With all the peace talks, global conferences, and demonstrations for peace that have been taking place around the world for what seems like millennia, wouldn’t you think that by now… there might be a little peace on earth? But human history tells a sad story: promising fits and starts that too soon fizzle away, leaving no lasting accord.
Truth be told, it’s the same story within each of us. On almost a daily basis, we fight with our own desires, struggling to bring calm into our relationships, even as we rebel against anyone who challenges our idea of what it means to be “caring.” So that except for brief moments of respite, when things seem to go our way, our “peace” is soon disturbed and we’re out looking once more for whatever we hope will finally make our world right.
So, does this mean that we human beings are doomed always to be in conflict? Or are we just going about finding peace the wrong way?
If we look at what the great sages have to tell us about peace, it becomes clear that searching for it outside of ourselves through gaining any object or power, or trying to control conditions and other people, is bound to fail.
But at the same time, true peace, celestial peace, is never not right “here and now,” nearer to us than our own wish to enter into its grace. We just have to discover how to connect with it. And the one way to do that is to reach it within the depths of our own nature through our full awareness in the perfectly present moment. Just look at the similarity in the message from these voices of truth from around the world and across time…
If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.
— Lao Tse (604 B.C.E.)
… Water flows continually into the ocean
But the ocean is never disturbed:
Desire flows into the mind of the seer
But he is never disturbed.
The seer knows peace.
— Bhaghavad-Gita (500 B.C.E.)
All this talk and turmoil and noise and movement and desire is outside the veil; inside the veil is silence and calm and peace.
— Abu Yazid Al-Bistami (804)
They who seek peace in external things — in places or in ways and methods, in persons or works, in monasticism or isolation, in poverty or humility, in anything, however great that might be — not one of them has the least value and it does not bring peace at all. They who ask this way, ask wrong. The further they go, the less they find what they seek. They walk like the man who has lost his way: the more he walks the more his delusion grows.
— Meister Eckhart (1260)
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take heaven! No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant.
— Fra Giovanni Giocondo (1435)
Peace is our natural condition when we are quietly conscious in the wholeness of Now. Our peace is disturbed when we are driven and spurred into harmful actions by a restless mind that looks outward for the resolution to its agitation. But all these attempts first bring pain to individuals who are driven from pillar to post seeking release. Then, when individuals blame others for their pain it leads to fights among people. And when large numbers of people gather as nations and blame other nations we end up with war. It may be hard to believe, but the global problems we see today are the ultimate expression of the pain within individuals who are looking in the wrong place to find peace. But now you know the real cause of these problems, and the true solution.
If enough people started taking the right responsibility to find real peace within themselves, we could begin to see real change in this world.
Find Peace of Mind in the Here and Now
It takes a major reversal to start looking inward for the explanation and answers to our difficulties. But once we see for ourselves the validity of this new approach to life, it becomes our greatest pleasure to discover and root out the beliefs and behavior that keep us hurting ourselves and others. OneJourney founder Guy Finley has this helpful insight and encouragement as you make these inner explorations…
Our present nature believes that everything worthwhile, i.e., pleasurable, has to do with what we can extract from our relationships, business, money, powers, etc. We look into this world that we see as being outside of us, hoping to find something in it to complete us. What we don’t see is that the nature that searches the world outside of itself — to make itself feel whole and real — has set itself apart from that which it hopes will heal it. It divides to conquer.
— Guy Finley (1949)
Do you have a quote from your own tradition that speaks of the origin of true peace? If so, please click here to submit it to the OneJourney Living Book.
Dr. Ellen Dickstein
The OneJourney Project