Theoretical approach of the book of Thierry Janssen:
"Vivre en paix" (Living in peace), published - in French - by
Robert Laffont editions 2003, Marabout 2008.
The comments below were directly inspired by the book, in a theoretical
but do not present truly a summary, nor reflect the spirit.
Out of respect for the author, and for the sake of brevity,
the testimonies, stories and examples of the book have not been used,
even if it is they who gives the depth to the work.
A) At the source of violence
1 / The fear
Thierry Janssen initiated the writing of his book in the aftermath of
the events of September 11, 2001. Apart from the media coverage that was
made, these events made a huge impact on everyone, by the extreme violence
they represented. A natural reaction to such violence is anger, accompanied
by the desire to make the perpetrators disappear as quickly as possible.
However, in thinking about it, murdering an assassin, whether legally
or not, only adds to the infernal cycle of violence.
This raises the question: why wanting to kill terrorists and then acting
in mirror with them?
In fact, the anger behind this violence is generated by the fear we have
of the perpetrators of this same violence. The fear of violence is therefore
capable of generating an equally destructive and murderous violence. If
we are capable of violence, of killing when we are afraid of those who
kill, it is very likely that they, too, will kill because they are themselves
in fear. Humans are struggling with the fears that lead them to violence,
feeding a vicious cycle, terribly murderous.
Becoming aware of this way of functioning can be the beginning of a change,
starting with our own awareness of our fears and violence, as well as
the understanding and forgiveness of those of others.
Yet there is an alternative to fears, which is only possible if we become
more conscious. And it's love. It starts with a love for ourselves first.
Accepting ourselves as we are in all our reality in the harmony between
our body, our emotions and our intellect. The confidence that we have
in ourselves can then be widened on the trust in the others. It is the
only way to lead to peace.
"If shadow can not exist without light, light can radiate without
shadow ... it has only to flood the whole of space. Shadow is unconsciousness.
Light is consciousness." The shadow is fear, consciousness is love.
Fear not only causes anger and violence, but it brings suffering. Love,
in all its forms: forgiveness, indulgence, benevolence, generosity, sharing,
..., dissolves fear.
In front of complex conflicts, resulting from a thousand of causes and
influenced by a thousand of others, it is difficult to understand the
ins and outs. However, behind all the information, true or false, to which
we have access, it is always the old wounds, and the fears of reliving
them, which are at the root of all the conflicts, of whatever level they
are. What people live on a large scale is the same thing as what each
of us experiences in individual quarrels. Living them in a group amplifies
the destructive force of these processes, which explains why human communities
may have been responsible for the worst atrocities throughout the history
For when fear is collective, individuals are ready for anything, acting
on behalf of the community, releasing themselves from their own responsibility.
As long as communities, peoples, nations, as well as individuals, live
depending on their wounds of the past, they will remain unable to stop
the vicious circle of violence.
Our society is keen on war. We honor our warriors, and have military
schools, but do not have a school of peace, where we would learn in a
playful way to know each other, to respect each other, and to respect
the other. This would require a profound transformation of our thought
system. And it would be better for us to invest in inner progress than
on the technological progress that can transport us to the moon.
2 / The repression (inhibition)
When studying the human brain, one can represent it in three levels:
the reptilian brain, responsible for all the vital functions and determined
the lymbic system (common to all mammals), responsible for emotions and
the neocortex, which manages all our intellectual functions, that is to
say, roughly: thinking.
The three brains thus allow three levels of consciousness: instinctual,
emotional and intellectual.
The collaboration between these three levels implies that when the neocortex
is at the controls, it can stop the arrival of information from other
levels, via repression (refoulement), that is to say that the secondary
information from the instinctual and emotional levels, is sent back to
the unconscious (for example, background noise, accelerating breathing,
blink). The repression (refoulement) thus allows to use our intellectual
potentials at the most of our capacities.
When our instincts and emotions are in contradiction with our reasonings,
or when they are too painful to manage, we repress them too, and make
them inoperative, unconscious. It then becomes possible to commit inhuman
acts and to perpetrate atrocities with obvious rationality, but without
feeling the slightest bit of emotion. Thierry Janssen does not hesitate
to quote Hitler and Polpot, having ordered the death of hundreds of thousands
of people. "The greatest tyrants are undoubtedly deeply wounded beings,
whose means of survival was to repress their suffering so as never to
feel it again, and this for the greatest misfortune of humanity. "
Yet, by ignoring this mechanism, we remain unable to draw lessons from
history so as not to perpetuate misfortunes. And we all work that way,
for example when we eat greedily as we watch the dead bodies of the television
news. And this lack of knowledge makes us simply inhumane, while being
unconscious of this.
A thought, a reasoning that ignores emotion, lies to us. Listening to
our emotions can bring us back to the truth. Yet Western culture, by far,
favors the thinking about the emotion. We live in our mental, disconnected
from our body and our emotions, and are therefore all capable, not only
of the best, but mostly of the worst.
By ignoring the emotional and physical signs, we create an imbalance
in our functioning. First of all, it leaves us unable to meet our needs
because we are unable to hear them; and in this way it leads us to manifest
it by psychosomatic symptoms. Then the mind ends up running on its own.
A purely mental reasoning can explain his own logic, but it can not explain
the logic of life. The purely mental logics can thus lead to murderous
follies, disconnected from all consciousness. If we identify with our
own thinking, we no longer have access to the higher intelligence, to
a spiritual consciousness, we are then able to find the most Cartesian
arguments that will justify the logic of the worst horrors.
3 / The projection
In addition to the fears and the repression mechanism, we resort to a
lot of often inappropriate behaviors, which will help the violence to
We often conduct our relationships unconsciously using the mechanism
of projection, which consists of interpreting the thoughts and emotions
of the other, by unfounded assumption, according to our own, often unconscious,
and not generalizable, mental and emotional attitudes. And so, what we
project on others, confirms what we already believe. We interpret the
world with our glasses that do not have the color of reality. Yet we can
not know what others really think. For, either, what they say does not
necessarily stick to reality, or they just do not tell it to us.
We often think that others think the same thing as we do. Or we judge
negatively in the other what we do not want to see inside us. We admire
in the other the qualities we would like to have. And we confuse that
with empathy, which is the true ability to understand others and to feel
as they feel. To know and recognize this thought in mirror, can serve
us to discover ourselves, and to make us evolve. Observing oneself and
accepting oneself as we really are, makes it possible to be able to observe
and accept others as they really are, and to avoid misunderstandings,
judgments, conflicts. By refusing projection, we stop feeding our fears,
and avoid creating situations that lead to violence.
4 / The defensive attitude
Although the human being is gregarious, he lives permanently connected
to fears: fear of being abandoned, rejected, betrayed, ignored. Fears
engender all negative feelings: from anguish to mistrust, from anger to
hatred, guilt and many more. These fears put us on the defensive and hinder
our relationships, and that since our earliest childhood, and since the
dawn of time. But these fears are, for the most part, in a way, the fruit
of our intellect, which will develop all kinds of strategies to protect
itself, but this will isolate us from others. These strategies range:
from mask, to control, manipulation, rigidity and conformity. But we are
not aware that these strategies lead us to suffer more than anything else.
And our fears and our defensive attitudes lead us to consider others as
enemies, and eventually lead us to wars of all kinds. And wars keep us
in fear: a vicious circle.
And very often, these fears are unfounded, created by the intellect on
the basis of its erroneous interpretations of reality (projection).
5 / The masks we wear
One of the strategies to manage our fear and socialize in spite of it,
is to hide it. It allows us to be recognized and loved ... for who we
are not. But it also prevents us from living our true life, from feeling
our true feelings, consciously. By controlling our masks, we will also
try to control others. To maintain our mask, and magnify it, we always
reject mistakes on others. We deceive others, but also ourselves, not
allowing authenticity and honesty in the relationship. Above all, we do
our best so that our fragility and our weaknesses can not become apparent!
And in most cases, we are ready to fight fiercely to defend these appearances.
The moment when our tendency will be the strongest to put on a mask,
is when we have to present ourselves publicly: to get a message across,
or sell ourselves to strangers (to get a job for example). These are situations
where fear can invade us. Yet, dissimulating our fear is rarely the most
appropriate, especially since our emotions, through the signs of our body,
may reveal us. Having the courage to welcome fear, to show ourselves as
we are, and even to confess this fear, is the guarantee for us to be taken
for who we are, and not for another: our mask. This is the path to confidence.
And the state of mind that unveils gives an inner assurance. "Because
we only receive according to what we ask and, showing a mask, consists
in asking something that is for somebody else than us, namely our mask."
With the risk, then, to accuse the one who gives, for what he has given
to the mask.
6 / Becoming conscious of our mistakes and acknowledge
Our personality gropes in the darkness and fear, indulging in the habit
and always repeating the same mistakes. Our essence, if we pay attention
to it, lights the way, far from fear. We can let it guide us, and teach
us, far from control, from struggle, in the understanding of things and
It teaches us that: "Every cause entails a consequence, and in this
game we often are the author of the causes and the victim of the consequences."
By living under the diktat of the personality, we take the path of fear,
mistrust, negativity, through judgment, denigration, anxiety, victimization,
until depression. Our walls of protection are our judgments and our beliefs,
inherited from our education, which we often erect like bunkers. "Our
negativity hides our fear. "
By observing ourselves and knowing ourselves better, we can become conscious
and accept our limits and our needs, without projecting on others the
responsibility for their non-respect. And this acceptance leads to recognizing
and accepting the limits and needs of others. We recognize our humanity
and that of all humans. And this is how we can find peace.
B) From violence to dialogue
1 / The combat, the flight, or the dialogue
In the animal world, faced with danger, there are two possibilities:
flight or attack. The attack corresponds to the war, and the flight, we
can consider it as a cold war, because there is no acceptance, neither
of the other, nor of the situation. However, retreat can be an intermediate
way, if it is only a step, in order to avoid the hot war, to soothe the
emotions of fear and anger, and to open the consciousness to something
else. However, the flight breaks the bond and the trust.
Often we limit ourselves between these two choices, while there is a
third for the human being: that of dialogue.
Dialoging provides an opportunity to confront ourselves with reality,
to listen and understand others, to be listened to and understood by others.
This requires ignoring fear, and betting on trust, and this requires first
and foremost to lay down arms.
2 / Learning to communicate
Solving crises can only be done by communicating. Non-violent communication
offers various avenues to achieve this in a positive, constructive way.
A communication towards peace implies the following points of reference:
- Everyone, behind all appearance, has basically a good heart whatever
- Our differences are superficial, related to our personality. Essentially,
we have the same needs.
- Dialogue requires to observe, to feel, to recognize our needs, to be
able to ask.
- The dialogue consists of expression and listening, without judgment.
To get there, it is better to:
- limit ourselves to the expression of the observation, free from judgment;
- speak on our behalf ('I' and not 'you');
- be conscious, quite precisely, of our real feelings and needs;
- learn to know and manage our angers, to express them in a healthy way,
and to remain personally responsible of them, which leads us to refuse
any form of aggressiveness and violence (see also the articles of "Our
own violence" and "From the
opposition to non-violence" on this subject), because it is destructive
for the other as well as for ourselves. Anger can go through us: it is
- express beyond our thoughts, our feelings, in order to avoid projecting
on the other our fears and our sufferings in the form of reproaches;
- take responsibility for our actions;
- let others take theirs, and act independently of them according to our
needs and not theirs;
- keep in mind that we all have the same needs, to respect ourselves,
to respect those of others, and to bring others to respect ours;
- be able to ask without requirements (which allows the refusal), in echo
to our needs and feelings, in a positive way, and in respect of the other;
- respect the needs of the other;
- be able to really listen (with empathy, without judgment), even when
we are judged or attacked, and without imposing our solutions;
- listen to ourselves while respecting our limits;
- dare to take the first step in a conflict situation.
C) The missing consciousness
1 / Clever but not very conscious
The means to achieve peace have been known for millennia, but we have
not yet been able to truly hear them. The human being shows a lot of intelligence
in certain fields, but he is still very far from having reached the consciousness,
to make a full use of it. The absence of consciousness with inability
to manage our fears, leads us far too often to make a very bad use of
The current globalization could give a serious boost to this transformation,
essential for the human to survive from it.
2 / Intellectualization - ego
However, the intellect is prodigious in the sense that it allows us to
be aware of our body and our emotions, and so to make choices by directing
our own evolution. The other side of the coin is the existence of the
ego: the identification with our thinking (and our representation of ourselves).
Self-sustaining thinking will also make us absent from our lives, continually
projecting ourselves into the past or the future, preventing us from being
rooted in reality, making all our projections subjective.
3 / Observing our thinking and emotions in the
In general, we have a hard time defining ourselves in the present moment.
We never stop fleeing in the past or projecting ourselves into the future,
thus missing the only moment where we can act concretely: the present
The present moment is the moment of consciousness and transformation.
It does not give way to regrets or hopes, but to reality. It's our physical
feelings, our emotions and feelings that can help us stay in touch with
the present, sweeping the purring of thoughts. By becoming the observer
of our thoughts and emotions, we meet our essence, preventing their hold
on us. "Observing the intellect is taking energy away from it."
It is taking away the energy of our fears, of the war, and giving a chance
to peace. By observing our thoughts and feelings, we cease to give space
to the observation of the other, and the interpretation of what he thinks:
we stop "supposing". We stop building and believing in theories
that are not rooted in any reality.
The present time is the time of intimacy with oneself, and the others,
the time of peace, the time of love. Fears can only exist according to
the past and the future, they have no place in the present, and this is
a powerful antidepressant.
The evolution that awaits us could be summed up by the quote extracted
from the Upanishad:
"He who is in ignorance writes his life in stone.
He who seeks the spirit writes his life in the water.
He who is released writes his life in the air. "
4 / Interaction between internal peace and
When we hide behind our masks, when we judge harshly those who do not
correspond to our references and when we are indignant by wars and injustices
that the television offers us, we are very far from ourselves, from the
consciousness of our experiences, and we thus perpetuate the wars on our
scale, with our entourage, ready to complain, to whinge, and to spread
our poison concerning them. How then can we envisage peace in armed conflicts?
"Whenever we agree to reconnect with ourselves, we help create a
little more peace in the world." Our elevation of consciousness is
far more powerful than any wars we might wage for peace.
D) Towards attitudes of consciousness and
A prior work on oneself is above all necessary, before one can envisage
peace in the relations and between the communities.
1 / From defense to letting go
We are each torn in two directions: the first, separating, driven by
fear, our masks and defenses, which leads us to the opposition, the fight,
the search for survival, and the control of what surrounds us. It can
be called separator, personality, ego, false self, product of the intellect.
The second tendency, unifying, is characterized by letting go, it lets
itself be carried by the stream, in confidence with the life.
Our defenses lead us to live what we fear, thus confirming our beliefs
"Whenever we are afraid of others betraying, manipulating or controlling
us, our personality strives to control and manipulate by force or seduction.
So, as an inevitable consequence, the others try to escape us and we conclude
that we were right to want to control them. Finally, when we are afraid
of not being up to what others are expecting from us, and we are then
trying to hide what we consider to be our imperfections, we become so
rigid that no one can see the beauty and the overflowing creativity that
inhabit us. Thus, in seeking to be perfect, we become really flawed. "
Prisoners of our past who led us to this vicious circle, it is difficult
for us to get out of it. Only consciousness, which implies self-acceptance
in all its dimensions, can get us out of it. Wounded by the past, worried
about the future, only the present can comfort us and put us in peace,
and reveal to us our essence, leaving suffering in the letting go, and
realize us fully. (see also the tale "The
wolf you feed" ).
2 / From dependence to confidence
In what is said publicly about love, there is often confusion with the
notion of attachment and dependence, two very distinct poles of true love.
Attachment is the most common form of relationship. The most important
difference between the two lies in fear or trust, in control or freedom.
In the beginning of a love relationship, it is more about needs, and
lacks. True love is yet to be built. And the beginning of a love relationship
is much more based on a deal between two egos, who sooner or later will
be unmasked. The ego hopes in the relationship that the other will solve
his own problems. So everything is in place for misunderstanding until
we discover that the other does not meet our expectations, does not heal
our wounds, that we are the only one in a position to heal them. Only
then can we really build a relationship of love. It is a choice that can
be made in conscience, a direction to take toward which there is no suffering.
3 / Breathe
To stay awake to our consciousness in an emotionally stormy situation,
taking our breath into consideration can help us soothe the body's reactions
and regain our calm by steering it towards depth and toward a steady rhythm.
This "reduces the consequences of the negativity of our adversary,
without using the same arguments and processes as him". In this sense,
"breathing is a precious instrument of peace. "
In certain situations, when we feel judged; we put ourselves on the defensive,
or begin to justify ourselves, in search of recognition, whereas our interpretation
of a judgment is not necessarily correct. And facing our attitude, our
interlocutor can only respond in mirror, closing the trap on the situation.
If we breathe, regain awareness of the real situation, we may be able
to reverse the situation and avoid unnecessary wounds.
4 / From self-lie to lucidity
The state of consciousness here and now, with a lucid look at reality,
for those who reach it, is never a permanent state. Most of the time,
our ego intellectualizes reality, making us leave the consciousness, manipulating
ourselves, and causing us to lie to ourselves and lie to others, and thereby
create the circumstances that are conducive to conflicts. The more we
are able to be true, the more we will already improve our relationships,
while stopping being fooled and participating in the farce that our system
of society represents. "Nothing is more dangerous than a liar who
does not know he's lying," and we're all lying.
5 / forgiving oneself - forgiving others
"Forgiveness is without a doubt the greatest gift that one can offer
to oneself and to others. "
To be able to forgive, it is often necessary to forgive oneself. Forgiving
oneself and forgiving others can relieve a lot of tensions, repair or
improve relationships. When we are able to forgive, we can then see that
love is stronger than fear, it gives us peace.
It is not a question of forgiving the acts, but the people, in their
entirety: what they are, their thoughts, their feelings, their acts. To
forgive is a choice, the choice in the present to relieve ourselves from
the past, from our suffering. Each one acts in every moment according
to his level of consciousness, and our consciousness evolves, it is no
longer that of the past. Forgiveness is the key to liberation and healing.
Self-forgiveness is leading to forgive the other and allows him to forgive
Forgiving is a choice that allows us to forget about the sufferings of
the past, to rely on trust in the other, by recognizing for him the right
to make mistakes, because we recognize this right for ourselves. Forgiving
soothes much more than revenge can do it for a time, it is a gift that
we make to ourselves.
6 / From competitiveness to collaboration
The concept of war is not just about armed conflicts. It is a mode of
operation that occupies our lives at all times. This is reflected in our
language, in all forms of competitions and opposition of life. We resist
nature, life. Our fears lead us to want to control everything, thinking
to do better than life, than nature, able to make war on ourselves, if
Society, by all means, requires performance from us, and in general,
in a very specific context, ignoring our real capabilities, which are
making our essence.
From generation to generation, we are educated in fear, by trying to
get us into a box, and everyone simply retransmits what he has learned,
unaware that there are other ways. To break this vicious circle, only
the consciousness of being there, makes it possible to choose something
else, to go from the path of our fears to the path of love.
Faced with the conditional love of those around us, we have only the
choice to revolt or to submit to it. Submission under a mask or revolt
in violence. Unconditional love is marked by acceptance of the other.
And to accept the other, we must first accept ourselves, and show ourselves
without a mask.
The register of the competition in which we live requires us to fight
on all fronts in order to remain a winner. But "in the eyes of love,
there is no real winner if there is even one loser".
7 / Beyond actions: thoughts and intentions
Beyond the concrete acts towards peace, Thierry Janssen draws attention
to the invisible nature of life, which invites us to nourish other thoughts,
other emotions, other intentions. "The outside world is a reflection
of what is happening within each of us, we attract to ourselves what we
refuse to see in us, it is the magic of the Universe, because everything
has a meaning."
Our thoughts and intentions, even if not followed by actions, have a
concrete impact on reality.
There is also the theory of morphogenetic fields, illustrated by the
legend of the hundredth monkey (see the article on this subject: http://sechangersoi.be/EN/4EN-Articles/Sheldrake%20EN.htm).
This theory hypothesizes that the evolution of each has an impact on the
evolution of all, apart from any communication between individuals.
E) Achieving peace and transmitting
1 / Stopping reproducing the past
By liberating ourselves from our present fears, by accepting to forgive
now, by recognizing the other's place and his rights, now; we are giving
peace the chance for now and for the future. Learning from past experiences
means going beyond conflict, stopping old resentment, being more conscious
of the issues, of our fears, of the impact of our thoughts, recognizing
our emotions and our real needs. This is the only way to free ourselves
from all conflicts, from all wars, on any scale.
As long as we do not draw lessons from our past in this light, we will
not be able to build a more positive future. As long as we do not decide
not to reproduce what has always been done; as long as we do not break
the vicious circle, we will perpetuate the massacres, remain prisoners
of power relations.
2 / Lasting happiness does not come from the stable
knowledge but from the perpetual change
If we base our happiness on the presence of people, situations, or objects
in our life; as everything comes to an end, we are condemned then to not
remaining happy. "All happiness contains in itself his share of suffering."
Only change is immutable. The search for such lasting happiness is therefore
doomed to failure. By identifying ourselves with our possessions, or to
the fact of being loved, we make the same mistake as when we identify
with our thoughts. All of these are just ways to be and evolve. Happiness
coming from circumstances brings satisfaction and pleasure; happiness
that we find and choose in us, brings joy and peace. It requires, in order
to attain it, to trust life, and to let go, fully accepting what is, in
the present moment.
3 / Changing from the inside to transmit to future
According to Thierry Janssen, whatever the religion, the message remains
the same: "The world is one, diversity is necessary for this unity,
and love is expressed through it. ". And we will need therefore fundamentally
to transform the teaching to our children, and it starts from the cradle.
And this transmission is only possible if we embody what we are trying
to bequeath. An education of punishment, of competition, can only prolong
the outdated mentalities.
4 / Starting from oneself, for all, with the
help of life
While decadence on a global level is still growing, there are more and
more individuals in parallel, who, through very different paths, are carrying
out a work of important internal evolution. It involves a psychological
and spiritual path but also a work at the physical level to release the
oldest emotional blockages, imprinted in our cells.
Beginning with oneself is the only possible way, to recover our essence,
to leave our hatreds, and to nourish benevolence and cooperation, and
to find peace and serenity.
Unlike a political approach such as communism, it is a spiritual path,
because it comes from the heart, from the individual and conscious process,
and does not go through the authority of any power balance. "A message
of peace can not be released by war, it can only be proposed." This
is a progress in that the progresses achieved by our knowledge are then
shared by all and for all. The satisfaction of needs is then done in confidence,
for the satisfaction of all, and not for the selfish purpose of defending
ourselves from our fears; instead of the illusion of freedom that this
attitude gave us, we then discover the true freedom, where the consciousness
allows us to leave our defensive attitudes, by accepting what is, our
real motivations can then appear and carry us towards the harmony in diversity.
In such a perspective, it becomes difficult to deny the existence of
a higher intelligence that surrounds us, which is deep within us: life.
When we are at war (whatever it is), we are at war with life. The task
and the road are long to go towards peace, and if we succeed, we will
make a real leap in evolution. It is from the intention that we can start,
and this intention can take place here and now.
5 / Transmitting
By choosing a positive approach to life, we are able to practice this
intention. The most direct way to make this is to recognize all that satisfies
us, pleases us. Even the hardships of life, even our adversaries, are
helping us by making us evolve far from our fears, closer to love. They
offer us lessons of life indispensable to awaken us. The ego then becomes
the tool that can help us. So those who have begun to tame their fears
can help those whose path is still dictated by fears, in order to join
together harmony, and to work for a profound mutation in the world.
Fear stimulates war, love engenders peace. This equation defies pure
rationality because it integrates the dimension of feelings and emotions,
which we will not be able to ignore if we want to evolve.
Claire De Brabander
translation : September 2018
This text has been written originally in French and has been translated
by the author (who is French speaking). The translation quality is therefore
not guaranteed. Don't hesitate to report any error. See more details