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Berkshire Eagle, The (Pittsfield, MA) – September 19, 2014

 

PITTSFIELD

In the tiny Berkshire hill town of Monterey, just outside of the Beartown State Forest, in a small, isolated house in the woods with a big organic garden and a fire circle, is a gentle spiritual elder, with a sunny disposition, a hoary pony tail, and a kind smile. Raised in the Catholic tradition and confirmed with the name ” Michael,” he became initiated in the Kripalu yoga tradition that traces it lineage to ancient India over 3,000 years ago. He was mentored by many indigenous elders and participated in Lakota and Navajo spiritual ceremonies. Native American medicine men come to his land to pray and connect to the earth, air, water and fire for spiritual empowerment and healing.

Deep in nature far from the hustle of the city, he lives with his wife of 24 years, Susan Johnson. They met as residents of the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health back when it was an Ashram, a spiritual hermitage. There they married.

The indigenous people of this continent from time immemorial have gone into the forest to find themselves and see their purpose in life. It is called a “vision quest.” In his vision quest, Michael Johnson followed his heart, and that heart lead him to his quest for peace which became his purpose in life. At least once a month, often more, Michael leaves the Berkshire night’s deep inky skies and makes a pilgrimage to the overbearing bright lights of New York City. It is there the business of the world is conducted and it is there were Michael promotes global peace.

Working internationally, he works with the United Nations, The Spiritual Caucus at the UN, The Culture of Peace Initiative, Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots, World Peace Prayer Society, United Religions Initiative, and Circle of Peace. Working locally, he works with the Railroad Street Youth Project in Great Barrington, Kriplau Center in Stockbridge, Healing Winds in Lanesborough, Eastover in Lenox and many more.

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Michael’s chief love is the International Day of Peace. It was created by a resolution of the UN General Assembly, and its first observance occurred on Sept. 21, 1982. A one day global ceasefire is called for. It is a day dedicated to not just the cessation of formally declared wars, but actively promoting the absence of violence.

Michael is a UN representative for Pathways to Peace. According to its website, the organization was incorporated in 1983, and “is an official Peace Messenger of the United Nations and has Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and works with the UN Centre for Human Rights, UN Centre for Human Settlements, UNESCO, UNICEF and other agencies.” A big mission of Pathways to Peace is promotion of the International Day of Peace.

The International Day of Peace is always on Sept. 21, which is Sunday. At noon across every time zone, people will be celebrating with a one-minute moment of silence to create a ” wave across the world.” You can celebrate the International Day of Peace at Eastover this Sunday at 11:45 a.m. at the Tally Ho venue, in preparation for the noon minute of silence. Lama Gathar Rinpoche, a Tibetan monk, will be participating, as will Michael Johnson.

In Pittsfield at noon, Fidel Moreno will conduct a Native American Medicine Wheel Drumming Circle at Springside Park. There will be Yoga in Motion at Lake Mansfield Beach, Great Barrington at 10 a.m. Music in Common will present a talk and slide show of its International Youth Summit held this past August at 4 p.m. at Dewey Hall, 91 Main Street, Sheffield.

You can also watch the events online at Peace-Day. tv. But if you can’t make any of these events, at noon on Sunday please just close your eyes for one minute of silence for peace.

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