There are three levels at which conflicts take place.
The first is between two countries.
The second is between two people.
The third is the conflict that rages within an individual.
The conflict within an individual will lead to conflict
between people, and conflict between people will lead to
conflict between nations.
The wars we see in the world and the disagreements we have with those around us all start within human beings. The external wars can be temporarily ceased, but unless the conflict taking place within individuals is resolved, sooner or later it will re-ignite the external conflicts.
The first step is for individuals to nurture and practice peace within their own hearts. When enough individuals can do this, then the external wars can come to an end.
Finding peace is not about climbing high mountains and becoming someone who feels and expresses no emotions. It is simply a question of looking within oneself. Real peace that you can experience does not exist somewhere else.
It is inside you.
Have you made peace with yourself?
The tortoises’ picnic
One day a family of tortoises went for a picnic. They prepared the food and drinks and a blanket to sit on, and packed it all into their picnic box. They set off and walked along, searching for an ideal spot to have their picnic.
Being tortoises they walked slowly and so it took them a while to find the perfect spot.
Once they had their spot, they went about setting up the picnic, laying down their blanket, unpacking the sandwiches and the drinks.
‘Oh no, I forgot the bottle opener,’ said the mother tortoise.
‘Go back and get it for me, will you, dear?’ she said to her eldest boy.
‘Ummm, I’m not going back to get it!’ the boy cried.
‘Why not?’ she said.
‘If I go, he will eat my sandwich,’ he said, pointing at his younger brother.
‘I promise he won’t eat your sandwich,’ said the mother in a reassuring tone.
This discussion went on for some time, until eventually the eldest son agreed to go back to get the bottle opener. Then he set off for home.
One week passed and the younger brother tortoise started to get hungry.
‘Do you think my brother will really come back? I am hungry and I would like to eat that sandwich,’ he said, pointing at his brother’s sandwich.
‘Let’s wait a little more,’ said the mother.
Two days later the younger brother was famished, and he asked again, ‘I am starving. Can I eat that sandwich now?’
‘Well, your brother has been gone for a long time. Go ahead and eat it son,’ said the father.
So the younger brother picked up the sandwich and just as he was about to take a bite, the elder brother popped out from behind a tree, where he had been hiding the whole time.
‘I knew it! I knew you were going to eat my sandwich!’
This is the state of the world today. Between people, be- tween nations there is so much distrust, so much removing of each other’s dignity. Rather than get on with what needs to be done, people are watching each other out of distrust.
Rather than joining forces to tackle the real issues humanity is facing, we are busy pointing fingers at each other.
The reasons and systems of human beings have become more important than the humanity itself.
I have spent my life pointing to the peace inside us, the peace we need to feel, because that is the one missing element.
We are good at everything else. We have sent a rocket to the moon, we have made tiny mobile phones, we have removed money and can buy things with little plastic cards. So much progress in technology, but the peace inside us and human dignity are not progressing. We all need to develop our own inner understanding and then to do whatever we can to in- crease the conscious awareness of humanity, so we can come together and tackle the issues that face us.
As a small baby, when you had a need you cried out, when you were content you smiled.
Your fundamentals have not changed since then.
Start to become aware of the need you have to be fulfilled. When you can acknowledge that need, you have taken the first step towards making it a reality in your life.
You invest a lot of energy in being comfortable. So you can feel comfortable at night you buy a nice bed. When you buy shoes you try them on and take a little walk around the shop to make sure they fit properly. This is an effort we all make in order to keep our bodies comfortable.
Do we also invest in being comfortable within ourselves?
Or do we just get used to feeling empty inside? To feeling confusion? To feeling anger?
Do we get used to coping rather than flourishing?
That would be like trying on shoes that have a big nail sticking up through the sole and saying, ‘Ah, these shoes will do fine.’ When we touch something hot, our body is hardwired to pull our hand away. It is a protective instinct we all have.
Do we not also have an instinct that pushes us to feel comfortable within?
If it comes naturally to you to want to feel good inside,
then you should make it happen.
Within us is a garden. A garden that is not affected by the confusion in the outside world. A garden that no one can come and disturb.
In the world around us there is love and hate, there is suspense and mystery. The daily drama is unfolding.
However, there is a place inside you where you can be as you are. No pretenses, no lies. A place where you can be completely at ease.
Such a garden exists inside everyone.
Put aside the titles and the roles you play every day. In that inner garden you can be with you, just you.
Even if your freedom were taken away and something terrible were to happen to you, nothing can take away that most precious thing that you carry within you.
It is your choice whether you make an effort to get to know that which is within you.
Maybe in your life you will come to a point where you think, ‘That’s it, it’s over for me.’
In that moment remember that the most important thing is still inside you and always will be. What you carry within is truly yours.