My first conscious thoughts when I woke up this morning were . . . “What exactly is peace? What does it mean to pursue world peace? What does it involve? What does it include? What an impossibly lofty goal!!! What have I gotten myself into? How do I proceed with this peace project?” I don’t have all the answers to these questions (I’m not so arrogant to think that!), but I do have some thoughts, musings, and contemplations. I’ll share mine with you, hoping that you’ll do the same and share with us.
World peace . . . the whole entire planet, all people, all creatures . . . world peace! Well, I obviously can’t do much to control the planet and who knows how far these ripples will flow? All I can control (I wish!) or hopefully influence (maybe?) is myself . . . what is inside me and how I interact with those who are outside me (as well as those I carry around inside myself). Which brings me to INNER PEACE.
As I contemplate inner peace, I wonder, if we all had a sense of inner peace, would we have any reason to be concerned about world peace? Would world peace be just part of the fabric of life that we don’t even notice, the water we swim in, the air we breathe? I wonder how much of the conflict in the world is due to the way we fragment ourselves, disowning those aspects of ourselves that we are unable to tolerate (a.k.a. our shadows), projecting our shadows onto others, then warring/raging against those who embody what we can’t tolerate in ourselves, taking steps to destroy them (physically, verbally, emotionally, metaphorically) in an unconscious attempt to eliminate that which reverberates inside of ourselves. If this is the core of conflict, war, injustice, etc, then working towards inner peace is an essential part of the solution.
After caring for my sweet old K9 companion this morning, I continued pondering my inner state of peace as I walked through the piercing cold morning air. (Yes, all you who know me well, I actually went out in the cold and took a early morning walk!) Inner peace, seems less daunting, more managable than world peace . . . Yeah, right! If only that were so, I guess we might have more peace and less strife in the world. I won’t bore you with my list of reasons for my own personal internal conflicts and wars. I imagine that many of them are similar to yours. Step by step, one breath at a time, I realize that I need to come to terms with the decline of my physicality, the limitations of what I can do, and my human failings. I need to do what I once heard Ram Dass say, “Milk the moment!” On my walk, it hit me in a profound way, I don’t want to waste any more of my life wishing things were different than what is, struggling against what can only be accepted. I think acceptance is one of the keys to inner peace. . . . Why is it so hard to do the simple?
This afternoon, B and I spent some time exploring Stanford University’s “Peace Innovation” website http://peace.stanford.edu/. We were inspired by the stories of others working towards peace, especially Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living Foundation http://peace.artofliving.org/. Sri Sri and others in the Art of Living organization do amazing work all over the world — running a Women’s Empowerment program in Iraq, helping trauma survivors in many places including Kosovo and Kashmir, as well as bridging racial tensions and faciliatating peace negotiations in several parts of the world.
I send everyone associated with the Art of Living foundation love, gratitude, and blessings for the difficult work they do. It humbles me regarding my meager efforts toward peace. But hey, as long as I am putting out energy and intentions into the world (and we all are), I may as well make it an energy of peace.
“Celebrate Life. Care for others and share whatever you have with those less fortunate than you. Broaden your vision, for the whole world belongs to you.” —Sri Sri Ravi Shankar