Rio +20 The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development
Is not often that we have opportunities in which we can feel that we are align with destiny, but my experience of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) is one of those stories in which we feel that we are part of something greater than ourselves, part of an energy of hope and part of a generation that keeps a vision and creates actions for a better world.
The Future We Want was the title given to the Rio+20 conference where many world leaders, governments, private sector NGOs, children-youth and other groups came together to discussed on how to reduce poverty (a green economy in the context of sustainable development poverty eradication) advance social equity and ensure environmental protection( institutional framework for sustainable development.)
My journey begin with Youth Blast a five day conference held by the Major Group for Children and Youth. The Youth Blast was divided into a Brazilian meeting (June 7th and 8th) and an international meeting (June 10th till 12th). In total, more than 2.000 youths have attended the event. Representing the BK, Augusto, Cleide, Cristina, Kamila and Vinícius (Brazil) and Juan by Canada.
The workshop “Avatar, an experience” took some extracts of the film “Avatar”, from James Cameron, were used to explore the BK perspective on the environment. There were 15 persons in the Brazilian event and 22 participants in the international meeting. The activity inspired the youths to explore their inner qualities, which were used in the final exercise: through drawings, all the participants represented the world we want based on the inner qualities of each one of them. A lot of enthusiasm was visible in this creative process.
Another workshop, “EcoShanti: it’s our lifestyle”, there were around 20 participants, during the international meeting. The activity gave a great opportunity for the participants to reflect on inner sustainability, as well explore the impact that the seeds we sow through thoughts, words and deeds have on the planet. A powerful atmosphere of silence was created by a meditation experience and the beautiful images used during the activity.
We also had the opportunity to present these workshops at the People’s Summit the event where civil society had the opportunity influence the decisions made by the heads of state who attended Rio+20.
My journey continue at the official Conference of Rio+20 where we had the chance to get involved in a few actions as part of the UN Major Group (MGCY). BK Youth also collaborated with the objectives task group, which is a branch of the MGCY.
For the conference, BK participate in the proposal of introducing peace and non-violence as part of the sustainable development goals statement. This action was named “Sustainable Development Needs Peace” and drew attention of different delegates from around the world, as well as some Brazilian media channels like the Globo News TV. That brought a very different perspective on the normal ideas for bringing a new environment, being very nourishing and inspiring for all the participants.
During the Youth Blast BK Youth lead the workshops “Avatar, an experience” and “EcoShanti: it’s our lifestyle”. So, during the official UN Conference, there was an exposition about these workshops at the MGCY wall, within the Pavilion T, where all the side events were taking place. A display of pictures was put as part of the BK contribution for the Youth Blast conference.
BK Youth also organized a “Meditation for the Future We Want”, just in front of the Pavilion 3, where all the main events were happening. This activity was made in two days, and 11 participants had a chance to experience 30 minutes of silence, going within themselves and exploring their inner potential as the basis for a deep reflection on the future we want.
Another activity that counted on the BK participation, with a big contribution from the youths, was a beautiful ceremony of the award “Ray of the Day”. Bhutan was recognized for offering a different perspective on the progress of Sustainable Development: the country included happiness as a measure of growth, going beyond the simple economical aspect an contributing with their carbon footprint positive, meaning not only reducing carbon from the atmosphere but actually storing carbon while creating sustainable energy.
In summary Brahama Kumaris carry with honor the spirit of hope specially by the end of the conference where many participants were disappointed with the outcome of the Rio+20 document, our message was clear by saying that to find solutions to the world we need to include the spiritual dimension and the inner values of the self, that we also need to understand and realize consciousness in other words to align awareness and actions to create the future that we really want.
Rio+20 was one of the most important conferences in human history, a time were people of the planet called for newness and a new an elevated form of awareness, I saw that is through the energy and the power of the youth that this can be achieve because is the youth who are capable of bringing a revolution in our way of thinking and behaving.
Brahama Kumaris Youth Representative for Rio+20
The Om Café has been one of the extraordinary experiences of my life. A warm and comfortable gathering of people from different walks of their lives sharing their personal stories and situations gave a new outlook in how values play a crucial role in resolving many issues in our daily life. Definitely there has been a positive outcome being part of such a wonderful project as it created a venue to explore our own feelings, thoughts and how we incorporate these values in our surroundings. The exchange of ideas has helped me to reflect on my own actions and decide the alternative that serves the best interest of all. The values of love, peace, tolerance, acceptance, and respect have given me new lens on how I perceived things and how it can be changed to find joy and peace within myself. All in all, it has been a great opportunity to meet people from different arenas, and to listen to wonderful stories of success and overcoming their challenges because of the embedded values in them. I thoroughly enjoyed being part of a young, energetic, creative and talented youths and I hope to be part of many exciting events like the Om Cafe. I thank you all for making it a fun, enthusiastic and favorable for everyone to learn and grow. – By Komal Thapa, New York
I am glad to have had an opportunity to share my thoughts on values with our brothers and sisters on behalf of the youth at Om Cafe. A value that I selected was “harmony”, which I think consists of many important values such as love, generosity, and acceptance. Those values are essential to create peace and happiness in this era where people tend to compete with each other and forget that we are actually brothers and sisters and have to cooperate to create good things in the world. We are in need of harmony to successfully complete our tasks.
I also had a chance to hear other people’s thoughts on spotlight values. Their thoughts made me understand that we have to have different values while confronting different situations. All the values that we have will help us to overcome obstacles, experience true happiness, and finally be able to give happiness to others. The world needs these values from all of us, the youth, to be a collective power that can change the world back to a place of peace and happiness once again.
I would like to thank the Brahma Kumaris family for this precious opportunity. With you I find love and warmth that cannot be found anywhere else.
- Panitnart Rojanabenjawong (Mimi) 25 years old /Young Leader
I am writing to you to tell you about the past seven, incredible days I’ve had. These seven days were spent in Your introduction and an inward eye-opening experience to my truest soul self, and my most genuine calling. I am so excited to now be part of the BK family.
Last year I met sweet Sister La with my father at the Bangkok Center. She was so generous and soft, I felt an immediate connection to her and thought about the information and loving vibrations she sent all throughout my last year of University in
New York. After finishing my undergraduate degree in psychology and the first semester of my Masters in Expressive Arts Education, I felt a strong pull to return to Bangkok and
to find an Eastern practice that may help me hear how I am meant to serve my purpose.
I left 2.5 months open in my material schedule to allow my spiritual schedule to emerge. The adventurous mystery of life unfolds in such perfect ways! I immediately contacted Sr. La and came to the center. I knew this is the reason why I was meant to come. Each moment spent in the presence of the BK family’s beautiful spiritual way pointed me towards a truth I have known for a long time and provided me with the words or philosophy that has, so far, given me a comfy blanket to cope and thrive in
the unpredictability of human-hood. Learning to see Baba as my Truest and most compassionate Father allowed me to see my biological dad as a soul brother.
This allowed me to shed some soul light onto him and become more free from painful emotional reaction to his angry. I started to understand how I have the capacity to be like an abundant tree of tolerance. I found the BK knowledge to be a container for information I already know is True. I caringly zoomed through “The Book of Immortality” and hopped on a bus to ChiangMai to meet Sr. La to continue our lessons.
Our intention was to go to a local high school to share BK wisdom in honor of the UN youth leadership year. Sr. La wanted me to play a part, and be a foreign angelic figure sharing star insight with the youth. The plan was to place star stickers on the teenager’s foreheads and hand them out colored information about virtues such as cooperation.
I had no idea what to expect. I panicked about what to wear: I don’t have formal white clothing! I tried to remind myself about how it doesn’t matter, my soul is dressed in
a beautiful white light and wasting my energy concerned with body conscious clothing is irrelevant. When Sr. La handed me a big, light blue dress and orange scarf with a big smile on her face, the real relief came. It felt like both a performative and genuinely respectful way to honor and carry the colors of youth. I felt honored to be part of the
BK facilitation family. Sr. La was a beaming white light resonating through the hall teeming with 400 teens. I sang “twinkle twinkle little star” with her, and shared with them what I think it means to be youthful. I said it has to do with a deep curiosity to learn and to grow and to become the best me possible. It is such an exciting time! We showed
the kids sweet animated films about friendship, the soul, coming from the stars, and played snakes and ladders and a star-virtue game. The kids were so cooperative and respectful. I only wish I had something similar presented to me in high school. It is such
a transitional and confusing time, every opportunity shapes and informs our continually emerging reality. I ended each workshop with a spontaneous movement/sound exercise. Each movement is symbolic—waving our arms like angels, rubbing our hands to excite the energy of our bodily vehicle, breathing, screaming and shushing—I felt really in my place to be guiding these teens whom I do not know and I do not linguistically understand yet whom I am really starting to see as fresh souls simply wanting to laugh, love themselves and be filled with positive vibrations. Well, they were the ones who sent positive vibrations! My mouth hurt from all the soul smiling J
I spent the next few days in intensive lesson time and love with the BK family,
we stayed at the BK retreat place, went to flower and strawberry gardens and many hours of bus ride while adamantly learning Your incredibly Real knowledge from an incredibly worthy translator, Sr. La. Everything became more clear, liberating and scary.
I said hello and goodbye to my current body, my most beloved partner in crime in a way that relieved me in honest truth. I was never really afraid of dying before and now I know why. It’s because I always saw myself as a soul, but never knew that’s who I actually am.
I never knew how to call myself. Other people have to know this. It’s so obvious and
so inaccessible without a trusted community pointing the way.
I felt inspired and enlivened to be in the presence of other souls who know they are souls. The family brings me to a place in myself that I know, love and respect. Being with the family makes me want to truly be the best soul I can be in this precious body I get to temporarily inhabit. I want my body and intellect to be strong and healthy so I can share this with others. I have always known that I want to spread wisdom and to be the leader.
I am born to be. But I wasn’t sure exactly what wisdom I wanted to share—women’s rights, racism awareness, nutrition? Now I realized that the underpinnings of all my interests is awakening to our beautiful light Soul and shedding our imprisoning relationship to the body. I was born with such blessings like a loving family with amazingly creative opportunities that I must have and I know that I want to make the most of my purpose, but I didn’t know what that is until I came here I am starting to realize that this is the wisdom I want to spread. I want to meet other BK family members all over the world,
and I want to bring the many body-conscious and individuals with soul-awakening potential together. I want to create centers, I want to uplift people’s souls through movement, knowledge sharing, community building, song, art making, playing, story-telling. As the chaos rapidly unfolds, I know that I want to show people how they can
be relieved from as much suffering as possible. I know that only You, Baba, can show me how I am meant to do this, how I am meant to be a vehicle. I open my eyes, ears, heart, and truest soul self to you! I want to be pure and strong, I want to continue fulfilling my role with as much love and enthusiasm as I have in my bodily capacity. I want to come Home.
Sr. La has shared so much with me— her precious time and compassionate attention— and the BK family in Chiang Mai and Bangkok have extended their most purest selves to me in a way that inspires me to no end. I want to be of service to humanity and I am almost positive this BK route is something for me. I am still a newbie with the meditation, and letting go of ego, lust, anger, and greed will be big challenges. But if I want to help anyone, I must help myself first and I think you, dearest Baba Love, are my true calling.
I know you can show me how I am meant to serve humanity best and help bring Heaven on Earth. I know we don’t have so much time left in this old world, so now that I have graduated from the BK World Spiritual University, I want to put knowledge into action.
Sr. La is going to India in early February to visit the BK family. I have always felt a strong pull to India, but waited for the “right” time. Now, I know that going to Madhuban is my dream. I want nothing more in life right now than to be surrounded by loving souls who want to spread peace to the world. I know that I have to have been pure for eight months in order to meet Baba and I am only a new student so this is not possible. However, I have many wise BK new year’s resolutions, and so one day I hope I will have the honored opportunity to be in his presence. Until then, I kindly request that I may participate as a student at the center for the first two weeks of February. This is the most perfect window of opportunity at this stage in my life. I crave the direction and connection that will give me the know-how to use all these incredible tools I am blessed with to serve Baba’s wishes in the purest way possible.
After February, life’s path is very undetermined. I feel I have been connected to Baba before, but never knew what word-titles to un-proportionately put on Him. Now I do. Now I have found a loving container for these feelings and knowledge to be shared.
I want to take this wisdom and be the best me possible, and of the most loving kind service to the world. I now know that I have You, my Real Supreme Dad! Forgive me
if my words are different than the other BK family members, but I don’t think you mind because you know what I feel. I love thinking with you in the morning and evening,
and how you want all your children to be loved. I want to come home to your Ocean of Love. I want to be a wonderful daughter to you. If I could come to India now, that would be incredible. Then New York, then…who knows! My path is in your loving hands….and that is so cool! J
Sorry if my letter is too long, I have so much to share.
In utter gratitude, respect, and love,
Sister Daniela PLattner
Ps- I’ve always wanted sisters and brothers! Yay!
I have been practicing non-violence especially in relationships. Violence is absence of peace. Being non-violent means to be peaceful no matter what happens. That is keeping your state of mind stable even when things go wrong, things don’t happen the way you want them to be, people around you making mistakes, speaking without sense, not understanding, etc. For me, peace means no questions, no confusions leading to total clarity and being content with what is happening.
Violence for me is reacting even in the mental/subtle level, that very thought which creates an uncomfortable feeling in you. Reactions in words are like speaking harshly, angrily, cutting off the conversation, proving the point, correcting others. Those words show the arrogance and ego in the self.
Because the later effect is first you feel upset with your behavior and also that of others considering they do not understand you and why they are like that… Secondly the relationship suffers- people dislike you, not getting love, respect, cooperation…. Thirdly you spoil your name and reputation.
Reactions in facial expression and body language are like turning your face off, showing being upset in your face, no eye contact, no smile, walking away, you bring those emotion each time you see the person, not acknowledging their ideas, communication, operating material things in a dislike/upset/harsh way.
The root cause of all these behavior is expectations and taking too much responsibility. When I closely analyze and understand each one’s capacity and limitations, their way of doing things and behavior, then I can program myself to behave accordingly with that person. I use my intellect in a tactful way by getting things done at the same time holding harmony in relationships.
I could do this by focusing on my inner attitude and the way I convey things. I strongly realized many of us are good at heart and our feelings, intentions are good but the way we convey them spoils the entire show. To do this, I used the powerful weapon of silence and introversion and close communication with God.
For each and every task I dealt with relationships, I observed and spoke slowly and gently with lot of humility and sweetness. When I got rejections, oppositions, a total different plan to that of my mine, I withheld my inner reactions and taught myself to be patient, let go, flexible, leaving it to the drama and allowing the ball to be in other person’s court.
This methodology helped me to be non-reactive and to just respond peacefully with them. Sometimes even though I don’t like their ideas/opinions/way of doing/their mistakes in spite of cautioning them, I just watch the scenes of the drama as it unfolds. This helped me to be kind, forgiving and merciful with others. I realize I can’t control anyone even if I don’t want them to do wrong and suffer. Everyone has their own role to play. My role is to gently caution without hurting them, and to support them after they make mistakes.
I understood the following points very deeply which helps you to be non-violent and content:
1. Letting go…….. not holding anything like idea, right/wrong, this way or that way
2. Being non-judgmental ……. each one’s action is right based on their situation.
3. Being a detached observer…….. allowing each one to do their role
4. Everything will pass……..No person or situation or issue or task is permanent, today it will be bigger but tomorrow it doesn’t even exist.
5. Seeing the bigger picture……..enables me to take things easily and lightly knowing whatever is happening is too small/doesn’t matter in the bigger picture of my life.
- Padmapriya, Young Leader (Los Angeles, United States)
As a mental health counselor, working with adolescent boys between the ages of 14 and 18, I was able to implement the Spotlight Values Project into some of my group sessions. During the first week of September, in a 70 minute group session, I began a discussion with the 15 gentlemen on my caseload regarding the concept of peace. Through the use of brainstorming skills, the group members were able to identify their own understanding of what peace means to them individually.
In addition, I used the facilitator’s guide to create a handout for the youth to be able to follow along with some of the inspiring questions offered in the packet. The group members articulated individuals throughout history which remind them of peacefulness. They also began to explore what the program they are currently in would be like should all people, both residents and staff, were peaceful. This exploration was done aloud and the group members had the opportunity to write down their thoughts onto their sheet of paper. Interestingly, the youth all had similar ideas for how the program would run, they mentioned that there would not be any arguing or physical altercations among residents, they would talk to one another respectfully, and would listen to one another with genuine attention. They also explained they would feel calmness and would not be as tense as they are. The ‘Can of Worms’ activity was inspiring as well. Each resident received one of the challenging questions and their responses were peaceful solutions. The group members offered one another constructive feedback as they shared their peaceful resolution to the challenging situation.
The next activity we explored during this session, was story of the Stone-Cutter. One of the youth read the story aloud as the others followed along on their handout. Once the story was complete, the residents began a discussion about what they gained from the story and some of the themes present which they could apply to their current life. To conclude the session, I invited the youth to explore the value of peace in their own time and in their own way. I explained that I would be posting their creations on the international blog should they desire it to be placed. I also explained to them that they could also just share their creations to one another during the follow-up session of this group at the end of the month.
Since the first session, I have the gentlemen on my caseload inform me on their sign in sheet, how they were able to implement peacefulness into their day. It is fascinating what they shared and I am looking forward to reviewing their creative arts inspired by peace this coming week!
- Daisy (Mental Health Counselor)