Intrapersonal Perspectives of Nonviolence

  • Daniel M. MaytonII
Part of the Peace Psychology Book Series book series (PPBS)


The Dalai Lama also acknowledges the importance of intrapersonal perspectives for nonviolence when he states, “Although attempting to bring about world peace through the internal transformation of individuals is difficult, it is the only way (Hahn, 1991, p. vii).”

This chapter focuses on inner peace and the intrapersonal aspects of nonviolence. Intrapersonal nonviolence is discussed from both individualist and collectivist perspectives. This distinction between individualist cultures and collectivist cultures is based on the work of many cross-cultural social scientists including Hofstede (1980, 2001), Smith and Bond (1993), and Triandis (1995). Hofstede (2001) defines individualism societal norms as loose ties between individuals where “Everyone is expected to look after him/herself and her/his family only (p. 225).” He goes on to define collectivism social norms as existing in “a society in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, which throughout people’s lifetime continue to protect them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty (p. 225).” The United States, Canada, Australia, and many Western European countries contain strong individualism social norms while many countries in East Asia, South America, and Africa have strong collectivism social norms.

The individualist focus with its strong Western influence will carefully look at the theory and research on the independent self and related concepts. The psychological notions of anger, anxiety, needs, happiness, contentment, and positive psychology will also be part of the individualistic discussion. The personality correlates of nonviolent behavior and the personality characteristics of a peaceful or nonviolent person will be discussed as well. The collectivist focus with its strong Eastern influence will draw on the notion of an interdependent self and Buddhist traditions through the writings of Buddhist peace activists Thich Nhat Hahn, the Dalai Lama, and Joanna Macy. The Jain and Hindu perspectives of inner peace will also be included among the collectivist discussion of intrapersonal nonviolence.


Positive Psychology Character Strength Empathic Concern Social Dominance Orientation Daily Spiritual Experience Scale 
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Recommended Readings

  1. Kraft, K. (Ed.) (1992a). Inner peace, world peace: Essays on Buddhism and nonviolence. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  2. Kraft has edited a first-rate volume of eight essays on Buddhism and peace. The articles address the nature of Buddhist thought, relationships between Buddhism and society, inner peace, and Buddhism’s relevance to our world today. Besides discussing Buddhism from different orientations, comparisons and interrelationships between Buddhism and both Jainism and Christianity are also analyzed.Google Scholar
  3. Hahn, T. N. (1987). Interbeing: Fourteen guidelines for engaged Buddhism. Berkeley CA: Parallax Press.Google Scholar
  4. This book by the Zen Buddhist monk explains the meaning of interbeing and carefully presents the fourteen guidelines for engaged Buddhism in an easily comprehensible way. Nhat Hahn relates these fourteen precepts in a manner that is very relevant for the twenty-first century.Google Scholar
  5. Hahn, T. N. (2005). Keeping the peace: Mindfulness and public service. Berkeley CA: Parallax Press.Google Scholar
  6. This book by Nhat Hahn is directed toward developing mindfulness among people working in people-oriented jobs that are stressful and frustrating. It is very different than his previous books that are often compendia of short essays or lectures as here he provides examples of activities or “workplace practices” to cultivate the inner peace of civil servants.Google Scholar
  7. Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P..(Eds.). (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. Washington DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  8. This handbook brings many ideas that have previously been within the domains of moral philosophy, politics, and other social science disciplines together in a coherent and organized way for any scholar interested in positive psychology. The authors describe their work as analogous to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders except that their work is more like a “Manual of the Sanities.” The strengths of wisdom and knowledge, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence are presented.Google Scholar
  9. Rokeach, M. (1973). The nature of human values. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  10. This is the classic text of value theory developed by Milton Rokeach. The delineation of his theory and measurement techniques are clearly explained with references and summaries of many empirical studies throughout. Other references highly recommended are Ball-Rokeach, Rokeach, and Grube (1984) and Rokeach and Ball-Rokeach (1989). The later reports the most recent US national sample data available.Google Scholar
  11. Schwartz, S. H. (1992). Universals in the content and structure of values: Theoretical advances and empirical tests in 20 countries. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 20, 1–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. While many articles might be recommended to understand the value theory developed by Shalom Schwartz, this article does an excellent job of providing the reader with the historical development of the theory, the measurement and analysis procedures used to empirically support his theory, and cross-cultural data to show the robustness of his approach. Other articles that are also recommended are Schwartz (1994a) and Schwartz (2003).Google Scholar
  13. Smith-Christopher, D. L. (Ed.). (1998a). Subverting hatred: The challenge of nonviolence in religious traditions. Cambridge, MA: Boston Research Center for the 21st Century.Google Scholar
  14. This little volume includes eight articles that present the place of nonviolent within eight different religions including Jainism, Confucianism and Daoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and the spirituality of the Cheyenne a Native American culture. The eight essays, written by religious scholars quite knowledgeable in the religious tradition being addressed, when taken in combination, allow for clear comparisons and contrasts to be made.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel M. MaytonII
    • 1
  1. 1.Lewis-Clark State CollegeLewistonUSA

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