There was once a photo contest in which the entrants had to submit one picture shot by them. The pictures submitted for the contest had to visually express a particular list of keywords. The keywords were: -Calm -Serene -Bliss -Peace
The competition attracted photographers from all over the country. Among them were some renowned photographers too. The entries included spellbinding pictures ranging from those of breathtaking snow-peaked mountains to coral islands, open vast deserts to lush valleys, cute children to stunningly pretty women, and of dare-devil youngsters such as one of a young couple standing on the edge of the roof of a skyscraper with the fascinating skyline of the city for a backdrop.
The judges felt that almost all the photographs were too beautiful to be true and therefore found it extremely challenging to select the award-winning photograph. As the organisers were on the verge of coming to the conclusion that it would be one particular picture of an extraordinarily gorgeous woman seated in a meditative posture on the bank of a river flowing through a magnificent mountain range, they were taken aback as they were informed that the judges had unanimously selected for the best picture award a rather ordinary picture shot by a high school student.
It was a picture of a group of huts in a visibly arid village that appeared so barren as if it had not rained there for a couple of years. The picture had nothing such as trees, flowers, mountains, water or anything that is usually considered to be pleasing to the human eye. On being asked why the picture was chosen, one of the judges pointed out the keywords that were given. They were Calm, Serene, Bliss and Peace.
The judge then asked the organiser who asked the question to take a closer look at the picture. The photograph had a group of village huts and outside one of the huts on the right side bottom corner of the photograph, sat a village woman on the ground with a group of about ten little children before her. She seemed to be telling the children either an interesting story or something pleasant or funny. The woman as well as all the children appeared cheerful and truly happy. In the foreground was a little boy who appeared to be running towards the group of the teacher and the children as if he were late for the lesson. The boy had no shoes and was running with a torn school bag in one hand.
What struck the judges the most was that everyone in the picture was happy and content with what they had. They made the best of what they had. They were in total harmony with their surroundings. They possessed a state of mind at a fraction of the cost that most people would normally be willing to pay in order to achieve happiness through owning properties and other expensive possessions. The teacher and her pupils from the village had come to terms with their reality and had learned to derive bliss out of it. They were at peace with what life gave them.
Peace of mind is, in fact, the ultimate stage of any endeavour, be it of a benevolent nature or even that of malevolence, war, or conquest.
Think about it – What happens when you attain whatever you wished or strived for? The moment you get what you wanted, you might first scream out of excitement but once you have absorbed your new sense of achievement, you would normally heave a sigh of contentment and feel calm and peaceful. The task could be anything, but right after completing it comes great peace.
Peace – it is the one state of mind that the subconscious mind of a person, however noble, rapacious, evil or violent their intentions might be, is constantly striving to attain. Bizarre as it may sound but that is what even an evil person who hurts others wants after committing each and every gruesome act! After a tiring chase, carnivorous animals too, that hunt other animals, tend to settle down in a calm spot to savour their prey in peace.
What is peace? How can it be defined? Peace is a state which is tranquil and free from disturbance. Peace of mind is a mental state when you stop worrying about things and are truly living in the moment. You do not need to go to a mountain top or a forest to find peace. You can find it right at the place wherever a person is. That is what the village teacher and her pupils in the photograph did. What can hinder finding peace are worrying or fearing. They are invariably thoughts that are mere mental images of unpleasant or undesirable things or situations that have not taken place. This problem can be countered by coming to terms with a certain disturbing situation, at least transiently so that the process of thinking intelligently can take place for which, a peaceful mind is a primary requirement.
No matter what the cause of the mental disturbance might be, all you need to do is to come to terms with the situation, at least temporarily, and this will open your mind to intelligent thoughts, ideas or even epiphanies.
It can be said that the lack of peace of mind is caused by the internal struggle that stems from one’s own inability to cope with accepting reality. The struggle, in fact, is not with some external enemy or force but it is with a person’s own feelings. That said, a person who treats his or her mind as a mere tool that acts as an interface between their true Self and the organic body that it resides in can learn to control it with great ease and in addition to this, can also achieve mastery over it.
An easy way to treat a short temper or extreme self-consciousness leading to high levels of sensitivity would be to clearly comprehend that feeling peaceful, happy, angry, ashamed, shy, or flattered are nothing but states of the interface called the mind and not of oneself.
Remember that whenever another person causes you to lose your temper, feel hurt or insulted, it is not you but it is the other person that is controlling your ‘Self-Body Interface’ called the mind. Why on earth would you want to relinquish that power to someone else?
An important step that makes it tremendously simple to learn to master your own mind and never give its switch to someone else would be to be ever prepared for change.
Have you ever thought about why it is said that most people are not afraid of failure but they are scared of success? It is simply due to their fear of the unknown. Many people fear that success in a new venture could lead them into the unknown whereas the present however uninteresting, boring or insipid it might be, is something that they already know and are used to. It is the inherent quality of resistance to change that blocks a person from taking risks, undergoing personality makeovers, or getting to know new people. People who find themselves in dreary life situations do so primarily because they did not wholeheartedly attempt to step out of their normal routine or comfort zone. Deep within themselves, they fear that any change they made in the way they lived, or did things differently from the way they normally did, could lead them into situations that they are not prepared for, and that could disturb the status quo in their life, which they have learned to silently endure although it might not exactly be a pleasurable one.
However, people who treat life as the greatest gift, and every moment of it as splendorous opportunities to live it, experience it, celebrate it and learn from it, are never scared of anything, and do not look down upon themselves, or allow negative thoughts to creep into their Divine moments of living. When you are not scared of anything, you are never forced into desperate situations in which you feel you need to deviate from your moral standards or principles.
Resistance to change causes pain. Attachment causes pain as well as fear that can lead to anger causing the destruction of your reputation and honour.
Changes are usually caused due to two prime reasons – being forced by some situation or being inspired by someone or something. Why wait until a situation forces you to change and why not derive inspiration either from your own past achievements or from some other external source?
One thing that can guarantee peace of mind is ‘Preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.’ It has been the motto of great achievers. In the event you get the worst, you were already prepared for it and in case you get the best, you can relish it with a stable mind because you know that it could also have been the other way around.
The realisation that all beings are equally wonderful, Divine, brilliant, and magical, and that no one is hateful, straightaway floods one’s heart with love and kindness. A person of such realisation automatically becomes more loveable and is admired by all. It gives such a person a great sense of fulfillment and tranquillity.
Immediately after you let go of people or objects whose thoughts make you sad, and give up the sense of possession or ownership, comes peace. That feeling is priceless.
A person’s attachment to someone or something leads to their constant fear of losing the person or the object they love. Fear causes anger which results in the temporary numbing of their intelligence. A person in such a mental situation runs the risk of committing deeds that can cause irreparable damage to their honour and reputation.
Peace is easy to attain. All it requires apart from one’s sincere decision to want it is comprehending the truth that the mind, where all the virtual upheavals and storms take place, is not them the individual, and it is nothing beyond being a useful instrument which, when not required, needs to be either silenced or kept busy counting one’s breaths, or listening to Mantras or chanting them.
You are Divine. Your Self is Divine. It is the same Omnipresent awareness that is transitorily residing in your body made of flesh and bones. The Self is God. It is the indestructible, constant, eternal, immutable, and unimaginable ultimate reality. Beyond it, there is nothing to be known. Everything other than the Self that exists in all living beings is an illusion that will fade away into oblivion. No one has any need to worry or fear. There is nothing more real than the NOW. The past and the future do not exist. However, just as your past Karma is creating your present, should there also truly exist a future, it would make sense to invest in positive Karma through RIGHTEOUS THOUGHTS, WORDS AND DEEDS in the NOW. It is never late. Start NOW. Yours is everything in the universe because you are that. Tat Tvam Asi.
I wish you a life filled with peace, and just as the sun blesses the world with its light, may you too spread the light of knowledge and peace all around you.