CREATING PEACE AS FLAWED INDIVIDUALS
World Peace is a huge concept.
Sometimes it’s hard to really believe that as flawed individuals we are equipped to create peace.
This seems particularly true on those days when we might be feeling some vulnerability or confusion about how to respond to those personal flaws or challenges.
And all the while, in the background of day to day life, we can be seeking answers to many big, all-consuming questions. What does it mean to be human? What makes a life purposeful? What will make our lives feel satisfying? When do our values need to be questioned? Is wisdom attainable? What is knowledge? How can we be sure that we will be able to identify truth? Does it really matter if our social standing impacts something? Is it rational to believe something that can’t be proven? Is peace even attainable at all? And on and on…
This common real-life experience is disconcerting. And, it is very disempowering.
But what if this conundrum is exactly what we need to be better individuals. And what if by learning to be better individuals, we each generate what is needed to better move us all towards world peace.
That’s exactly what Lynda Terry did. She is the founder of Vessels of Peace which is an international spiritual network for women that supported their member’s progression towards service to humanity and the earth. Her article in the book Women, Spirituality and Transformative Leadership describes her journey which commenced from a state of confusion and internal conflict to eventually finding her way to inner peace and then encouraging and supporting others in their own journey towards peace. How could a woman who suffered with significant mental health challenges, broken relationships and identity confusion provide such leadership?
She explained that she was inspired by this Saint Seraphim of Serov quote: “Acquire inward peace, and a multitude around you will find their salvation.”
While in the midst of personal turmoil, she chose to seek her inward peace through meditation. It didn’t come easily but she said that eventually, “My resolve to bring about greater congruence in my thoughts, words and actions strengthened and matured my moral framework while simultaneously deepening my capacity for empathy and compassion.” Then, over time, the rest of the words in the quote made sense to her. “”A multitude” (meaning, many), “around you” (meaning, in your vicinity), “shall find their” (meaning, will themselves through their own seeking and effort) “salvation” (meaning, being saved from themselves). ”
I understand that to mean that when we do our own work to be our best selves, the value goes way beyond self-interest.
As I was searching for more information on Vessels of Peace, I found a great blog post from a fellow WordPress blogger, Maria Ede-Weaving. It was entitled Vessels of Peace. Maria wrote openly about her own journey and she confirmed the theory that our personal struggles can produce broader significant impacts. Nice.
Lynda Terry found that learning to meditate and committing to meditate daily was the key to finding her way. I don’t think everyone has to learn to meditate in order to contribute to world peace. But, I do think that some of the same guidance given to new meditators could help world peace seekers. Distractions are to be expected. Learn to notice them and then let them go. No matter how many times you lose your focus, just start again. Let go of self-judgment. Keep going no matter what. Be consistent. Commit time to your efforts. Be open to that peace inside and outside.
Sometimes we just need to hear that “it’s ok.” It’s ok if you don’t have everything figured out. It’s ok if you’re still overwhelmed with all those big questions. It’s ok if you feel depressed or powerless or just plain tired. It’s ok if you have more to learn. It’s all ok. If you fall down, in your personal efforts, just get up, refocus and keep going.
Do it for yourself and do it for peace.
We’re all in this together.
We can do it.