Peace is my favorite word. Seriously, out of every word I could possibly choose, without a doubt, my favorite is peace. As a word, peace not only sounds pleasant, but to me, it also feels like the experience it defines. Even more than just the way it sounds and feels, I love the word peace, because, I believe that peace is the end game, the very purpose of our lives.
Peace Is The End Game
Whether we consciously realize it or not, the experience of peace is the condition we seek every time we choose anything. If we carefully consider the motivations behind our choices, we will quickly see we are not really choosing the thing itself. Rather, we are choosing the thing, because of what we believe it will bring to us to have it. Ultimately, what we believe it will bring us is peace. It is the condition and experience of peace we most deeply desire, not necessarily the “form” of the thing that symbolically represents our gateway to peace.
Whether it be a brand new car, new relationship, new job, new smart phone, dream vacation or favorite flavor of ice cream, it is our belief that when we have the object of our desire, peace will be the condition we experience. Of course, by this point in our lives we have also likely learned that having the “thing” itself does not guarantee peace. Indeed, life experience teaches us that nothing outside of us can ensure peace.
Peace Is An Inside Job
Everyone experiences frustrations and disappointments in life that challenge our peace. The list of potential triggers for most of us can be long. Lack of money, failing relationships, unemployment and separation from a child are merely the short list of challenges I have personally encountered in the past. Nowadays, I feel pretty good about my ability to cultivate peace in my life, but it certainly hasn’t always been that way.
A good litmus test for me to gauge my own spiritual progress is to get behind the wheel of a car in rush hour traffic. It always amazes me how quickly I can go from peaceful to reactionary when my safety or convenience in traffic has been temporarily threatened by another driver’s unmindfulness. In traffic, and in other circumstances, I have gotten angry when my safety is jeopardized. Underneath my angry reaction is fear; and the experience of fear is happening on my inside. Fear does not exist in the external world. We experience fear internally as a reaction to stimulus from the external world. Like fear, we experience peace internally. Peace does not insinuate itself into our experience from the outside world. Cultivating peace in our experience is an inside job.
Peace and Personal Responsibility
We carry the energy of anger internally in our bodies. In an attempt to get rid of it, we may project our anger at another person. However, no matter how diligently we might try, anger can never leave our consciousness through projection. The only way to clear anger from our experience is by taking personal responsibility for the cultivation and management of our own peace. No one else is, or can be, responsible for our peace.
Once we assume the mantle, it becomes easy to see that the issues that most directly challenge our peace are ultimately matters of personal responsibility. However, we can only assume personal responsibility for issues over which we have some measure of control. For example, the vast majority of us have no direct control over whether nations go to war with one another. However, even in the presence of war, we still retain some measure of control over our own personal peace. More directly, if we wait until the war is ended before we allow ourselves to experience peace, we could be waiting forever.
Peace & The Eternal Present Moment
As Jesus observed, “there will always be wars and rumors of wars.” He advised that we not be concerned with wars as they are merely the outward signs of the world giving birth to itself. Jesus’ advice points the way to our own individual capacity to experience peace right now, even with all the conflict and war apparently present in the world. The only moment in time we can ever experience peace is right now…the eternal present moment. We are either at peace, or we are not. There is no middle ground. There is no past or future moment we can experience peace. There is only now.
It is one thing to make peace with the external conditions of the world that challenge personal peace. It is quite another to hold an intention of peace for the world; to envision a world where war and conflict are no longer necessary. While we may not have direct control over ending the wars in the world, it is absolutely within our own individual power to visualize a world of peace for all people. I am not speaking of a “truce” or temporary cessation of conflict, but rather “creating” a fundamental and lasting peace through our intention, thoughts, words and actions. Even if it doesn’t end the wars in the world, it absolutely results in you cultivating an experience of peace for yourself.
The Commitment To Peace
War comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Wars in the world are only the most evident examples. However, we can wage interpersonal wars with other people in our lives, and even intrapersonal wars with our own selves. We experience the world we allow through our choices. If we are experiencing war, rather than peace, it is because we have allowed war to be so in our thoughts, words and actions. We can change our minds at any moment about this experience. However, we will not change our experience until we first change our minds about what experience we wish to create.
The only way for us, individually and collectively, to create a world of peace rather than war is to break our agreements with the principles of war, and enter into new agreements based on the principles of peace. To achieve peace, whether personally in our own lives or in the world at large, we must have a commitment to peace. This may sound like stating the obvious, but do not underestimate the power in this fundamental commitment. Like all spiritual gifts, we cannot cultivate peace in our lives without first having a commitment to experience peace. We have to desire peace, before we can experience it. It does not happen by accident, and no one else can do it for us.