Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.
– The Dalai Lama
This may be the “prime directive” of effective spiritual practice, social action and peaceful living. Don’t let the behavior of others (who are actually an expression of our greater whole) destroy your inner peace. This is why the Dalai Lama meditates for several hours every day. It is why Mahatma Gandhi prayed and meditated daily.
For those of us who wish to help bring greater peace to the world it’s important to stay balanced, mindful, calm and grounded. Especially in chaotic times like this, especially in the light of the tragic and terrible recent events in Orlando and elsewhere, we need to make our own inner peace a top priority.
Imagine if you saw a group of people drowning in a fast-moving river. If you swim out alone to try to help save them you will drown too. Better to stay on dry land, tie some ropes to trees and then throw them out to help the others. If we did go in, it would be wise to have friends standing on dry land, and to tie a rope around ourselves before entering the dangerous waters.
We are the seeds of the future
Every time we turn on the news we see violence, suffering and injustice happening on our planet. Sometimes we are silent, sometimes we speak out and take action.
But how we act and what we say is always guided by our thoughts and feelings, and that (our own state of mind) is the one area of the world that we each have the most influence over, the most responsibility for. Only by first “being the change” as Gandhi put it- being peaceful, being loving and calm– can we bring greater peace, love and wisdom to the world around us.
The human family is going through some very chaotic times now, but the problems we see around us are not new. For over two thousand years the dominant paradigm of the most powerful civilizations has been one of materialism, conquest, greed, militarism, war, injustice, inequality, violence and dualistic thinking.
That paradigm is collapsing now, mindsets are shifting. We can all be a part of something new that is more in tune with the ways of Nature, more balanced, holistic, compassionate, creative, loving and wise.
We are the seeds of the future, but it’s up to each of us to tend and care for our own inner garden first. Then, when we try to help and guide those around us we will be stronger, calmer, more loving and effective. We will be able to lead others into Peace, rather than getting drawn into their conflict and the endless cycle of action and reaction that only leads to more and more violence.
There is increasing evidence to suggest that being peaceful, for example through yoga, tai chi or focused meditation, can have a direct and measurable impact on the world. (See: What is Subtle Activism?)
Praying, meditation and other peaceful spiritual practices help us wake up to the fact that the unity of the human family with this Creative Universe that has brought us into being is not a metaphor, but the actual underlying reality which conflicts ignore and hatred obscures.
How we respond to terrible incidents, like Orlando, matters. It matters because we have an opportunity to break the cycles of violence, fear and hatred- to help one another to wake up. By keeping our hearts and minds open we model how not to walk blindly down paths that lead towards only more hate and revenge.
Be the Peace you want to see in the world. It starts within the hearts of each of us, and spreads out from there.