Monday, May 9, 2016

The Path to Peace

Last week, I heard someone refer to the "path to peace".

My initial reaction to this was that it was a bullshit thing.   As either (or more probably, both) Mahatma Gandhi and Thich Nhat Hanh said:  "There is no path to peace.  Peace is the path."

So, right, that makes sense too:  if you want to have peace, the first thing you should do is live peacefully.  As I've thought about (and written about) before, this is not so easy a thing to do in today's world.  According to Douglas Adams (1), we seem very preoccupied with the happiness of little green pieces of paper, when it doesn't seem that the little green pieces of paper are at all unhappy.

I'm overdosing on teen-ager right now.  Three troubled teens in my life, two of them my own children, making their way in life in a freely self-chosen path of self-destruction, leaving a wake of unintended - and in their case - unrecognized destruction (2). 

As I watch them, trying to steer them from life's unpleasant fringes, I have come to realize that happiness cannot be attained through self-interest. 

So, I stop and look back at Thay and Gandhiji (yes, we are buds), I stop to consider how right and wrong really don't fit.  They were both right, peace is an action, not a noun, but I stop also to consider that there are some things - like self-interest and concern for the happiness of little green slips of paper - that clearly take us off the path.

So, maybe the first step to peace is not so much to live peacefully, but rather to stop living unpeacefully.

(1)  Right!  I know!  Three quotes in the same blog post!  To use a goofy seminary term, I see a lot of intersectionality here.  Don't worry, it won't happen often.

(2) Right!  I know!  Two footnotes in the same blog post!  Don't worry, it won't happen that often.  But here, what I wanted to say was that I use the term "destruction" in a Shiva sort of way.  Destruction not being necessarily bad, but the way of making things clear for the next thing to emerge from Brahma.

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