Updated: Jul 17, 2021
Ever since meditation started gaining popularity in the West, researchers have been curious about the idea of mass meditation bringing about global peace. And several experiments conducted to verify this possibility seem to agree that a group of meditators who focus on emotions like love and kindness can lower crime levels.
The Peace Intention Experiment
One of the most famous attempts at using mass meditation for world peace was done in 2008 in an experiment called “The Peace Intention Experiment.” It was based on several Transcendental Meditation (TM) studies that show a direct relationship between mass meditation and crime rates of a region. Apparently, the number of fatalities in Lebanon fell by 76 percent when TM experts engaged in group meditation. Criminal activities, incidents of fires, and traffic accidents were also observed to have decreased.
However, the TM study had a big problem. “The TM studies mostly concern group attention. In many instances, the meditators are not people who maintain a focused intention to change something else. The Peace Intention Experiment will take their work one step further by examining what happens when a large group sends a highly specific intention to make a change,” from an article by Princeton University.
The first study under the Peace Intention Experiment started on September 14, 2008, and ran for about a week. A group of people was required to meditate for about 40 minutes every day. The researchers soon found that the study yielded results similar to the TM studies — mass meditation resulted in higher levels of peace and social harmony.
While some people may have difficulty accepting that group meditation can bring big changes to society, the fact of the matter is that by focusing our attention on positive emotions like kindness and love, we really do have a chance of pacifying the world. “Being whole and simultaneously part of a larger whole, we can change the world simply by changing ourselves. If I become a center of love and kindness in this moment, then in a perhaps small [but] hardly insignificant way, the world now has a nucleus of love and kindness it lacked the moment before,” EOC Institute quotes Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life.
Several other studies also show the positive effect of group meditation on the state of society. In the mid-1980s, about 7,000-8,000 people met in seven assemblies over a two year period to carry out a group meditation to bring peace to Lebanon. During the period, war deaths in the region were reported to have decreased by about 71 percent. Interestingly, the events were held in the state of Iowa in the U.S., yet the results were observable in faraway Lebanon, underlining the fact that a focused meditation for world peace can truly produce results. Another study done during 1988-1990 by a group of 8,000 meditators saw major positive changes during the period. In fact, all major conflicts that had been plaguing the world for a long time came to an end during the two years the group was meditating for world peace. This includes an end to the U.S.-Soviet cold war, the Iran-Iraq war, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Given such huge positive social changes brought about by group meditation, it is very much possible that large meditation gatherings might become a common affair very soon.
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