Being an Instrument of Peace
(this blog is recorded on the full page: quick time player needed)
Although the perfection of Krishna consciousness doesn’t stop at inner peace, peace is certainly a by-product of our spiritual practices. When I lived in ISKCON ashrams, I was often asked by guests visiting the Temple if I had obtained peace, or shanti. Although those who asked me about peace had what is considered a “high standard of living” compared to much of the world, real peace of mind was lacking. In fact, in modern education, peace and satisfaction aren’t offered as important goals, since the implication of materialism, is that if we have the right occupation, family, and accumulation of appropriate possessions, we will find happiness. Peace seems an illusive goal to some, yet it is possible to achieve through spiritual practice or Krishna consciousness.
I am sure many of us are well aware from living in the world and observing others and modern media, that our current materialistic civilization, which is run by the mode of passion, (raja-guna) promotes dissatisfaction. Why, and what are practical ways to find inner peace? The reason many persons feel dissatisfied is because the constant striving for merely material goals and the accumulations of unnecessary possessions guarantee a lack of peace in people’s lives. Peace is an inside job and doesn’t come from adding things on to our life. Part of our nature as eternal souls is perfect peace and satisfaction, so yoga or any bona fide spiritual process revives our remembrance of our natural state of peace—and for devotees of Krishna, our natural love for Krishna.
All problems stem from our forgetfulness of our nature as servants or parts of Krishna. Thinking we are independent enjoyers and separate from God, creates our lack of peace. Our existence seems always threatened by non-existence or the uncertainty of death, and thus we are involved in a struggle to avoid disease, postpone old age, and not think of death. To live in the world we are also involved in the struggle to make money (which may involve obtaining higher education at great cost), maintaining our family, and pursuing transitory goals which will always disappoint us in the long run.
In spite of our need to endeavor for material necessities, if we truly want peace and lasting happiness we have to cultivate knowledge about our peaceful, joyful, and loving nature as souls, and also purify our existence to awaken our eternal spiritual nature. Krishna is Supreme Peace, and the reservoir of all good qualities, and as part of Him, we have the same nature. To revive or awaken our true spiritual nature we have to spend time every day reading such literature as Bhagavad Gita, glorifying God in song or kirtan, and sitting down for the meditation of chanting Hare Krishna. These activities help to awaken our divine nature and give us helpful perspectives for living joyfully.
We have to also find those who are spiritually happy and peaceful and learn their secrets for living in the world, while remembering their spiritual nature. Then our natural spiritual outlook and peaceful nature will emerge as we understand where real happiness lies. The “peace formula” is given in Bhagavad Gita, 5.29. Krishna teaches us that if we want to be peaceful in the face of the shortcomings and miseries of material life we have to always remember that God is the ultimate enjoyer and goal of our endeavors, the real owner of everything, and the true magnanimous friend and well-wisher of all. Many of our struggles in life are trying to enjoy, own, or be something we are not. Thus as we become purified by our spiritual practices we find that identifying ourselves as servants of Krishna is a very blissful realization, and we feel the peace of an ultimate goal in life.
Our daily life is an opportunity to practice what we learn from saintly persons, or from the Gita and other spiritual books of wisdom. We can remember our spiritual nature, and state of mind while chanting or praying, or being in Nature. Making a decision to be peaceful in even chaotic, possibly stressful situations can be transformative. Part of our spiritual awakening is the realization that in any situation we have the opportunity to negatively react, or positively respond with spiritual wisdom, and a peaceful demeanor.
Harsh emotional reactions are a result of negative judgments we make about events, or in keeping a critical mentality of others, or wanting to force people or situations to change. If we are stuck in traffic, our anger, impatience, or judgment about slow drivers will not change anything, yet if we remember Krishna, making the decision to be peaceful and in a learning mood, then our experience will be completely different. The holy name is always available to help us connect to Krishna and we can choose what we want to occupy our mind with! If we have a difficult problem that needs solving, we can only access higher guidance in a peaceful stage of mind.
Practice considering yourself a giver of peace, rather than trying to get it. A spiritual principle is that we become what we give. Give anger, and be angry, give peace, and feel peaceful! When we bring our sense of calm to difficult people, it affects them, and allows us to remain our cool regardless of their response. We can only change our self. Internally we can also pray to be an instrument of peace and not to identify with our situation, or the negativity of others. Remembering that we, and everyone, is a spiritual being can help us see differently. We can also thank those difficult people who push our emotional buttons for allowing us to discover that we have not mastered ourselves. We need difficult, less than ideal persons, to help us grow. They are our master teachers!
The perception of a problem is only in our mind, and if we bring the light of spiritual wisdom and peace to our mind, then we can access our most resourceful state to take appropriate actions. We can have a toolbox of helpful verses about our spiritual identity and the workings of the material world, as well as sayings and affirmations to change our mental state. Even a simple saying like, “I can choose Krishna’s peace, rather than this,” can do wonders. Every person and situation is meant to help us depend on Krishna and remember our true spiritual nature. As you work on being at peace with yourself and your past, see yourself as a spiritual peacemaker. Look for opportunities to give peace and kindness as service to Krishna and for making spiritual progress. Remember that your peace isn’t dependent on outside conditions, but comes from your remembrance of Krishna, awareness of your natural spiritual peacefulness, and seeing yourself as his servant, not master, owner, or enjoyer.