I had a realisation whilst on the summer family retreat in Plum Village. That I want to be a man of peace. That if there is anything worth dedicating one’s life too, and setting one’s compass by, then that for me, now, is it.
Primarily that means to have peace in myself, and to be sure in the knowledge that when we have peace in ourselves, that energy of peace cannot help but affect the world around us. ‘Peace in oneself, peace in the world’.
In last the few months I had various difficult meetings with a group I’m involved in, where tensions, passions, and emotions, including fear and anger, were running very high. It was very easy to get caught up in these energies and to come away from the meetings feeling quite disturbed.
I decided before the most difficult of these meetings that the best thing I could do was to simply sit and follow my breathing at the bottom of my belly, a technique I learned in Plum Village years ago. When emotions got particularly difficult, or raw, I focused my attention on my legs as well, like strong roots holding me firm to the ground.
The result in me was very striking. I was able to remain calm throughout the meeting, and keep quiet, just to listen while others expressed anger and great difficulties. Whether this calm in me lead to calm in others I can’t say, but I know for sure that if I had gone the other way, and become angry too, and expressed that anger, then clearly that would have increased the overall level of anger and suffering in the room. So based on that, there is a good chance that by focusing on peace, the level of peace in the room was improved somewhat as well.
It’s a small example of something that is very clear to me. We are a bundle of energy, coming into contact with other energies all day long. When I come into contact with angry people, I often find myself erupting into unexplained anger or grumpiness not long afterwards. When I come into contact with peaceful, happy people, that rubs off on me too, and I am more likely to be happy too.
So what wonders we can do by keeping the peace in ourselves, taking that peace out into the world, and bringing that peace to difficult situations when they arise. That’s why I aspire to be a man of peace, a person of peace. The greater the number of peaceful people in the world, the greater the energy of peace that will naturally expand amongst as all.
To be a man or woman of peace it’s clear we have to very carefully look after that peace in ourselves all of the time. In my case, that involves numerous avenues:
– Taking great care of what I let in, i.e. violence or anger in other people, in films, in TV, in literature, conversations, news… it’s all a kind of food, and the more peaceful the things I ingest the better.
– Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid difficult energy in others, or others with difficult energy, in which case, the mantra must be ‘short positive contact’, and breathe!
– Calming my own anger and fears. Which means calming my mind. Smiling lovingly to it when it hooks again and again onto old fears and difficulties, and letting them slip away. And being aware of everything else that takes away my peace, like too much web, hurry, and not enough sleep.
– Knowing what adds to my peace, like mindful walking, doing work I enjoy, and spending time in contact with nature. Nature is peace, and it seems to calm difficult emotions and dissolve difficulties in me in no time. Natural therapy!
– Walking walking walking or biking biking biking! Just getting out and getting into the outside world to explore all the real wonders that exist beyond the screen!
– Taking time just to ‘be’. To sit. To watch. On the sofa, in the park, the doorstep, lying in bed at night in silence…
– Remembering there’s no need to run any more. There’s nothing to strive for, chase after, or to search for. Everything I need to be happy and at peace is already here, right now, in the depth of the present moment. This is the most liberating truth I’ve been lucky enough to find in my entire life. At the bottom of that truth lies true peace.
And if I take care of all these things, it’s easy to be a person of peace. It’s a joy! And I have no doubt at all that it’s an energy worth taking out into the world.