Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Being happy also means being peaceful, but quite often people don't really want to direct their attention to that. There is the connotation of "not interesting" about it, or "not enough happening." Obviously there would be no proliferations (papañca) or excitement. Peace is thought of as an absolute in this world, from a political, social and personal angle.
Yet peace is very hard to find anywhere. One of the reasons must be, not only that it's difficult to attain, but also that very few people work for such an achievement. It seems as if it were a negation of life, of one's own supremacy. Only those who practice a spiritual discipline would care to direct their minds towards peace.
A natural tendency is to cultivate one's own superiority which also often falls into the other extreme, one's own inferiority. When one has one's own superiority in mind, it's impossible to find peace. The only thing that one can find is a power game, "Anything you can do, I can do better." Or, at times, when it's quite obvious that this isn't so then "anything you can do I can't do as well." There are moments of truth in everyone's life, when one sees quite clearly that one can't do everything as well as the next person, whether it's sweeping a path or writing a book.
This kind of stance, which is very common, is the opposite of peacefulness. A display of either one's own abilities or the lack of them, will produce restlessness rather than peace. There's always the reaching out, the craving for a result in the form of other people's admittance of one's own superiority or their denial of it. When they deny it, there is warfare. When they admit it, there is victory.
Victory over other people has as its underlying cause a battle. In war there is never a winner, there are only losers. No matter who signs the peace-treaty first, both sides lose. The same applies to this kind of attitude. There are only losers, even though one may have a momentary victory, having been accepted as the one who knows better, or is stronger or cleverer. Battle and peace do not go well together.
One wonders in the end, does anybody really want peace? Nobody seems to have it. Is anybody really trying to get it? One does get in life what one strongly determines. It is important to inquire into our innermost heart whether peace is really what we want. The inquiry into one's heart is a difficult thing to do. Most people have a steel door of thick dimensions which is covering the opening of their heart. They can't get in to find out what's going on inside. But everyone needs to try to get in as far as possible and check one's priorities.
In moments of turmoil, when one is either not getting the supremacy one wants or one feels really inferior, then all one desires is peace. Let it all subside again and neither the superiority nor the inferiority is very distinct, then what happens? Is it really peace one wants? Or does one want to be somebody special, somebody important or lovable?
- Ayya Khema
Sister Khema was born in Germany, educated in Scotland and China, and later became a United States citizen. She now lives at Wat Buddha Dhamma Forest Monastery near Sydney Australia, which was established in 1978 on land purchased and donated by her. In 1979 she ordained as a Nun in Sri Lanka, and in 1982 she established the International Buddhist Women's Centre near Colombo. She spends most of her time teaching meditation course in different parts of the world. Rains Retreat is spent in Sri Lanka.
Picture by: I love the light @ Flickr