article from TOS (Theosophical Order of Service International Newsletter) – June 2011
Since its inception, the TOS has promoted the ideal of service based on a recognition of the Divine in all people, and in fact, in all life. The TOS promotes mutual respect, harmonious relationships and peace and many TOS groups include peace oriented activities among their projects. We were therefore excited to hear from Julie Cunningham, the head of the Welsh Regional Association of the TS, about Peace Mala, a peace education initiative started in Wales.
Peace Mala is a multi-award winning project founded by Pam Evans, an experienced teacher of World Faiths, Head of Department of Religious Studies in a Welsh secondary school, a long-time student of the mystical traditions of our world and a member of the Theosophical Society. Pam is committed to inter-faith dialogue for peace and she sees this as a vital process in the current world climate of fear and misunderstanding.
When describing how she came to found Peace Mala, Pam explains: “As a teacher of World Faiths, I’ve known about the Golden Rule for many years. In the aftermath of the events of 9/11, when some pupils in my school were being bullied because of their race or religion, I remembered the Golden Rule of all faiths. This inspired me to create the Peace Mala – a symbolic bracelet which would help young people understand the fundamental rule that all compassionate faiths share. I hoped that it would educate my pupils in a fun way and help stop the bullying. To my great joy it did! It spread through the school like wildfire.”
A Peace Mala is a symbolic double rainbow bracelet that promotes friendship, respect and peace between people of all cultures, lifestyles, faiths, beliefs and none. It is a vision for the future. Wearing the Peace Mala is a promise to help create a better world.
Pam says that when she was creating the design for the Peace Mala bracelet she was aware that the rainbow is an important symbolic link between heaven and earth in many cultures. Rainbows are rare and magical and double rainbows even more so. She also realised that the rainbow design would appeal especially to children and young people.
The Peace Mala bracelet comprises fourteen coloured beads with a central white or frosted white bead strung between symbolic knots. The central white bead represents the wearer. The final single bead is used as a toggle to bring the bracelet around the wearer’s wrist. This represents unity, harmony and peace.
The central message of the Peace Mala bracelet is “Treat others as you would wish them to treat you”. Its intention is to cut through all forms of prejudice, to confront bullying, to support human rights and to celebrate what makes us different from each other. Fourteen spiritual traditions, along with their individual versions of the Golden Rule, are represented on the bracelet.
The word ‘mala’ is Sanskrit and means ‘garland of flowers’. Peace Mala reminds us that we all belong and that communities filled with colour and difference make life more interesting and exciting. Making and wearing the Peace Mala gives youngsters an opportunity to take part in this wonderful project for world peace. It also introduces them to our plural community of diverse cultures and faiths.
The Peace Mala organisation is a non-political, non-religious charity that does not support any political party, movement or belief system over any other.
The main aims of Peace Mala are to:
- educate for global citizenship through the promotion of understanding, respect, friendship, tolerance and peace between all communities, cultures and enlightened, compassionate faiths
- support human rights and confront bullying and all forms of prejudice
- raise awareness of issues of global interdependence and encourage active compassion by learners that will effect positive changes locally and globally
The Peace Mala organisation produces resources for teachers and youth and community leaders as well as organising events and promoting the initiative.
For more information, visit the Peace Mala website at www.peacemala.org.uk/
Acknowledgment: The images and much of the text in this article have come from the Peace Mala website at Pam Evans’s suggestion.