One morning in the fall of 2003, I walked into the kitchen and remarked to my mother, “You know what? I’m not seeking anymore.”
A peace-infused clarity had moved from the background to the foreground of my awareness. Suddenly, feeling peaceful seemed quite normal. Other than my memories of a life lived mostly lost in thought or reacting to things emotionally, it felt as though peace had always been my natural state.
It was as if I had come home to myself.
Only now did I notice how deeply embedded the “seeking” me had been. I had no idea of the extent of my anxiety, and how desperately I had wanted to find peace, until after years of seeking, that morning my distress was finally gone for good.
Where Should You Be Looking For Peace?
Everyone wants to feel peaceful, don’t they? People go out of their way to avoid stressful situations, or to bring about their dreams, in the hope of finding peace.
Would it surprise you if I told you that feeling peaceful has nothing to do with your current personal situation, but everything to do with where your attention is?
You may think you’ve looked everywhere for peace. You may feel quite frustrated, perhaps even exasperated, because you believe you’ve looked everywhere, tried everything, and come up empty. However, the fact you’ve looked in so many places for peace and not found it is actually good news. Even though you believe you’ve looked everywhere, you haven’t noticed that the peace you crave is actually right here already.
In fact, the peace you have been looking for emanates from the space in which you exist. Peace has always been here, and indeed everywhere, without us knowing it. Once you learn how to tune into the peace that’s already here, you’ll have all the peace you could wish for.
If you aren’t at peace with yourself, you certainly haven’t looked right where you are. How do I know this? Because to look here, you have to be here.
What Do I Mean By “Be Here”?
To be here, you have to be in the present moment, giving it your full attention. Sadly, instead of being here, in most cases our minds are elsewhere.
When we aren’t completely here in this moment now, we don’t experience reality as it actually is. Instead, we view it through a heavy filter of beliefs, thoughts, and emotions. If you pay attention to your thoughts, you’ll notice they are constantly evaluating everything, commenting on everything, drawing conclusions about everything.
Feeling At Peace Within Yourself
In his huge hit Imagine, John Lennon sings the words, “Imagine all the people living life in peace.” It’s a wonderful image.
However, the word “peace” poses an interesting challenge. It’s been used in so many different ways that it’s lost much of its meaning. Reduced to platitudes in endless speeches and a symbol on t-shirts and bumper stickers, it’s little more than an idea in people’s heads—an idea that’s different for different people.
A growing number of people are realizing they long for something more than a pseudo peace that’s only surface deep. They want the kind of peace that soothes their nerves, quiets their anxiety, and stills their emotional turmoil. Consequently, many are attracted to the kind of philosophy espoused by influential author and inspirational speaker Dale Carnegie, who stated, “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.”
Carnegie was of course correct. Only we can experience peace—it isn’t something someone else can bequeath to us. Yet even this concept can take us away from real peace if we imagine peace as something we have to “work at.”
Cut off from our true selves, we mistake the reality of peace for some abstract ideal. My sense is that John Lennon and Dale Carnegie ultimately had in mind a deeper truth than how their words are frequently understood. They no doubt caught a glimpse of the peace that’s inherent in being itself.
Liberating Peace from the Prison of the Mind
A common term for the phenomenon Carnegie referred to is “inner peace.” It’s time to liberate peace from the prison of the mind, the abstract realm. The key to this is to realize that the peace we long for is the living, breathing reality of who we truly are. It can never be understood conceptually, since it possesses a depth and permanence far beyond the superficial and temporary calmness that’s typically referred to as peace.
It’s your birthright to experience peace as a constant background to everything that happens in your life and to enter into your own direct experience of being at home with yourself. You will be the evidence that peace is available right now, no matter what may be happening in your external world. The implications of such a discovery literally constitute an evolutionary leap in consciousness.
Personal Peace Is Related To Peace On The Planet
We will never experience planetary peace without going deep into this moment to experience the source of all peace. Most of humanity have been looking for peace in the wrong place for thousands of years.
Throughout history, there has never been a time when humans brought about peace. What was claimed to be peace was just superficial and temporary. A cease-fire between two warring nations is only a declaration of less violence for a limited period—a promise to refrain from behavior the ego finds irresistible. This isn’t peace.
Peace isn’t two leaders shaking hands in front of flashing cameras and to loud applause.
Peace isn’t a ceremony in which documents are signed at a table.
Peace isn’t a panoramic view of a sleepy town below.
Peace isn’t an afternoon in bed reading, a morning in the basement repairing a chair, or an evening watching television.
Peace isn’t someone holding two fingers outwards in a V for victory sign.
This list could become quite long, but none of these are what I mean when I speak of peace.
Peace Is Permanently Present Behind the Scenes
Leisurely behavior or a quiet mood is subject to change at short notice. Neither does it reflect the tension, distraction, and unease that lie below the surface. These are at best temporary states of calm.
While we are busy trying to forge, broker, negotiate, establish, or in some other way create what can’t be created, we miss the peace that’s already here. Peace is permanent and is present behind the scenes in each and every situation, waiting to be recognized and experienced.
Peace should never be confused with symbols, ceremonies, or other activities. All thoughts, intentions, emotions, objects, and events are impermanent. They are constantly shifting and changing, growing or dissolving, whereas peace has always been here and always will be here.
The good news is that once we cease resisting this reality, the personal and planetary peace we have struggled and longed for will appear. This is because the peace we long for to end our personal distress is the same peace nations seek—a peace that’s now fast becoming essential for the survival of our species.
Personal and planetary peace are related because our longing for peace is, at the deepest level, our desire to discover who we truly are. Each step an individual takes toward discovering themselves has them moving closer to peace.
How Exactly Can Personal Peace Lead To World Peace?
The awakening of one person to their true nature acts as a catalyst for others. It’s as if the peace emanating from that one person begins to resonate with and awaken something deep within another. As we wake up out of our false images of ourselves, we act as mirrors for those around us, so that it becomes harder for them to continue playing their roles when they encounter an authentic being. Awareness of our true self then spreads across the planet and is carried on a wave of peace.
In other words, the unseen peace that pervades the universe only becomes what we call “world peace” when the personal experience of peace becomes widely recognized and embodied.
You could say that peace is rather like a single living entity that engulfs and penetrates not only our entire planet, but all the galaxies, indeed the whole universe. It extends from the vastness of space to the infinitely small at the subatomic level. This living entity is the intelligence, the awareness, the essence of who each of us truly is. All we have to do is tune into it.
The search for inner peace has always been a search for who we are in our essential selves, and the quest for world peace has always been a movement toward a global awakening to our collective oneness as an expression of being itself. The destination, so to speak, is the same for the individual and the planet—the recognition that, deeper than all our ideas about ourselves, we are pure awareness, which is a state of vibrant peace.
Does The State of Vibrant Peace Ever Leave You?
Back to the kitchen where we began this journey together. When I told my mother I was no longer seeking, I noticed that her eyes focused elsewhere. Of course, she replied approvingly, “Okay, Chris, that’s good.” Although she was genuinely happy for me, she didn’t really understand what “no longer seeking” meant.
I was more than happy. I was serene, content, and quietly amazed by what had happened.
Since that day, this peace has been with me continuously. It’s accompanied by a sense that when I observe the world, I’m observing something sacred. I can feel that people, places, objects, and indeed the whole of nature are grounded in a deep sacredness.
Even on the most challenging days, I feel the presence of peace somewhere beneath the tumult. I find myself aligned with something that lies beyond my wants, fears, and the stories I tell myself about life. It’s as if someone turned down the volume of what’s happening not only around me, but also in my own head.
Lining Up Your Inner Being's Compass to Peace
Like a compass that always aligns with true north, my inner being is in permanent alignment with a peace that’s both intelligent and vibrant. Even after that morning when I walked into my mother’s kitchen, my experience of peace continued to grow slowly and gently, as it does to this day.
I realize that what’s been happening to me for some time is something that can happen to anyone. This is encouraging, because like so many other people, I always wanted to make the world a better place. Now I know this begins with the discovery of our peaceful self.
Subtitles by InnerSelf.
©2015 by Christopher Papadopoulos. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of Namasté Publishing,
PEACE and Where to Find It
by Christopher Papadopoulos.
About the Author
Christopher Papadopoulos holds bachelor degrees in education and history from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and has served as both a primary and high school teacher. Based on his desire to help create a better world, in 1993 he ran for parliament in the Canadian federal elections. Realizing that a world of peace and harmony begins within the individual, he then embarked on an inner journey toward greater self-awareness. In 2003, he experienced a permanent shift in consciousness from anxious thoughts about himself to the peace we discover when we are in touch with our authentic being. Since that time, Christopher has worked with individuals and groups, guiding others to experience peace through the process of his own self-discovery. Visit his website at http://youarepeace.org/