I choose peace. A strange way to start my letter to you but, and I’ll say it again, I choose peace.
Let me explain.
What I am choosing is not a quiet afternoon curled up in a corner away from the world with a good book (although that is always a very appealing choice). No. What I am talking about is a life choice, a path to be followed, a life style to be embraced and given over to. It’s a big decision and not an easy one to fulfil, but one that is worthy of all the effort that it will involve. For, by choosing peace I choose to turn away from a lifestyle that I have long lived and it will be a denial of my ego, that is, the ideas and opinions I have of myself especially those that promote my own importance and abilities.
PEACE. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, no trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.Anon
My ego is constantly at play in the world comparing, contrasting, and trying to position me at the centre of all things it considers important and of worth (and some of the things it considers ‘of worth’ are questionable). It reminds me of just how very important I am and, as such, how I deserve to be treated and what my rights are. It also instructs on how and why I should achieve, the style I should embrace to enable it to strut it’s stuff and the people who I should be seen with. And all of this…well it’s become so tedious, so tiring.
So now I choose peace. I make a deliberate choice because none of what I’ve just written about brought peace, not any peace. Believe me, I’ve done it for too long, and despite the promise that each offers, the outcome is always the same, a feeling of emptiness and a need to pursue the next goal, the next thing (and I have had some great things!).
Do you remember the very first letter? Well there was a quote I used from a U2 song. Bono lamenting over all his achievements and singing, “…I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”.
Tell me, have you met people who tell you that their lives will be alright when they achieve something or possess something? You know the ‘it’ll all be good when I have this…when I am in a relationship with him or her…when I achieve my goal’. The thing is, it never, never is and if the immediate life satisfying thing is achieved it isn’t long before it is replaced by another necessity on the path to fulfilment. We’ve all been there and that includes you.
I heard a tale about a farmer who lived in apple country. His orchards produced a good, well rounded apple. Then he noticed his neighbour’s orchard produced apples that were larger so he began to plan to improve his stock. As he did so he had reason to visit a farm further up the valley and discovered the apples were sweeter there. A new goal and desire overtook him. But before long he found a farm with redder apples. The moral is, the grass is always greener somewhere else. Except it isn’t because the owner of the grass is looking at your’s and seeing the qualities his lacks. There is never peace.
So, tell me, if you were given a choice today, the choice of being able to have all you desire in this life, all possessions, relationships, positions or you could just choose to live the rest of your life in peace, complete soul pervasive peace, which would you choose? All the cars, houses, the big bank account, head turning partners, recognition, success in all your ventures or….peace?
I choose peace.
But what have I actually chosen?
I am not choosing, principally, the way I relate to others and the world at large. Rather I am choosing an internal state of being where all is in harmony. Desires are held in check, not by an act of will, but as a consequence of the deep and satisfying life lived in harmony. In harmony with what? In harmony with the Universe, with God, with that which holds the cosmos in every moment. Peace in a sure knowledge that this world, this existence, this moment is a small reflection of all that is. That knowledge gives a sense of perspective.
You know the book, A Course In Miracles? Well there’s a line in there that states:
If you knew Who walks beside you on the way that you have chosen, fear would be impossible.T-18.III.3
But we fear and in doing so lose our peace so there’s an exercise here, an exercise in relationship and a most exciting one at that. I’m looking at a relationship that changes everything. The ultimate game changer. I was raised believing this relationship existed in the adherence to rules and service. Religion. Many still commit to this but it isn’t about this. When I know someone, truly know someone, know what rocks their boat, I don’t need rules or guidelines because something else takes over. I know what delights them and what brings pain into their life. In the Bible there’s a verse that says something about marriage, that two people “cleave” together and the “two become one”. A deep deep knowing and sharing of each other’s being. Relationship. And I’m talking about a relationship that goes deeper still. Relationship with the ultimate entity from whom I can hide nothing and yet whom is totally at ease with me. Peace is found in the knowing of this relationship. Knowing “who walks beside you”.
I have been reading the Bhagavad Gita and in this text we encounter Arjuna the prince beloved of Krishna. Briefly, Arjuna is going out to battle and sees the massive forces arrayed against him and his army. He appeals to Krishna for help from the heavenly army and Krishna gives him a choice. He can have the armies or he can have Krishna as his charioteer. There follows a dialogue where Arjuna has the nature of the divine revealed to him. In conclusion Arjuna goes to battle assured of his victory knowing “Who walks beside” him.
I choose peace.
I choose something that runs counter to the world, counter to what I have been use to. It’s not about ‘getting’ which for years was my default mode. Rather its about giving and giving up. Relinquishing the ambitions filled with desire for recognition and possessions. But its also about being able to give up my fears and the unrest that has pervaded my life as I continually sought that something that would finally satisfy.
Your inner peace is the greatest and most valuable treasure that you can discover.Akin Olokun
Does that mean I am resigning to being poor. No, as I’ve said before, it’s an abundant Universe, but if my lot was to live a meagre life would I even be aware should I be possessed of this peace I have spoken of? Will I ever own that…whatever? Maybe, maybe not, but if I do then it will no longer have the position in my life it would have previously fulfilled. Will I ever have a relationship with that person, that special person. Well, will they be able to live within your peace or will they hijack it as they crave attention? If that person passes you by but you are left in the companionship of peace, that wouldn’t be so bad, would it?
So, there you are. What do you choose? I understand it can be a hard choice to make because we have all been conditioned for years and even when recognising the continued failure to find fulfilment there’s still a small voice that edges us on to have that next thing, that next experience that will surely be the answer. It is a hard choice for some. But as it is written:
“What does a man gain if he has the whole world and loses his soul”Mark 8:36
It may be a hard choice now but at the end it will have been as if there was no choice, the path was so obvious.
Yours, making hard choices,