to join him in this pledge. He said that the vow was not an ironclad contract, but a simple reminder to prevent a person from automatically generating hostile reactions.  I watched as people stood up, one by one at first, then in groups of twos and threes, and finally in a tidal wave. I was among the last to stand. The concept sounded great to me, but my mind was full of doubt: Bad things happen to good people and we just, well, respond. I doubted I would really be able to remain peaceful in my words, let alone my thoughts. Nevertheless, I closed my eyes and vowed to do my part in bringing about a world of peace, compassion, and love. Then I spent the flight home contemplating my new commitment and feeling uncomfortable, as if …

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