There exists somewhere, perhaps in the middle of the great Atlantic Ocean, a fairly large island. It lies far away from any continent, and few know of its existence. It may even exist in another dimension, or in some alternate universe. Crystal Island, this little-known place is called. It is a haven of peace and beauty. In certain respects it resembles lands we all know, but in others it is unlike any place on earth. . .
Thus begins the introduction to The Peace Treaty, a poetic and profound play by Swami Kriyananda. It starts with the victorious conclusion of a righteous war. The evil aggressor has been defeated. There is a chance finally to plan for a lasting peace. The five clans who inhabit Crystal Island hope that a formal peace treaty will be adopted and signed by all the lords of the clans. But pride, vengefulness, selfishness, and the usual dreary catalogue of human failings intervene. Gradually it becomes clear that what is really needed is a transformation in human consciousness. The Peace Treaty reflects the tension and unrest of our own times, and offers a solution: If we want peace on earth, expansion of our sympathies, though difficult to achieve, is the means.
Written in the spirit of Shakespeare, the language beautifully expresses the rhythms of modern speech, while ennobling it. Kriyananda has created a drama with humor and intrigue, the underlying theme of which is as serious as the universal longing today for world peace.
There exists somewhere, perhaps in the middle of the great Atlantic Ocean, a fairly large island. It lies far away from any continent, and few know of its existence. It may even exist in another dimension, or in some alternate universe. Crystal Island, this little-known place is called. It is a haven of peace and beauty. In certain respects it resembles lands we all know, but in others it is unlike any place on earth. For though its residents are like you and me—just people, that is to say—they distinguish themselves from one another in ways that the countries of Earth only pretend to do. They exaggerate national characteristics that, in the world we know, are seldom clearly defined (which is why our boasting of Yankee ingenuity and German genius is so clearly a pretense). And many of them take excessive pride in the outer garbs they wear.
There are five clans on Crystal Island. Each is noted for some special talent, as are many nations of our world. Each clan wears a special color, too, as we ourselves wear different-colored skins. The colors also emphasize the concept, clannishness.
There is Clan Emerald, which specializes in dance. Emerald clan members dress in green. They try—not always with success!—to be graceful in their movements, to dance—some of them only sort of!—and to express in movement the characteristics humanity everywhere possesses: from gaiety to flowing beauty; from pomposity to arrogance. For, you see, despite their limited interests these are all just people—like you and me.
There is Clan Topaz. Topaz specializes in song, and its members dress, as their name suggests, in yellow. Topaz members concentrate all the variety of human beings in vocal expression. Some of them do it well. Others—well, not so well. They are simply people, after all.
There is Clan Azur, which specializes in poetry. Azur dresses in blue. The members of Clan Azur try their best—it’s a cultural thing with them—to speak poetically.
There is Clan Ruby, which specializes in merriment, and dresses in red. These "Rubies" enjoy humor, tell jokes, and laugh a lot. Of course, human nature being what it is, there are many kinds of humor depending on a person’s nature—from kindly laughter to jeering mockery and cutting sarcasm.
Finally, there is Clan Amethyst, whose members’ predilection is for philosophy. They wear the color purple. Their philosophizing displays, again, the wide variety of human nature: from a deep desire to know truth to mere guile; from clever rationalizations to the clumsiest self-justification.
As you can see, no clan is perfect in itself. In fact, you and I know that these qualities need to be combined for human perfection to be attained, and the colors intertwined for appreciation of humanity’s full potential. But the clans have yet to learn this lesson. Many of their members pride themselves, as those in the world we know do, on their own characteristics. Each clan, of course, tends to view itself as the best clan of all.
This play brings correction to that narrowness of vision in the way that fate itself often brings lessons to us all.
The action takes place at the end of a long war. Some time ago, Clan Azur invaded Clan Topaz. The other three clans, recognizing the invasion as a threat to their own safety, too, joined Clan Topaz against the invader. At last, the allies were victorious. Clan Azur was defeated.
The plot of our play concerns a proposal, made after the hostilities, to establish a lasting peace. The proposal takes the form of a Peace Treaty. (Isn’t that how so many nations try to settle these matters?)
Alas, pride, vengefulness, selfishness, and all the dreary catalogue of human failings intervene to prevent genuine acceptance of this noble proposal. At last, another solution is found: one that all of us might do well to seek for ourselves, in our own lives.
I wrote this first as a one act play. I was fifteen then. World War II was at its height. The first version of this play was not hopeful about the future of mankind. I saw self-interest as the stumbling block to every effort to achieve worldly perfection. The message that the play conveyed, finally, was that the human race, because of its determined selfishness, would end up blowing itself to bits.
I set the play in the days of the cave man. The fate it projected finally for mankind awaited us far in the future, when we’ve developed the means, through ever-more powerful weaponry, for the earth’s final destruction.
In the play’s present and greatly revised version, the same selfishness is presented as man’s stumbling block to perfection, but the play holds out hope for individual and national improvement. It doesn’t present the world as perfectible, but it shows human beings themselves as capable of seeking perfection individually, for themselves. Otherwise, the implication is that this world is a school. One doesn’t try to perfect a school. The purpose of a school is to inspire in its students a longing for personal perfection.
The scene is an imaginary island, home to five imaginary "clans." I made the setting colorful and symbolic, so much so that my best suggestion is for prospective readers to read the printed introduction.
"The Peace Treaty was without a doubt the most powerful entertainment I’ve encountered in my life. Seemingly endless metaphors of truth were interwoven into the dialogue in the most poetically beautiful ways I’d ever imagined. The charm of each character was unique and inspiring, as well as the divine humor that consistently brought tears of joy to my eyes. Creative expressions like this can truly open hearts and minds to the potential harmony that humanity has always been capable of. I am convinced that Swami Kriyananda, using the art of theatre, has communicated the highest truths of life in a way that is not only comprehensible, but deeply healing to the vast spectrum of all people."
—Tyler Hansen, Nevada City, CA
"The Peace Treaty is an amazing blend of hilarity, music, and dance, and deep spiritual insight into human motivation and the power of truth. I have seen it probably a dozen times, and enjoy it each time. The actors bring joy and sensitivity to their roles, and the play itself is engaging, delightfully funny, powerful, and moving."
—Anandi Cornell, minister, meditation instructor