Circumstantial Peace

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Can you imagine being the leader of your people for 75 years? His Holiness the Dalai Llama recently turned 79, and he was chosen for his role as the spiritual and secular leader of Tibet at the tender age of 4. The perfect personification of deep peace, this giant of a man wears the cloak of his destiny with great poise and gentle power. Now, if this enlightened soul can be calm while monks on yaks, looking for the next incarnation of the Buddha, knock on his door why do I sometimes get flummoxed when I can’t find my car keys?

Perhaps it is because there is a great difference between circumstantial peace and true, or essential, peace. Many people live at the level of circumstantial peace, where an experience of serenity is felt only when we have mastered the circumstances of our lives. If we have merely muddled through them, or perhaps felt defeated by them, then peace is that fickle guest who visits the lucky few that fortune has smiled upon. We spend our lives riding a roller coaster up and down as good days and bad days, lucky breaks and tragic accidents determine our outlook on a joyless ride that we seemingly have no role in operating.

Circumstantial peace is often characterized by the constraint of “freedom from and freedom to.” When America was founded, we were seeking freedom from oppression and freedom to worship. If we want freedom from illness, we want freedom to experience health. Whatever the details, we are, yet again, caught up in the control of conditions and peace is as elusive as ever. Isn’t there another reality beyond merely improving conditions?

True peace flourishes in a different house of awareness and is not defined by circumstance or stories because it doesn’t live there. It resides in the interior landscape of eternal truths. Peace is a spiritual quality whose divine blueprint is ever available on the internal drawing board of all humanity. We yearn for peace, so how would we know it was missing if it didn’t already exist within us?

Right now, while face time encounters of true peace are going viral, it seems that the language to describe them is uncommon. It is still the anomaly, the miracle, and not the collective or dominant conversation. Our media devotes an extraordinary amount of time to the world of violence, and that filters out into our everyday personal dialogue. As we discover the abiding peace that lives in the midst of all things then it becomes our charge to tell a different story and remind people that who they truly are is far greater than anything they may be experiencing in the moment.

So, if monks on yaks knock on your door remember: essential peace asks that we move beyond the human cycle of expectation and disappointment by looking outside of ourselves for our good, and turn within to find and live the greatness that lies inside each of us. We truly are the peace that we want to see in the world.