Our capacity to make
peace with another person and with the world
depends very much on our capacity to make peace with ourselves. If
we are at war with our parents, our family, our society, or our church,
there is probably a war going on inside us also, so the most basic work
for peace is to return to ourselves and create harmony among the
elements within us--our feelings, our perceptions, and our mental
states. . . . We must recognize and accept the conflicting elements
that are within us and their underlying causes. It takes time, but
effort always bears fruit. When we have peace within,
real dialogue with others is possible.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Living Buddha, Living Christ
Inner peace--this is something that all of us would be
striving for if we could but get a taste of it. We
have a world that keeps us so busy, though, if we follow
its demands, that most of us never even realize that we
aren't at peace inside, and that finding that inner peace
should be one of our primary goals. This is
something that's even more important than that promotion
or that new house--with inner peace, we have the chance to
make a paradise of this world simply by seeing it from a
perspective of peace rather than of conflict or pressure.
Most of us don't take time to foster peace, to put
ourselves in situations in which peace can grow like a
flower, at its own pace and in its own time, coming to
bloom and bless us with its presence. We may want to
improve that relationship, but our own lack of inner peace
doesn't allow us to come to terms with the other person
involved because we may be afraid we're being taken
advantage of, or we may need for that other person to make
certain concessions to make ourselves feel better.
"Harmony among the elements within us"--this is
a very nice way of expressing what we strive for when we
strive for inner peace. I may be feeling happy
today, but I may be perceiving that someone else is being
unfair to me--and what's going to happen to my happiness
if that's the case? Our perceptions of the world go
a long way towards making our world, and if our
perceptions are skewed, our mental states and our emotions
can change, too. If my mental state is centered in
fear, that changes my perception, too, as well as my
Before we can make any real peace with anyone else, we
must have peace within, and that's a quality that is worth
any and all effort we put into it--though I have to say
that much of inner peace comes from letting go of the
concept of putting effort into it. It's a
fascinating paradox, but who said that inner peace is
supposed to be easy? That said, with the right
attitude, inner peace can be surprisingly simple.
How much of inner peace comes from accepting the world
exactly as it is, rather than how we wish it were?
How much of inner peace comes from letting other people be
themselves, rather than expecting them to be and act as we
think they should?
Why do so few of us develop inner peace before we try to
pursue outer peace?