Finding Inner Peace

For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. -Isaiah 9:6 

Dear members and friends,

In an English dictionary, the word peace is defined as “freedom from disturbance; tranquility” or “a state or period in which there is no war, or a war has ended.” Although humanity as a whole has been continually seeking these states of being, the sad fact is that our history is filled with wars and our lives are often filled with disturbances. At times, we find ourselves overwhelmed by disturbing events that seem beyond our control. Also, at times, it seems almost impossible to obtain inner tranquility due to confusion, chaos, pain and suffering in the world. Sometimes, it even sounds selfish to pursue one’s inner peace while the whole world is struggling and suffering. Yet, the Bible teaches strongly about peace from God, and Buddha teaches about the importance of obtaining inner peace. In a way, it could be concluded that seeking peace is not simply a human desire, but also a mandate of the divine. 

The Hebrew word for peace is shalom. In the Old Testament shalom is translated to mean “completeness, soundness, welfare” along with “peace.” The root word of shalom is shalam meaning, “to be in a covenant of peace, be at peace; to be complete.” Thus, we can see that with shalom, the Bible teaches us the importance of obtaining inner tranquility as well as getting along well with others. The Sanskrit word for peace is shanti, which means peace and inner calm. The Buddha taught inner calmness above all else; even the very word for the state of being enlightened is nirvana, which literally means to blow out or quench. According to the Buddha, our mind is always in suffering due to our burning desires, and thus enlightenment is only obtained through blowing out the burning desires. Consequently, we would be able to return to a state of calm in which we shall be able to see all things including the oneself as they are in their original forms.  

One thing that I learned from Buddhistic cultivation is that inner peace is not obtained by ignoring what is happening externally nor by suppressing my emotions, but by acknowledging and understanding what is happening around and within myself as it happens, and my own emotional reactions to it. When we are able to see objectively and calmly, we may be able to maintain tranquility despite the presence of pain and suffering within and around oneself. Thus, the true inner peace may be obtained along with a state of completeness with oneself that accompanies inner tranquility despite the presence of all trouble, pain, and suffering. In other words, obtaining inner peace does not mean to be immune against pain and suffering, but simply to be able to maneuver around them without being driven by them.

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee