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Wars start in the minds of men, and cycles of conflict ensue. So, too, can wars be prevented in the minds of men, but not always in the conventional way one might think. A new technology of defense has now emerged from a most unexpected quarter and has scientifically shown itself to have intriguing potential to prevent war and create peace.
Here's the background: The underlying cause of war is accumulated social stress. Stress builds up. Differences arise. Groups take sides. Mediation fails to resolve the differences. Enemies form and arm.
Military organizations theoretically provide a deterrent to conflict, but when social division and enemies directly challenge the execution of national policy, military force can be activated and deployed to protect the nation. Armed conflict follows, with unpredictable outcomes. Even if conflict temporarily solves the problem for the winner, the underlying social stress is increased, fueling more violence and more terrorists.
No stress, no tension
In contrast, the absence of collective stress translates into the absence of tension between competing sides, thereby reducing the probability of hostilities.
Today, an opportunity exists to overcome this cycle of conflict by deploying a scientifically verified technology of defense that neutralizes social stress.
This technology operates on the most fundamental and powerful level of human consciousness, and is accessed and harnessed through a surprising and most unconventional channel-meditation.
In more than 50 studies published in scientific journals, Transcendental Meditation (TM) has been documented to powerfully reduce violence and criminal activity and even to calm open warfare.
Here's how we believe it works: Just as radio or TV transmitters beam signals through an unseen electromagnetic field, groups of meditating people can generate a strong wave of coherence and positivity through an underlying field of collective consciousness. Stress and tension diminish. The larger the group, the greater the effect.
Specifically, the studies demonstrate that when the required threshold of meditators is crossed - approximately the square root of 1 percent of a given population - crime goes down, quality of life indices go up, and war and terrorism abate. Scientists have named this phenomenon the Maharishi Effect, after the founder of Transcendental Meditation, the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who envisioned this possibility for creating global harmony.
In 1993, a two-month Maharishi Effect experiment was implemented in Washington, D.C. The findings published in Social Indicators Research showed that crime fell 24 percent when the peace-creating group reached its maximum size.
A decade before, during fighting in the Middle East, large assemblies of meditators repeatedly caused battlefield casualties to drop dramatically. A global-scale study published in the Journal of Offender Rehabilitation documented a 72 percent drop in international terrorism.
Our armed forces are responsible for defending the country. We suggest they consider adding an unconventional force - a consciousness corps, so to speak - to enhance their mission. Create a coherence-creating group of meditating soldiers exceeding the square root of 1 percent of the population of the United States. It would only take approximately 1,750 personnel.
Really not far-fetched
Admittedly, the idea of fighting terrorism with meditation sounds far-fetched. But the idea of an Internet would have seemed crazy, too, just a generation ago. Now, we communicate across oceans and access a universe of information simply by typing into some invisible field.
At one time, meditation was considered "mystical." Now, doctors prescribe it and even the government funds research on the health effects of meditation. That's because hundreds of studies show it effectively reduces individual stress and improves health. Why not put it to the test to improve global health?
As part of its responsibility to protect the nation, the U.S. military is obligated to thoroughly examine scientifically proven methods for preventing war and terrorism. All that is necessary is to provide the proper training for a group of military personnel or indeed, any large group within the country.
With all the conventional methods we utilize to protect life, liberty, and freedom, we should also be open to trying new, creative ideas, no matter how unconventional they seem.
Retired Coast Guard Capt. Raymond E. Seebald was a military aide to presidents Ronald W. Reagan and George H.W. Bush from 1986-1990. As captain of the Port in Chicago he developed post 9/11 security standards for U.S. ports. He graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1977. David R. Leffler is an Air Force veteran and executive director of the Center for Advanced Military Science (CAMS). He served eight years in the U.S. Air Force.
The authors served as associates of the Proteus Management Group at the Center for Strategic Leadership, U.S. Army War College.