Most people who have loving and good intentions wish for peace. When you see instances of war and fighting, instances of violence—anywhere in the world, whether in a foreign country or closer to home, you may be filled with an urge to do something to heal the conflict, to stop the violence, to bring peace.
You might feel that there’s nothing you can do. But there are powerful acts you can perform that will have an impact, that will heal conflict, stop violence, and bring peace.
To cultivate peace, it is helpful to recognize that all people in the world are connected through the common experiences of earth life—just as people are connected through a work of art.
Consider the connection that occurs when people watch movies; read books; listen to music; or attend concerts. Regardless of who’s created a work of art, the audience is drawn into the experiences imagined by the work’s creator. When people have an emotional or mental response to a work of art, they share that experience with others in the audience. In this regard, movies, books, and music illustrate how humanity shares a set of universal emotions.
War and violence arise when many people share the emotions of fear, revenge, hate and anger. For some people, war and violent acts can add intensity and drama to life. People who doubt that their lives have meaning, may turn to violence as a way to add meaning to their lives.
The earth realm is one in which understanding is acquired through both positive and negative experiences. Everyone, at one time or another, experiences both joy and sadness. Everyone, at times, knows the thrill of excitement, as well as the tedium of boredom. Everyone has had moments of patience as well as moments of impatience. The primary way that we understand physical reality is through experiencing opposites. Just as there are shared emotions that lead individuals to war or violence, there are shared emotions that will lead each of us to peace and kindness.
Kindness is an antidote to violent aggression. Just as hate, anger and fear can lead to brutality; the opposite emotions lead to healing and calm. In the same way that people can unite through fear or anger to create war, so too can people unite in love, forgiveness and gentleness to create peace.
You can help make this happen in the world by learning how to transform anger, fear and aggression in your own life. Every time you are able to replace fear with love, or replace anger with forgiveness, or replace aggression with gentleness, you will be able to produce an impact on the entire human experience. Earth life is a school where lessons are learned and passed like a spark from person to person.
Each time you perform an act of love, or practice forgiveness, or act with kindness, you have modeled that behavior and broadcast it to the rest of the world. Each time you respond to roughness with gentleness, you have taught that ability by example. Whenever you are yielding, you have demonstrated to others how to be giving. Whenever you respond to the unlikeable qualities in others with acceptance, you have shown them how to accept and love themselves. By doing any of these things, you pass your mastery of these powerful acts to the rest of humanity, not only to those who are the direct recipients, but also to everyone who is seeking growth.
In order to bring peace to the world, practice peace in your own life. Peacefulness is something you can master. But like all skills it requires practice. The skills of peace may not come easily in every moment. Peace will come more easily when you desire it intensely. If you make the practice of peacefulness one of the main goals of your life, you will receive wonderful rewards. There are few things in earth life that provide as much joy and happiness as acts of kindness.
You can begin this practice on any ordinary day. Whenever you encounter a situation in which you feel the stirring of anger, or impatience, or aggression, or irritability, you can transform the situation by choosing to respond with patience, with forgiveness, with love, and with kindness. Each time you overcome your own anger or impatience; each time you conquer your own irritability, you accomplish a transformation so powerful that it sends out a wave of peace. That wave causes peace to flow into the world. You become a conduit for peace.
You can begin by changing how you respond to ordinary impersonal irritations. For example, if a driver cuts you off on the road, or if a stranger is rude to you in any way, you can choose to send him or her love, how ever abnormal it might feel to do so.
In these moments, you might say a blessing to yourself, or out loud, such as, “I call upon the Spirit of Peace,” or you can simply say, “Namaste,” which means, I bow to the divine in you.
Whenever you feel irritation or annoyance or anger, you are feeling impersonal energy. It is impersonal because whoever has cut you off, whoever has been rude is immersed in his or her private experience. But most of the time that person’s private experience does not have anything to do with you. It might feel personal, but it is not. Instead it reflects the other person’s emotions and desires. Most of the time, unkind acts originate from people who are seeking love, but don’t know how to obtain it.
You may worry that to yield to rudeness in others only encourages them. You may worry that if you were to bless rude behavior, you would deprive others of the moral consequences of their actions. But the opposite is true. The other person may not seem to notice your kindness, but everyone eventually learns the lesson of kindness. The most likely way for anyone to learn kindness is by experiencing it. In time, the cumulative experience of the kindness of others will awaken kindness in every human.
Photo by Kuzma from iStockPhoto.com 08-30-10 © Kuzma