Devi wrote her last blog on the subject of calmness, saying, “When you feel a recurring karmic situation moving towards you, make the necessary mental or behavioral adjustments while you are still free to do so. The more you can self-adjust early in the process, the less power karma will have over you.” This is the proper way to fight our karmic battles. But there are times when the wiser decision is to sign a peace treaty, and withdraw from all activity.
At first glance, peace and calmness—two of the eight qualities of God—might seem similar, but they are actually quite different. Swami Kriyananda states it this way: “Peace is the soothing cessation of all agitation of feeling, whereas Calmness is dynamic, and is the silent, essential core of creativity, of impersonal love, and of divine wisdom.”
Each of these “attitudinal tools” is needed at different times, just as a carpenter’s tool belt needs both a hammer and a saw. Calmness is good during activity, but peace, like sleep at night, won’t come until we relax.
There is a wonderful true story that illustrates the peace that comes at the cessation of conflict. It is December 1914, five months into the First World War, and more than a million young men have died. The two sides have burrowed into opposing trenches, with a deadly no-man’s land in between. On Christmas Eve, the English hear hundreds of German voices singing “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht.” The English respond by singing “The First Noel,” and “Silent Night.” Enthusiastically, joyfully, each side applauds the efforts of the other. Late into the night they trade carols, finally singing in unison. Then, opposing soldiers from each side come out of their trenches to exchange gifts, preciously hoarded food items, and photos of loved ones. They even worship together and say last rites for the dead of both sides. Alas, the next morning, obeying their leaders, they resume the bloody battle.
For a few short hours the unifying Christ consciousness had worked the miracle of peace. We, too, would do well to learn the art of declaring peace when we find our minds filled with projects and worries, strife and negativity. Does all that mental activity really bring us happiness?
How can we achieve inner peace? It is easiest to find in the stillness of deep meditation. If you calmly observe your thoughts and emotions, they will begin to diminish like mist under the morning sun. When you observe some whirlpool of thought or feeling, simply let it fade away. Those of you who practice the Hong-Sau technique of watching the breath will already have developed these skills.
As you continue to withdraw, you will see into more and more subtle areas of your mind. Let it all go! In inner stillness you understand that while your ego wants to stay restless, your soul wants to rest in the peace of God. Gradually, peace becomes supremely attractive, and you will no longer want to return to the “no-man’s land” of worldly pulls.
Our inner attitudes will magnetize outer changes also. If you have an aura of peace, the whole world will become peaceful in your presence. The former “enemies” that disturbed you will no longer feel the need to defend themselves. Then friendships will return, mutual laughter will replace old hurts, and the gentle beauty of peace will spread like wildflowers in spring.
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