Calligraphy (and following words) by Thich Nhat Hanh: When we smile, our facial muscles and our whole body relax. Breathing in, I smile. Breathing out, I relax. Breathing in, I know you are there. Breathing out, I smile. A genuine smile is the mark of acceptance and love. It is a message of peace and happiness that we can offer to ourselves and to everyone around us.

Can peace be made?

We make tea. We make love. We make art. We make dinner. What about peace? Is it buildable, constructible, makeable?

Not in the way we may think, but yes, inwardly and outwardly we can ‘make’ peace. There’s no hardware involved, but there are raw materials which are actually immaterial. What might these be?

Nonviolence
Balance and Harmony
Love and Kindness
Appreciating the ordinary
Inner joy
Breathing mindfully

The list is much longer. You might remember this mentioned in previous posts: Inner qualities come in clusters and embodying one open us to another and yet another. And while the raw ingredients of peace are immaterial, the result isn’t. Peace is palpable.

But it’s elusive unless there’s radical commitment to peace. And recommitment to commitment, because it will tested, strained, stretched.

The peace that we are looking for is not peace that crumbles as soon as there is difficulty or chaos. Whether we’re seeking inner peace or global peace or a combination of the two, the way to experience it is to build on the foundation of unconditional openness to all that arises. Peace isn’t an experience free of challenges, free of rough and smooth, it’s an experience that’s expansive enough to include all that arises without feeling threatened.

 

— Pema Chödron

Peace isn’t a dual state. It’s a single state. It doesn’t fluctuate. It’s always there. We can let go into it, or stress, cling, fear, anger away from it. When we make a different choice, peace simply appears again because it hadn’t gone away. It was merely sustaining itself, while you were learning what you needed to learn.

Peace doesn’t discriminate. It isn’t judging you. It’s not even aware of you. Whoever, whatever comes to peace, it simply shares its nature (see The Nature of Peace). That’s it. Peace is simple. After all the gesticulating of our psyche, peace just says, “Welcome home.” It offers the simple truth that our foundation is peaceful and still. It doesn’t advertise or push it, but once we have one taste we succumb to its charms.

In fact, we have an inherent primary motivation to avoid suffering and experience peace. Somehow and in a variety of ways we thwart this motivation. That’s the learning. How not to break the impetus of this motivation. How to encourage it and let it takes its natural course. That course reveals the peace that’s always available.

Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.

 

— Ajahn Chah


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Peace