Perspective, Practice

Webinar: “Steps to Real Peace” with Dawa Tarchin Phillips

By Garrison Institute

In this webinar, mindfulness and meditation expert Dawa Tarchin Phillips shared five steps to cultivate peace, heal the mind, and transform the heart. These steps can help us nurture and sustain ourselves during these difficult times, equipping us to be a source of love and support for others.

He began by acknowledging the challenges of this moment, ranging from COVID-19 to the struggle for racial justice and the ongoing threat of climate change. We are not at the end of these challenges, Tarchin Phillips remarked: “A lot more will be demanded of each of us with regard to how we grow as people, how we grow as communities, and how we learn to live together.” However, he shared his intention that this webinar serve as a small but helpful step on the journey to creating lasting change and peace.

Tarchin Phillips covered five steps to help cultivate inner and outer peace:

  1. Systemic Challenges and Systemic Solutions
  2. Daily Dharma Routines
  3. Behaviors
  4. Paradigms
  5. Humility: Accessing Beyond Self

The first step, Systemic Challenges and Systemic Solutions, acknowledges that all of our problems are systemic and thus require systemic solutions. “What makes the wisdom teachings of the dharma so potent is that they are actually systemic solutions, not linear,” Tarchin Phillips shared.

“The Buddha never proposed linear solutions. He always proposed systemic solutions, from the four noble truths, the eight-fold path, the six perfections… all of these solutions are systemic.”

In understanding problems and proposing solutions, we must recognize the context, actors, events, triggers, actions, results, and consequences. With this holistic perspective, we can work to bring about peace not just for ourselves but for all beings in the situation or environment.

For the second step, Tarchin Phillips shared six Daily Dharma Routines that can be integrated throughout the day to foster peace:

  • Morning Intention – Begin the day by asking yourself: What is my intention for today? How do I wish to relate to myself today and how do I wish to relate to others?
  • Body Gratitude – Talk to your body and express thanks for everything it has done for you and how far it has brought you.
  • Breath Sufficiency – Both Covid-19 and the black lives matter movement are revealing how essential breath, and the ability to freely breathe, is. “If you actually can breathe,” Tarchin Phillips instructed, “you can acknowledge that you have enough air” and express appreciation for the ability to breathe deeply and fully.
  • Connection Garden – Acknowledge your relationships and treat them like a garden, watering, nurturing, and appreciating them. “I have found in my life that even those relationships that are not positive respond to my nurturing intent and disposition,” he shared.
  • Daily Forgiveness – “Real peace is not only about gaining something it’s also about losing something. It’s not only about developing something new, it’s also about letting go of something old.” This routine involves letting go of yesterday, forgiving yourself and others, and arriving back into the present.
  • Brain Alliance – Engage in practices that help release neurotransmitters and hormones, such as Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin, and Endorphins, that foster a sense of happiness, connection, and wellbeing.

Behavior, the third step, concerns one’s ability to be present. Because peace is not just about what you do, but also about what you don’t do, it is important to shift out of certain behaviors and into new ones.

One teaching Tarchin Phillips shared is to begin taking control of what you can and letting go of that which you can’t. While we can’t always control our circumstances, we can control our response to them. By controlling our thoughts, we can begin to control our attitudes, our imagination, what we say, and what we do.

The fourth step involves shifting the following Paradigms:

  • Interpretation vs Observation – There is nothing wrong with interpreting, but recognize that when you interpret, you are either generating or destroying peace. So, observe as clearly as possible what is taking place. When you leave things with observation, you can arrive at a clearer course of action that isn’t based on interpretation or false interpretation.
  • Labels vs Humanity – “The alternative to labels is to relate to everyone’s humanity,” Tarchin Phillips explained. “Sometimes that humanity is very visible, sometimes it is hard to discern.” But to live in peace, we must commit to moving past the labels in order to see everyone’s humanity.
  • Systems vs Improvisation – “The challenges that we are currently facing represent the human condition. The human condition is not new.” He highlighted the need to share knowledge, methods, tools, and resources with others so that people aren’t forced to struggle and “improvise” just to survive.
  • Feedback Loop vs Repeat Loop – To step out of dysfunctional patterns, and to learn and grow, one must have the courage to make mistakes, learn from them, and be receptive to other’s feedback.

The final step, Humility, is about accessing the dimension that is beyond the self. “The easiest way to connect with this dimension is to direct your intention to include everybody,” Tarchin Phillips shared.

“Life has the intention to be supportive of every living thing, and when we align ourselves with that intention, we begin to connect with the dimension of life beyond the self. The self can be in conflict and competition with most of life. The self can be in a state of mind where it is operating from this paradigm where it is either going to be me or them, either they or I will thrive. The dimension beyond the self has the best interest of all beings at heart. Open yourself to this benevolence.”

Another aspect of humility is trust. When you choose to trust, you help generate your own sense of safety and well-being, no matter your circumstances.

“When you generate trust, you make yourself be at peace. When you withdraw your trust, you are reducing your access to states of peace. It’s about understanding that you are a generator of trust rather than a reactor or someone who responds with trust to others.”

After Tarchin Phillips shared his five steps to cultivate peace, he answered some questions, including one that touched on how we can more openly communicate across differences. He responded that we need to put more of an emphasis on listening and hearing others than speaking ourselves.

“The shift that has to happen is to understand that communication really doesn’t start until we listen. Neither the things the other person is saying, nor the things we are saying, have any value until they are heard. So, the shift has to happen from speaking more to hearing more.”

He also stressed the importance of truth-telling and expressing truth with empathy. “The reason why we are so wounded, disillusioned, and mistrusting of each other is because we have been telling each other lies for so long,” he explained. The lies in our shared history have affected our ability to trust each other and know ourselves, so when we take steps to speak the truth and accept the truth, we find our compass again.

“Change the relationship with truth from something we fear to something we can celebrate and rejoice in, even when the truth is difficult and painful. It’s not about being on the right side of history, it’s about developing a shared appreciation and a shared willingness to live in the light of truth, and in that light of truth we can actually all prosper.”

In closing, Tarchin Phillips encouraged attendees to extend kindness to themselves and others during these times of tumult and transformation. The world is witnessing a revolution of consciousnesses and the fact that we are alive during these times means that we are here to help bring about change. He urged us to remember that we are just as important as anyone else in making that change happen.

Visit Tarchin Phillips’ website to dive deeper and learn more.

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Dawa Tarchin Phillips is a meditation and dharma teacher, former monk, and authorized Buddhist lama who speaks and works internationally. He is the Founder and CEO of Empowerment Holdings, the President of the International Mindfulness Teachers Association, and is the Co-Founder of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. He is a contributing author for Mindful magazine, Tricycle magazine, and Lion’s Roar.

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