“The Spiritual Challenge: Finding the Peace Within”
February 2, 2003 –Recent events surrounding the American State of the State are leaving all of us with heightened anxiety. The Americans who love freedom, also despise both war and the oppression of the Iraqi people. The Iraqi people are probably afraid that the cure for oppression may be worse than oppression itself. The world community waits and tension mounts. The stock market jumps up and down with each announcement, and commentators divide on whether it will be worse due to escalating oil prices, or better after a war.
Children are probably the most affected as they pick up the tension of the adults who surround them. News programs, citing whether the world is ready for all kinds of horror in various forms of terrorism, paint a picture of destruction beyond our ability to contemplate. Decisions of the deepest gravity are upon us as the human race, and the consequences of each direction are painful.
In America we find that many of our systems designed to help all citizens are falling far short. Doctors are controlled by insurance companies. Patients are not even offered beneficial medical treatments when they are without insurance, or that treatment is not included in their particular insurance plan. Investors, believing that the proper financial planning would secure their retirement futures, are shocked to find that what was promised has not materialized and may not do so in time for their life plans.
Over and over we hear stories of those in customer service positions who neither care nor attend to customer concerns. And those workers who have given their loyalty to their employers are finding that it is not reciprocated. It is as if we each live on an island, out of control of our circumstances, and unsure of our destiny.
How can we find inner peace in the midst of fear and turmoil? How can we find inner peace when even schools are no longer places of security and tranquillity? How can we know which of the systems we have been taught to trust can be trusted? How can we believe when we are confronted daily with examples of deceit? How can we work collaboratively in work environments that are designed for competition among employees? And how can we find peace where even the most trusted among us have turned their heads from the sexual abuse of children? It is almost impossible to know whom we can trust. And without trust there is isolation. With isolation there is absence of the human need for caring. And without caring, we wither and die.
We can find peace. But it is not peace at any price. It is not always found in the places we have learned to trust. It is not always found in the presence of the leaders whom we have empowered. It is available, but we may need to find new ways of accessing it. We may need to turn inside, stop, listen, and allow new ways of behaving to lead us to that place of inner peace.
Some say that meditation, done by following prescribed steps, leads them to that place of inner peace. Others tell me that they try to meditate, but cannot stop the inner thoughts of their current daily problems. Still others claim that there is only one way to peace, and it is by following their particular dogma. My experience has been different, and I will share that with you in hope that you might find benefit and relief.
Simply, show up. That’s all. Show up. Stop your activities, find a quiet space no matter how small, and ask that you be able to find that place of peace and quiet within.
My journey has taken me through the dogma of many religions, into the inner spaces of time and place. I have found that what has been most challenging for me is that when I have looked in the traditional places, the focus has been on many things, but seldom on spirituality. I have found that if I simply go and listen to spiritual leaders talk, I have been enriched, but I have not found peace. I have been involved in many religious activities, but they did not bring peace. They were worthy activities, and I encourage everyone to experience them, but alone they did not bring peace.
Peace is an “inside” job. It is found by finding a quiet space and sitting in silence. It is found by trying to stop the endless chatter of the mind, and focusing on nothing. It is found by asking for it with the mind–to God, or Higher Power, or Angels, or Teachers, or Allah, or Jesus, or Buddha, or by whatever name and leader you follow. It is found by believing that you deserve–you deserve to have this time to spend in silence. You work hard, you love, you care for others, you do good deeds, and you deserve inner peace. In fact, you must make time for it. For to deny yourself inner peace is to deny others your peaceful influence.
‘Peace is not the absence of war. Peace is the presence of God.’ Peace is in the trenches, the operating room, the places of burial, the places of birth. Peace is not evidenced by lack of emotion. In fact, emotion may be a product of peaceful actions on behalf of oneself or others.
Do not try to appear peaceful by always speaking quietly or smiling. Peace does not have any one appearance. The one who advocates strongly for others and is seen to be active and strong may be doing so from an inner foundation of peace.
Seek peace first. It is the basis of all that is good. It is the foundation of good decisions and healthy living. It is the generator of love and compassion. It is evidenced by strong and sure action, and it will always result in honesty and devout works. It is that feeling that you are doing the right thing when everyone else has turned away. It is the reason to fight for human rights, and the reason to let go of relationships when it is indicated. It is a sense of sureness when the world is going in an opposite direction. It is courage in the face of fear, especially one’s own fear. It is doing it anyway, even though you’re scared and want to run away. It is seeing the emptiness in the lives of those who are denied basic human rights. Inner peace makes you fight; it makes you quiet. It is evidenced by compassion not only for family and friends, but for all of the human race. It is tenderness to animals and refusal to cheat. It is that inner motivation that causes others to be drawn to you.
Simply, show up. Sit in silence. Ask for peace. Be willing to wait. Show up again, and again. Mentally file all your problems with a promise to yourself to return to them when you are done. Believe you deserve inner peace. And then calmly and patiently wait, knowing it will be so.
‘Peace is not the absence of war. Peace is the presence of God.’ And that peace is what we all desire, knowingly, or unknowingly.
Take this learning as it has been given to you in this International Peace Meditation and share it with others. It is your gift from the Universe. Handle it with care.
Please join us in prayer/meditation during the 24 hours of the first Sunday of every month. Join us alone or with others. Ask your friends, family and place of worship to participate. E-mail this message to all on your e-mailing lists. Together we can find the inner peace that leads to conscious and right actions, for ourselves and for others.
May inner peace be with you now, and always.
Sue Kidd Shipe, President
International Institute For Human Empowerment, Inc.
P. O. Box 3920
Albany, New York 12203 USA