Keep it simple and sustainable

What I want is peace.

I want peace more than I want anything else. More than I want money. More than I want sex. More than I want power. More than I want to be right. More than I want immortality. More than I want respect.

But I forget this truth when I get spooked. When I am frightened or overwhelmed, I think that I want other things more than I want peace. I think maybe I want safety or protection more than I want peace.

When I forget, I use all kinds of crazy justifications for insanity.

But it hurts to do that.

That pain is a wake-up call. It is saying “Lies hurt. Tell the truth. Start with clarity about what you want.”

I want peace.

The good news is that peace is here now. Peace is not something I have to earn or gain or hold on to. Peace cannot be had. It cannot be defended.

Peace is right here. Right now. It is even in the wake-up call of pain. The pain itself is none other than peace because it stops the lie right now. And in this one instant now, what is revealed is peace.

The lie begins as soon as I try to use that revelation of peace as another sword and shield.

When I first was introduced to this inquiry – this living inquiry of peace/truth – I thought it was insufficient. It seemed unspectacular. I thought I needed something flashy and big.

So I picked up the sword and shield again and again and went back to the misery of defending myself – not seeing that every defense keeps the war going. Every defense perpetuates the false division, the mistrust, the fear.

But as I have matured – which has been a much slower process than I would have liked for I was far from mature – I have discovered that what I focus on is what flourishes.

This is one of those lessons that is incredibly obvious and yet I overlooked it for a long time. It is in plain sight and yet invisible because of its obviousness. I thought I knew it already and so I dismissed it.

But once I started to see the truth of it, it started to sink in and change my life. It humbled me and opened me. And it helped me to see the power and wisdom in being a student always at the feet of the teacher – always ready for today’s lesson, willing to admit that I don’t know.

We can run here and there in search of the best answers, the best teachings. And we can spend a lifetime – or dozens – doing that and learn nothing of real value.

Or we can stop now and submit with humility to the supreme teacher that is this exquisitely perfect moment now. And in so doing, we receive the great gift that is being offered. We learn, we grow, we transform.

What I focus on – what I give my attention to – what I commit myself to – is what grows.

When I give my attention – whether consciously or unconsciously – to maintaining the defenses, the war grows. If I put power, image, protection, or anything else before peace, war continues.

When I give my attention to peace, peace grows.

To give attention to peace – truthfully, not just a superficial idea of peace – is rare. It is so rare, we have few good role models. We have to tread this path mostly alone. We have to have the courage to venture into unknown territory.

And so it is not easy. It takes great commitment, persistence, and faith. The truth of peace often looks and feels like what I think is terror. The compulsion to defend is strong at times.

But once awake to the reality of peace and the lie of war (in its many disguises), truthfulness is the only real option.

Keep it simple. That means come back to the basics. What do I want? What do I REALLY want? What do I want more than anything else? What will truly satisfy?

Will more money truly satisfy? Will more power truly satisfy? What will actually satisfy?

Only true peace will satisfy. This has to be seen. It has to be seen over and over and over. Now, now, now. This has to be the moment of truth. A memory of past seeing is not enough. It has to be seen now. And in that seeing, the pain of the lie is apparent.

(By the way, none of this means that we have to reject money, power, etc. That is not necessary. That would just be an inversion of the defenses.)

It also has to be sustainable. What I give my attention to flourishes. Giving my attention to peace once – even if in a really big way – does no good if it was in the past. It has to be alive now. Only living peace now is of any value.

How can it be sustainable? Start where you are. Start now. Be truthful now. See truthfully now. And for this one instant now, open to that truth. Even if it is uncomfortable. Even if it seems to be other than what you think is good, nice, or pleasant. Just for one half second catch a glimpse.

Don’t try to force anything. Force is not sustainable. Force lasts only until it runs out of steam. Then it is done. Then whatever was seen is in the past and that is a dead thing.

What is needed is living truth, living peace, living inquiry. And that requires gentleness.

Be gentle. Accept whatever appears without judgment. Just see it. That is gentleness.


  1. A great clarification of ‘gentleness’ – I see this in quite a different light now, though I had to re-read your post a few times to let it sink in. This is a pretty nuanced and apparently elusive perspective, but the last sentence is so perfectly clear.
    Thank you, Joey.

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