The Philosopher Princess’ Utterly Unscientific Guide to Finding Inner Peace
Yesterday, we defined the virtue of peace as a state of undisturbed inner calm. It is a virtue which has echoes in many different world religions, making it, like wisdom, one of those universal supervirtues.
We also established that peace has the dual orientations of being both outwardly and inwardly focused. The ideas of being “at peace” with others and being “at peace” with ourselves are simultaneously independent and interconnected. A sense of peace on one side of the equation can infiltrate and bring peace to all areas of our life; likewise, a lack of peace in one small thing can sow worry and discord in all the rest.
These are, obviously, observations, not prescriptions. Today we are going to continue our series of observations about peace and I will provide a few prescriptions for seeking peace.
The Heartbeat of Peace
We defined the heartbeat of a virtue as where it first makes its appearance in our lives: whether as a thought or as an action. Both, if you remember, if practiced regularly, can turn a thought or an action into an attitude of virtue, which is the goal (the first prescriptive part of virtue-seeking is found here.)
The heartbeat of peace is first and foremost a thought, and a distinct lack of action.
Peace is a state of the mind and a state of the heart. Peace is intensely personal and intimate. While someone might be able to teach you how to be courteous (as I learned on my first day of Traditions at Walt Disney World), no one can sit you down and teach you the actions of peace.
What makes peace so difficult to seek is that it has no physical manifestation. It is found in rest, in quiet, in calm. Peace, if it were something that could be “done” would be the process of emptying ourselves of our worries, emotions, thoughts…
A long time ago, I told you about the short time I spent in Uganda. I had been given the Rukiga (the local language of the village I was staying in) name of Mirembe. When I asked what it meant, I was first told, “magic.” Then, an older child corrected the translation. Mirembe means “peace.”
Let’s be honest. Peace can feel a lot like magic. The pursuit of peace can, when being described, sound like a whole lot of mumbo-jumbo and spell casting.
Because actively seeking peace is not something that we can do with our hands, we are very quick to throw the baby out with the bathwater. One morning, my Bible reading brought me face to face with this verse:
In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.Isaiah 30:15
The “but you would have none of it” part of the verse is what kicked my butt. It’s true. Very often, I will have none of it. It is too simple to rest and be quiet. Repentance sounds like one of those “fire and brimstone preacherish” words. I resist those words.
But what if?
I mean, I was already on something of a roller coaster already. I wasn’t really “doing anything” there, either, other than being whipped around by the g-forces of twin storms Scalawag 1 & 2. What if I got off the roller coaster for a minute and tried that one little active prescription for seeking peace: Repent.
A conversation with God ensued once I was willing to enumerate for myself the ways in which I had fallen short. A magical feeling of peace and calm and internal order settled in. Not forever, but for a moment.
That little moment made me want more little moments. A thought of peace can lead to an attitude of peace. Sure, it’s going to take some of us longer than others to get there. But you have to start somewhere.
The Intentionality of Peace
The intentionality of a virtue has to do with the kind of decision that it requires: obedience, for example, requires that a requested action be completed in order to demonstrate the virtue. Courtesy, on the other hand, might require an attitude adjustment–putting patience to work, for example–or some kind of concrete action, such as holding a door open or picking up that abandoned sock on the bedroom floor.
Peace is an attitude choice, just as courtesy was a choice. Peace is a choice.
Peace is a choice.
Sorry, not sure you read that correctly. Peace is a choice.
We must intentionally choose peace in order to demonstrate this virtue. We must choose to pursue the things of peace: stopping ourselves from worrying. Simplifying our lives so that we have less to worry about. Seeking out the good of those around us, even our neighbors who hate us. Searching our hearts for what is creating stress. Pursuing solutions for what stresses us.
Peace itself is not an action. But we can seek that deep, magical feeling of peace through our intentional actions.
Tomorrow we are going to look at the Flipside of peace (what? there’s a downside to peace?). Likewise, we are going to look at the Supervillain side of peace (what?)
Suspend your disbelief. I’ll see you tomorrow.