Given the extraordinary amount of pain suffered in many parts of the world today — not the least of which being the very real fear of nuclear annihilation — I’ve chosen a message of PEACE from Conscience: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide.
Essay 61. PEACE
When the forces of nature unite in profound harmony,
heavenly PEACE fills the earth.
Lives blossom. Prosperity increases.
Easy communication makes it possible
for people to understand one another.
This leads to cooperative efforts that will be fruitful.
Tranquility follows fulfillment of life goals.
— Patricia West, The Common Sense Book of Change
Conflict is woven into the fundamental fabric of nature. The sea and land meet in violent conflict and make waves together. The plow turns the meadow and wheat springs forth. . . Conflict is evidence that human beings are engaged in something interesting. . . [It] plays a key role in the growth of character and the development of stable relationships. Conflict makes us into who we really are. — Brian Muldoon, The Heart of Conflict
The principle of economy in movement arises from a state of internal harmony. A mind that is at peace is not easily swayed or disturbed. This principle also plays a vital role in daily life, whether in business or in combat. If one over-reacts and responds with excessive or unnecessary action, one is at a disadvantage.-– Mantak Chia & Juan Li, The Inner Structure of Tai Chi
Webster’s defines peace as freedom from war or a stopping of war. It can refer to a treaty or agreement to end war or the threat of war. It’s defined as freedom from public disturbance or disorder, public security, law and order. It refers to freedom from disagreement or quarrels.
Peace also means harmony or concord. It’s used to describe an undisturbed state of mind, absence of mental conflict, serenity, or tranquility. To keep one’s peace means to be silent, keep quiet.
The timid are satisfied with peace defined by predictable routine, without conflict or challenge. The aggressive prefer peace defined as defeat of enemies or absolute control over subordinates. The peace of the grave is cessation of life. I Ching philosophy guides careful thinkers away from these extremes.
In I Ching context, peace is an inward state of calm that manifests as outward poise. Where timid and aggressive definitions both depend on external circumstances, the experience of tranquility depends only on oneself. External conditions will always be in flux. Therefore, looking for peace in the world is an exercise in futility. Internal states, however, are subject to self-governance.
In Asian traditions, peace is akin to the yogic concept of contentment — an attitude of grateful acceptance of all seasons and quiet openness to the rhythms of life. In biblical context, the lyrical stanzas of Ecclesiastes capture the wisdom of natural law:
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which has been planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal.
The sage takes responsibility for attaining inner peace as the first step towards world peace. Inner quiet begets the attitude of confidence, which in turn generates acts of compassion, courage and generosity. World organizations which would impose military peace upon warring nations comprised of individuals each at war internally have no hope of success.
Conflict, like peace, starts from the inside and projects outwards. Therefore, no matter what military force is applied, so long as people are educated into internal conflict, external wars will continue to break out.
St. Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians takes on significant new meaning in the light of I Ching wisdom. Peace seekers would do well to consider it carefully:
2.14. For he is our peace, who hath made both one
and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
2.15. Having abolished in his flesh the enmity,
even the law of commandments contained in ordinances;
for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace.
Meditative practices which intentionally focus on the corpus callosum as the middle wall which separates and/or unifies right and left brain (yin/yang, male/female) functions give practical means for implementing biblical insight.
Conflict and war are opposites of peace. Only the context of motive, purpose and intent determines whether they are necessary and to long-term benefit, or unwarranted and uselessly destructive. Shunning either out of fear invites danger.
Enforced silence is a perversion of peace. A totalitarian state can outlaw free expression. It may compel rigid conformance and suppress dissent. However, it cannot contain the vitality of the creative life force, which always prevails.
Patricia West, The Common Sense Book of Change. (+A Positive Action Press: WI, 2000.) No. 11.
Brian Muldoon, The Heart of Conflict. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons: New York, 1996.) p. 9.
Mantak Chia & Juan Li, The Inner Structure of Tai Chi. (Healing Tao Books: Huntington,
NY, 1996.) p. 35.