Tuesday, October 06, 2009

oh heck, let's change the world in our spare time.

If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work. --Thich Nhat Hanh

This quote by the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, really touched me. I found myself coming back to it over and again this week.

It all started last Saturday when I drove by a group of peace activists standing in the rain outside the farmer's market in Greenfield, Massachusetts. They held signs and just stood quietly, a silent witness to their longing for peace. Many of them were my age -- they'd "been there, done that" before during the Vietnam war - and here they/we are again.

One of the signs said "Make Peace".

The war has been troubling me again. War troubles me. The feeling of helplessness I have in the face of it troubles me. So I vote in a particular way, and send money to causes that believe as I do, nd write letters to decision-makers. And I pray. But I am nagged by the feeling that it isn't enough. How do *I* "make peace"?

And then along comes Thich Naht Hanh and he tells me to find my peace, my personal peace -- and that finding it will be an important part of peace work. I think he is right. Unless my heart and soul are at peace, I cannot think or see clearly. I can be of less meaningful help.

Then I thought of a hymn I recall singing:

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me

Imagine if we all did that -- all found the place and circumstance that gave us the most personal peace, and we created that place for ourselves as often as possible.

If we focus on it in meditation, we can even have it when we are not there. If, for example, you are at your most peaceful when at the ocean, meditating about the ocean, and remembering the peace you felt, can bring that peace back to you. You can find the rhythm and let it flow through you again.

Or maybe, that peace can come by us making room for it to arrive more often. If you are most at peace while writing -- why not write more?

Being at peace with ourselves quiets the clatter that keeps us from being in the world in a peaceful way. It helps us know what to do next, and gives rise to acts of kindness.

Being at peace, real peace, shuts out those feelings that get us and the world in trouble.

Maybe it is a memory of a beloved relative, or the call of meaningful work, or the sea, or writing or painting, or watching your children sleep, or playing with your dog or any number of things that brings you real peace. Get quiet enough to think about that -- where or under what circumstances are you most at peace? Try imagining how you might bring more of that into your life this week. It will energize you, fulfill you, and will improve the world, one person at a time.

It will "Make Peace".

(taken from a column I wrote this week for blogher.com)


Blogger Evelyn said...

Thank you for these simple (but why are they so hard to remember??) tips for bringing more peace into my life. I've been having a string of those awful days when I find myself forgetting to breathe. I enjoyed the BlogHer video, too! :)

11:58 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Site Feed