|Number of Pages
Zen Publications of Mumbai has just published Stillpoint, a novel of war, peace, politics and Palestine, by Canadian writer, Colin Mallard. As the events of the last six weeks have shown, a book that addresses the Palestinian Israeli conflict, could hardly be more timely.
Mallard has previously written award winning non fiction books on Taoism, Zen and Advaita Vedanta. In 2013 Stillpoint was a finalist in the 'US Next Generation Indie Book Awards' in the category of general fiction over 80,000 words.
We all love stories and Mallards novel traces events beginning in the 1940s to the present. Although a work of fiction, it is based on historical events and written, in part, to help readers understand the underlying causes of the current conflict.
Stillpoint is a beguiling story of love and hope, peopled with unforgettable characters, vivid and haunting. It is a love story, a hymn to the great mystery of life.
To read Stillpoint is to be transported to another world, another time. Moved by the beauty of life and the ugliness, we find ourselves on a wild ride between love and hate, justice and injustice, sorrow and joy.
The novel is both historical and allegorical, some might even call it fantasy. It questions things we take for granted and assume to be true. It trusts the reader is more interested in the truth, the facts, than beliefs or ideology. Christ is reputed to have said, The truth will make you free. It is this idea thats at the heart of Stillpoint.
What can we do to ease the suffering in Palestine and replace conflict with peace? Mallard suggests only the truth, the facts, can bring it about. Truth, he says, must,' however, be valued more than beliefs and ideology.
How would we be, you and me, under circumstances the Palestinians and Israelis find themselves? Human nature is the same in us all and when we can answer that question for ourselves understanding takes place. The source of conflict, it turns out, is not geographical but personal-it might manifest as geographical but the source of conflict is always personal, in us, you and me. There are no exceptions.
Understanding, Mallard suggests, takes place when the mind is open, when we approach life from the perspective of not knowing, with a beginners or Zen mind. Such understanding, he suggests, brings action, including non-action that are both appropriate to the situation at hand and the nature of the person involved.'
From the perspective of Advaita it is clear there are not two. In this instance, the world is not divided into two groups of people, one good the other bad. We are the same! And when we understand ourselves we understand all human beings.
From the perspective of Advaita, no one is to blame, no one is right, no one is wrong.
What then is happening? People are simply doing the best they can under the circumstances and the powerful influence of their beliefs.
All is Maya until the illusion is seen for what it is - ignorance, lack of awareness. Just as awareness is the first step in understanding ourselves it is also the first step in understanding the current conflict and our relationship to it. Where ignorance once existed, understanding can replace it.