My New Book "Who Am I? - Pathway into Inner Peace"
Chapter 1 - Inner Peace
Our Distracted Lives
Life today is filled with an endless stream of external attractions that tug at us in the name of importance, urgency, novelty, indispensability etc. In this stormy sea, almost all of us have completely lost our inner peace and tranquillity. But since all of us are in the same boat, we assume that inner peace is very difficult to achieve in this life. We also assume peace and quiet are outside of us and that until the last sound out there dies out, we shall have no peace. But when we are not at peace inside and keep running after the multitude of distractions, our life becomes filled with endless empty activity and agitation. We find ourselves very busy all the time but seem to achieve nothing. But life has no sympathy and does not spare us our share of challenges and pain. When a distracted driver speeds down a busy road, multiple collisions happen till the car ends in a broken heap. This analogy more or less resembles the lives of most of us on earth today!
Search for Inner Peace
Almost every one of us is searching for inner peace in every moment of our lives. Despite this intense search we rarely find peace and even when we do find it we lose it almost immediately. It appears as if inner peace is impossible or at best only momentary. This has led us to believe that this world is never at peace and we need to run away to remote corners of the earth where there are no humans just to enjoy some measure of peace. Those of us with the time and resources needed for such an escapade to far of jungles or remote islands, mountain tops or desert retreats may have attempted to take time off to recharge and gain inner peace. But they do know after all their futile attempts that wherever we go our problems and worries follow us faithfully. The modern era of seamless connectivity ensures that we can never run away from the problems of our lives. Hence, we never ever manage to find inner peace outside of ourselves however much we may try.
When we are not at peace inside, we adopt two basic approaches to facing challenges in our distracted lives - blindly fight against them or run away from them. A closer look at our challenges reveals that we fight if the challenges appear not too big and we run away if they appear huge. Hence from a superficial point of view our success in overcoming a challenge seems to basically depend on how big the challenge is. But once we calm down internally, we are able to see a hidden truth. Irrespective of its actual size, a challenge would appear big or small to us depending on how big or small we consider ourselves to be. If we think we are small and weak even a small challenge appears huge and daunting. On the other hand, if we think we are powerful and resourceful, even a really large challenge appears comparatively not too difficult to overcome. Hence, we can approach it with self-assurance and confidence and generally overcome it or at least not get badly hurt by it. Thus, a calm and clear approach can change the outcomes in many crucial situations in our life and protect us from unwanted misery. Hence, we first need to turn inside and discover our true self to become capable of taking on the big outer challenges that keep appearing all the time in our lives.
The Basic Truth
When we can turn our attention inwards with some consistency, we will observe that inner peace is our natural state of being. It is independent of our external circumstances, though capable of being profoundly affected by it. If we can really observe ourselves deeply, we will find that our inner peace and serenity are in truth greatly influenced by the story that we are telling ourselves right now. If our story is one about our own confidence in our skill and abilities to overcome the challenges we are facing in the present time, our internal environment is relatively peaceful. If we are not sure about our own capabilities to face the current situation in our life, we become agitated inside. Going slightly deeper, our confidence in our own skills and capabilities is squarely based on our own image of ourselves. If we think we are cowards without the necessary physical and mental powers to face life we can rarely achieve inner tranquillity. Thus, our reply in any moment to the question "Who am I?" decides the level of inner peace we feel in that moment. This simple truth, if completely understood and internalised can help us achieve significant level of lasting inner peace.
"We are not That!"
Many of us assume that we know who we are and rarely give significant thought to this question. Probably we assume this to be a philosophical question that does not directly concern our day to day living. Indeed, the contemplative pursuit of "Who am I?" by the well-read and self-realised masters is entirely philosophical but here we are not concerned with going after universal truths. All we are concerned about is how our own self-image in the present moment affects the way we think, speak and act and consequently our successes and failures that directly result from them. In this quest we will be more interested in finding out who we are not - because the false images and disguises we wear are negatively impacting our lives through our misguided words and deeds. Hence a significant part of this book will try to systematically identify all the false identities we associate ourselves with and help us realise that "We are not that!".
The False Identities
As we identify and discard all of our debilitating false identities, we will discover our true strengths and resources that will enable us to face confidently all the challenges in our daily lives. This will calm down our internal agitations and help us come to peace gently. Once we come to peace within us, the storms that blow on the outside would not throw us around. Internal peace clarifies our vision that can reveal the direct route to success for us. Once we reach there, holding on to internal peace ensures that we don’t hastily say nor do anything that undermines our success. If and when the outer storms blow away our successes, we are still calm enough to start all over again and achieve the next peak in quick time. Further, setbacks and losses do not unduly bother us as we now have the confidence to get past them to success again and again.
This achievement of inner peace is a lifelong work and the earlier we commence it, the better will be our experience in this world. Though the route to inner peace and contentment has been prescribed in all religions and spiritual paths, there is no mysticism involved in this. There is no need to believe in any faith or follow any leader or guru. But if you are religious or a spiritual seeker, this book will complement your faith and learning perfectly for a practical application of the teachings there.