These last couple days, I’ve undergone a huge transition from living a semi-homeless life in Winston-Salem to moving into the land of abundance that is my parent’s home. As far as material things go, there is virtually everything I could ever ask for. My parents have both hopped upon some sort of health train and now eat all the foods that I find most delicious. Additionally, there are books, internet, a screened in porch, and beautiful nature all around to enjoy. We also have some pretty cool neighbors. Suffice it to say, it’s hard to think of a reason to leave this place. I feel like I can better understand why it is so easy to become complacent in a land of abundance and forget about the world beyond a bountiful nest.
Last night, my mom shared with me some of her precious time and wisdom. After I ate a pepper that was so hot it made me chug practically a whole quart of milk, her nurturing tendency kicked into high gear and she was right by my side to help alleviate the suffering. She lost all concern for herself and simply gave me her undivided attention, empathizing with me every minute.
“I’m sorry,” she said. I told her she had no reason to apologize. She replied, “Well, I know. But I’m just sorry for what you’re going through.” Her seeing me in pain actually caused her pain too. It was as though we were one.
I expressed my gratitude to her and thanked her for taking care of me. She went on to share with me how her being a mother was not just a job, but a vocation. She felt called to be a mother, and I’ll go ahead and say I think she did a pretty phenomenal job. Four kids, all grown – the two daughters have good jobs, the oldest son is an aspiring politician, and me…let’s just say I’m an investor. What do I invest in? Goodness, of course.
In the same sense that my mom was called to be a great mother, I told her I feel called to promote World Peace. She told me that such a feat wouldn’t be possible alone. I explained that World Peace starts with the self achieving inner-peace, and person by person we can each experience inner-peace, and so our world becomes more and more full of Peace, until eventually the whole world has it!
Just as laughter is contagious, I think Peace spreads in a similar way. I’m not exactly sure what a state of inner-peace looks like – sometimes I think it might just be having giggle fits all the time -but there are a few definite steps I believe are part of the journey along the way.
Firstly, freedom is fundamental. This means freedom from everything, also known as non-attachment. This essentially means having no wants, such that you are completely content and even joyous, here and now, no matter what you may or may not have in your life. Because you have no desires, then you are free to do exactly anything. Of course, you will only do that which is good and completely aligns with your conscience, because there’s simply no point in doing something that isn’t good. When you are free from desire, then you never make any of those pesky little rationalizations (or “rational lies”) that lead us to making poor decisions and being less than we are capable.
Timeout – just learned my mom does Tai Chi. Yes!!! This is exciting.
What are some desires that currently hold you back from being completely free? Some of mine include food cravings and a desire to learn new things through non-interactive mediums (like books, audio, internet, etc.). Learning through conversation I think is always a win, but sometimes when our learning becomes entirely introspective and we don’t share it with others, then it can become a greedy behavior.
You might wonder what is wrong with wanting food and wanting to learn. Well, not too much. These things only become a problem when we indulge in them in such a way that they actually detract from our ability to share our time, talents, and treasures with other people. To the extent that we eat food that weakens us or learn information that makes us paranoid or feel that the world is less than beautiful, we are harming ourselves and harming the world. The way I see it, everything we do should fundamentally be to better ourselves and better the world around us. Essentially, every step we take should be moving us towards a realization of our ideal, whatever that may be.
Thankfully, I think all of us have a similar ideal that can be understood as some sort of combination of Peace, Love, Joy, Goodness, Happiness, Fulfillment, Unity, Connection, Beauty, God-Consciousness – the list could go on. The word is not important, so much as we accept that there is an ideal that we are probably not currently living to the fullest because we are not free to pursue what we believe is good. When we free ourselves from whatever desires we have that don’t actually align with our ideal, then we can completely align with our ideal and experience that wonderful sense of inner-peace and complete freedom.
Once you achieve this freedom and unshakeable sense of inner-peace, I’m pretty sure what anyone does with inner-peace is share it with others in the best way that they know. Then again, if others are unreceptive, they remain completely peaceful. Inner-peace is a loving acceptance of the world no matter what the external circumstances may be, and so my guess is that some people who have achieved inner-peace might just become hermits and live by themselves in isolated bliss. Others might choose to share peace with writing, fasting, vows of silence, example, or teaching in some other way. Whatever is there way of inner-peace, they live it. Regardless, people who achieve inner-peace are completely free to do what they believe is right and good, because they simply don’t want anything that the external world can provide. It’s like the beauty of banana peels. It is a passage I’ve shared before but I will share it again.
When you see the world like banana peels that have no real value to you, then you’re free to walk in the world without being moved, without being harmed, and without being bothered in any way by all of the various kinds of things that come and pass away, whether pleasant or unpleasant. This is the path leads to freedom.
Wouldn’t it be awesome to enjoy the world no matter what is present in your external environment? Complete inner-peace – definitely something worth aspiring to. The peace is within!