How do we find and cultivate peace? Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor also known as the Philosopher explained that, “He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the world.” Building upon this teaching Thich Nhat Hahn shared that, “Nonviolence and compassion are the foundations of a peace movement. If you don’t have enough peace and understanding and loving-kindness within yourself, your actions will not truly be for peace. Everyone knows that peace has to begin with oneself, but not many people know how to do it.” The roots of peace are anchored within us… The Buddha explained that love, compassion, kindness, enlightenment, fear, greed, anger are all small seeds that reside within each one of us, the seeds that we water and feed are the ones that will grow. He encouraged humankind to focus on the seeds that we want to sprout and ignore the seeds that we want to wither.
When I think of peace, this months theme, I envision the Peace sign created in 1958. This symbol was created to support the movement of denuclearization in Europe, but ultimately was adopted by those who sought peace against war and violence around the world. Throughout history there has been constant unrest and war with a few periods when there was notable peace. The first acknowledged peace movement began in 989 ce. It was a movement that endeavored to restrict violence towards monasteries. This early movement had the foresight to understand that peace in general was difficult to achieve so they proposed to restrict the use of violence by the nobility to a certain number of days per year. Humankind has not stopped seeking the means to create peace ever since.
I am not sure about your life but in mine I truly seek peace and especially during this time of year. During the dark times we cloister and look for ways to create inner peace for oneself and our loved ones. What energy and commitment might we put towards creating peace in our lives? Thich Nhat Hahn explains that, “The practice of peace should address suffering: the suffering within yourself and the suffering around you. They are linked to each other. When you go to the mountain and practice alone, you don’t have the chance to recognize the anger, jealousy and despair that’s in you. That’s why it’s good that you encounter people—so you know these emotions. So that you can recognize them and try to look into their nature. If you don’t know the roots of these afflictions, you cannot see the path leading to their cessation. That’s why suffering is very important for our practice.”
I believe that during this time of year when we face challenges, anxiety, frustration, and suffering we receive an opportunity to look within and realize what seeds we are feeding. If we want a life of peace and happiness we cultivate within and then we spread the seeds of peace and happiness out into the world. To reduce the suffering of others we must be able to listen to one another to better understand how we can help/commiserate and to create peace within and with one another.
‘Tis the season my friends to let the ground rest and become fertile once again, it is a time to pick and choose what we will seed and grow together. It is a time to listen and give generously from our hearts to one another.
May the peace of the season be with you!
Love and Light,