To speak of peace in this way may seem insensitive to the suffering that many Ukrainians are experiencing at this very moment as their security, their lives, their dreams, their illusions … are being pummelled by the narcissistic actions of a tyrant. I recognize that this way of looking at peace may even be a radical departure from our habitual ways of responding to aggression; a primal defensive reflex of fear and anger through which our very survival could depend. Yet, there is great courage and much wisdom in the notion of Peace as being inherent in the present moment and that we may find it by accepting what is; accepting reality as it presents itself. Yes, one may call it radical acceptance, and we can perceive it in the resolve demonstrated by the Ukrainian people presently under siege. To survive, they have had no choice than to accept the urgency of their reality as it is presenting itself and they are rising up stoically to the challenge of defending themselves. Acceptance is not submission; it is acknowledgement and non-denial, reinforced with discernment and assertiveness. It is grounded in truth, and thus, would resist conspiracy theories and alternative realities.
You may argue that it is pure folly to suggest that we should accept vulnerability in the face of grave danger. I can retort that in the practice of nonviolent communication, an honest acknowledgement of one’s vulnerability can be a powerful and effective tool in disarming the threat of an adversary by appealing to his or her innate compassionate response. But that is not what is suggested by radical acceptance. I admit that radical acceptance is based on a deep spiritual point of view, and could be a difficult concept to grasp, and even more so, to put into action. It requires much effort and due diligence to change a paradigm that is deeply rooted in our primal responses. Byron Katie’s iconic book “Loving What Is” is a highly transformative spiritual psychotherapy about which she rightly calls “The work.”
Our primal reaction to a dangerous threat is fear which triggers our inherent survival toolkit of fight, flight, freeze. After all, this has allowed us to survive as an intelligent species up to now. However, fear is the antithesis of Peace, and even as a strong vibrational energy, it is still, by far, less powerful than that of peace. Although fear triggers an alert to dangers that may help us prepare an adequate defence, it could also reduce our capacity to fight by provoking an inefficient panic response. However, if it is modulated by calm presence, moral resolve and a strong will, it may give us a defensive edge in challenging an adversary, as in the story of David and Goliath. Of course, flight is always an option and the sudden flow of adrenaline may well give us superhuman speed, but in some instances we may not be able to outrun the danger. Freeze may work too, but your fear-induced heartbeat may not fool a cunning fox. Then again, the wisdom to choose the best course of action in the moment comes from peaceful presence or mindfulness. As long as a defence strategy stays within moral and ethical boundaries, it has a moral argument and the power of peace will be in its favour.
The capacity to remain in calm presence and to act with moral clarity comes through spiritual connection from the heart-space, the abode of Peace. The foundation of the heart-space is built from gratitude, joy, loving kindness, compassion, understanding and universal love. To have ready access to this connection, we must cultivate its building blocks in our daily lives. This is the foundational teaching of every religion on Earth. Peace doesn’t disappear behind the dark clouds of chaos and turbulence; it always shines through to the calm mind and the pure heart.
As you have seen, fear is a necessary survival tool; it is an emotion that instructs us about imminent dangers and prepares us to act in defence. However, as it is often the case in our busy modern lives, a state of constant fear is a serious affliction that depletes our vital energy and leaves us on a spiral of suffering and depression. Peace, on the other hand, is not an emotion, but an elevated state of consciousness. Its energy field is extremely powerful and it is impervious to the sapless energy of negative judgments. However, these judgments, usually born out of fear and ignorance, will block the path to peace and leave us more vulnerable. Negative judgments bring negative energy into our reality and weaken us. Also, Peace is not a passive phenomenon; its energy is not generated from brute force, but it radiates quietly with cosmic power.
This powerful vibrational state of Peace is sourced in the energy field of life itself, which some call God, some Light, and others, Consciousness; it is this all-powerful and intelligent energy field that manifests everything that exists in the universe. It is a universal creative platform from where we all came and to where we will eventually return. We can see it expressed in the magnificent glow of the lotus bloom that evolved from murky mud beds of a stagnant pond. We can see it expressed in the same way in the tiger and the elephant, in the dolphin and the shark, in the eagle and the dove. It is also why we can perceive it in the sunrise and the sunset, in the forest and in the sea. Peace can equally find its expression in art as in war. It is up to us, as individuals, to understand how our personal life choices, through our thoughts, our words and our actions, influence our world and create our reality.
Peace is who we are at our essence, if we let it be.
May peace reign in the hearts of the people of Ukraine…
and also find a path to the hearts of tyrants.