Many people today will tell you they seek “inner peace”. But people seem very confused about what this inner peace is. They thus try escapes into all kinds of systems such as chanting, meditating, going on pilgrimages, giving up worldly possessions…but none of it works for most of them. They are still distracted from being in the moment; they cannot fully enjoy the presence of their friends and loved ones; they may be prone to verbally or even physically violent outbursts; they are always feeling stressed out or frantic, with “no time” to relax.
Inner peace really does have to emerge from one’s insides. It cannot be brought in from the outside.
So, what authentic ways are there of being able to realize inner peace?
One of them is to face problems squarely and look fate in the face, here and now. Do not accept “quick fixes” like an uneasy compromise, escape into drunkenness, or telling yourself you’ll sleep on it. Be very pro-active in solving all problems as soon as you know they are there.
Another thing is that you must see things as they are and accept them that way. The only way to solve problems and be at peace with the life around you is to deal with things as they are, not as you wish them to be or think they “should” be. When sages say, “Everything is already perfect like it is,” this is what they mean. They don’t mean that you have no problems, only that escape into delusion cannot solve them. Also keep in mind: you can heal and repair yourself, but you cannot change other people and you cannot heal them unless they want you and invite you to do so.
Take responsibility for your life, including how you interact with and react to other people. Yes, many other people are cruel and ignorant; they hurt you. But as the Buddhist proverb says, “Pain is inevitable; suffering is not.” If another abused you, that may not be your fault; but if you are still suffering and scarred from it so that your life is interfered with 20 years later, that IS your fault.
Learn how to observe your own emotions from someplace “outside” yourself, rather than just being swept away by them. WHY do you react in such and such a way to this or that? WHY do you feel you desire this or hate that? You’ll realize that you can change your emotions about many things, and that you are not your emotions.
If you want inner peace, you’ll never have it unless you resolve to always be honest–and if there are times when people beg you to lie to them (tell a little white lie), at least never, ever lie to your own self.
Understand that “you” are many things at once. You are an ego, you are a Higher Self, you are a bundle of needs and desires, you have memory and awareness and dreams for the future. These things may conflict; it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you if they do at times. Just be sure you take it upon yourself to resolve the conflicts honestly.
Remember that getting angry is easy. But getting angry at the right person or event, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right reason–this is very difficult. Never take the easy way out.
Finally: Just do it! They who hesitate are lost. Seize the day.