Nick Crabb, a Peace Partners volunteer living in Japan, recently interviewed Max Whittle, an integral member of the Kifubon project since its inception. We are very pleased to present the the first part of Nick’s interview. The second and concluding part will be featured next month.
To help create a culture of empathy and compassion, the Kifubon Project has now donated over 15,000 books to a variety of settings in Japan and the rest of the world. I spoke to Max Whittle about the Kifubon Project, how it is run and the challenges it has faced.
Hi Max, what does "kifubon" mean? And what does it mean to you?
Well, "kifubon" can be translated into the sharing of books in a society, and I suppose the theme of the Kifubon Project is the sharing of knowledge that's of value to humanity as a whole. Bunya publishing, who run the project, have the motto of "books for 100 years". The project therefore focuses on books with long-lasting messages of peace that people will still want to read even as times and technologies change. The project takes books that have value and creates a system for sharing them. People who enjoy one of the project's books can pay for one or several books to be donated to schools, hospitals, prisons etc., and help spread the book's message of peace. One book can stay where it's donated for decades and have a huge reach. For example, over 15,000 books have been donated in total, with about 30 to 40 people reading them, so hundreds of thousands of people have benefited from these books.
Could you tell us about the author of these books?
Prem Rawat, who is a peace activist that has addressed international audiences of over 15 million people and who's talks have been translated into over 75 languages. Prem's message has touched me personally and had a positive effect on my life. He has been travelling for more than 50 years, and I have travelled with him and seen how busy his schedule is. It has been Prem's quest to educate people about peace and how it's a daily choice we each have to make so we can all live in a kinder world. The Kifubon Project is another avenue for Prem to spread his message.
What are these books about?
Splitting the Arrow, which is titled "Peace is Possible" in the UK, was the first book Bunya publishing produced with Prem. This book contains short quotes and stories, and teachings from Prem's addresses through the years. The opening short story is called the Pot with the Hole, which was so popular it became a standalone book and animation.Of course everyone has their own interpretation, but for me, the core message of these books is that peace is not about countries coming together and signing a treaty etc. Instead, peace is something that manifests within a person. When this happens, the person needs an understanding and awareness that they are experiencing a feeling of well-being, of harmony and of things being right. However, this only sets them up, and they still have to choose to be more kind to others. Making this choice allows them to share their peace, not by them preaching, but by their mood and their positive effect on other people. If you scale this up, then hopefully you achieve more harmonious schools, workplaces, societies, countries and even planet. You cannot start from the planet and scale down with treaties. In the times we are living in, achieving peace of any kind can seem impossible, so we need to concentrate on ourselves and what we can do to bring ourselves to a peaceful and harmonious state. This is not an easy task, but it's not an impossible one.
Find out about UK Kifubon projects, now called Bedrock Books here.