“It’s not worth our while to let our imperfections disturb us always”
– Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862, American philosopher)
Are war and peace contradictory or complementary?
We hear spiritual life makes you peaceful, but you can’t practice spirituality if you are disturbed; you need to be peaceful first. A spiritual warrior peacefully fights a daily war with his lower self!
The mind pulls us to fulfill various desires and most of them are unfavorable for our spiritual advancement. If we succumb to the pulls, our consciousness slips but if we resist and fight it out, we get exhausted. As the saying goes, ‘what you resist, it persists’.
Basically we aren’t really moving forward because the mind is formidable, and its fervent rebellion to halt our spiritual march makes us more desperate but the more intensely we try to quell the mind, the more it recoils and persists in its insubordination. It’s a vicious quicksand then; a cyclical trap where the more you try, the more you lose. But if you don’t struggle, you are totally finished.
The way out is simple, don’t worry about winning the war. Seek peace now by first accepting yourself the way you are!
The moment you feel weak because of mind’s pulling, instead of fighting the desire, first pause and accept yourself the way you are. “This is the way I am, and this desire I have” Then you could affirm, “I accept myself just the way I am; I forgive myself” The legendary Eleanor Roosevelt advised, “Friendship with oneself is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in this world”
Acceptance of our mental state improves our awareness. And the key to curb the restless mind is to be aware of its turbulent nature.
Most of us panic, and fight a losing war with the mind. Instead, pause and accept the present situation. It’s like when an enemy makes a surprise attack, instead of reacting instinctively, you first gather your forces, and then with clear thinking, launch a decisive blow on your enemy. He’d then hastily retreat and wait for another day and time. Similarly when the mind roars and tosses us around helplessly, we could first be aware of what’s happening. That’s when we need to internally accept the situation and our level of advancement or lack of it. This doesn’t mean we shamelessly justify abandoning all moral scruples, it only means we come to terms with who we are; it’s more of self- awareness. It also keeps us humble and grounded rather than imagine ourselves to be greater than who we really are.
Accepting ourselves not only gives us an honest estimation about ourselves, but our prayers to the Lord also become more natural and honest. Since we are now ‘aware’ of our precarious condition, our shelter of a higher power-God- is more heartfelt. And only when we are connected to the Lord not at an intellectual level but through the heart, that’s when we rise above the mind.
To connect our hearts and soul to God we need to rise above our addiction to mental analysis and be ‘present’ with the Lord now. Our desire to be pure in the future or to be a great spiritual leader one day is all a denial of the present. To experience the joy of connecting to the Lord and thereby transcending the mind’s terror, we need to be detached from all past and future and accept the now.
This brings instant peace. And only in a peaceful state we can sustain the war which is not going to end soon. The French philosopher Albert Camus said, “Peace is the only battle worth waging”.
And even if you lose on some occasions, know you have lost only a small battle. The next one you’d surely win and since it’s a lifelong war, better be at peace with yourself now.