Unconventional: Some Words of Advice to Nepal ArmyPrinter-friendly version |
Nepal military should focus on preventing the birth of an enemy rather than defeating, write Maj. Gen. Kulwant Singh and Dr. David Leffler.
From a conventional military perspective, defeating an enemy requires boldness, strength, courage, and smarts. How about preventing the birth of an enemy altogether? Can you imagine a greater military objective than that?
Impossible, you say, and from a conventional perspective you are likely correct. Take the war on terror, for instance. A nation applies all the means it has to protect its citizens. But can heightened security, imprisonment, anti-terrorist coalitions, military muscle, asset “freezing” or targeted assassinations stop every barbarian determined to carry out a warped mission in the name of God? Can conventional means totally defend against an unconventional enemy that can hardly be found, much less eliminated? And do conventional strategies eliminate the root causes of violence and terrorism?
Often, the conventional strategies create more violence, more terrorists, and the loss of innocent lives, and despite all the advanced technology and the boldness, courage, strength, and smarts of our armed forces, we struggle to eliminate terrorism.
Along with this conventional approach, we would like to suggest adding an unconventional approach that attacks and reduces the underlying cause of terrorism: social stress. Acts of terror are eruptions of violence that explode from cauldrons of unremedied stress on individual, ethnic, religious, and international levels. Defuse the stress. Then tension and hatred will crumble and open the way for cooperation around the world.
Wishful thinking you may say. But hold on. Extensive scientific research indicates that collective societal stress can indeed be defused, and with it, according to ancient wisdom, you can “avert the danger that has not yet come.”
One highly unconventional approach for defusing societal stress has been largely ignored because people have had difficulty understanding it. Yet in more than fifty studies published in scientific journals, including the Journal of Conflict Resolution and the Journal of Mind and Behavior, the method has been documented to powerfully reduce violence and criminal activity and even calm open warfare. It is a technique that is currently also being used in some of the most troubled inner-city schools in the country to defeat the stress and violence that plague the learning process.
The scientifically-documented approach involves meditation, and specifically the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique. Practiced individually, TM reduces mental stress and increases personal wellbeing, harmony, productivity, creativity, and happiness. When practiced together in a group, the “good vibes” radiate outward into an unseen field of collective consciousness, creating the same effect on a societal scale. The bigger the group the better, and the further the effects spread, like ripples in a pond. Another analogy is to think of radio or TV transmitters that beam signals through an unseen electromagnetic field. Instead of picture or sound signals, groups of meditators generate a strong wave of coherence and positivity through an underlying field of collective consciousness. Stress and tension diminish.
This amazing technique was demonstrated over a two-month period in the summer of 1993, in Washington D.C., where 4,000 meditators sat down and closed their eyes to lower crime. An independent board of eminent criminologists documented a 24 percent reduction in criminal violence in the nation’s capital as a result. (Reference: Social Indicators Research, 1999, 47: 153-201).
In 1983-84, at the peak of fighting in the Lebanon war, as many as 8,000 but as little as a few hundred meditators gathered at different times in Israel, Lebanon, Europe, and the United States. The documented effects of these assemblies included increased cooperation between the warring parties (66 percent) and a decrease of hostilities (70 percent). The odds of these results occurring by chance or any explanation other than the meditation were calculated at one in ten million trillion! (Journal of Conflict Resolution, 1988, 32: 776-812, and 1990, 34:756-768, Journal of Social Behavior & Personality, 2005, 17: 285-338).
Similarly, large TM groups in Manila, New Delhi, and Puerto Rico corresponded with significant declines in violent crimes. Alternative explanations could not account for the results. (Journal of Mind and Behavior, 1987, 8: 67-104).
The idea of using group meditation as a tool for societal harmony and defense was conceived by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the visionary Indian sage who made meditation popular throughout the world and saw it as a means to cure global ills and conflict. The technique is a simple and effortless method without any religious association. It is practiced by millions of people of all faiths.
Maharishi referred to the harmonizing and protective group effect on society as Invincible Defense Technology (IDT). His hope was that by applying a non-lethal, non-destructive human resource-based technology any military could reduce tensions and terrorism. And in this way, he felt, the military becomes invincible by taking out the enmity of the enemies, and promoting even the prospect of enemies being transformed into friends. When this happens, the country becomes invincible. There are no enemies to fight.
A “prevention wing” of the military of Nepal consisting of about a mere 3 percent of its military personnel could ideally achieve this goal. The special unit would be trained in the basic meditation and its advanced programs. After training, these units would practice in large groups, twice a day.
Already there is interest in meditation techniques in the military, as witnessed by the adoption of “Warrior Mind Training” at the US Army’s Fort Bragg facility and several other bases. The technique apparently helps improve focus, performance, and even ease post-traumatic stress. It is to be applauded that the modern military is recognizing the benefits of meditation, just as martial artists and warrior traditions have done for centuries.
Unlike most forms of meditation, TM has attracted a considerable body of scientific research—to date more than 600 published studies conducted at universities around the world. The results include greater brain-wave coherence, an indicator of higher levels of creativity, intelligence, moral reasoning, and neuromuscular efficiency; a marked ability to recover from stress more quickly, including reduction of symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder among US Vietnam veterans; a reduction by half, or more, the need for doctor visits or hospitalization; a major reduction or elimination of the use of illegal drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes.
Col. Brian Rees, M.D., a member of the US Army Reserve in California and a longtime meditator, recently completed a third tour of duty in the Middle East. He put his meditating experience in a war zone thusly: “The uncomfortable travel, the boredom, the heat, the separation from home and family, are difficult and stressful. Throw in big ticket items like casualties and hostile fire, and I can't imagine being without TM. The concentrated rest and personal centering it affords are invaluable in this environment. I think it's our most promising hole card in addressing the wave of post-traumatic stress we are going to be seeing.”
The promise of group meditation takes the practice and benefits of individual meditation a quantum leap further—to the level of not only beating an enemy, but aborting the birth of an enemy. The idea would seem to fit into the paradigm shift taking place in the US military. In 2007, the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard declared that “we believe that preventing wars is as important as winning wars.” This is the biggest revision of US naval strategy in years, a refocusing on humanitarian missions and improving international cooperation. It is just a matter of time before Nepal also revises its strategy.
Scientists are beginning to recognize a “non-local” field of global consciousness into which intentions can have effects at great distance. This, too, is a new paradigm, an exciting and boundless frontier. The military of Nepal should explore this territory, for it may hold the secret for planetary peace. With all the conventional methods the military utilizes to protect life, liberty, and freedom, it should also be open to trying new, creative ideas, no matter how unconventional they seem. A prevention wing practicing group meditation is surely an unconventional military idea, but maybe it could turn out to be the ultimate weapon. Nepal will never know unless it is bold and courageous enough to put it to the test.
Major General (Ret.) Kulwant Singh, U.Y.S.M., Ph.D. leads an international group of generals and defence experts that advocates Invincible Defence Technology. A list of Dr. Singh's publications on the topic of Invincible Defense Technology is available by clicking here.
David Leffler, Ph.D. a United States Air Force veteran, is the Executive Director of the Center for Advanced Military Science (CAMS) at the Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy. www.StrongMilitary.org