Main menu

Individual Peace

When we speak of peace, we generally think of states and nations and their duties. We think of the strifes and bloodshed which they occasion. We forget that the wars of nations are only occasional, but there is another kind of strife which is incessant and which is more reprehensible, as it disturbs the peace of mankind more deeply. And for this disturbance of peace we are all responsible. Let us not judge the states and nations; but let us judge ourselves. The Kingdom of God is really within us. Peace of humanity depends more on the disposition of individual men and women than on states and nations. We cannot, by our individual exertions, change or influence the counsels of nations to a very large extent. But we can do much to establish peace in our homes and neighborhoods. And if the Kingdom of God be ever established, it will be established more by the way of individual peacefulness, than by large acts of national or collective charity. More harmful to the peace of our homes are the little jealousies, envies, greeds, and lusts of the individual hearts than the gigantic armies and colossal navies of nations. For the peace of me and my neighbor what is necessary is the establishment of the Kingdom of God within me. Oh the smoldering fires of hatred, jealousy, and envy which are silently eating away the vitals of society and sapping at the root of domestic peace, how much more insidious and fruitful in the production of human misery they are! For the establishment of the Kingdom of God it is not only necessary that "thou shalt not kill," but also that "thou shalt not be angry with thy brother," and thou shalt not say to thy brother "thou fool." Sweet peace of God, which flows in kind words and kindlier deeds, in love and charity among neighbors, in the self-forgetful service of our fellow-men, mainly depends on our inner disposition. And the shortest way to the Kingdom of God is across the valley of individual charity, through love of our neighbors, and forgiveness of those that trespass against us, and living in peace with those who are around us.

Deeper still, and as the source and secret of peacefulness outside, is inner peace—living in peace with one's own self. There is no strife so fierce and so disquieting as the strife within, the wrestling with the unruly passions, with the undisciplined will and the unrestrained self. So long as the self has not been conquered, the passions bridled, and the will consecrated, there is no peace for you even in the Kingdom of God, if you can find one anywhere. There is no peace on earth until it has been established within you. And the search after this peace, which has been everywhere considered as passing understanding, has been the everlasting work of religion. The establishment of peace within is the aim and object of religion. The prophets and saints of the world lived and died in the search after this peace for humanity and their message was the message of peace. What is religion but this search for and attainment of peace? Everybody, the worldly man, the devotee, the sage, all are in quest of peace. People variously think that they can have it in wealth, or in power, or in learning, or in the gratification of the senses. The problem which occupied the religious teachers of the world was also this—discovering the secret source of peace. They found weak and heavy-laden humanity blindly groping after peace; but where was peace? The sages of the world seem to have devoted themselves to the solution of this one problem. And the answers which they found are wonderfully identical. Buddha, Jesus, and the rest of them, give but one answer. Not in self-seeking but in self-surrender is peace to be found. When man can say, "not my will but Thy will be done," then and then alone can he have peace which knows no end. Peace is the fruit of self-conquest and self-surrender; and when man is at peace within himself he will find and give peace outside; he will be in peace at his home, in peace with his neighbor, and in peace with the world.

—The Indian Messenger

More in this issue

« Thoughts at Even-Tide   |   Life's Melodies »

(0 votes)

Leave a comment

back to top

Get Social