We, as sentient beings, desire and have the right to happiness and peace – this is the touch point of the Dalai Lama’s talk, which I had the privilege of hearing at the University of Hawaii over 5 years ago. I came across the reflection I wrote about that amazing event and it felt particularly potent and appropriate to share with you, my friends, in these challenging times we live in.
Peace in the world, in one’s country, community or family begins with us as individuals. Our individual peace and the pursuit of happiness are deeply connected, but neither comes to us on a silver platter. They must be cultivated through awareness and care of our minds and bodies, using knowledge – knowledge gained through education, both formal (as in scientific inquiry) and engagement in life experiences, and by cultivating an inner attitude that dispels fear. Fear is one of our base emotions and can lead to anger, judgment, envy, or myriad other conditions of heart and mind.
So often we project our fears upon others and the environment, which encourages and induces a reciprocal fear response back to us. For example, if I am insecure about not being acceptable or measuring up, I may assume that others are judging me. I can become defensive and easily move into judgment of others myself. Then there is a very good chance that others will respond with the same attitude. As a result, an invisible, attitudinal wall has just been erected between us, and our ability to communicate is impaired.
So please consider ~ what are you projecting to the world? What personal fears rob you of your peace?
Facing our fears, finding ways to “change” our minds, is essential to inner peace and a sense of well-being and happiness. Certainly, upon reflection, we often find that the actions of others contribute to our dis-ease, but “blame” only exacerbates, prolongs or deepens our internal condition. The Dalai Lama says that each of us must take responsibility for our own thoughts and actions, and we can begin to change our internal condition by cultivating warm-heartedness and compassionate acceptance. Project these qualities, he says, and they will come back to you.
Our fears are ingrained and, for many of us, habitual, so finding these alternate, positive qualities take time, patience and persistence. But we have to begin to find a better way for ourselves. We have to try.
I invite you to review your days, your interactions with the world. Where, with awareness and intention, can you add one act of warm-heartedness toward someone you know and one act of compassionate acceptance toward someone you don’t? Practice is the only way we can learn to step out of our personal fears and into a different way of being in the world, a way that opens the door to inner peace, to happiness for all.