Pema Chodron, author of Practicing Peace in Times of War, asks the question, “Why is it that we all want a peaceful existence yet our actions or reactions produce just the opposite?” Pema speaks of a moment of choice when we can either react with anger or respond with patience and compassion. When asking her teacher Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist master, why this moment is so uncomfortable when we choose not to give in to anger he referred to it as the burn. He stated that when we can be fully present to this moment, we are able to burn up seeds of aggressive behavior. He then continued to explain that we can consciously choose to view this as an opportunity for “burning the seeds of negative karma and planting the seeds of peacefulness.”
Most of us live in anxiety afraid to let down our guard for fear of exposing a vulnerable and soft heart. Yet in order to experience deep and lasting peace we must find the inner strength and courage to allow the dissolution of the walls of defence we have placed around our heart in order to protect it.
By imagining our heart to be like a beautiful white dove locked away in a small cage we can gain some idea of why it is unable to fly free and high. No matter how gilded the cage, the dove is unable to fulfill its potential or experience its very essence and nature when captured within it. It will never experience love, joy, wonder, healing and beauty, nor will it ever know its capacity to bring these to others. It may know security, but will never experience true fulfilment. It must leave the security of the cage, leave the known for the unknown, for if it fails to do so its furtive attempts to fly in such a confined space will eventually result in broken wings. An imprisoned heart becomes a broken heart.
If we wish to experience peace at the deepest levels then it is time to fling the doors wide open and set our hearts free. It is our heart that leads us to true fulfillment and to an experience of peace that surpasses anything we could have imagined. What would it feel like to live in deep peace every day, especially when a challenging situation arises?
How can we cultivate inner peace? How can we encourage ourselves to allow our hearts to become visible? Whenever we feel the stirrings of a reactionary charge we need to catch it before it erupts. How we can do this is to acknowledge the charge, pause for that moment and take a few deep breaths, and then ask ourselves a simple yet profound question: If my heart had a voice what would it say? Whenever we find ourselves on the edge of reason—this is what we are to ask ourselves. Peace is to be found through a gentle, open, undefended and unconditional heart.
Buddhism is a wonderful example that teaches us how to respond instead of react. At the core of Buddhist philosophy we will find the teachings and practices of right action, mindfulness, non-attachment, forgiveness and compassion. If we seek to embody these fundamental qualities we will come to experience lasting inner peace and joy.
Whenever you find yourself asking what is my Soul’s higher purpose, or what can I offer to the world, know that just by being peace your life is making a difference. If you live in peace the world is one step closer to peace. As Thich Nhat Hanh teaches, peace is every step.
When you next find yourself in that moment that Pema Chodron speaks of, pause ... breathe ... and make the choice to respond from your heart: Do so with compassion, sensitivity, empathy and understanding. You will then come to experience a peace that permeates every atom of your Being.
It is time to remove the defenses from the heart. It is time to listen to the wisdom of the heart. By doing so we become the embodiment of peace: We can choose to cultivate inner peace as a priority. You can transform your life into one of grace and gracefulness.
We can choose to prioritize inner peace while at the same time remaining mindful that we are no longer willing to compromise it at any cost. We can choose to walk in peace, to talk peace, to BE peace. It is a step we can take right now.
Peace in Every Step.
Peace, Harmony and Love as a Lived Reality
From today, this very moment, you can create a reality that is one of peace, harmony and love. This requires the practicing of mindfulness and alignment with the ever-present Now. When we do this we are empowered to create a reality of peace, harmony and love.
Every choice we make in every moment is creating our reality. Let us not view this as merely a concept but really understand the fundamental truth of it.
In each moment we are either creating peace, joy and happiness, or conflict, drama and upset, for ourselves.
Is each choice, decision, agreement, commitment or intention that we make ultimately going to prove to be peace-serving or peace-denying?
By trusting our intuitive felt sense, the quiet voice inside, our gnosis, when it comes to making decisions and choices in our lives, we find that these are already felt in our bodies when we are in the process of choice and decision making. As we do so, the body is already informing us. However, most people ignore what their bodies are feeling and revealing and go against their instincts only to find the outcome of the choice or decision made is one that has brought disharmony or upset.
We can say that ultimately all experience serves us. However, when we have reached a certain level of psycho-spiritual evolution, we need to be mindful of the point when we no longer need experiences that bring us pain or upset. We only continue to attract such when caught in the groove of an old pattern that has acted as a facilitator for healing but has now been dissolved.
Every single choice we make today will shape tomorrow. If we truly seek a harmonious, peaceful and love-filled life, then we listening to the all-knowing wisdom of the inner voice and tuning in to what our bodies are telling us is fundamental. The body is the most sophisticated wise counsel we will ever consult. It will tell us, every time, if a choice or decision is one that will bring us peace and happiness.
If we feel apprehension or a deeper felt-sense that an inner warning is being brought to our attention in regard to a direction we are moving in, and yet we are still drawn and proceed in that direction, then we know that we still have a healing edge in that area of our lives to fulfil. However, if we find ourselves hesitating over and over again, it is because we are aligning with the wisdom of the inner voice and the body and allowing it to direct our choices and decisions. In this way we will maintain a feeling of peace, harmony and love in our lives and continue to evolve, refine and liberate ourselves from the experience of pain and upset being our primary teacher. We reach a level in our evolution where these are no longer required to teach us lessons we are here to learn or heal karma or historical inner wounding. There is a plateau we arrive at where all choices and decisions that are made bring us further experiences of peace, harmony and love.
We arrive at a place in ourselves where we are no longer willing to negotiate or compromise our inner peace, where we hold it as a priority in all our words, thoughts, actions, decisions and choices. Know that every decision or choice you make will either take you further away from or bring you closer to fully embodying and living peace as a reality.
Commit to noticing every nuance in your body, listening to the wise inner-voice and consciously and mindfully make decisions and choices that are sourced only from this.
You can choose.
You are choosing in every moment - What do you choose? Inner peace or inner conflict?
Listen to your body - it knows.
Listen to your inner-voice - it knows.
If you really do feel ready to take that next evolutionary leap into living a life of peace, harmony and love—then listen to the wisdom that You Are. When your body and inner voice are in harmonious union and a feeling of peace washes through you as you make a decision or a choice—then know you are making the right one for you.
Remember, there is no way to peace - Peace is the Way.