This essay is shared by Guy Finley
How to Find the Peace That Already Dwells Within You
I would like to introduce you to some new ideas intended to help us transform these disturbing times on earth into something of great spiritual benefit. If one has any sensitivity, then one must ask: Why is there so much hatred everywhere? What has happened that human beings are so willing to destroy each other, and at the same time feel so justified for the terror they champion? How is it that fear rules the day and drives the world to an edge that it manages to extend with each passing hour? Why can’t there be peace on earth?
But to these same questions we must add one more – a probing inquiry not so easy to entertain because it begins with turning around one’s outwardly pointed finger of judgment. We must ask: What is my role in this madness? Am I really just the spectator I imagine myself to be, innocent of the sickness I see everywhere – or am I part of the ignorance whose pain seeks to destroy peace?
We must not fear such questions, as fear is ignorance actuated. The truth is, and always has been (in its simplest spiritual equation), that we are the world we see; we are each, within, microcosmic versions of the global conflict going on around us. We despise the day that deprives us of our happiness, mentally crushing anyone blamed for our loss. And we are never wrong in our judgment.
So we see, the Wise teach truly: The inner does determine the outer. There cannot be peace (on earth) until one’s heart is at peace. A mind at peace punishes neither itself nor anyone else. The work to understand these truths begins with no longer trying to create an imagined peace, but with awakening to what it is within us that believes it already knows the true nature of peace.
Any awakening implies the sudden realization that one has been asleep to another order of reality. So it is true with our wish to awaken to what is wrecking us. And just as a friend might gently nudge us to help bring us out of a nightmare, there have been truths sown into this world whose purpose is to show us where we are asleep to reality and living out a bad dream.
We first meet these timeless and eye opening truths in the form of new and higher self-knowledge such as follows: We cannot make ourselves peaceful, any more than we can make silence. Silence already exists in any space once we stop making noises in it. The same holds true of peace. Real peace is already in place, and we need only stop creating conflict to realize its grace.
Simply stated: We are not at peace within ourselves because we are at war within ourselves. And because we have yet to learn how to enter this interior battle, armed with the one force that transforms dark fires into mild Light, we do not comprehend the actual nature of this internal conflict. Again we meet the need for new and greater self-knowledge, beginning with this Key Lesson: Until we realize that continually identifying with our own conflicting desires about how to win peace of mind is like using a cannon blast to light a candle, we will only remain at war within ourselves – all the while blaming the world around us for its insensitive inability to grant us that imagined peace we so desperately seek!
It was said by Christ, which should be self-evident, that “A house divided cannot stand.” The problem is, we are not conscious of this division within us, so that we are virtually unaware of our own conflicting desires. This inner struggle continues unabated because the sensation of a pleasure promised by one desire outweighs the pain of its secret opposition. The obvious note here is that a pain masked by a more prominent pleasure does not end their conflict, and the misery in the soul that suffers this battle remains intact even if the physical body isn’t conscious of this continuous conflict. Let’s illuminate, by example, a few of these conflicting desires and end their power over us. Our peace will follow as sunlight after the passing storm.
One desire we all share is that we want to be loved and approved of by everyone everywhere. To accomplish this we believe we must be worthy, which requires our becoming a bigger “success” than whoever it is that is seen as competing with us for this craved attention. What other choice have we – given the importance of our task – but to step on a few people on our way to the top?
Can we see how our initial desire causes conflict and actually creates an effect the very opposite of the one it intended at the outset? Living in fear that we won’t win the approval we seek, we have no choice but to do whatever is necessary to accomplish our end. So we hurt others by running over them to reach our goal. We destroy the very love and respect we wanted on our way to winning it!
Another example of secretly conflicting desires is how we all long to think of ourselves as being free and independent of others. But unseen in this want of ours hides another (and contrary) desire to which we are also attached: We only feel like we have reached this elevated state of independence as long as others recognize what we have done! We require others to confirm our freedom! Then there’s that endless want for a special someone to always “be there” for us – committed to our happiness – even as we fear that this same person, now empowered with our trust, may turn on us and hurt us. We see that Love and fear are antithetical, as are bulldozers and flowers.
There are many other examples of such inner contradictions worth witnessing. There is our intermittent desire to be left alone – even as we feel left out or ignored if our friends don’t call us because they miss our company. The point should be as obvious. We suffer from our own cross-purposes and find ourselves unable (at present) to see our way out from under their conflict. Our worldly desires deliver us into the hands of unseen opposing forces – a condition where the peace of mind we had planned for not only fails to appear, but whose remnants create still new forms of conflict along with their would-be rescuing desires. The truth is self-evident:
One request after another, we ask for what we believe will bring us some measure of peace, only to find ourselves either in pain over what did not materialize, or in fear of losing what we fought to gain. And surely we have seen that certain of our longings please only one small part of us while punishing the rest, like overeating or indulging ourselves with destructive addictions.
It is of little doubt that most of us have tried, in any number of ways, to let go of these deceptive and disturbing desires only to find ourselves overpowered by their overwhelming gravity. And who hasn’t thought they have let go of one problem only to find they have picked up another by mistake! Which brings us to this next important spiritual truth: We do not have to choose which, or any, of these conflicting desires to let go of; it makes no difference. What we must now see is that whether it is wanting to be approved, acknowledged, or to feel oneself secure in another’s love – all such desires are false in that they have no power to grant us the peace they promise.
We must see that these desires are liars, even though their fires feel real enough. They do not belong to us, even though they are with us everywhere we go. I can almost hear you asking, “How can this be true?” Here is the startling answer. They are not our desires. They do not originate with us, and the will they impose upon us (to fulfill their longings) is not our own.
“Then whose desires are they, if not my own?” They belong to a world that has lost the means to know peace as was always intended, as it is given (to us) to live within. They are the contorted fragments of answers to heartaches that didn’t work in their time, and that were passed along from one generation to the next until they have become so inculcated in us we see them as our own.
All such desires are false answers to equally false aches born out of ignorance of our authentic nature. They belong to a self that has been programmed to search for a sense of success carefully outlined and defined by the values of a world lost to the influences of the Higher Life. And whoever wins this world loses his way because he unknowingly answers the call of a socially contrived will: a nature that needs its “tomorrows” in order to feel alive today. This sense of self has no existence apart from the future it imagines in which it will be whole at last. Now to these thoughts we must add one more all-important truth:
This unconscious “will of the world” that is at work within us, that always seeks its peace in a time to come, lives in opposition to a will greater than its own. Our careful study of this last insight is pivotal in our search for true peace. If this will of the world within us – with all of its conflicting desires – is the one true governing power that we have come to accept it as being, and it alone is responsible for one’s providence in life, then there could never arise any conflict between what one wishes for and the arrival of that sought-after state of self-peace. To the contrary, this is not how reality works.
The fact that a greater will exists is revealed to us every day, only we are unable to see it. The evidence of it rests in the very conflict we experience as we yield ourselves to the longings of this lesser will through the pull of the world within us. We could not know the lesser without the unseen presence of the greater that serves to reveal it, just as a shadow proves that a light is nearby. And our pain in this life because of our misunderstanding of this order of reality is not a “punishment” by the greater of these wills, far from it; we are being invited to give ourselves, to surrender our self, to this greater will so that we may realize that within it already dwells the peace we seek.
Which brings us to this question: Given our present situation, saturated as we are with these worldly desires and blinded to them by their promises of better days to come, where do we find the will, the spiritual strength, to let go of them and give ourselves over to something Higher? Here is the surprising answer:
Learning to let go of the worldly will now active within us is not an act of power, but comes naturally on the heels of seeing where it is that we have been deceived into giving away our divine right to be at peace. It is this Higher Self-Wisdom that empowers us to leave our former self behind, that grants us peace, much as spring clouds bring gentle rains to wash everything clean.
One last thought and we will have the knowledge we need to know true peace. There can never be real peace in any world wherever opposing wills contest what the nature of that peace will be. And if this is true with two people at war over “how” or “what” peace is to be won, how much more so is it true when it comes to the conflicted will of this world as it opposes the peace of God?
To see the truth of these ideas and to marry them with our own experience is a conscious act of peace. God’s will is being expressed in every new moment, and is secretly the heart and soul of each moment now being newly expressed. We need only be aware of ourselves in the moment to know the truth of this and then to allow this Light to teach us about the peace that passes all understanding.
Following are what may be called the “The Three A’s of the Peaceful Life.” Welcome them as special work reminders to let God’s will be as your own. If you will take these new intentions and inner attitudes with you into your day, then you will soon realize what it means to let go and know peace.
Work to trust in the Goodness of God’s moment, so that instead of trying to dig into it with a psychological pick-ax – hoping to extract something from it that you think you must have to be happy – allow the moment to give you what you need. Your key intention here is to “allow” God’s will.
Work to watch the whole moment as it unfolds, so that instead of focusing only on what you want to see – a self-limiting perception that separates you from all that the moment might have to show you – agree to see everything the moment reveals about you and your present life. Your key action here is to “agree” with God’s will.
Work to welcome whatever the moment brings to you, so that instead of resisting its natural seasons for fear of the passing of spring or the onset of a long winter’s night – accept the moment and let it live and die as it would. The key intention here is to “accept” God’s will as your own.