The Buddha said “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” I wonder what the Buddha would think if he were alive today, and could see how desperately, almost frantically, so many of us seek happiness in external things, experiences, people and situations. Renowned Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron calls this “if only” mind…one of the ego’s greatest tricks to keep us trapped in suffering. The ego tells us that happiness lives outside of ourselves, and that “if only” I had a (bigger house/better partner/larger paycheck/smaller waist size…you get the point), THEN I would be at peace.
What a horrible trap! Our minds tell us that THIS moment, the one right here and now, with THESE very circumstances, is simply not good enough. It robs us of our ability to be present, to contact the “pure, radiant awareness” that we are, as the Buddha said. If I’m caught in some mind-trap of thinking that I can ONLY be happy when things are DIFFERENT, then not only am I avoiding being present (and therefore missing out on my life because your entire life is actually just this single moment NOW) but I’m also being a bit of an asshole to my Self. Telling myself that I’m lacking? Not enough? Unworthy of true peace and happiness?
I call bullshit. The truth of the matter is, sweet reader – you ARE peace. You ARE happiness. You aren’t your mind – the name you call yourself, the identity you’ve built as a result of the stories in your head – nor are you your body, which is constantly changing and one day will die. You are something so much greater: you’re stardust. Who you REALLY are is your ESSENCE. It’s your spirit, or your soul – some call it your heart or Highest Self or Awareness or Oneness or the Spark of the Divine. Whatever you call it, it’s the part of you that is so vastly wise, so infinitely kind and patient and compassionate and forgiving and JOYFUL – truly, beautifully so. And THAT is why you must turn inward to find your peace, which has been perched quietly on the branches of your heart, patiently waiting for you to come Home.