If you asked anyone what they wanted from life a very large percentage would say peace and happiness both words being inter changeable. Even those who do not spend too much of their time pondering about life, their purpose on earth or other philosophical questions would easily affirm that peace is indeed a noble goal to strive for. There is even a Nobel prize for peace and laudable worthies have received it over the years including the Dalai Lama in 1989.
When ordinary folks like you and I seek peace, we often sit and read a book, listen to music, go out to the park or play a game. Unwind as it were. Undoubtedly, this brings a certain calmness and you, your body and mind relax. People even speak of zen running or zen exercise. These are all extremely good ways to shift your focus and attention from everyday bothers – making ends meet, how your friend behaved, school, your boss or what ever else it is that is bothering you at a given point in time and often there is more than one. However, it is important to appreciate that we refer to this as unwinding, relaxing or shifting focus. By definition this is temporary and it is understood that once this act is over, we will go back to whatever it was that was bothering us. We had just taken some time off from the drudgery.
Peace on the other hand has to be permanent, isn’t it? Otherwise what is the point. Surely, having moments of peace, more likely moments of being distracted or forgetting cannot be peace. It is perhaps when you can appreciate this, that you realize what you are seeking are not moments, but a state of mind. The ability to be at peace continuously and yet deal with life and everything it throws at you. This is the duality of peace that masters talk about. This is the kind of peace that cannot be bought by buying two tickets to the latest movie on show at your neighborhood theatre or even watching a beautiful sunset. Instead we are looking for a peace that is anchored in living not escaping. A peace that exists while being fully present. I think it is apt to use a famous couplet normally used to describe one of the most beautiful places on earth, Kashmir.
Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast,
Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast.
If there is a paradise on earth,
It is this, it is this, it is this
The same could be said about true peace of mind.