This Project was established as a collaborative initiative with songwriter-artists David Wilcox and Nance Pettit, as a form of citizens' diplomacy, promoting peace both through the direct impact of lyrics and music which evoke or illuminate experiences of peace in the listener, and through dedicating all profits from the sales of this music to supporting the related work of the Partners in Conflict and Partners in Peacebuilding Projects around the world.
Out Beyond Ideas is their newly released CD dedicated to the Songs for Peace Project. It is a collection of songs drawn from the unifying words of ancient mystics from many of the world's major faith traditions, including Islamic, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist and Native American.
The Sufis, and in their different ways, mystical poets from all the great spiritual traditions included in this album, speak of four layers of the heart. These layers correspond to four main approaches to peace. From the more outward oriented, conventional approach of using political, economic and military power to assert control and impose order; to the deeper work of building and adapting a democratic consensus on how to manage conflict based on what's right (civil rights, human rights, laws or norms based on cultural or religious traditions); to the still deeper work of the heart "out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing."
This deeper work (third layer) is more inclusive and integrative, going beyond judgments of right and wrong, and differences in power, to bring stakeholders together in partnership across political, cultural and religious divides to discover and address the core human needs that if overlooked, drive the parties in complex, violent and protracted conflicts which are insoluble from the outside or in terms of right and wrong. Once our core humanity and needs (for identity as well as security, distributive justice etc.) are respected and addressed, we have a stake in building and sustaining peace, and can work with others as needed partners. In the words of the poets in this album, "the differences would disappear" as we come together to bring forth the larger "elephant story" hidden from our separate perspectives.1
Ultimately, peace is only sustainable when we experience it directly in our hearts ("the light within the flame"). Without this"encouragement of light…we all remain too frightened." To the extent we have this experience, then we are the peace, there is no separation between means and ends, us and them: "even the phrase ‘each other' doesn't make any sense." This is the core message of the poets in all traditions, to waken the innermost layer of the heart which connects all of us as human beings: "Awake my dear, be kind to your sleeping heart; take it out to the vast fields of light and let it breathe." From this place, "the sail just needs to open and the love begins." We have found that prayer, meditation, sacred music or any method for touching this deep reality where unity predominates can have a profound impact in peacemaking, opening possibilities where there seemed to be none.2
Peacebuilding initiatives that tap into these third and fourth levels can provide the roots that give legitimacy to the first two and create a peace that is truly inclusive, beneficial and sustainable. These Songs for Peace evoke and celebrate this work of love everywhere.