Peace: How Wide is Your Reach?

Thomas Anfield MonkeyThe word peace comes from the same derivation as the word “pact,” which has to do with agreement, as well as to unite or to join. Thus, the deepest peace can be said to be a matter of joining in agreement with the world, circumstances, and other people. Conflict, inner and outer, is the reflection of opposing what is, thereby increasing the sense of alienation rather than joining with, or being an integral part of life as it unfolds, just as it unfolds. Seeing whatever happens out there as part of the whole, and accepting it from this integrity, means that experientially, there is no inner tension or discord. There is that peaceful, easy feeling that often engenders a smile.

It’s a simple way to look at this thing we call peace. See if this is not your experience, that feeling of “all’s well with the world,” which translates as “I’m just fine with all of this.”

But this is not how we live. If someone does not behave the way we would expect them to, or circumstances are not as we had planned, in fact when a situation is deemed unacceptable, we find ourselves in conflict. We see it in our relations and feel it in our physiological response to what is. We experience discomfort, unease—war within and war without. Not peace.

We tend to think of this kind of blanket acceptance as akin to being like a doormat, or having no boundaries, or even as weakness. But in fact, it can be viewed as a measure of our capacity to receive what life offers, which can be considered a strength, how “big” we truly are, how flexible and welcoming our boundaries. It doesn’t mean we condone or even love everything. It means we can handle it, that our strength of character is such that no circumstance or no other person can take from us what we are unwilling to give, because we do not feel a lack in this regard. We can well afford to give from this capacious perspective, and so giving and receiving become equal reflections of this largess.

And so the dialogue begins. Can we come to accept what is offered in any given moment? Do we contract and become small in our stance of refusal, or can we spread our wings wide, and embrace the breadth offered by the birds-eye view from the wide open sky of possibility? This is what can be learned here, this openness to the deepest peace.

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