Peace is Every Step – Let’s Move!
By Rev. Guenter Maier, Berlin
Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Zen Buddhist and international peace activist, once wrote:
„Everyone knows that peace has to begin with oneself, but not many people know how to do it.”
There is a connection between personal, inner peace and peace on earth. Indeed, a decisive question is: How do we begin to resolve conflicts in our personal life to overcome negative feelings and obstacles that have caused pain, restlessness and suffering? There is no one who does not experience the shadows that darken well-being, action or lack of action in daily life. How can I as an individual, in a world of much drama and too many tragedies, achieve a realization of inner and outer peace?
In his book Peace is Every Step, Thich Nhat Hanh directs our awareness towards important aspects: the experience of peace is possible in a flow of motion, gradually. Peace can be sustained in a continuous movement, while it is embedded in our daily walk of life. Notice that the affirmation does not say “many” or “some” steps. It focuses on “Peace is every step.”
As we know, Taoist wisdom teachings also emphasize that – to reach a goal or destination – every journey must begin with a first step.
Reflective Exercise 1:
Becoming aware of necessary steps
What is the first step towards (more) peace in your personal life that you would want or need? What are the most painful feelings or conflicts, tension and restlessness that trouble your life? Is it a long-postponed conversation or phone call? Do you need a step towards reconciliation with someone? Is forgiveness for hurting yourself or someone else the first step? Or is it resolving and healing your negative thinking about yourself or others? Prejudice, judgement? The multitude of frustrations that usually build up a wall of pain over the years? Think about it, listen to your intuition (inner voice): What is the first step? What is the second, third and fourth step? What comes to your mind? Going down this path means taking concrete action.
Peace Is Consciousness
The powerful and vibrant energy of peace is in the consciousness of peace. It resides in all its divine qualities as harmony, love, affection, beauty, grace, benevolence, appreciation and truth. The shift of thinking and recognition that build the source for initiating peaceful action happens in our consciousness. We create peaceful moments by conscious peaceful thoughts and successive acts of kindness. Kindness is always peaceful, and among the strongest steps in peace-making.
Going many peaceful steps opens up our view and scope of interpersonal recognition. From a place of peaceful humility, we can look beyond our own limits and borders. Opening the heart to a new and deeper way of understanding is one major step and shift in the consciousness of our lives.
Reflective Exercise 2:
What requires a lift or an expansion in my consciousness?
A few questions for reflecting on reaching a continuous sequence of peaceful steps are, for example: Can I take more, longer and farther reaching steps towards peace? Do I have peacemaker qualities? What qualities or character traits interfere with the embodiment of a peaceful life? How relates the shadow of my soul to the lack of peace? What is hidden in the dark labyrinth of my soul’s shadow? How do I handle or how can I transform my thoughts of rejection, prejudice, denial, negative projection and hatred? Does my heart desire peace? If not, what needs to be healed and resolved?