|"You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom."|
- Malcolm X
Today is World Peace Day. I celebrate it because finding peace has always been one of my primary goals in life. This includes my quest for a simple life, which has been mostly about creating a peaceful lifestyle devoid of unnecessary stuff and stress. Reducing the physical and mental clutter that is so abundant in the modern world has been an important part of my personal search for peace.
Usually when we think of peace we think mostly of the absence of war. But to be in a state of peace requires the absence of a lot of less obvious things.
Peace also requires the absence of exploitation of people and the environment. It requires the absence of greed, envy, hate, and judgement. And it requires the absence of a garage stuffed to the rafters. These are all things that lead to personal strife and eventually, war. Well, maybe not the messy garage...
Whenever I am looking for help in clearing out my cluttered psychic garage, I inevitably run across the amazing woman known as Peace Pilgrim. Born in Egg Harbour City, NJ, she devoted the last 28 years of her life to a personal pilgrimage for peace.
Peace Pilgrim vowed to "remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walking until given shelter and fasting until given food." Between 1953 and 1981 she walked 40,000 km (25,000 miles) while spreading her simple message and waiting for peace to come to the world.
"This is the way of peace," she told all who would listen, "Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love."
I share some of Peace Pilgrim's thoughts on achieving personal peace because I believe that world peace must start with our inner peace. When we are at peace with ourselves, the world becomes a more peaceful place for everyone. Peace starts at home.
Peace Pilgrim's Steps Toward Inner Peace
Adapted from: http://www.peacepilgrim.org/
1. Assume the right attitude toward life.
Face life squarely and get down below the froth on its surface to discover its verities and realities. Solve the problems that life sets before you, and you will find that solving them contributes to your inner growth.
2. Live good beliefs.
No life can be in harmony unless belief and practice are in harmony.
3. Find your place in Life.
You have a part in the scheme of things. What that part is you can know only from within yourself. You can seek it in receptive silence. You can begin to live in accordance with it by doing all the good things you are motivated toward, and giving these things priority in your life over all the superficial things that customarily occupy human lives.
4. Simplify life to bring inner and outer well-being into harmony.
Unnecessary possessions are unnecessary burdens. Many lives are cluttered not only with unnecessary possessions but also with meaningless activities. Cluttered lives are out-of-harmony lives and require simplification.
5. Purify your body.
Are you free from all bad habits? In your diet do you stress the vital foods - the fruits, whole grains, vegetables and nuts? Do you get to bed early and get enough sleep? Do you get plenty of fresh air, sunshine, exercise, and contact with nature? If you can answer "Yes" to all of these questions, you have gone a long way toward purifying the body.
6. Purify your thoughts.
It is not enough to do right things and say right things. You must also think right things. Positive thoughts can be powerful influences for good. Negative thoughts can make you physically ill. Be sure there is no unpeaceful situation between yourself and any other human being, for only when you have ceased to harbor unkind thoughts can you attain inner harmony.
7. Purify your desires.
Since you are here to get yourself into harmony with the laws that govern human conduct and with your part in the scheme of things, your desires should be focused in this direction.
8. Purify your motives.
Obviously your motive should never be greed or self-seeking, or the wish for self-glorification, you shouldn't even have the selfish motive of attaining inner peace for yourself. To be of service to your fellow humans must be your motive before your life can come into harmony.
9. Relinquish your self-will.
You must subordinate the lower self by refraining from doing the not-good things you are motivated toward, not suppressing them but transforming them so that the higher self can take over your life.
10. Relinquish the feeling of separateness.
All of us, all over the world, are cells in the body of humanity. You are not separate from your fellow humans, and you cannot find harmony for yourself alone. You can only find harmony when you realize the oneness of all and work for the good of all.
11. Relinquish your attachments.
Only when you have relinquished all attachments can you be really free. Material things are here for use, and anything you cannot relinquish when it has outlived its usefulness possesses you. You can only live in harmony with your fellow humans if you have no feeling that you possess them, and therefore do not try to run their lives.
12. Relinquish your negative feelings.
Work on relinquishing negative feelings. If you live in the present moment, which is really the only moment you have to live, you will be less apt to worry. If you realize that those who do mean things are psychologically ill, your feelings of anger will turn to feelings of pity. If you recognize that all of your inner hurts are caused by your own wrong actions or your own wrong reactions or your own wrong inaction, then you will stop hurting yourself.
Living simply can help us achieve personal and global peace. When we have one, we will get the other.
May peace be with you and yours on this day, and always.