Peace Is The Way

I am the greatest obstacle to finding peace. I often get in my own way. While I’m off looking for peace out there somewhere, I lose sight of it. The Buddha once said: “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.”  It is only our search for it that prevents us from finding it.

Most of us spend a lifetime trying to find peace. Especially in our Western society, we tend to seek gratification through the acquisition of things — bigger houses, nicer cars, and a larger portfolio, thinking that having those will fulfill us and offer us peace.

Allow me to make a distinction here. Being happy and being at peace are not necessarily interchangeable nor are they mutually exclusive. I’ll give you an example. In the midst of the storm in which I currently find myself, there are many moments of sadness, times of great unhappiness. But for the most part, I find myself consistently at peace. This is often a hard concept for many to comprehend. How can one be at peace yet not be happy? Conversely, there are many who are quite happy but not at all at peace.

The following parable offers a marvelous metaphor that can perhaps explain this better than I. There’s the story of a young boy who would wander off by himself into the forest. One day his father’s curiosity couldn’t be contained and he asked his young son what he does when he walks alone in the forest.

His son replied: “Daddy, I go into the forest to find God.”

The father pondered this for a moment and said: “My son, you don’t have to go into the forest to find God . . . he is the same everywhere.”

“He is the same everywhere,” explained the little boy, “but I’m not.”

The message is this story is that in order to find the peace of God, we must direct our search inwardly. From A Course in Miracles: “peace is an attribute within you; you cannot find it outside of you.” The doorway to peace always opens inward. It is the light that you will discover residing at the core of your being that you will use to illuminate the world outside of you.

Teach Your Children Well

Living in the world of today with all of its uncertainties, it is easy to see why so many people fall into the depths of despair. Contemplate the magnitude of the worst tragedies, both man-made and natural that have been witnessed on earth. During the holocaust, 11,000,000 people perished; an earthquake in Haiti killed over 300,000; from the Indian Ocean tsunami, 212,000 lives were lost. Famine kills thousands of people across our globe every day; a tidal wave in Bangladesh resulted in 2,000,000 lives lost and the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic killed over 50,000,000 people. With today‘s technological advances, we are made aware via global media coverage of each catastrophe, almost instantaneously.

Whether it is the fear of terrorist attacks with weapons of mass destruction, worries about the unsettling power of Mother Nature gone awry as recently demonstrated in the earthquake and resultant tsunami in Japan or simply the fear of the unknown, there is an undeniable deleterious effect on us, and especially on the mental health of our children.

A while back I stopped in a local restaurant for coffee. I smiled as I noticed a father helping his four-year-old son open his “Happy Meal”. I reminisced back to a time years ago when my son, Tyler and I would spend a weekend morning at what we referred to as “men’s club” where Daddy and son would spend quality time together. As I was recalling that marvelous experience, I was suddenly yanked back into a sad reality.

As this father was opening his son’s “Happy Meal”, I realized that the youngster was not paying attention to the meal being placed before him. The big-screen TV in the dining area of the restaurant mesmerized him. CNN was showing the vivid images of bloodied, dead college students being carried from the Virginia Tech classrooms, the tragic aftermath of the bloodbath senselessly inflicted by a crazed young man.

The young boy had a look of horror on his sweet young face. I intently watched his reaction to the video of the mass murderer’s raging diatribe of threats and demented explanations of this horrific crime.

The irony struck me that this was anything but a happy meal! The tragic truth is that in today’s world, very few of us enjoy a happy meal, or a happy day for that matter. As I witnessed that child losing his innocence, it became painfully apparent to me that humankind has also lost much, primarily the loss of balance in our lives.

In today’s world, entire generations of children have grown up in a tragic milieu of hatred and violence. Sadly anger and hostility continue to be cultivated in our children beginning at a very early age. Palestinian children have been taught to hate Israeli children and vice versa. The Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda have murdered one another over their perceived differences. All of these and the many other conflicts in our world continue to feed the self-perpetuating cycle, which has never, nor ever will serve a constructive purpose.

It should come as no surprise that in a recent study co-authored by Dr. Mark Olfson of Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute, it was found that twenty percent of young Americans had been diagnosed with a personality disorder that interfered with their everyday life. These disorders included obsessive-compulsive tendencies and other anti-social behavior that can lead to violence. This is being born out in the now frequent school shooting rampages we are experiencing. Far too many of our youth are abusing alcohol or drugs attempting to escape their reality. I suspect none of this is unique to our American society.

It is the constant barrage, the incessant exposure to the negative energy percolating through our world that is poisoning the innocent and fertile minds of our children, while adversely affecting adults as well. There is no doubt that immeasurable pain and suffering exists in our world. How we deal with that sadness dictates its effect on us and on the entire cosmos as well.

Each time a catastrophic event occurs, humanity is offered an opportunity to begin anew, to change the thought, to teach our children well. We should expose our children not to the beheadings in Iraq, not to the daily bombings and murders occurring across this world, not to the Caylee Anthony murder updates, not to the constant barrage of horrific scenes our children view in the movies or on television. We must provide our children and thus ourselves with a vastly different paradigm, the path of positive thoughts, which will result in the manifestation of that which we all seek . . . peace.

Our legacy to the next generation, whether it is here in America or in the Middle East, can be to offer a life much different from the one we have all helped to create.

Food for thought: The gift to our children can be the taste of a truly positive life experience. Perhaps it could begin with a “Happy Meal”.