BOOK REVIEW: Pilgrimage for a Future without War - “GRACE” by Sabine Lichtenfels
An extraordinary book by an extraordinary individual. A vision brought to life. GRACE is a state of life, described by Sabine Lichtenfels. It is a state of consecration, of vigilant politics, it is a philosophy of the will for peace. Sabine Lichtenfels belongs to those people who are building a new world. She is not content with wishing a new world, she substantiates. In Tamera in Portugal there already exists such a place, a so-called healing biotope, and she belongs to it, see http://www.tamera.org What .is happening in Tamera is an experiment, as was the pilgrimage to Palestine/Israel. One of the worst conflicts of the world is raging there.
In three chapters and on 293 pages Sabine Lichtenfels describes her inner and outer journey from a deliberately naive point of view. The meaning of the concept GRACE is explained in the introduction. Chapter one describes the preparations and the Tamera project, the pilgrimage along Jacob’s Way and the journey through Europe, alone and without money. The second chapter is about the many experiences in Israel/Palestine. The group of pilgrims, that is gathering in the country, visits the most different places on both sides of the wall. There also are Israelis among them, and also Palestinians. The portrayals of the encounters are authentic and touching. The group performs the play “We Refuse to be Enemies” and receives interest by inhabitants of all sides, even by soldiers. The photos in the middle of the book provide an idea of how this worked. The final chapter, entitled “Ending the War”, is a summarizing reflection. It deals with the guilt issue, with victims, perpetrators, and the management and solution of conflicts.
It turned out to be appropriate to read this book on the train from Mainz to Kiel and back. In the framework of the “Peace of Art” weeks I was invited to Kiel for a reading with music. While the car gently clattered the book quickly fascinated and absorbed me, the book of a pilgrimage. Monika Berghoff from the Meiga publishing house had informed me about the new publication in an email. As it happened, peace activist Reuven Moskovitz visited the performance in Kiel. When I introduced the book during the reading and showed it around he told us that he knows and recommends it. Indeed was the peace oasis Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, co-founded by Reuven Moskovitz, one of Sabine Lichtenfels’s pilgrimage stations and there are contacts between Tamera and the oasis between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. There, Jews and Arabs are living together in a village.
One has to be open for individual presentations to be able to appreciate this field report. Open for believers, for example, who embrace the loving and healing God, rather than the punishing one. Open also for people who live with their myths. Open for prayers and coincidences. Lichtenfels can be called a modern shaman. Her motto: “Act as if you already achieved it.” and her power source the trance are indications. Even those, who never have dealt with shamanism, are able to recognize the similarity with some popstars, vulcanically creative people, inspired politicians, children and anchorites, concerning their charisma, ways of life, and their methods of decision-making. They are people who met the core of their most inner power and who are familiar with the feeling of merging in an all-embracing flow of energy. People who know methods of clearing themselves and who bring information out of the trance, from within. Many of our admired collective ancestors were of this kind…
The danger of the GRACE books lies in the fact that after the reading one might be tempted to follow the Tamera impulse. One might get a feeling of hope for normality. The guidelines of the project were, among others, collected by Dieter Duhm, in his book “Future without War. Theory of Global Healing”, another new publication of the Meiga publishing house. The two books quote each other. Duhm reports about practical ways of nonviolence in the society, in the same kind of atmosphere of departure. In Tamera courses and meditations are carried out in which new patterns of behavior are being examined, ones that overcome violence in relationships of all sorts. How pleasant might it be to live in such an atmosphere…
A normal world at last, a world in which one is able to develop into the best that one has, without having the society obstructing and preventing it, without the suspicion. This is how this hope can be formulated. One cannot know whether it works like that, but one becomes eager to learn it. In this respect GRACE is subversive in a relieving way.
In GRACE, especially in the last chapter, basic questions are raised that make a personal treatment of the matter necessary. In the center there is the key question of guilt and punishment, a matter that has to be viewed from two different angles: from the angle of the new start and from the angle of factual situations of oppression in the world. The new start is, for example, Tamera, a place where one learns to understand and overcome one’s ego battles. A community which in case of success can lead to a nonviolent present and future, creating patterns that can multiply. In this approach it is not necessary to touch existing conflicts, only from the psycho-analytical perspective, for one of the main concerns is to master the feelings of victimhood: “You were able to recognize your truth and start with the uncovering. Isn’t this a more comprehensive victory? Every discovery of the ego structures within yourself is a step toward awakening. On this path you will make your enemy your friend. This is the loophole.” (p 279) This philosophy aligns with my own experiences and conclusions in eight years of creative work. I also agree that the battle of the sexes and the patriarchy have played a major in role in leading the societies astray and that we need something new. What Tamera is to Sabine Lichtenfels, to me is the world of Omega 5 (http://www.anis-online.de/2/literatur/omega5/0e.htm), a world in which there is a tradition of nonviolence and of peace between the sexes. For example in the story of Nuuris (not online at the moment). They are exactly the Tamera issues which are examined in this novel in a playful way.
Then there is the other side and the problem of how to deal with guilt. The principle: “Always both parties are guilty” does, as a matter of fact, not fit everywhere. The small child, for instance, that is being oppressed by its parents, is innocent. Also in societies, which are kept under occupation by other societies, the principle is misleading and even abused sometimes, in order to relativize violence. Lichtenfels and Duhm do not escape this complex of problems. It is true that they do not condemn things by principle in the state of GRACE, but they name things and they do name violence which makes their creed credible and consistent. In the novel Omega 5 there also is this duality: next to the aspect of self-awareness and catharsis there exists a regulating public. In this literary world, violent situations are prevented by the mentality - the Omegans traditionally do not believe in violence and thus do not follow it - on the one hand, and they have a strong and responsible public, on the other, where things are called by their names and where public discussions between conflicting parties are a normality. Those, who escape discussions, become uncredible and suspicious on Omega 5. Here on earth we are far apart from such conditions. In our world it is a sad matter of course that someone says: “Look, what my enemy has done!” and that he then uses violence without much public outrage as a reaction. The famous “Since 5:45 a.m. fire has been returned” is still happening on a daily basis in many places in the world, despite the fact that at the latest since the mass effect of the internet there are possibilities available to map and solve conflicts on a higher-ranking level. Here on this website, the best example for such an approach might be the debate about a punk song, see http://www.anis-online.de/2/artclub/slime-e.htm This .is my conception of peace journalism.
When I saw the photos of Tamera on the website I had to think of the artist Erhard Arendt and his light designs, reliefs and pictures. New patterns. His semi-abstract meditative art would fit well into the surroundings, see http://www.arendt-art.de/deutsch/lichtobj.htm Tamer.a is necessarily developing into a space of art, as art, especially in the sense of an action, belongs to the major elements of the culture of peace. I even rang Erhard up and told him about it. For this is the difference between GRACE and other books: the interesting aspect is not, what the author will write and do next, but what one will write and do next oneself.
Sabine Lichtenfels: “GRACE. Pilgerschaft für eine Zukunft ohne Krieg.” Verlag Meiga, 1st edition 2006, 293 pp, with photos, glossary and bibliography, 17,80 €
Documentary about a GRACE meditation in Berlin in 2006, 3:41 min, by Ulf Leonhard (in German): http://video.google.de/videoplay?docid=7495332309184557609
Visit Anis’ site at http://firstname.lastname@example.org/index.htm