For many of us, the habit of worry is a strong one. Some have theorized that humans have been selectively bred by life to focus more on the negative than the positive.
The theory is that historically, those who have been more naturally attentive to potential threats have been more likely to survive and reproduce. And thus, over billions of years, we have a species in which we are naturally hardwired to focus on possible threats. As a result, we suffer from worry, anxiety, depression, obsessive thinking, compulsive behavior, and so forth.
I disagree with that theory. It is quite obvious that humans have a natural capacity to focus on possible threats. But that is only one of our natural potentials. We also have the potential to rest as awareness and thus see clearly.
We are endless potential. How that potential is actualized is up to us. It has everything to do with where we place our attention and what we choose and how often we choose that.
By default – whether due to hard-wiring or due to conditioning – we may tend to focus on potential threats. And as a result, we get a lot of worry, anxiety, and so forth. But all that hard-wiring can be re-wired.
Humans are a remarkably non-specialized species. We aren’t particularly good at any physical activity (except maybe endurance) compared to other species. But one thing that is quite remarkable about us is our ability to cultivate specialization.
Consider for a moment how diverse the specializations of humans are. Some humans are virtuoso violinists. Others are mathematical whizzes. Still others lift enormous amounts of weight. Some learn to throw with remarkable accuracy, speed, and power. The list of human specializations could fill entire libraries it is so extensive.
Yet none of us possess great aptitude in a huge number of the specializations simultaneously. We develop specializations at the expense of others by virtue of the fact that our specializations require time, focus, and dedication to develop.
We all know this is true. It is obvious. Common sense, even. And yet few of us recognize that this same principle applies when it comes to specialization in fear versus specialization in peace.
The question really comes down to: what do you really want and how badly do you want it?
If you want peace but you don’t want it more than is required to overcome inertia, then you will not attain it. Not because it is kept from you. Not because life is meant to be suffering. Not because there are real obstacles out there. Not because of some theoretical threat.
Rather, the only obstacle to peace is the lack of commitment. And that lack of commitment comes from a lack of recognition of the true value of our potential.
As I have already stated, the potential for peace exists already within us. And that potential is completely equal to all other potential. In every one of us that is true. Each of us has equal potential for peace. No exceptions.
With that said, not all of us have had equal access to the helpful guidance that points this to us. Many of us are like the laborer in the Papaji story I recently recounted during a video meeting, which I will retell briefly here.
The story goes like this: there was a laborer who worked moving bricks from the kiln to job sites. He moved the bricks by loading them onto his donkey at the kiln and then unloading them at the job site.
He made only $0.50 per day for his labor.
One day while his donkey was drinking from the stream, the man saw a rock in the water that caught his attention. He reached down and pulled the rock out of the water. He thought it was pretty and he tied it on a string around the donkey’s neck.
Weeks later a diamond merchant came to town and seeing the man and his donkey, the merchant could not believe his eyes. There around the donkey’s neck was the largest, most flawless, most valuable diamond he had ever seen.
The merchant asked the man how much he wanted, pointing at the donkey’s neck. The man thought the merchant was asking to buy the donkey, and thus answered, “five dollars.” For if he had known the merchant was asking about the rock around the donkey’s neck, he would not have asked as much.
The merchant gave the man $5, took the diamond, and left.
We are like that laborer. We have this diamond of unprecedented worth – the potential for peace. But we do not recognize its value. We do not even see it for what it is.
And so we keep doing what we are accustomed to doing, not realizing that what we are accustomed to doing is what keeps us impoverished even though we are actually the wealthiest person in the universe!
Well, now you know! So now you cannot say you don’t know. I am telling you, you have the diamond of unrivaled value within. The potential for peace is within you. And it is here and now. It is not at a distance. You do not need to wait.
It is here and now. This moment.
So don’t make excuses. Don’t put it off. Because of you do, you are only exercising the habits that keep the inertia. Putting it off or making any conditions for peace reinforces the habit of fear.
This may be relatively easy to see and tell the truth about in the moment when the perceived threat level is low. But what about when the perceived threat level is higher?
That is actually the most important moment. Because when the perceived threat level is higher, that is when the potential will be actualized either as fear or as peace. That is the critical moment.
If I am only willing to choose peace in the moments when it is easy, I don’t truly recognize the value of the diamond. This diamond is so valuable that it is worth holding fast to it even when the stakes are highest, even when the perceived threat is very high.
This diamond of peace, which we already have, is incomparable. There is nothing in the universe that has greater worth. Not everything else combined in all the universe can even approach the value of this diamond of peace. And we already are this diamond of peace.
Your body will die. That is certain. All things must pass. All things are that passing only. There are no things. There is only change. Nothing ever came into being. Only change. This body is change. There is nothing here to tether oneself to. There is only change.
If you give up this diamond of peace, if you trade it for some false and temporary security, who will be left to take receipt of whatever you trade for? Who will take receipt of the (false and temporary) security?
The moment I abandon the diamond of peace, I abandon myself, and therefore, there remains no one to take receipt of whatever I have traded for. Any trade is a bad deal.
The so-called “real” threats of pain, loss, suffering, sickness, injury, failure, and so forth cannot harm this flawless diamond. Peace exists as pure potential within. I can only know that peace by choosing it now. And if I choose anything else, I lose what truly matters.
What good will temporary health, temporary wealth, temporary happiness, temporary love, temporary anything do me when it is at the expense of true peace? Health, wealth, and happiness are all eroded by fear.
Only peace is the true remedy. And true peace is absolute. It cannot be harmed by anything. All acquisitions, all accomplishments, all attainments are temporal. They come and go.
Peace alone is unaffected by time. Peace is independent of time. Peace is independent of all conditions.
Still, though the potential exists always, I can only live it and actualize it by choosing it now.
All the threats are in the mind only. All the threats are to a temporary notion of myself. None of those threats can touch the flawless diamond of peace.
It is like the moon reflected in a pool. The moon is peace. The reflection is the notion of myself. The threats are pebbles thrown into the pool.
The pebbles cannot touch the moon.
But if I mistakenly believe that the reflection is the moon itself, I will dismay and forsake the true moon while trying to protect the reflection.
That you are that peace is beyond doubt – though doubts may still arise. You can prove this to yourself. Who you are must be always present. It must be the thread that creates a sense of coherence among all the otherwise disparate happenings.
In other words, you know that morning, noon, and night it is you who is experiencing. The experiences change, but you are what is constant. That is why you can say with confidence that this is your life, your experience.
Whether you are awake, dreaming, or in deep dreamless sleep, you know that it is you who is experiencing.
But clearly the content of the experience changes always. Your body changes, Your feelings change. Your thoughts change. The circumstances change. Everything changes. So you cannot be those imaginary things that you imagine among the constant changing.
You are that which is always present. Consider that for a moment so that it is clear to you.
Once you see that you must be that which is always present, then you must admit that you are not any object, any thought, any feeling, any notion.
What remains? It is not a thing, but it is undeniable. Whatever we call it, it is not that notion. We can only point. But you know what you are pointing to because it is yourself beyond all notions.
And this is what I am calling peace. I call it peace because it is undisturbed. It is pristine. It is formless. It can receive everything without being harmed. And moreover, everything also arises from it.
Just observe your direct experience and see that this is true. Merely reading about it or thinking about it won’t do any good. But a single glimpse now will change everything.
See that this peace is beyond all effect. Nothing can touch it. All ideas of yourself arise from this and dissolve into this. There is no you separate from this. And everything that occurs is this.
If you abandon this peace, turning away to try to protect a notion of yourself, you abandon yourself. Or put another way, consider Matthew 16:26 “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
The “world” is temporary. It is an idea. It is the five dollars the merchant gave the laborer.
The “world” means temporary false security. It means believing “I am safe” as an idea that can protect a false person.
Whereas to lose the world is to finally turn to what is real beyond threat. To lose the world, means to acknowledge that this current perceived threat is just another obsessive-compulsive thought. Yes, this notion of this person, this personality, this ego, this body, and all the rest will pass because it is already passing because that is all it is. It was destined to be so because that is its nature.
No thing ever was or ever will be. There is nothing to protect.
Please understand that the mind can and will twist and distort anything and everything. It will distort this message to suggest that you should form a new strategy in which you allow others to abuse you and in which you never take any action to protect your body or your finances or whatever.
And that would be a useless and completely unnecessary distortion. Because what none of this has to do with that. This is beyond that. This is about what is here and now only. This is not about a strategy for dealing with some theoretical future.
This is only about right now. This is only about this instant now. And if you think about it, you’re missing it entirely.
Peace is here now. You are that already. You can only know it if you choose it. Choose it simply by turning away from all else.