When we find ourselves agitated, we attempt to find peace somewhere or to make peace with our tormentors. But in the active and ever-changing world today, we lose our peace almost as soon as we manage to find it. And there is no dearth of our tormentors. This appears like a zero-sum game where whatever we do to gain peace is lost in the following backlash to our very actions to gain it.
When we objectively observe our lack of peace, we find that our fears and anxieties play a major role in disturbing our peace. I am afraid I will not be able to complete the work within the deadline. I fear losing my job and having to face starvation. I am anxious about things not going according to my plan. I feel anxiety about people around me who frequently oppose and try to thwart my objectives. If we can successfully deal with our fears and anxieties, we may be able to calm down considerably and become peaceful. A simple way to deal with our fears and anxieties is to try to discover who, in me, is feeling fearful and anxious. To quote a simple example, if I have to face an opponent who is a local champion in a sport, I feel fearful and anxious. But if I am a national champion in the same sport, facing the local champion is a breeze for me. Hence, if I can discover my true self, I should be able to take on my challenges with more confidence and peace
When we realize the deep truth hidden in the above statement, we can discover the direct route to inner peace. This route involves our sustained and objective search for our true self. We progress on this route by carefully finding the answer to the question ‘Who am I’ and then subjecting the answer we find to a rigorous scrutiny. For instance, if we think we are our thoughts, let us check which specific thought we have personifies us. Thoughts keep flowing in our minds relentlessly and holding to one of them as our true identity results in our annihilation as soon as the thought passes away. Perhaps we are our mind that generates these thoughts? But try as we might we never find this thing called mind that is the source of our thoughts. Deeper observation reveals that thoughts appear spontaneously and at random and disappear without a trace. The neural circuits in our brain that generate our thoughts are poor substitutes for our mind. They can be surgically removed or destroyed by disease and we will continue to live albeit in internal silence. This type of rational unbiased scrutiny of all the candidates for our identity such as our bodies, emotions, names, religions etc results only in all of them being cast aside. They all may be in us, but we can be found in none of them.
As we discard each and every identity, our anxieties and fears associated with the identity fall away. When we convincingly discover by ourselves that we are not our body, our fear of pain diminishes. When we know that our workplace identity is only a temporary role at best, by deliberately stepping out of our role, we are able to ward off workplace related stress. When we realise that our spouse identity is merely a socially scripted drama, we are able to avoid all the relationship pitfalls. The peace we feel deepens. Thus, our search for self leads us towards abiding inner peace.
Our search for self is, in fact, pursuit of inner peace. By engaging in consistent and methodical search for our self any of us can access abiding inner peace.
Born in the rich culture of South India and educated in English, I have been exposed to two opposing world views enabling me to achieve synergy and realize true harmony. I belong to linguistic community “Saurashtra” who were silk weavers patronised by kings of yore. Our ancestors are said to have migrated from Western part of India to Tamil Nadu in the South several centuries ago. Growing up in the country as India underwent its pangs of Westernisation, I was able to synthesise the self oriented Western perspective with the community oriented native one to arrive at a wholesome concept of self after considerable efforts and experimentation. My forthcoming book “Searching for Self – In Pursuit of Inner Peace” is the culmination of this labour.