If We Want Peace

In a beautiful medieval devotional book*, there are 4 precise recommendations  that can take us to peace. It is written about 500 years ago, so these pointers may feel a bit outdated, but still, there is a wonderful wisdom in them. 

And so, we can still use and benefit from them, but with a twist.

If we want peace, these are four things we can learn to follow:

1. Always have less rather than more.

In the book it clearly says that one can always chose to have more, but that if we do that, it means that we will probably have more things, but we will not have peace. 
Now, for us, living in this current society, this may feel strange and not so easy to do, and so instead of thinking about having less, we can understand it as the fact that no matter how much we have, we will not be content because it is a law that the more we have, the more we want. There is never an end to wanting, and this is not so difficult to see. We live in a society that has so much, more than any society has ever had in the whole history of humankind, but it always feels as if it is never enough. 
And so, instead of thinking about having less, we can say that peace is not about having more, but it is about being content with what we have. Peace is never located in the getting, but it is found in the recognition of what is already here. 

Remember, these are not the kind of rules we will hear from our materialist society, but these are rules designed to bring us towards peace. 

And so, the rule number one is: the peace we all want is not in what is coming, even if what is coming is necessary and useful, but it is in the recognition, appreciation and the sense of gratefulness we can bring to what is already here.  

2. Always seek to be last rather than first.

For us, in this modern society, it is difficult to think in this way; to be the last may feel to us as being a loser, and nobody wants to be a loser. 
But the way I like to translate this is: do not compete
Which means, do not try to be the last, but do not try to be the first either. Instead, focus on being the best that you can. Forget the numbers, forget about being last or first, but focus on your powers, talents and strengths, focus on what you have, and go for it full hearted. 
So, if we want peace, the second rule is: follow your heart, follow your strength, follow your power, and let the rest take care of itself. 

3. Do the will of the other rather than your own. 

Of course there are moments when another person may be completely wrong and mistaken and it is important for us to be firm in trying to defend what we know to be true and good, but most of the time, especially when it comes to loving relationships, what we say or want, and what the other person say or want, in the long term, it does not make so much of a difference, and so it is a very good practice to just let it go. If we want peace, it really does not matter who wins the battle. 
In almost all relationships (except of course in abusive relationships, but generally speaking, relationships are not abusive), between parents and sons, between friends, between spouses, the differences are not so fundamental, they are not a matter of life and death, and because of this, if we want peace, why not to just let the other person have his or her way? If we want peace. 
In the end, if it is green or red, if it is open or close, if it is lower or higher, if it is this or that, it will not make such a big difference and actually, even if I prefer the green, I can also enjoy the red…if I want peace. 
The problem is that so many times fights appear because we want to impose our ways in the believe that our ways are better. And they may be…but are they really so much better? 
Most often they are not, they are just different. 

If we want peace, we can allow the will of the other rather than our own. 

4. At all times, and in everything you encounter, learn to accept the will of God

Now, the word God, in our modern times, can have many problems. But we can easily replace the word God with Life, or Universe, or even ‘What Is’.  We can say: At all times, and in everything you encounter, learn to accept the will of ’What Is’ – what appears in the moment – and neither fight, resist or reject ‘What Is’. 
In other w
ords, we need to learn not to fight with what cannot be changed. 
And this is precisely what ‘What Is’ means, what cannot be changed. 

This is not about crossing our arms, sit in a sofa and ‘accept what is’ without doing what needs to be done. No! 
People sometimes reject this idea because they believe that accepting what is means not putting a sweater when it is cold because the cold has to be accepted. No, the cold has to be accepted, but with a sweater on! 
What we should not do is to fight with the weather or believe that we should not be cold or that we should have a bigger sweater when we don’t. This is the problem. 
We continuously fight with other people, with our body, with our health, with the government, with the world! 

If something can be done, do it!
But if nothing can be done, at least at this particular moment, in this particular time, in this particular second, then allow, accept and embrace what it is. 
To reject ‘What Is’, because it is, is just madness. 
Do what can be done, but allow, accept and embrace what cannot be changed. 

Or as it is written in this famous quote: 
‘Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.’

Summing up, if we want peace, we can follow these rules:

  1. Be grateful for what is, independent of what may come.
  2. Do not compete, but follow your heart, power and strength. 
  3. In loving relationships, allow the will of the other rather than your own.
  4. At all times, and in everything you encounter, learn to accept the will of ’What Is’, and neither fight, resist or reject ‘What Is’. 
  5. If we want peace. 



* The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis (c. 1418–1427).

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