Trinidad and Tobago Express: Will the citizens of the country ever enjoy a crime-free environment? Will this world ever find peace?
These are some of the questions that drove the Brahma Kumaris Raja Yoga Centre to publicly launch World Peace Hour recently at its Chaguanas branch.
The centre hopes to spread, through prayer and meditation, a peaceful attitude that will help reduce crime.
Attendees included co-ordinator of the Divali Nagar, Deokinanan Sharma, and feature speaker, Assistant Commissioner of Police for South and Central, Dennis Graham.
Most people do not take seriously thoughts on meditation, much less as a way to bring more order to society.
But can meditation have a tangible effect on crime? At the Raja Yoga Centre, people of all races and religion are taught the art of meditation – free of charge.
Such is the commitment of those at the centre to share mental peace.
With centres all around the world and many members who are part of the scientific community, the Raja Yogas have conducted several experiments over the years to test the effects of meditation.
In June 1999, the Social Indicators Research journal reported one of the most dramatic sociological experiments ever undertaken.
Intense group meditation was done over an eight-week period in Washington, DC, during the summer of 1993.
Researchers, before the experiment, had predicted a reduction in crime of at least 20 per cent.
Findings later showed that violent crime-including rapes, murders and assaults-had decreased by 23 per cent during the June 7 to July 30 experimental period.
The odds of this result are two in one billion.
The study was led by John Hagelin, Director of the Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa.
The demonstration had involved nearly 4,000 practitioners of Transcendental Meditation from 81 countries.
Hagelin stated: “Previous research had shown that these meditation techniques create a state of deep relaxation and coherence in the individual and simultaneously appear to produce an effect that spreads into the environment, influencing people who are not practising the techniques and who have no knowledge of the experiments themselves”.
Hagelin, an eminent physicist, drew terminology from quantum field theories to refer to the results of meditation as “a field effect of consciousness”.
“It’s analogous to the way that a magnet creates an invisible field that causes iron filings to organise themselves into an orderly pattern,” Hagelin said.
He also said that meditation has been shown to create high levels of coherence and orderliness in individual practitioners.
This “orderliness” appears to spill over into society and can be measured directly through the positive changes that occur.
Dr Ann Hughes, a professor of Sociology and Government at the University of the District of Columbia, later said of the experiment: “What we are looking at here is a new paradigm of viewing crime and violence. Hughes was part of a 27-member project review board composed of independent scientists and civic leaders who approved the research protocol and monitored and the process.
Sr Jasmine, co-ordinator of the centre, said that the most powerful instrument known to man is the power of thought.
“Crime begins as a thought,” Sr Jasmine said.
Changing these thought forms before they begin a definite way, she said, begins curbing crime.
“Our world is crying out for peace and thirsting for love.
“The call of time is here for each of us to make a meaningful contribution,” Sr Jasmine urged.
“Our once-sweet and loving T&T is fast becoming unconscious and filled with fear, hopelessness and sorrow.”
Assistant Commissioner of Police in South, Dennis Graham, said that the institutions of family, religion and education also hold a great responsibility in the prevention of crime in this country.
He referred to the biblical saying: “Train up a child when he is young that he may not depart from it when he is old.”
“There is an increasing dependency on the Government to provide services that should be provided by the family,” Graham said.
“If the family fails, other institutions will fail,” Graham said.
“The police cannot do our jobs successfully without the intervention of these institutions. We must join hands and hearts.”
He said that most officers are trained to simply deal with a crime on hand without taking a deeper look into the criminal mind.
He is a firm believer in prevention, and cited the disparities in the social and economic classes as being one of the root causes of crime.
“The disparity between the upper of the upper class and the lower of the class are wide.
Those of the lower of the lower class sometimes seek to attain the things of the upper of the upper class by illegal means.”
He said that one of the main purposes of education is to socialise children through the use of a country’s culture and values.
Graham also felt that spirituality needs to be taught to younger people.
“We must pray daily,” the policeman said.
“Children need to be taught that people are more important than material things. Some have virtually abdicated these values.”
He said, though, that there has been a noticeable drop in criminal activity from where he sits, since the provision of more patrol vehicles to the police force.
He pointed out that the once pandemic kidnapping trend has abated.
The centre will continue to hold World Peace Hour on every third Sunday of the month and all are invited to attend.
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