The obstacle and the solution are buried in the statement. I want peace. What is there in that statement? I, want and peace. If we remove “I” and “want,” what is left? Peace. We do not have to look for peace or create peace. All we have to do is remove “I” and remove “want” and peace will be there. It is “I” and “want” which prevents us from reveling in our own peaceful natures.
“I” is one of the greatest obstacles to peace. I – is our ego, our sense of doership and pride. We have everything these days. We have tea sets, TV sets, sofa sets, video sets, but we, ourselves, are up-set. Everything is set and we are up-set. Why? Because of this “I” that tries to keep us in the center of everything.
The answer is surrender. Realize everything is due only to God. As long as He wants us to succeed, we will succeed. We are merely clay in the hands of the Divine Sculptor.
When we surrender our lives to Him, then our little individual I becomes merged in the big, universal, divine I.
The tension, stress and separateness melt instantaneously and we become bathed in the great ocean of peace.
Ideally we should remove this “I,” yet this is very difficult. Living in the world today, it is nearly impossible to completely remove the sense of “I.”
So the next best option is to take this “I” and transform it into something conducive to peace. When “I” stands vertically it is an obstacle, a barrier. But if we take this “I” and turn it horizontal, then it becomes a bridge – between our families, our communities and our nations.
What does it mean to bend the “I?” It means to become humble. It means to sacrifice.
“Want” symbolizes our needs, desires and insatiable appetite. Modern culture claims that the deepest joy and peace can be found in owning the right car, living in the right home in the right area of town, or by vacationing in the right resort.
The insidiousness of this indoctrination is that not only is it false, but it is also contradictory. Not only won’t possessions provide peace and joy, but the constant struggle for more and more actually leads us further and further down the road to anxiety, restlessness and frustration.
It is not that possessions themselves breed unhappiness or unrest. There is nothing inherently wrong with being wealthy or owning luxury items. Rather, it is the incessant and unrelenting drive to obtain more and more which steals our peace and disconnects us from our Divine Self. It is our discontent with what we have and our craving for what we don’t have that are at the root of our chronic dissatisfaction.
Expectation is the mother of frustration and acceptance is the mother of peace and joy. If we live without expectations, we will always be in peace. The key to being in peace is to expect nothing, crave nothing other than God. As long as our hopes are pinned on material pleasures and achievements, we will be forever miserable. Only by attaching ourselves to God alone will we be able to attain the true state of bliss.
A multivitamin for peace
Let me give you three capsules – a multivitamin – you can take every day. If you take all three of these every day, and let them deeply saturate your being, then you will find true peace of the body, mind and spirit.
1. Meditation: Meditation is the best medication for all agitations. Commit at least 10 minutes to meditation each morning and each evening. If you don’t know how to meditate, don’t worry. Be still. Be quiet. Breathe deeply. Focus on your breath. Practice awareness. 2. No reaction: We must respond to life, but not react to life. We are not light switches that can get turned on and off at the will of others. Each day, as the world “happens” to us, we must find, grab and utilize the space between our thoughts and our actions. In that space we have the freedom of choice not to react. 3. Introspection and the “surrender” mantra: Each night, we must examine the balance sheet of our day: what were our successes, what were our failures? What are our plus points? What are our minus points? Then, thank God for the successes and pray for strength that tomorrow there may be fewer minus points. Lastly, turn it all over to God and go to sleep with a clean slate.
There is a beautiful mantra that we all should chant every night to bring deep peace to our beings:
This means, “Oh Lord…whatever I have done, whatever actions I have performed through my speech, through my mind (anything I’ve thought), through my intellect (anything I’ve planned, achieved or understood), through my hands or body or through any of my senses, therefore anything at all I have performed, perceived or thought, it is all due to Your divine grace and I lay it all humbly at Your holy feet.”
By chanting this mantra, sincerely, deeply and devotionally every night, we remove any vestiges of ego which may still be lingering, clinging and preventing us from being in peace.
Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji is the president and spiritual head of Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh (Himalayas), India and founder/chairman of India Heritage Research Foundation. Swamiji left his home at the age of eight and spent his youth in seclusion and sadhana in the Himalayan forests. He is the recipient of numerous national and international awards.He travels the world addressing audiences, teaching them how to live in “peace not pieces.” parmarth.org