There is a peace that comes from having a better story, from thoughts that tell of success and happiness. But this is a temporary peace. Throughout our day unhappy thoughts will make an appearance, perhaps accompanied by unpleasant feelings. If we’re convinced these are wrong, that they shouldn’t be here then we find ourselves in conflict. We’re always trying to get away from them, either by distracting our attention or by using some method or technique to try and change them. What a battle! What about when we’re tired, when we just don’t have the energy any more? Then they all come flooding back and we find ourselves lost in them.
There’s an irony to looking for peace. The idea that we have to keep on the move, hunting it like prey through a forest of dangerous thoughts and emotions. We can’t find peace like this. It’s not in a place or a mind state, you won’t discover it on holiday or in a monastery or temple. It’s not created by meditation or chanting. We find it when we stop fighting.
Peace doesn’t come from not having ugly thoughts, it comes from realising: it’s just a thought, and letting it be. It’s not approval or denial, we’re not embracing or pushing away, we’re simply observing: this is a thought, or this is a memory, or this is a worry about the future. Of course we don’t say these words to ourselves but that’s what is seen.
And we have to do that because this human experience includes the unpleasant. It’s not good enough to say, ‘This is happening to no one’ or ‘There is no pleasant or unpleasant, it’s all good’, that’s still fighting talk. That’s trying to use the concept of the absolute to overwrite what we’re experiencing right now. It doesn’t work, we can spend years speaking like this and pushing away everything unpleasant with these sorts of platitudes, but they’ll always keep coming back because that’s the nature of this life.
Do not adjust your set, life has beautiful happy moments and painful distressing ones. That’s the way it is and nonduality or spiritual awakening won’t give you an escape from that. The you that runs from these things is just another aspect of the sense of a separate me that’s engaged in this struggle called living. Peace is not to be found through the door marked Spiritual Awakening.
Peace is when we stop fighting. It’s not the peace of a peaceful thought, it’s the peace that realises thoughts are simply thoughts. Mind weather is like weather, some days it just rains. It’s not a problem that it rains, in fact it would be a problem if it never did. We don’t (I hope) shake our fist at the sky and curse the rain or the wind. It’s raining, so what? That’s what weather does, it changes. And that’s what thoughts and feelings do, they change.
Sometimes, if the weather is terrible you have no choice but to wait it out, to wait for it to pass. Feelings are just the same. If it’s too much, it’s too much, but it’s not wrong. When we don’t fight it, when we stay with it and just patiently be present, we find we can bear it, moment by moment. Cry if you want, curl up in a ball if you want, but stay present. If someone you love is sick and you visit them in hospital you don’t go into their room and try and avoid them or distract yourself. You show some love by being with them, waiting and staying present. This is how we have to love ourselves too. Not in an indulgent way, but in a genuinely kind way by staying with the pain and the upset. Seeing it, recognising it and knowing it will pass. It’s here now and it will pass.
Some things hurt, they just hurt, that’s the way it is. These are sensitive forms and they feel a whole range of things. We don’t get to pick and choose only the nice ones, we get all of them. Peace is being present, seeing and not fighting. Peace is letting be, listening to our heart and acting when we have to act, staying still when it’s time to be still. We watch all of the ‘have to’ and ‘haven’t to’ thoughts, the ‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’ the ‘meants’ and ‘not meants’ come and go and we stay present.
Then peace is simple, it’s just seeing this, not fighting, accepting, simply being. This is as it is, actions arise or not, things change quickly or slowly. Our refuge is in right now. It’s the only refuge. How is it right now? And stay lovingly with that.