Most people agree that a more peaceful world would be an ideal situation for all living creatures. However, we often seem stumped as to how to bring this ideal situation into being. If we are to have true peace in this world, each one of us must find it in ourselves first. If we don’t like ourselves, for example, we probably won’t like those around us. If we are in a constant state of inner conflict, then we will probably manifest conflict in the world. If we have fighting within our families, there can be no peace in the world. We must shine the light of inquiry on our internal struggles, because this is the only place we can really create change.
When we initiate the process of looking inside ourselves for the meaning of peace, we will begin to understand why it has always been so difficult to come by. This in itself will enable us to be compassionate toward the many people in the world who find themselves caught up in conflicts both personal and universal. We may have an experience of peace that we can call up in ourselves to remind us of what we want to create, but if we are human we will also feel the pull in the opposite direction—the desire to defend ourselves, to keep what we feel belongs to us, to protect our loved ones and our cherished ideals, and the anger we feel when threatened. This awareness is important because we cannot truly know peace until we understand the many tendencies and passions that threaten our ability to find it. Peace necessarily includes, even as it transcends, all of our primal energy, much of which has been expressed in ways that contradict peace.
Being at peace with ourselves is not about denying or rejecting any part of ourselves. On the contrary, in order to be at peace we must be willing and able to hold ourselves, in all our complexity, in a full embrace that excludes nothing. This is perhaps the most difficult part for many of us, because we want so much to disown the negative aspects of our humanity. Ironically, though, true peace begins with a willingness to take responsibility for our humanity so that we might ultimately transform it in the light of our love.