Lately we’ve been bombarded with a lot of news, both good and not so good. Some of us are experiencing great difficulties. Some are holding our own, and some are even finding our way. No matter our experience, most of us would like to find a bit of peace to wrap around ourselves and loved ones like pretty paper around a gift.
If you are like me, you may have spent a significant amount of time searching for peace. Wanting it. Frustrated that it is so difficult to maintain. You come upon a bubble of peace suspended in space and time and then POP – the bubble is burst by ___________________ (fill in the blank).
But those moments that appear and disappear like stars shining between swiftly racing clouds allow us to know peace exists. Peace is possible.
Over the past few years I’ve been learning a great deal about the quest for peace. It’s been along haul, as I can be both stubborn and thick-headed. So, I am not surprised that is has taken lots of lessons and even more contemplation for any kind of understanding to come. What I have learned is that you never find peace, you create it. And the irony is that it is often best created through the process of surrender.
But let’s back up a bit. Peace in not a promised land “over there”. In other words, it is not that peace is somewhere you are not and you must get there.
I can hear a thousand voices saying things like, “But what if you live in a war zone?” or “what if there is a hurricane going on?” There are endless variations of “what if”.
Still, I stand by the idea that peace is a potential and the way you “find” or “gain” peace is to create it. Amid all circumstance, you are best effective and endure the least suffering if your inner state of being is peaceful. Otherwise, you get tossed away by fear and your choices and actions are not necessarily beneficial to yourself or others.
My best teachers were those experiences where I was able to create peace within myself while my outward situation was complete chaotic turmoil. My ability to surrender my fear or despair (or sometimes just frustration) allowed me to find room within to create something new – peace.
It’s always about what is inside of us creating our outward experience. Or at least how we experience the outside.
Now this wisdom is not something I came upon through experience alone. No, it has been said by many people in many times and places.
The Buddhists know it. Buddha said “all suffering arises in the mind,” as one of the Four Noble Truths. Mind being the inner space of ourselves. Our consciousness, or our being.
The pagans have their own version in the Charge of the Star Goddess. “And you who seek to know Me, know that your seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery, for if that which you seek you find not within yourself, you will never find it without.”
One translation of Christ’s words in the gospel of Luke is “The kingdom of God is within you,” rather than “among you”.
Contemplating these, and other, powerful messages has been part of my work. But the other part has been to observe what happens in my own life when I surrender or let go of, what I think will make me happy and accept what my situation or circumstance actually is. In other words, I stop the fight. Stop the struggle against something. Instead, a smile on my face and in my heart creates an opening for patterns to shift and change. Peace is created.
The process goes something like this: Whatever it is you are caught in, thoughts or feelings or experiences – drop your engagement. Just stop, and look at it as if it does not belong to you. The longer you have been holding it, the more perseverance that is required, but don’t give up. Then smile at it. How could I possibly do that? you might ask. It is so terrible, so frustrating or just plain wrong.
But drop it you must and look at it for just what it is. Smile at is because it is part of being human, no matter what it is. Being human is sad, funny, tragic and beautiful all at once. It deserves your good humor. Smile at it and give it your compassion, which is your humanity. By doing this, which is a form of stepping outside the ego, you engage what the Buddhists call emptiness, the ground of being or true nature. It is from there possibilities arise. Possibilities for change, for healing, for recovery. You don’t look for them, you open to them.
The world will spin and all sorts of things will arise that have the potential to create suffering or unhappiness within us. There is no destination, no set of circumstances that will come together and suddenly everything will be fine and dandy stretching into the far future.
What can happen, however, is that as more and more people create their inner peace, it in turn creates a powerful network, which contains within it the potential for real transformation. We all contribute to this pattern in both obvious and subtle ways, but it is not important that we see immediate results. What is important is that we unlock that powerful love that resides in our hearts, creating the peace that might heal the world.
And so I’ll end this as I always do, but this time know it for what it is – a blessing that you will create your own….