Peace begins at home
Lasting peace cannot be created, built or forced to happen. If this were so, the world would be a better place.
Just as when we deeply sleep everything in our life drops away, peace arises when everything we do that interferes with it falls away.
It is easy to blame the world and others for our lack of peace — if only they were not that way. If only others would be calm or act with more integrity or do what is good for the majority, then we could have peace.
But within ourselves it is resistance, demands, reactions and disappointments that rise like smoke to cloud presence and peace, and contract hearts, making us less alive and peaceful. Most minds cannot tolerate letting life be as it is. It is the way of the mind to argue and fight to get things lined up the way it believes it should be.
We can only change the world one person at a time. Where should we start? It has to begin in "me" because how can I promote peace if where I come from is rage, argument and demand?
You probably believe nothing ever changes without a fight, without taking a stand, and you likely have seen how fear and anger can push you into action. Media and politics use these emotions blatantly to get people moving to one side or another. Great political movements (i.e. the right to vote or World War 2) generated change based on the passionate emotions of a few. It is not so easy to passionately wage peace. Possibly this is because so few individuals have found it internally, and unlike anger it cannot easily be transferred into crowds.
Computer games, TV shows and movies would seem boring if all they showed was peace. If a relationship is peaceful for very long, often a partner will initiate a new problem. Our minds are like computers continually feeding on division, challenges and conflicts. We like to take sides, to stand for what we believe in — undeterred by those who are on the "wrong" side. Minds have positions and emotions follow. So if we feel peaceful at all it is in those rare moments in between problems, when we take a breather and relax.
Peace is a state of being untroubled. Life itself will offer troubles — financial, relational, communal, even world troubles. How do we reconcile the two?
Perhaps if we drop attention out of our head long enough to look through our heart and be present in this moment, now, we will find there is a part of us that can feel peaceful, that can let everything be as it is long enough to discover inner peace.
The worrying we do about all the problems of life does not resolve them, but only fills our lives with imaginary events that may or may not come to pass, or clutters our minds with long past memories and pain. Thoughts are not truths, and are not even substantial. They are neurons firing randomly. They are fears and possibilities that rarely are impacting us in this now. When a problem is immediate (a car coming toward us, a child crying) we respond, and our thoughts directly engage our actions. But most thoughts are not about this moment. They are dragging us into concern, judgments and suffering about past or future.
You have to want peace to get it, and invite it by disregarding worrisome thoughts. This does not mean you will never make a decision or follow any action to support something you believe in. It does not mean you become passive and boring. It means attention is shifted to a quieter spot within, an intuitive place in the heart, with fewer demands of life.
Here is the opportunity to relax and enjoy the beauty and perfection of life, while still acting to make improvements. How great it would be if the world could function this way. It has to start with you.
Bonnie Greenwell, founder of Shanti River Center in Ashland, is a transpersonal psychologist and non-dual teacher, who wrote “The Kundalini Guide” and “The Awakening Guide,” available on Amazon. Email 600- to 700-word articles on all aspects of inner peace to Sally McKirgan at firstname.lastname@example.org.