In the aftermath of the school shooting in Florida that took 17 lives, communities and government groups are having conversations about how to achieve peace. Is the answer to equip teachers in school with guns and for worksites to think about Training employees for active shooters? If the root of the problem is mental illness and gun control, what part do you play in finding a solution? From a Buddhist perspective, all humans live within a condition of interrelationships with other humans, living creatures, and even the natural world. Each of us is sustained by an interdependence on each other. With this principle in mind, the peace you have within yourself can overflow into world peace. Sounds lofty, but imagine if every human led a life with the same compassionate and empathetic mantra. This is not to say that corruption and greed are the responsibility of everyone, but if we can all understand that we function within a web of interconnectedness, then maybe we can see how our inner peace can help create a domino effect off positivity.
Now that we are aware of the importance of inner peace, how can we weave it into our day to day lives? Finding inner peace is like any physical exercise–it takes continual practice. Some people are naturals when it comes to athletics. In the same way, inner peace comes more easily to some people over others. All discrepancies aside, it takes a conscious decision to practice. Even before you get out of bed in the morning, keep your eyes closed and internalize a peaceful spirit. People achieve greater peace by giving thanks. Think about all the things you do have and give thanks. You may not have your dream job, but you have a job, so give thanks. Your relationships with others have ups and downs, but you have the opportunity to live in community with others, so give thanks. Starting your day with a thankful mind will make it easier for you to be thankful throughout your day. Thanking the people around you, even strangers, can help pass peace on. If your mind wanders away from a peaceful spirit, bring it back. Some people like to have a visible or audible reminder of peace, like buddha statues or a wind chime that can draw his or her attention back to the practice of peace. For instance, a buddha statue is not only a physical representation of Buddha, but also a symbol of peace. Having a buddha statue in your home is a reminder to persevere in your spiritual journey towards more peacefulness. A buddha statue also radiates a positive aura, so those that venture near will find it easier to practice peace. Practicing peace makes perfect after all.
Peace in our Communities
Peace does not only live within each individual, but overflows into our communities. Think about it from the opposite side of the spectrum. Unpeaceful emotions, such as ignorance, greed, and violence, bleed into imbalances among racial groups in our societies and even among ethnicities between countries on a large scale. In this way, your inner peace can play a role in world peace. When you can find inner peace, it ripples out into your family, friends, community, and even beyond. Something that sounds so simple is obviously quite hard to achieve, but it all starts with you and the habits you create to spread peace.