All human beings, whether in the West or the East, of all religious, spiritual and cultural backgrounds, either in poverty or wealth, we are all seeking this thing called ‘peace of mind.’
Meditation and yoga have become the new mode of achieving this peace, and as a result countless meditation schools, courses, practices and retreats have multiplied all over the world selling this peace. Yet the society we live in remains fragmented, self-concerned, materialistic and sadly as conflicted and contradictory as ever.
Why is this so?
Could it be that the meditation practices being taught merely provide ‘self-centred’ peace of mind, an escape from the chaos, inner conflict by controlling the breath, controlling thought, controlling anger, fear, desire, loneliness, sorrow, controlling all this through the ideas of mindfulness.
Can it be that we believe if we pay for such courses held in beautiful settings, surrounded by like-minded people and being taught by a teacher who claims they can give peace of mind, stress- free living and inner-wellbeing and whilst on the course we will get this gift? And most importantly, can anyone who is seriously enquiring into meditation discover this harmony, this peaceful state without the use of control, without paying for it, and without having a teacher?
It is far easier for people to accept any approach which promises an end result of well- being, peace and harmony than it is for people to seriously enquire into the disharmony that exists within. It is easier to escape into retreats with beautiful settings and talk over deeper issues with others who follow the same spiritual course than to have a serious enquiry into deeper issues by setting aside all opinions and beliefs. It is easier to control our actions, thoughts, and emotions through mindfulness by modifying behaviours which are perceived as negative by spiritual practitioners, rather than seriously enquire into the need to control, the need for self-improvement, the need to hold spiritual identities and the need to find security in meditation. It is easier to embed oneself within the ideas of spiritual living than to actually live without any ideas whatsoever.
From where and how do we start to investigate whether our disharmony, suffering or inner conflict can ever come to an end? It is simple! We must start from the point of our own current understanding. Furthermore, a clear distinction must lie in whether one is seeking peace, harmony and well-being, or whether one enquires into them.
Those who are seeking these things are lost to it all from the start. It is obvious why:-When one seeks for something they must already have a preconceived idea of what it is that they are looking for. Otherwise how would they know they have found it?
This is ultimately the reason why seeking continues, and seeking will remain a futile endeavour.
As long as one is seeking, enquiry can never take place.
What do we mean by enquiry? Enquiry is investigation, and asking the right questions is important.
Can we really enquire into how to attain peace of mind, well-being and harmony, or is that the wrong question? Instead must we not ask what is disharmony, suffering and sorrow?
Only in asking this question can we really begin to investigate the cycle that perpetuates our need to attain peace. Is disharmony not our inner conflict?
With our little ‘selves’ torn between ‘what is’ and ‘what should be’ we live in conflict daily, between the actual and the ideal- I must… I mustn’t… I should… I shouldn’t… I can… I can’t… swinging between regret and hope; desire and fear; wanting this and not wanting that, dreams and worries etc but getting nowhere. In getting nowhere we look for peace of mind and temporarily one finds it in drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping, retreats, meditation, yoga and even God. But soon enough the harmony dissipates and we are once again in the cycle looking for the peace of mind we have lost. Asking ourselves ‘how do I get it back?’ ‘What do I need to do to feel connected again?’ These are futile questions, they lead us back into the cycle. Enquiring into the cycle of thought- the need to ‘become peaceful’ is the only way to touch that state of harmony.
Sometimes we suddenly notice this cycle, this pattern, this habit, and it is in this perception that peace ‘IS.’
It is only in this clear-cut perception of the workings of the dualistic mind can one truly find permanent peace. A deep, silent, unshakable harmony that dissolves all that was, all that is and all that will be. Regret, hope, fear, dreams, desires, worries, wanting are seen to be the root of all conflict and disharmony. In this perception, peace ‘IS.’
Edited by Jez