The first day of the 12th International Nonviolence Summer Institute was an orientation day, helping us as participants begin building our own experience of what King often called the Beloved Community. We were oriented to the University of Rhode Island and the institute process we will be participating in for two weeks
As a pre-institute opportunity, in the afternoon we were treated to a presentation by Thupten Tendar, a Kingian nonviolence trainer who is also a Geshe (equivalent to PhD) in Buddhist Philosophy.
The key message Thupten shared is that inner peace is the foundation for universal peace. He defines inner peace as "a mental disposition free of negative thoughts and emotions, with internal strength, harmony, and peacefulness regardless of the external conditions." He emphasized that all people have the potential to experience this.
Thupten emphasized that when he talks of violence he means it in a holistic sense: Physical, Verbal, and Mental. He highlighted how deeply interconnected these three are.
According to Thupten, developing our capacity for inner peace is important to our work around nonviolence because it helps us better understand the conflict and disagreement we will naturally face every day, improve our interactions with those around us by increasing our ability to stay focused on our values in adversity, and strengthening our understanding and connections with others.