Within is Peace, Love
is majjhimāpaṭipadā is
Love, Peace is Within
Why are we here? Why are you here, specifically? What is the point of this experience that we all appear to be experiencing? Whether or not what we are experiencing is a simulation or as real as can be, an answer to, or at least the time spent pondering, these questions seems prudent. However, a concerning trend is surfacing amongst younger generations around the world. A growing sense that, not only is there no point to answering or trying to answer these questions,
that little to nothing is worth any effort at all.
The reason for the growth in this sentiment is obviously complex, though, a large contributing factor seems to be a direct response to a fatigue of externally imposed answers to these essential, life-guiding inquiries. And, while nihilism is nothing new, it is the apparent growth in the passiveness of acceptance of this type of world view that is most disturbing. When a philosopher, student, or any interested party DECIDES, actively chooses, to take on this outlook, it is certainly pessimistic. Yet, this action of choosing puts it into a category of active and assertive action that demonstrates at least some impression that this whole existence is worth consideration. This puts the current trend on the opposing side, as it appears to be a passive UNelection of all possible solutions to the existence query.
This can be seen in the countless hours spent playing mindless games whose only purpose is to teleport the player a few minutes or hours into the future without any real requirements for critical thinking.
This can be seen in plummeting participation numbers in worldwide free democratic elections, a rare time when an individual’s choice might actually matter.
This can be seen in the growing number of people who are casting off their parent’s or culture’s religion and not finding anything satisfactory to replace it for life’s big questions.
A reasonable guess as to how this trend will eventually play out, if not corrected or changed, might be that we see a decrease in the number of people willing to risk everything in order to improve the human condition. Additionally, we might begin see the uninterested masses grow to larger and larger percentages of the total population, only to be controlled or at least aggressively guided by an ever smaller percentage of interested parties. The biggest concern, to me, would be the possibility that we might passively walk into a global catastrophe (tragic in any case) and collectively shrug.
“Meh, we probably weren’t supposed to survive [insert looming catastrophe here]”
– Future us (Maybe)
With this dreary landscape set before us, what do we do? It can be easy to see this development as an inescapable tidal wave. A scenario in which it would be much easier to ignore it entirely and continue mindlessly involved in the smallest circle possible. Or, we must now make a choice and attempt to free ourselves from the chains that are made up, link by link, of every doubt, insecurity, incuriosity, and uncertainty buried within all of us. We must stand up to the only enemy that has ever truly held any sway over our individual lives (and by extension all of our collective lives),
We are the singular adversary with whom conquest is guaranteed, and further, whom we can bring to our side. The bad news is that this is not a simple process, it is a sometimes grueling and tortuous adventure inside the quietness of our own heads. The overwhelmingly great news is that the road to victory has been walked by every great holy person to have ever blessed this Earth with their presence, AND, most of them left behind notes from along the way. We’ve got ancient ashram sages suggestions, Siddhartha’s signs, Jesus’ cheat sheet, Pythagoras’ pointers, Muhammad’s meditations, Sri Ramakrishna’s reflections, Rumi’s ruminations, Lao Tzu’s considerations, Tolle’s thoughts, and Gurdjieff’s guiding instructions. All of these masters, and countless others, have put forth their ideas on what this life is about and what to do with it once we awaken to its grander possibilities.
The more common threads that are revealed in many of these teachings include:
- Spending time in self-reflection will lead to self-understanding, then self-acceptance,
- Self-acceptance will lead to outwardly facing peace, and,
- That there exists a paradise that is attainable by all who wish it, should they give themselves to that goal
My own interpretation of all of this (heavily influenced by the sources and translations that I have read) is that the paradise mentioned by all of these masters is actually the sense of peace that is attained when we are truly capable of seeing ourselves for who we are, accepting it, and remembering the connection that exists between us and all of creation. To that end, the goal of life, our purpose, is to experience this for ourselves and then devote our lives to bringing the whole world in on this paradise, by example.