The Path to Peace is Peace Itself

May 27, 2017

Peace, as we understand it is freedom and redemption from physical, mental and spiritual suffering.  We are habituated to look externally for redemption from suffering, but the ancient wisdom of the experienced and evolved souls tells us that the solutions lie within ourselves.  Suffering is an essential part of life and is necessary for evolution.  It is an opportunity for growth and only through the lens of suffering we can understand peace just as light is clearest through darkness.  Thoughts, emotions, perceptions and whatever we experience make up the content of our life and when we identify with them as “my life” we overlook the fact that we are not the content of life but life itself. All the misery on the planet arises from this mistaken belief that we are separate individuals with the power to do and undo what we believe to be rational in our thinking mind.   The thinking mind, no doubt, is useful and a powerful tool but it can also be a destructive tool when it takes over our life completely and mistakes opinions and viewpoints for facts. Peace can only come when we begin to understand that no matter what the situation is or whatever happens is only a passing phase in our living consciousness and not a permanent situation. We invite suffering the moment we forget our true nature which is beyond the thinking mind. Happiness is always there within us to be experienced; it is our non- acceptance of internal happiness by our Egoic self that introduces the obstruction to the flow of happiness just as darkness in the absence of light. In what follows we will examine some of these major obstacles to peace in life from a holistic perspective and how we can overcome them by a process of internal transformation.

1.  “I” and “My”
The secret of peaceful living is to have nothing you can call your own. We are only caretakers of what we possess. At any time we must be ready to part with everything we possess without notice.  This may sound draconian but the reality of life is undeniable.  We all know it but our Egoic self does not allow us to let go. Peace is the ultimate human desire.  Only a few know how to gain it and even fewer really do something to get it. Peaceful life is ours if we let go our Ego and limit our desires.  The challenge is how to go about it?  It is not easy but not impossible. Our vison and understanding need to be refined to know that  there is in us a deeper “I” than the I of our likes, dislikes, fear, doubt , pleasure, pain, happiness and sorrow.. The process should start with our Beliefs and our misguided perceptions. In the rapidly advancing technological world we have become experts in making guided missiles but continue to live as misguided humans. 

2. Belief
Belief is an agreement that each one makes with oneself, a contract, if you will, which we tend to evaluate constantly and seek agreement with others. It keeps our life moving and is the architect for our decisions, actions and the values we place in life and living. It is also the building block for faith and conviction in our spiritual evolution. The power of belief is more than the belief itself.  Events in human history tell us that numerous wars have been fought just to uphold the Belief of one person. The spoken word backed by belief could wage a war and also end a war.!!  For example, “me” and “mine” are powerful words.  Common experience tells us that when we claim something to be mine and insist on it we open the door for conflict.  In life, knowingly or unknowingly, we are always seeking consensus for our own beliefs. When there is agreement there is peace and when there is resistance there is conflict. This modus operandi can be extended all the way from the micro level (individual) to the macro level (world) wherever human interaction comes into play. We tend to justify everything based on what we consider rational but despite our best intention our behavior or actions do not always conform to our best intentions.  Our intellect and ego may not be willing to cooperate.  The age old saying “the path to hell is paved with good intentions” (Bible) and do as I say  but not as I do  are reminders that we have our own hidden  limitations.

3. Ego and Conflict 
Respect for, and acceptance of others beliefs and viewpoints without imposition of our own opinions and judgement is important in human relationships.  Even when others’ beliefs go against established facts we should refrain from pointing it out and avoid undesirable outcomes. It is not the belief or the viewpoint per se that brings resistance but the clash of Egos. Insistence on our viewpoint is a losing proposition in any personal or social interaction. We may win the battle but lose the war for peace.   The cardinal rule is not to put down anyone’s Ego by thought, word or deed to the maximum extent. It is, of course, easy to understand but to integrate it in our behavior requires a firm resolve and repeated effort (purusharth).   In order to succeed, we have to take a holistic vison and see the common thread that binds us as humans as one family and remind ourselves that we may have differences (race, color, creed, beliefs, personalities and so on) but we are not different. The late civil rights leader Martin Luther King said the human race has two choices: to coexist or to perish. His message has echoed throughout the world and the spoken words have proved to be more powerful than any weaponry that exists in our armory. Doctor King followed in Mahatma Gandhi’s footsteps of non-violence to achieve his goal to end racial segregation in America. In the ultimate analysis we must learn to coexist and respect and appreciate other’s viewpoints and way of life. We have no other choice.  Universal peace through disarming seems ideal.  However, the process cannot begin until we disarm our own individual hearts. We suffer because we see ourselves as separate from others and forget that the world is only a projection of our mind and what is projected comes back to us as echoes.

3. Real and Relative  
Co- existence requires that we develop the habit of seeing the Divine spark --the Soul, the very essence of life, in each and every living being and not the outside physical “packing” that we refer to as body.  The Soul, Atman, Spirit by whatever name we wish to call is the “Real” part, the unchanging eternal consciousness which is our true identity.   The reflected consciousness in the individual which functions through the body, mind and speech and is changing is the  “Relative” part of our existence. Knowing the changeless in the changing is the greatest asset and the most powerful weapon that only we as humans have been endowed with and to the extent we are sincere and grounded in the REAL peace is ours.  We should avoid compartmentalizing and labeling humans and human behavior and have a Holistic vision that we are all part of the “Whole” humanity or one among the many belonging to the human family, also referred to in the Hindu tradition as Vasudeva Kutumbam.  Only then we can resolve our differences in an amicable way and coexist.  Unity in Diversity is the core message in all the great religions and scriptures. God is one and is in everyone. The goal of the Holistic Research Foundation (HSCRF), USA that I represent is to bring out the Holistic Vision and Understanding of Human Life and Living.

From a holistic perspective life has two parts.  One is our mind-body-speech and their functioning which are pre-determined and unalterable.  It is the decided part (fate or destiny).  What is in our control is the decision part (free will), our inner resolve (Nischay or Bhav).  Under the right circumstances (avastha) decided by Nature our Nischay comes to bear according to our scriptures and the enlightened souls.  If not, in this lifetime, the “wake” or “imprint” that we leave behind are bound to come to fruition.   We all agree that we reap the fruits of the efforts of  our forefathers and the wake they have left behind serves as a beacon of light in our life. It holds for our Nischay/Bhav as well. Whatever vibrations that we send out in the form of opinions, judgements. preferences (Rag-Dwesh) are being recorded in Nature and come back to us in myriad ways as cause and effect. That in itself is reason for us to be cautious and be positive both in our internal resolve (Nischay) and in our mind, body and speech functions in day-to-day life (Vyawahar). Awareness, acceptance, humility and surrender to the higher power  create the best conditions for peace. Our consciousness under these conditions is raised above the thinking mind where the Ego can no longer survive. The proverbial wisdom, resist not evil but go around is the best approach to resolve conflicts. It is a sincere effort to make peace with imperfection.

4.0 Doubts and Doubting
Doubt and doubting are negative vibrations and can harm us and others by unwanted stress and fear and spoil our peace of mind (if there is anything left there!!).  Doubt is an invisible destructive weapon that obstructs the natural flow of life. It is not uncommon to hear people say “What is this world coming to or what will happen if these current events  lead to an all out war  or will peace ever come in our lifetime ??.  These are examples of doubting that can bring harmful effects. The law of nature is to reform and not to punish and to set right what is upset. There is no negativity worth a grain of salt in nature.   Positivity and negativity are  exclusive human traits   What one perceives as negative may not be the case for others and vice versa. We tend to live in our “imagined” world whereas the “real” world is what it is and what it should be.  We cannot independently change the outcome of any action.  It is totally in Nature’s domain of justice

5.0 Self- Regulated Natural Law
The self-regulated perpetual law of Nature is responsible for the destruction, creation and sustenance in the universe. Nature reveals to us a system that is in a state of perpetual transformation.   We, as actors, participate in the play of nature with assigned roles to do our part when called for.  Living life for life’s sake and not for the Egoic self is the ideal way to coexist and live in peace. War and Peace is a cycle that has prevailed dating back to the early civilizations.  It is inevitable despite our best intentions.  Let us not forget that there are also good outcomes in war.  Acts of heroism, patriotism, empathy and compassion demonstrated on the battlefields by individuals bring out the extent of empathy and compassion that humans are capable of and the nobility inside us. They often go unrecorded in history books. When privileging extraordinary figures, we ignore the grassroots strength of ordinary individuals whose power and value are no less than the privileged leaders.  

In one of the greatest novels  “War and Peace” written by  Russian author Leo Tolstoy one of the characters, Platen Karetov, a simple, loving Russian peasant who is sent to fight against his will offers the motherless French hero Pierre  Bezukhov, the maternal kindness he has never known in his life and shows him that the answer to his spiritual searching lies not in the glory and blistering speeches but in human connection and our inherent connectivity.  Pierre soon has a dream about a globe in which every person represents a tiny droplet detached from a larger sphere of water. Signifying our shared essence, it hints at the extent to which Tolstoy believed we are all connected.  Many such events have occurred in human history that has gone unnoticed but the human potential cannot be denied nor under estimated. Every person must pay attention to two important aspects in life---harm none and help others to the best of our ability. There will be peace in the world only when we uphold these highest moral principles and live by them. The human race has withstood all along the trials and tribulations of mankind.  It will survive in its own natural way.  Our responsibility is to preserve and protect our intrinsic human values (Sanathana Dharma), our rich traditions and the teachings of the spiritual masters.   Acharya Adi Shankara  gave a short answer to a loaded question from an aspirant:

Aspirant:  If the world is an illusion (Maya) and there is only suffering how to overcome it?
Acharya :  SATSANGAM---keep the company of the Righteous

Where there is Righteousness in the Heart there will be beauty in Character; when there is beauty in the character, there will be Harmony in the home; when there is harmony in the home there will be Order in the nation; when there is order in the nation there will Peace in the world:  Om Shanthi,  Shanthi,  Shanthi. 

- Dr. Radha P Krishna, President, Holistic Science Charitable Research Foundation