Quest for Peace
Sri Swami Chidananda
We talk constantly about peace–it is one of the most popular topics of discussion in the world today. Peace between nations, peace in our societies, peace in our schools, peace in our families, peace within ourselves. Yet, although billions of dollars and millions of hours are spent each year on think tanks, brainstorming sessions and international conferences, this much-desired peace continues to elude us.
What is the secret of finding this elusive treasure? Let us discuss it. Because without peace both inner and outer–all is meaningless. We can spend millions of dollars building posh downtown centres in our cities, but if we are at war with another country, they will bomb that centre to ashes in a second. We can spend thousands of dollars building beautiful homes, but if our neighbourhood is our enemy, our windows will be smashed and our new lawns destroyed. We can work hard and successfully at our jobs, but if we come home to turmoil in the house, there is no joy in the success obtained at work that day, for there is no one with whom to share. We can devote ourselves to obtaining high education, top credentials and a beautiful figure. However, if we are miserable inside, no outer achievement will ever pacify us.
Recently in Chicago a woman came to see me. She told that she was stressed and tense. She said that in order to sleep at night she took a pill called calmpose. I told her that she did not need to take calmpose. “Just calm you pose”, I said “And you will sleep beautifully at night and be peaceful all day.” If we are peaceful inside, humble inside, then nothing outside can ruffle us. So, the first message today is, calm your pose and you will never need to take calmpose.
The obstacles and the solution are buried in this statement. Listen: I want peace. What do we have? An ‘I’, a ‘want’ and a ‘peace’. If you remove the ‘I’ and the ‘want’, what is left out? Peace. You do not have to look for peace, find peace or create peace. All you have to do is remove the ‘I’ and remove the ‘want’ and peace stands there in its full glory for the entire world to imbibe. It is the ‘I’ and the ‘want’ which obscure this treasure from our view.
So, how to remove these? First let’s talk about the ‘I’. ‘I’ is one of the greatest obstacles to peace. ‘I’ is our ego. ‘I’ is our sense of ownership, doership and pride. This ‘I’ says, “I want to be in the centre.” Isn’t it true? We always want to be the ones getting the glory, the appreciation, the prestige. Even when we don’t do anything still we want to be appreciated. That is our downfall.
We are so proud, this ‘I’ is so proud. It thinks, “Oh, I am so successful. I am so good.” But the truth is that we only go to work; God works. We can do nothing without His grace. One minute we are at our desks, acting like king of the world. The next minute, one nerve, just one microscopic nerve in our brain fails and we can no longer speak or write. One small blockage in one tiny blood vessel and we cannot even go to the bathroom by ourselves. We must be fed and taken care of for the rest of our lives.
So, what to be proud of? He works. We just go to work. As soon as we realise this, then we can take our little ‘I’ and merge it in the big ‘I’, the universal ‘I’, the divine ‘I’. Then we surrender our lives and our every action to Him. Then we say, “God, let my tiny drop of water merge with your great ocean. Let me be a tool for Your will and Your work.”
It is through this selfless surrender to Him, that the pain of the ‘I’ is removed and with that all our troubles and unrest disappear.
Remember, we said “I want peace”. ‘I’ and ‘want’ are the barriers of peace. If you remove them, then there is nothing left but peace. So, first we merge this individual, obstructing ‘I’ with the divine ‘I’, the universal ‘I’ and in doing so we become free of the pride, ego and tension which block our attainment of peace.
Then, we remove the ‘want’, our wants, our perceived needs, our desires. What obstacles these are to peace? The more we have, the more we want. People always think that if they attain something more, whether it’s more money, a better job, a degree, a good husband, then they will be happy.
It is not the having or not having that is the issue. The issue is the wanting, the yearning and the expecting. These external things never bring any lasting happiness.
We must give more and want less. Then, we will know true joy and peace.
Peace comes through prayer. It doesn’t matter what name you use for God or what language you pray in. You can pray to Allah in Arabic, or you can pray to Jesus in English, or you can pray to Adonai in Hebrew, or you can pray to Lord Buddha in Japanese, or you can pray to Lord Krsna in Sanskrit. It doesn’t matter what name or form you use. It doesn’t matter what language you pray in. Just pray. And then you will see the magic. The fruit of prayer is faith. The fruit of faith is love. The fruit of love is devotion. The fruit of devotion is service. The fruit of service is peace.
Through this–prayer, faith, love, devotion and service–we will all, inevitably attain that sought-after state of inner peace. Then, when we are at peace inside, that harmony will radiate out to all those around us, bringing peace to our relations, peace to our communities, peace to our nations and finally peace to the world.