Mass-meditation in Schenley Park

By Lindsay Carroll

About 75 people gathered this morning to meditate for world peace and global change at Flagstaff… About 75 people gathered this morning to meditate for world peace and global change at Flagstaff Hill in Schenley Park.

The attendees meditated to the chanting song of two Mayan elders. Later, 15 Burmese monks walked around the people meditating, encircling them and saying prayers.

Sarah Bauer, a therapist from the Pittsburgh Center for Complementary Health and Healing, organized the event with the aid of others associated with the Thomas Merton Center, which helps coordinate the efforts of various activists in Pittsburgh.

She said the message came from a Vietnamese Zen master whose philosophy was “peace in oneself, peace in the world.”

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Meditation, she said, allows for people to feel silence and peace within themselves, to pray for change they want to see and then “have it emanate out.”

The Burmese monks who came to the ceremony wearing togas in shades of red, brown and orange are in the city to raise awareness about the antidemocratic government in the Asian country of Burma, which is officially named Myanmar.

The Mayan elders who led the ceremony were named Miguel and Antonio. Miguel was from Guatemala, while Miguel, from Cuba, works with native populations in the Pittsburgh area.

Margaret Baco, a local healer and artist who brought banners of art to the event, helped bring the elders to the event.

“I felt it was important for the indigenous peoples to be here, as well,” she said.

She said that although she had not heard about the extent of the riots in Oakland last night, she thought it was a rally cry.

“Many voices need to be heard. There is anger, there is fear,” Baco said.

She said that nonviolence might be a wiser way of expressing those feelings, but that injustice provokes protesters’ action, and the action is a symptom of the injustice.

“Hopefully, we’ll learn that peacekeeping is better than violence,” she said.

She added, “Do not look at action, look at the reason and meaning behind the action.”

Harvey Holtz, who moved to Pittsburgh on sabbatical from teaching at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, said that local activists want to begin to come together and follow the G-20 Summit.

He said he wants to connect the Pittsburgh spiritual and activist communities, especially in light of the declining American economy.

“Even if you believe in God, there’s a connection to the planet,” he said.