When asked how we should conduct ourselves in our interactions with others throughout the day, Baba Ji once replied that each situation is different and has to be addressed separately, but that the important thing is that we maintain “peace of mind” in our interactions with people. How do we accomplish this?
Thomas Merton, a twentieth-century monk and poet, gives this advice in Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander: “If you are yourself at peace, then there is at least some peace in the world. Then share your peace with everyone, and everyone will be at peace.”
Maharaj Charan Singh further addresses this point:
Everybody wants happiness. There is hardly anybody who does not want peace. But the question is whether the place where we are trying to search for peace is the place where peace can be found. If we want peace politically, economically, socially, we will never achieve it. History does not encourage us. We will always be at war with each other…. If we are to find peace, we have to seek peace within our body. Unless you seek peace within yourself, you will never find peace outside. The nearer we humans are towards the Lord, the closer we all will be to each other.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I
All spiritual teachers bring us the same message: Peace is found within. Lord Krishna is quoted in Buddhism: Path to Nirvana as saying:
He who abandons all desires, who acts
without cherishing any worldly things,
Who is free from I-ness and mine-ness,
he indeed attains peace.
A primary opponent in our search for peace is the restless mind. The mind is that part of us that constantly seeks more interactions with the world. It confuses us and identifies itself as separate from the Lord. The mind is only doing its job.
Our Master tells us that, for reasons beyond our current understanding, the Lord created this creation and sent “drops” of his essence – his energy, the Shabd – as souls into this creation, clothed in minds and bodies. Our minds and bodies make us appear to be individuals and separate from each other and the Lord. Our minds keep busy in this creation by desiring, acting and creating karmas.
All of our desires, possessions, attachments and actions keep us from finding the peace that we seek. Maharaj Charan Singh explains:
What is peace? When we have no desires. When we have no anxiety. As long as your mind is creating desires and you are trying to satisfy those desires and you are not able to satisfy those desires, you can never be at peace. Only when you become desireless can you be at peace. And you can become desireless only if you get something better than the sensual pleasures, because the mind is always wanting something…. As long as the tendency of the mind is downward from here toward the senses, howsoever much we may indulge in those senses, we will never be at peace. But when we are able to withdraw ourselves from the senses to the eye centre and become one with that audible life stream or that Shabd, with that divine light within, then automatically your mind will be at peace.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I
So only by attaching our attention to the Shabd within can we find peace. In order to do this we have to stop letting our mind and our desires lead us into a series of actions that continue to ensnare us in the tangle of this creation. But how do we go about living our lives and performing our duties in this world as the Masters encourage us to do? In Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. I, Maharaj Sawan Singh discusses how we can accomplish this crucial step on the road to peace:
All religions have laid great emphasis on desireless actions. The Bhagavad Gita, or the Song of the Lord, is replete with teachings of desirelessness or desireless action. It says: “In this world one should take refuge in God after renouncing all desires and all actions arising therefrom.” … So long as a man has not achieved such a state of desirelessness, he should act and leave the results of all his actions in the hands of his Almighty Father. In that way he will not be subject to the consequences of his actions. In addition to this, he should engage himself in spiritual practice according to the instructions of a perfect Master, because when he has made some progress on the spiritual path, his karmas will begin to disappear.
The way to peace is described in a well-known prayer attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.
This beautiful prayer emphasizes that we have to give up putting ourselves at the centre of everything. In fact, on this path, when we focus on the Master and follow his instructions as prescribed at the time of initiation, we become detached from this world, and ultimately we achieve the goal of “dying” to the self and merging our soul back into the Lord. It is in this way that, the Masters tell us, we will find lasting peace.
Rumi in a poem about a reed flute, reminds us that it is the soul’s separation from the Lord that prevents us from finding the peace that the soul needs:
Listen to the story told by the reed,
of being separated.
“Since I was cut from the reedbed,
I have made this crying sound.
Anyone apart from someone he loves
understands what I say
Anyone pulled from a source
longs to go back.”
The Essential Rumi, as rendered by Coleman Barks
Rumi’s reed flute is filled only with the longing to return to its source. The saints tell us that the way to peace is within; it is by leaving our ego behind and cultivating the “emptiness within” that we leave space for the longing to return to the Lord.
When we follow the teachings of the Masters, when we cultivate that emptiness and desirelessness through the practice of meditation, then we will find peace. There is no other way. The peace that we find with the Lord will then shine through us, and we will automatically share that peace with others in the interactions of our daily life.
Peace of mind? The purpose of meditation is nothing but to obtain that peace of mind. Actually, all this tension and depression that we feel is due to the scattering of our mind…. The more we concentrate at the eye centre and the more our attention is upward, the more peaceful we become, and only then we enjoy that bliss and happiness within.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Die to Live