Prophet - the Hatmakers Son
The Life of Robert Muller
"When the true history of the Twentieth Century is told, Robert Muller's name will stand out as one of the greatest world servers of all time. This powerful book is filled with stories and anecdotes that delight as they illumine the path of greatness. Prophet ennobles as it instructs. One discovers how high intelligence matched with deep compassion can lead to the way of wisdom and the winning of a better world. Robert Muller is a spiritual giant as well as a hugely original thinker, and the story of his life is a testament to the glory of the human spirit."
"It's a hard book to put downfast-paced, exciting, and very moving." more
"Muller's life has been dedicated to the establishment and maintenance of peace. Perhaps there has never been a time when his wordsand the important work carried out in his lifetime and under his gentle eyehave been more important, more necessary for the good of our souls and even, in a very real way, of our lives. Douglas Gillies has done an admirable job reanimating Robert Muller's past, bringing home a message that has never been needed more. " more
"A detailed and insightful portrayal of the earler life and times of Dr. Robert Muller. Gillies has painted a series of realistic and emotionally sensitive collages which portray in humanistic detail the shifting cultural landscapes of Europe, as social stability become shattered and virtually every aspect of normal life is dramatically disrupted by the overwhelming impacts of World War II. " more
"The book recounts the life course of a man determined to see the end of the horrors of global warfare. The text is constructed of deftly interwoven vignettes taken from Robert Muller's life, and it is dramatic enough to hold the reader's attention like a good novel. Robert Muller was gifted with an unflagging sense of optimism even though he himself lived through the devastation of World War II and came close to the jaws of death on a number of occasions, as skillfully recorded in this book." more
Brother Aaron Raverty, Monastic Interreligious Dialogue
On the Shoulders of Giants
I was thinking today about how there's really nothing new in the world. Not truly. There are a lot of new applications for old ideas, but very few really new thoughts.
This came to me because I've been reading a fascinating book by Douglas Gillies. ProphetThe Hatmaker's Son: The
Life of Robert Muller is the authorized biography of Robert Muller, a man who has risen to worldwide prominence as an elegant and inspiring voice for peace in our world.
It's a hard book to put down. I love reading biographies and autobiographies anyway, because I find nothing more interesting than the lives of other people, and how it has been for them. And this particular bio is fast-paced, exciting, and very moving. The fact that I am privileged to know Robert Muller personally and to call him my friend makes the text doubling entrancing.
Rising from a humble beginning in a village in France, Robert Muller lived through the horror of World War II. His biography takes us through his experience of that war in a way so personal as to defy us to put the book down and leave his story behind until it is complete.
We learn here about what caused this now globally celebrated human being to make a promise to Godactually shouted out loud to the heavensthat he would spend the entirety of his days on this planet working for peace. Robert eventually became Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, rising to heights perhaps unheard of for most, but not undreamed of by Robert Muller. It was precisely the dreaming of his dreams that propelled Robert ever forwardand it is the same dreaming of dreams that can bring peace to our world.
At one point in the book Gillies tells us about one of Robert Muller's favorite authorsDr. Emile Coue, the famous French psychotherapist. The notes of one of Coue's students indicate that he said often: "Every one of our thoughts, good or bad, becomes concrete, materializes, and becomes a reality. Man is what he thinks."
Coue told his disciples: "Every morning before arising, and every night upon getting into bed, shut your eyes and
repeat this little phrase 20 times in a monotone voice: Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better."
This Frenchman was one of the earliest proponents in the modern era of the extraordinary creative ability of the conscious mind. One of his most famous observations is this:
"When the imagination and will power are in conflict, are antagonistic, it is always the imagination which wins,
without any exception."
Dr. Coue died in 1926, and his
groundbreaking work, Self Mastery Through Conscious Autosuggestion, was decades ahead of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale's classic book, The Power of Positive Thinking. And Dr. Peale's book itself was written over 50 years ago. So we see that all of this "use your mind to create your reality" stuff was being put out there by some pretty
respectable sources long before the so-called "new age" movement began. Nice to know that we stand on the shoulders of giants.
It is a wonderful biography of a very special man, and in addition to putting me back in touch with some deep understandings, this book has created in me a new commitment to peace.
Our world would be a more wonderful place if more of us could focus and concentrate on peaceand on peaceful ways of living our own lives day-to-day. I know that sounds almost sophomoric, simplistic, and out of touch with today's on-the-ground reality, but I promise you that it is true. I am committing myself on this day, as a result of reading this book about Robert's life, to bringing peace back into my life in a moment-to-moment way.
What breaks my peace? What have I allowed to disrupt my inner peace, my inner serenity? And what, if anything, may I have done to disrupt the peace of another? And, finally, what is there that I might do to return my worldthe world around me and nearest to me and the world within meto peace?
This is my new Peace Inventory, and I want to take it every day. And then I want to make sure that I do at least one thing
every daymore if I can, but every day at least one thingto help bring peace to the world at large. For it is our world, not the world, our planet, not the
planet, and therefore not the job that needs to be done, but our job.
I'm finding it increasingly difficult to get out of bed these days. I can no longer tell the good guys from the bad guys. I mean, I know the bad guys are truly bad but, some days, the good guys don't look too swift, either. I think things used to be easier but, increasingly, I'm having a difficult time remembering when. I prayI really praythat someday, things will be better. But I'm not as optimistic as I used to be. I'm starting to see how things could get worse. In short, I guess, I'm running out of hope. I think that, right now, a lot of us are.
This was my headspace when ProphetThe Hatmaker's Son. The Life of Robert Muller crossed my desk. Initially put off by a frighteningly new age cover design and clear but quaint typography, the book spent a few weeks migrating around the surface of my desk. An e-mail from my editor forced the issue and, finally, I cracked the cover. And was almost immediately drawn in.
Robert Muller was with the United Nations for 38 years, finishing his career with them in the UN's highest appointed position: assistant secretary general. Considered by many to be the father of global education, Muller's World Core Curriculum is used in schools around the world. Muller was the recipient of the 1989 UNESCO Peace Education Prize, the 1993 International Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanities, the 1994 Eleanor Roosevelt Man of Vision Award and has received 22 nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. He is the author of 20 books including What War Taught Me About Peace, 6,000 Dreams For A Better World and Safe Passage Into the Twenty-First Century. Too many of Muller's books aresadly and shockinglyout of print.
Author Douglas Gillies was, I think, looking for a light before he met Robert Muller. In his preface to Prophet Gillies writes:
When I retired from law, I had an uneasy feeling that the world was getting worse and it didn't matter whose fault it was. We had made it this far. Let's just let bygones be bygones and look for a plausible, positive course into the futurebefore it's too late! My trials were over, judgments were final, appeals were exhausted, and every case was closed. But every day, despite all the good intentions in the world, the world was getting worse.
Gillies met Robert Muller in the mid-1990s. In the intervening years, Gillies has interviewed Muller many times:
He was almost 80 years old and he still inspired hope and courage everywhere he spoke.
He's more than a man, I realized. Muller had worked for enlightenment and world governance for so long that he embodied the spirit of public service, but his lifelong commitment to peace had lifted him another notch. Robert Muller was a prophet.
Gillies explains his thoughts on prophetsand why he feels Muller is onethusly:
Prophets come in different shapes and sizes. There are prophets who speak for God and prophets who foretell future events, prophets of hope and prophets of doom. All of them test our limits and challenge our beliefs.
When I first met Robert Muller, I asked him, "How can an ordinary person like me think like a global citizen?"
He said, "It's pretty easy. You just take everything you do and multiply it by six billion."
Gillies recreates Muller's eventful life: from his youth in war-torn Belgium in the 1920s, as a refugee, combatant and as a resistance fighter in World War II. In 1947, Muller won an internship with the then newly-formed United Nations, a posting that would lead to him spending 40 years with the organization. Though now retired, Muller is chancellor-emeritus of the United Nations University for Peace in Costa Rica.
Muller's life has been dedicated to the establishment and maintenance of peace. Perhaps there has never been a time when his wordsand the important work carried out in his lifetime and under his gentle eyehave been more important, more necessary for the good of our souls and even, in a very real way, of our lives. Douglas Gillies has done an admirable job reanimating Robert Muller's past, bringing home a message that has never been needed more.
In this outstanding book, Prophet, the Hatmaker's Son, author Douglas Gillies provides a detailed and insightful portrayal of the earler life and times of Dr. Robert Muller...a legend of our times, who as a youth, experienced first-hand the social turbulance and heart-wrenching injustices of war from both the Allied and German perspectives.
Based on a series of in-depth interviews and insightful conversations with Dr. Muller, author Gillies has painted a series of realistic and emotionally sensitive collages which portray in humanistic detail the shifting cultural landscapes of Europe, as social stability become shattered and virtually every aspect of normal life is dramatically disrupted by the overwhelming impacts of World War II.
Following his youthful adventures as a French Resistance Fighter, Robert Muller launched his long and fruitful career as a Global Peacemaker. The grim realities and emotional turmoil he had experienced in the wartime environment, inspired him to make a soul commitment to himself...that he would dedicate his unique multilingual and intercultural abilities for the rest of his life to the cause of Conflict Resolution, Social Justice, and Global Peace. This book reveals the poignant details of this fascinating career odyssey, which eventually led Dr. Muller to become a key player in the formation and dynamic interplays of the United Nations theater...in his role as UN Assistant Secretary General.
As a result of his overriding quest to redirect the efforts of Mankind away from war and destruction, and into more peaceful and enlightened pursuits, Dr. Muller (regarded as the Father of Global Education) developed a unique "Core Curriculum," which formsd the basis for a number of Robert Muller Schools. He is also Co-Founder and Chancellor Emeritus for the University of Peace in Costa Rica.
In addition to being the recepient of numerous prestegious World Peace Awards, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize some 22 times!
For those individuals interested in realistic historical dramas, and the making of a legendary global leader, this book should have a broad audience appeal, and will most certainly enrich the literary experience of anyone who reads it.
Monastic Interreligious Dialogue
Bulletin 74, April 2005
Commitment to interreligious dialogue includes a commitment to peace. We all know that the spiritual and devotional practices that anchor and give direction to people in their everyday lives do not exist in a vacuum. Such practices are intricately intertwined with social, political, and economic institutions. While this should never be far from our minds as we prepare for and engage in our various occasions of interreligious dialogue, it is good to be reminded of these important connections from time to time.
That is why this book documenting the early life of Robert Muller is so important. Douglas Gillies, author of ProphetThe Hatmaker's Son: The Life of Robert Muller, has given us a portrait of a man of humble beginnings, raised in the small, multilingual/multiethnic border town of Sarreguemines, who rose to a position of prominence in the those initial, behind-the-scenes days of the United Nations. The son of a fashionable hatmaker in Alsace-Lorraine in the 1920s, the book recounts the life course of a man determined to see the end of the horrors of global warfare. The text is constructed of deftly interwoven vignettes taken from Robert Muller's life, and it is dramatic enough to hold the reader's attention like a good novel. The storyline is enhanced and complemented by strategically placed photos illustrating the people and events that marked the first part of his life.
The term prophet (from the title) is an apt one for describing this main character. As a hermeneut who read the times and who also possessed a firm sense of his own purpose in lifenamely, to work toward the establishment of an enduring global peaceRobert Muller was gifted with an unflagging sense of optimism even though he himself lived through the devastation of World War II and came close to the jaws of death on a number of occasions, as skillfully recorded in this book. He was later assigned the moniker "Prophet of Hope" by the United Nations.
Interestingly, Robert Muller was not particularly steeped in any spiritual tradition in his youth. His parents were not particularly religious, and the prewar atmosphere in which he grew up not only failed to encourage spiritual practice, but seems to have tended toward a denigrating atheism. Nonetheless, Robert derived great solace from nature, and he longed to return to an intense, almost contemplative relationship to it whenever he got the opportunity, a theme that threads itself throughout his biography. But the potential for reigniting the spark of prayer never seems to have been buried too deeply and appears especially to have surfaced when he was confronted as a French Resistance fighter by a young woman Nazi collaborator kneeling before her gnawingly empty grave just prior to her execution, lost in petition to the Virgin Mary: "The devotion Robert had forsaken as a young childdrummed out of him by ridicule in the French schoolshad been stirred by the spectacle of . . . prayer" (p. 195).
Actually, Robert Muller did not really reconnect with his Roman Catholic roots until some years hence, when he became more deeply involved in the UN. As he became acquainted with the writings of the Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, he realized that his dream of creating a world government also had to have a spiritual dimension. In fact, one of the shortcomings of the current book is that it fails to document Muller's spiritual path, since it only takes us up to 1951, when he was just beginning to make his mark on what was to become the future United Nations. One hopes that author Douglas Gillies (or someone else) will take up the task of writing a sequel to this early biography in order to inform us of Muller’s evolving spiritual vision for our planet, and the many interreligious initiatives he has since jump-started through his work in the UN and elsewhere.
For those of us who were able to attend the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago in 1993, we recall that Robert Muller was invited to give one of the keynote addresses. Furthermore, he was instrumental in getting the United Religions Initiative (initially headed by Bishop William Swing and Archbishop Desmond Tutu) up and running at this Parliament.
Besides having achieved the position of Assistant Secretary-General of the UN, Robert Muller has also taken the lead in global educational pursuits. His World Core Curriculum has won him the title of "father of global education," and has been implemented in over forty schools so far. His educational initiatives spurred UNESCO to award him its Peace Education Prize in 1989.
This biography of Robert Muller begs the question of how the formative aspects of such a global organization as the UN can be compared to the process of doing interreligious dialogue. As Muller himself has come to realize, the creation of a one-world government, in order to realize the highest levels of human ethical integrity and mutual service, must be infused with religious principles. I think such a project, undertaken by an enterprising and imaginative individual, would be fascinating to flesh out in more comparative detail.
One of the most refreshing aspects of this book is the energetic optimism characteristic of Robert Muller's outlook on life, even in his firsthand experience of some its most tragic and devastating hours. We have the good fortune of being able to tap into this optimism by accessing the Internet link Good Morning World. Along more explicitly Christian lines, such optimism is reflected in another statement where Robert Muller has averred: "My personal philosophy and spirituality is that of Brother Lawrence from my province of Lorraine in the seventeenth century, namely to practice constantly the presence of God."
The issue raised at the beginning of this review is a worthwhile one for those pursuing interreligious dialogue to ponder more seriously. Religious belief and practice are inescapably tied in with worldview and ethnic and personal identity, which are, in turn, embedded in a political framework. It is in the nature of human beings, individually and collectively, to vie for power on some level; and we are all very much aware from potent examples from our own world that religious identity and spiritual practice can induce divisions and wars just as it can promote harmony and peace. The lesson that ProphetThe Hatmaker's Son can teach us is that the optimism and courage to confront the tragedy of global war, as Robert Muller has done and is still doing, can be an example for us to emulate in our efforts to create the mutual understandings forged through dialogue that lead us on to the ways of global peace.
Brother Aaron Raverty, Monastic Interreligious Dialogue