So what exactly do I mean when I say you be peace and then you be peace? Well depending on who you ask, if you want peace in the world, you must “BE peace,” meaning you must first find peace in your heart through meditation, or other contemplative practices. You must look within and heal your own demons before you can go out into the world as a peace pilgrim.
Awakening to your Higher Self of wisdom and compassion is required if you want to bring forth peace in the world. The belief is “as within, so without.” So true. Through the practice of engaging in our inner work, we learn we cannot have peace when there are those around who have none. It is the soul’s deep longing to bring peace wherever you are through nurturing your own sense of divinity, expressing spirit, and then being in compassionate service to the world.
Now here’s the glitch. Depending on who you ask, some would say the opposite. The partner to the first half of this paradox is you must be peace. Meaning, if you want peace in the world, you must “BE in action,” BE the manifest form of peace. If you want peace, you must work for justice – be in service to others. It’s not all about navel gazing.
I believe for those of more aligned with this, you discover that when your body is engaged, oftentimes the monkey-mind of everyday worries subside. You become less self-centered, and somehow the things that seemed so important that were causing you such tension and discomfort, slip away… you gain some perspective. In gaining a little perspective you can more fully engage in self-reflection to heal the wounds that live inside. You step into the world of contemplation for an expanded sense of peace in your heart.
So which is most important? YES! And you probably thought I’d give you a straight answer. The doorway to peace is entered into through both portals, contemplation AND action. But which doorway you use is your choice, determined largely by life conditions, your spiritual journey, and level of emotional and spiritual intelligence. There is no right or wrong place to begin – at least not to me.
I know there are colleagues of mine who would vehemently disagree and say you MUST start with the inner path of wisdom and transformation. OK, you go ahead and do that. I am less picky, although no less committed to the inside work necessary for peace in my world. Ironically, many of these people spend little time working for justice, BEING peace in action in our world.
Still others I know find their way to the path of contemplation by engaging in service to and with others, by saying with their hands and feet, “I care and how can I serve.” They unconsciously have a sense of knowing that they live and move and have their being in Spirit, and desire to bring that forth through any number of authentic actions – social justice causes, environmental sustainability initiatives and a commitment to the spiritual fulfillment of humanity.
I will confess though that in our Western culture we are definitely more focused on DOING, so I might encourage an individual to choose the doorway of peace that is the contemplative path, healing the inner world. In so doing, they will bring forth their true nature of peace and compassion, which will lead to a sustained commitment to working for justice – less burnout!
Regardless, both are essential and life sustaining. The wholeness of the human experience is known through each of these doorways, being peace, or cultivating it within, AND working for justice, or living it. They need each other as interdependent dance partners – yet they are not two, but not one either. Mother Teresa said that if we have no peace it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. Cultivating peace AND living peace is knowing that I am part of something larger, that I belong to you and with you. I belong to all life, and all life belongs with me.
So, how do I cultivate and live peace? It’s learning that if I am not at peace in my own life, I will make conflict with those around me. If I don’t learn to face my own struggles I will never have compassion for someone else’s struggles, and if I don’t own my failures, I can never really be in immense awe of your success. If I don’t engage with the world, I can never know my place in it. If I don’t spend time focused outside myself, I can never fully be immersed in the ground of Being.
So pick a doorway, like I said, I’m not that picky about which one you choose, just do it. Go be peace AND work for justice – work for love. Go BE peace and then BE peace – whatever that means for you.