Peace of Mind
All it takes is one thing – one unexpected event or one crushing disappointment – to turn our entire world upside down. It could be the sudden death of someone we love, a serious illness, a financial disaster, a dishonest spouse or a child in trouble – it could be anything. It only takes one shocking episode for the human mind to go into a tailspin. The endless thoughts and horrific possibilities that are generated by the mind can turn a perfectly sane and happy person into a crumpled heap of misery.
But, as Sant Mat teaches us, life happens and all this is nothing new. The mystics have always told us that this is the nature of human existence. The law of karma operates in such a way that it is simply not possible for anyone to be happy and trouble-free all the time. Even if we have all the material comforts in the world and our bank accounts are full, it does not necessarily mean we will be happy and untroubled.
A young man once drew up a list of all the things he considered good in his life: he was in perfect health, he was good looking, he was extremely talented and he graduated from a top university. His family came from a position of wealth and power and he was well known throughout his country. He proudly showed this list to a wise man. When the old man read the list, he said to the young man, “This is an excellent list. But my good friend, you have forgotten the most important item of all and without this, all these things on your list will become a heavy burden on you.” And when the young man asked what was missing from his list, the wise man replied using three simple words: “peace of mind”.
As disciples on the spiritual path, each of us knows only too well what our peace of mind means to us. Without some level of peace within us, it is impossible to meditate. And yet this is the irony of our situation. Sant Mat teaches us that meditation is the means to obtain peace, but we are like sick people who know we are ill but will not accept the medicine that is prescribed to make us well.
The mystics explain that it is easy for the mind to be at peace when everything is going well. An Olympic swimmer can conquer the length and depth of any swimming pool, but the real test is to see how he copes when he has to face the unpredictable currents of the ocean. Similarly, only when we come face to face with the shocking events of life – when waves of fear and panic engulf us, do we realize how sick we really are. Only then do we understand what the Masters mean when they say that even two and a half hours of meditation a day is not enough.
Everyone in the world has emotional conflicts, insecurities and problems. No matter how happy we all look to each other on the outside, everyone has some stress, some worry and some anxiety. To be able to face all these on a daily basis without breaking down or losing our balance, we need strength and courage. We need that inner calm and spiritual stability to help us accept our fate; to help us understand that our karmas are of our own doing and we have to face them.
But this state of mind is not easily attainable. The saints explain to us that this level of peace can only be obtained by going within. Every person has to find his own peace from within – that potent and powerful kind of peace that allows him or her to be unaffected by outer circumstances. We all want this kind of peace – it is more precious than all the wealth and success in the world – because when we have this peace, no matter how shocking, how disturbing, how unexpected our karmas might be, we will remain cool, calm and collected.
The Masters have said that there is always a way out of every problem; there is always a way to accept and understand any situation no matter how bad it might seem. But we can only find that way if we are level-headed and composed. Then, instead of indulging our emotional reactions, we can think clearly, accept that we have to deal with the situation and find the solution.
All we have to do is look at our own Master and see what we can one day become. No matter how much responsibility is thrust upon his shoulders, he is the perfect picture of calm composure. He deals with every challenging situation, every setback that comes his way with a quiet dignity that is clearly a reflection of his inner condition.
Saints not only teach us by their words but they are also shining examples of how to live happy, carefree lives, which we may easily forget amidst all the hustle and bustle. Their wisdom is profound yet simple:
We can have peace within ourselves only when we are in tune with the Lord, when we are nearer to our destination, when we are nearer to him.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I