I used to associate peace with this unattainable, serene emotion. Peace was this blissful state of euphoria where a sort of union with some mystical reality would happen. I’ve never done any hallucinogenic drugs, but peace this way reminds me of a scene from Gaspar Noé’s film Enter the Void which takes you through a DMT trip. It can get depressing setting expectations so high for such an unreachable state of mind.
I’ve rewound that tape, erased it, and started running it from the start. Peace isn’t pleasant all the time. It can be pleasant and often is. However, I’ve learned that “pleasant” and peace aren’t the same thing. Monastics were often at peace and at the same time constantly wrestling with internal and external demons. Perfect bliss isn’t what peace means. If peace isn’t that what is it?
Peace is simply understanding and accepting one’s actual place in the world. I can’t be held to the illusion that I will be of a different state of mind than the world in which I live, move, and have my being. I am part of the world itself. The truth is I am caught in the constant push and pull of causes and effects over which I will never be able to exert any control. Peace isn’t the fairytale that I will escape the world as it is.
Peace is simpler than this and that is exactly why it’s more difficult to attain. Peace isn’t an escape plan for when I feel burdened, lost, depressed, angry, lonely, scared, abandoned, or any host of nasty emotions. Peace is the exact opposite of an escape plan. Peace is accepting the world as it is and admitting what I can’t change it to make me feel better. I can make small changes, but most of those changes happen inside of me. I have to sit with pain until it has taught me what I need to know. Peace is letting my emotions come and go rather than stiffening up and resisting them.
Why is this such a fearful prospect? Peace requires a fundamental change in who I am. It begins with honesty and the willingness to probe the deepest regions of my fears and emotions. For me to have peace I need to find acceptance of who I am right now and not as I think I should be. Only that level of honesty will free me from all the feelings and delusions I have of myself that block my ability to sit with and through the most painful parts of myself.
Finding peace is me being honest enough with myself that I can be grateful for who I am when things seem to fall apart. Peace is only as difficult as I choose to resist having it. Seems like trading reality for false misery is a good deal don’t you think?