Practicing The Presence Of Peace: A Thought Experiment
The next time something dark or disturbing tries to wreck your contentment, do not consent to be drawn into its seemingly important considerations. Instead of sinking into this yawning abyss, rather than running after something to resolve that rift, better to remember this truth: the peace you long for also longs for you. Then, whatever you must do, find your way to it! Here’s a good place to start.
A peaceful exercise
Come awake to the backdrop of stillness within you, and while being aware within it, watch your own thoughts and feelings trying to drag you into the noisy world of their worry and fear. If you will go silent before them, they have no choice but to enter into the silence with you. This is how we turn the table on these thieves of peace. They cannot live with you in the light of higher self-awareness. In this mansion there is room for only one.
You can work at this exercise anytime you remember it. Try it now. Look past the familiar forms around you, including those reactions in you about them. Don’t think about the moment unfolding before you — see it. Be the whole of life in the perfectly present moment. This Now is where the spirit of peace resides. Drop the minutiae, the too-familiar sense of self found in sorting through the particular. Place your attention in the awareness of your thoughts instead of losing your¬self within them and what they tell you is happening.
As you make these interior efforts you will no doubt hear your own thoughts tell you that what you ask is impossible, that you can’t hope to succeed at separating the darkness from the light. To disarm any such disturbance in you, you need only ask yourself one thing: what else would you expect bats to tell a farmer who intends to pull down the dark and useless barn in which they live?
The thought nature does not know its own captive state. Its darkened nature can only imagine freedom—never know it. But our true nature is created to know the very movements of heaven within itself, which is why we need to discover what is working within us that has us so anchored in time and space. Perhaps the analogy that follows, a simple situation common to us all, will help us better see into our present situation as well as show us how to escape its hold.
The light of the mind
Have you ever sat in your living room with sunlight streaming through a window and seen, suspended in the light, all of those thousands of dust particles? If it helps, imagine this scene now. Before you, actually all around you, is this light. Within it, suspended, are countless tiny particles of dust. Now, with this image in mind, what is it that we look at?
Our attention is drawn to the dancing particles, while the light that makes these particles visible to our eye remains invisible in and of itself. Here is the reason for this: we don’t see the light that makes it possible for us to see the particles because our present nature only knows itself in relationships that are based upon “particularity.” It is only conscious of individual forms instead of their relationship to the whole. The inherent limitations of this level of self have become our lamentations. But it need not remain this way.
Within each of us, in our hearts and in our minds, there lives a special kind of light. In truth, it’s everywhere. And to carry the last analogy a bit further, we can look at our thoughts as particles suspended in a silent, illuminated space. But, instead of seeing the beautiful stillness—the source of that which reveals the movement of these passing thoughts and feelings—we grab onto each thought that passes through it. Why would we do this? We are now close to the discovery of a great truth.
The dark conspiracy of negativity
It is not the real you, not the real “I” in us that latches onto these thoughts. It is the thief of peace! This is our divided nature. It cannot live without that familiar sense of self that it forms each time it examines and evaluates the images it can sink its mental teeth into. In a word, this thieving nature that steals our peace is part and parcel of our blindness to the fact that real peace doesn’t come in parts. Said slightly differently, the stillness we long for can never be found in any temporary sense of self that comes from being identified with the movement of one of these suspended parts. Again, this understanding is not a complex affair, so let’s look at another example.
One reason why negative states sneak in so easily to steal our peace is that we have been conditioned to believe in their right to punish us. Here is proof of this dark conspiracy:
We can be seated at a nice quiet table in a restaurant, have enough money to buy a fine meal for ourselves, have on nice clean clothes, be by ourselves or with friends, and for all of our good fortune, we will get upset because the waiter didn’t bring our toast buttered on the right side! As silly as this may sound, it’s true: Negative states such as these, born of nothing other than conflict-filled, comparative thinking, steal into us to squander our peace one hundred times a day.
We do not have to yield ourselves to such meaningless states, nor live the life of the sorry self that revels in them. We have within us a very special part of ourselves within which we may be at peace regardless of what goes on around us. This yet-to-be realized state of ourselves may be called conscious self-awareness. Through its power, instead of being pulled down into painful identification with the passing shadows of life, we can discover a life in a peace far above the reach of any fear.
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