What is internal peace?
This is a question people have been chasing the answer to for centuries. Entire religions have been founded on the premise of finding internal peace. The Dali Lama has said:
We can never obtain peace in the world if we neglect the inner world and don’t make peace with ourselves. World peace must develop out of inner peace. Without inner peace it is impossible to achieve world peace, external peace.
At the beginning of the year, finding internal peace became one of my many New Year’s Resolutions and since beginning my search, I have pondered what exactly this means. At the time when I added finding internal peace to my list of resolutions, I was doing a lot of thinking about my own mortality and a better way to have worded my resolution might have been “Come to terms with the reality that I will someday die.”
It has been difficult to reconcile the reality of my eventual death with my human desire for immortality but less than being afraid of death itself, what takes place after I die leaves me with an uneasy feeling.
The Meaninglessness of Time: The very moment we pass the threshold into the afterlife (you can decide what that means to you), time lacks any meaning. A second may as well be an eternity. While life for the living ticks by every second, time is irrelevant to the dead.
Leaving Loved Ones Behind: I hate the idea of losing people I love and even more, the thought of leaving my loved ones behind. After I die, I won’t be able to be there for the special moments or in the times of need. There are no more opportunities to create memories, to tell them how much they mean to me and I the words “I love you” will never escape my lips again. When the time comes, I won’t be there to comfort the ones I love as they make their transition into the afterlife.
What Happens When I am Gone: Human history isn’t only the past but today and eventually the future. I wonder what will happen to the world when I am gone. How will the world view the blink of time we are currently occupying? I wonder about what will happen to humanity after I have died. Will scientists find a cure for a serious disease the day I die? Will the world experience wars and conflict that tear down the political systems and boundaries as I knew them throughout my life? Will America become the next Roman Empire?
The Transitional Nature of Life: Nothing is forever. As much as we would like to believe that the world we know today will always remain, it won’t. It can’t. The reality is that the world is in constant transition. Just as people live and die, so does everything. If you look back at the history of man, the relics we are left with are relatively recent and few and far between. Nothing is static. Will the same happen to our society?
People spend a lifetime trying to understand the meaning of life and seeking the elusive state of internal peace. After six months of searching, I may not be any closer to having the answers to these questions. What I have concluded is that no one wants to die and only those who are on the cusp of death can accept the reality that they will die. Maybe finding internal peace isn’t all that it is cracked up to be.
Instead of seeking internal peace and trying to come to terms with our eventual death, we should enjoy every moment we are blessed with the energy of life. Instead of trying to figure out the meaning of life, live a life of meaning. Coming to terms with the reality of our mortality shouldn’t happen until the very day when we must face death in a more intimate way.
We must have a greater appreciation for the moments that are spent with our eyes open.
All I can say is wow — this article really made me think about things that I had never before put into perspective. I don’t know what you believe in as far as religion is concerned, but it really made me think about my beliefs. I believe in Heaven and Hell and when I think about the things you listed, it made me think about how those play into the idea of internal peace. As far as the meaningless of time, it made me think how awesome it would be to not have to rush through life – it seems that in this society, where everyone is on the go, we are constantly looking for the fastest way to do things. So the idea of not having to do that seems sort of relaxing. As far as leaving loved ones behind, I believe that we are still able to watch over them and greet them when they in fact do reach the afterlife. I think that after we die, we are still able to send signs to people to let them know that they are there. For instance, my grandmother (who’s favorite animal was a butterfly) passed away in 2008. There have been times where I have been struggling with something in my life, and then I see a butterfly, even when it doesn’t make sense – like when I saw one in winter! But it lets me know that she is watching over me.
I think that if we worry so much about what will happen when we are gone, we are going to drive ourselves crazy. The world is going to continue on and the people who live here are going to determine what happens in the world, much like we are doing today. I think that accepting that is going to help achieve inner peace as well. All in all, I think that the best way to achieve inner peace is to accept that we will die someday, and then live our lives with the morals and ethics that we have been living with since we can remember. We shouldn’t spend our days worrying about death, and at the same time, I don’t think we should wait until we are on our deathbed to worry about it either. I think that you (and everyone else) can achieve inner peace – just live the life that makes you happy.
Sorry about my ranting. You write incredible articles that make me think and make me smile. You give me hope that my goals can be achieved and that I should never give up on my dreams.
I have to agree with you about appreciating the moments with your eyes open. Whether you believe in the after life or not, do it now, whatever it is.
One of the things I have knocked off my list recently and am grateful for is my goal of working with the local coroner service. I have spent the last year and a half removing the deceased from the place where they died, all of which were “suspicious circumstances”. Let me tell you as much as I can procrastinate and give others advice I sometimes don’t follow – live for today is all I can say. I’m not going around feeling reborn and live for today all the time but it is so so true that it can end at any time. It’s a job i wouldn’t trade for the world and has given me so much insight into life and the ways that people live.
Often when I see horrifying or just plain sad circumstances, I imagine that person as a child sitting in maybe grade three class, attentive, unknowing of the world out there, filled with wonder and then fast forward to the present moment and think, I am sure in a million years, they never would have thought it would end like this. Likely they never gave it a second thought as a 6 year old but……..I guess my point is go for it, tell everyone you love them, do all the things now because someday will be too late.
One day a few years ago, I sat down and wrote my grandfather a letter – basically, hey man, I love you
and thanks so much for being such an awesome guy, all that. He lived for a long time after that but one
day he called and told me that he kept it by his chair and always read it and cried and smiled and thanked
me so much for it. He’s gone now, but am I ever glad I did that. I did it cause I loved him and no other
reason and I have peace knowing he heard all I had to say. I’m not much good in person but I write a mean letter !
Anyways, that was a bit of a rant but I just got hit hard by the circumstances I found a woman in yesterday
and I can’t shake it – died all alone in a little rented room……I can’t say more but just go live life and never give up!!
Thanks again for your post today and every day – you’re awesome and I love reading it.
This is heavy stuff. I’ve done a lot of thinking about this too. Sometimes it makes me feel uncomfortable, but other times it doesn’t. The way I look at it is that it is a natural part of life.
I don’t think that you should stop trying to find the meaning of life. Life is something to explore and it is only natural to try and find meaning in it. Part of that is coming to terms with our own mortality. I am still not comfortable with it, but the more I accept it the better I feel about life in general.
This is a very thought provoking article.