Have you ever brought up the subject of peace and noticed that it can trigger rebuttals or even arguments? It seems as though part of us struggles with the idea that inner or outer peace could be an effective choice. Why do we do this? It seems like questioning the value of finding an oasis in a desert, instead of enthusiastically bending down to receive the life-giving waters.
There are some common misunderstandings about peace that are obstacles to our experiencing it. When we are willing to move past them, we can open to the peace that has been waiting for us all along.
Some may confuse peacefulness with generic zombie-like indifference. Some believe peace is about being a passive pushover. Others may try to mask pessimism and despair with a veneer of chipper peacefulness. None of these perspectives sees peace in its full beauty.
Peace Is Not “It’s All Good”
Peace is not about being indiscriminately okay with whatever is, as expressed in the common phrase “it’s all good”. When we encounter suffering, we cannot simply turn away as though it is not a problem. The humanitarian and spiritual leader Amma says that when we are aware of our interconnectedness, just as our right hand immediately extends to our left when we feel pain there, so too we extend our love to the world when we see suffering. We are one.
Peace Is Not “I Give Up”
In the same way, peace is not about throwing our hands in the air and saying “I give up” in the face of adversity. How can we abandon the world to which we owe our very life? Though it may seem easier to divorce ourselves from the pain we see and experience, it is ultimately the harder choice. Disconnection keeps us stuck and out of touch with the love and healing we seek. Peace flowers in our hearts when we allow ourselves to rest in our inherent interconnection with all that is.
Peace Is Not Passive
Living in peace is not passive. We may experience horror and atrocities. If we are passive in the face of such, we immobilize ourselves and thwart the possibility of change. This does not mean that the opposite is true. Peaceful living invites us into neither avoidance nor combat but profound presence. If we are aggressive in the face of atrocities, we implicate ourselves into the whirlwind of the horror. In reaction to our global challenges today, some people invoke anger, hate, and fear. But these only add fuel to the burning we so dearly wish to quell. The healing balm our world needs is the combination of a cool mind and an open heart.
What Keeps Us From Peace?
As we open to this moment, we learn to see it as it is. This non-resistance disarms our ego’s tendency to create drama. The ego is hungry. Just as our minds tend to be busy, our ego is constantly seeking a way to sustain itself. The ego is a master at seeing a coiled rope as a snake, and creating drama accordingly. When we find presence, and open to the fullness of what is, we see the rope as simply that – a rope. Our egos distort what is into temporal illusions because it feeds our sense of self-importance. When we become fixated on reality appearing one way, “we are right” and “they are wrong”, we have become attached to a passing perception.
Peace Sees Reality As It Is
In the depths of our breath and in the power of our hearts, we can become a witness to the world and open to its range of colours. This is called presence. Presence is the gateway to peace.
Peace is alive, awake, aware, active, and full of possibility. Our ego, that wants to keep the war alive, will misperceive it any way it can. But we do not have to listen to the ego’s divisive voice. We can choose the beauty of peace in every moment.
Until next week, please consider the following:
- In which ways do I resist peace by misperceiving it?
- In which ways do I resist peace by misperceiving the moment? In which way am I adding drama to the world?
- Am I willing to perceive differently?
- What would my life look like if I did?
- How would that affect those around me, even the world?