By Maureen Goodman
Asked to consider the connection between inner and outer peacefulness, I have reflected on that which I know best – my own work within the Brahma Kumaris and the work of my sisters and brothers. What I wish to show, by reflection and reference to practical work, is that outer peacefulness arises from peace within. They are intertwined. This relationship is based on the spiritual principle that whatever is within is reflected without – the inner state of human beings creates the outer state of the world.
During my most recent visit to India, I witnessed a project showing spirituality in action. I visited the site of India One,40 a thermal solar power plant that had just become operational. It had been completed, against all odds, by people who learned their expertise as they went along. They had purpose, vision, will and, above all else, they had community. They gained the support of the Indian and German governments and are now supplying electricity to thousands of people. The site has also been designated a Training Centre on Concentrating Solar Thermal Technologies under the United Nations Development Programme. I had made several visits over the six years that it took to build, and I reflected on how I saw a community of people coming together both for an immediate task, and also to do something for the world. Now that the plant is operational, I cannot describe the light in their faces. Their ‘power of community’ made what could have been an arduous task into a joy.
There is a principle at work here – the sense of purpose among the initiators of this project brought them an inner tranquillity and certainty that created an atmosphere which engendered cooperation. Inner peace is felt as a vibration that gently overpowers the resistance of negativity. Inner peace is not just related to having peaceful thoughts and feelings, but also to an inner knowing that I am fulfilling my purpose and allowing the inner voice of my conscience to guide me.
In the quest for peacefulness, we are looking here at a paradigm for trans- formation that is rooted in a spiritual awareness and works from the inside out. It has several aspects: an awareness of the original state of peace of our being; an awareness of a greater source than ourselves upon which we can draw; an awareness of being part of the greater whole, and a vision of a future without suffering. These aspects are completely interconnected and necessary for us to move forward. They are based on what my colleague, Sister Jayanti, has called, “The spiritual truth which is a basic principle, that whatever is within is reflected without. The inner state of human beings creates the outer state of the world.”
When we consider the problems our planet is facing right now, it is clear that the power of the human spirit must lead in healing and transformation. The Earth Charter, recognises that, “peace is the wholeness created by right relationships with oneself, other persons, other cultures, other life, Earth, and the larger whole of which all are a part.” These ‘right relationships’ are, in turn, a reflection of our connection with the Source, the Divine.
Relationships with oneself and others
So often in our teachings we are told if someone is angry with you, stay quiet, not just externally, but also internally. We do not have to battle with negativity, but we need to continue to create positivity within as that will generate an atmosphere of peace around us. If we continue to have thoughts of anger or even irritation, resistance is still created. I have experienced the power of peace working on many occasions. Dadi Janki, the head of the Brahma Kumaris, has an incredible presence of peace after 80 years or more of practising meditation (as I write this she is 101 years of age). Once she was sharing, with her usual enthusiasm, and one woman in the crowded room was getting increasingly upset. Eventually, she burst out, “What right have you to be happy when I am so miserable!” Dadi paused and, with a deep sense of peace and love said to her, “If I also become unhappy and peaceless, who would there be to bring you peace and happi- ness?” That sentence changed that woman’s life.
We often find ourselves in situations where we begin to judge, criticise or blame. Even if we do not speak of it, we think it, sometimes to the extent of it becoming an obsession. The moment we return to a state of inner peace that is independent of the influence of others, we have also achieved real inner power. A peaceful mind is no longer reactive, but rather proactive: we choose peace, choose goodness. This completely changes the dynamic of a relationship.
Returning to this state of inner peace again and again has a profound effect upon behaviour. A practising meditator, who was working as a psychiatrist in a busy hospital in London, described her experience to me. She was called out to deal with a patient who refused to take his medicine. She calmly handed him his medicine and the patient became agitated and being much taller than her, tipped it over her head. She then went in to a deep state of inner peace. The patient visibly calmed down and, within a few minutes, accepted his medicine. That psychiatrist is now working on developing a phone app which contains tools for health care practitioners in times of high stress.
How we relate to each other is perhaps the greatest litmus test of what we are really feeling inside. If you say that you ‘love the world’, but you fight with your sister or brother or cannot get on with your neighbour, then that statement becomes meaningless. At that moment, it is important to ask, how much do I love my own self? To love myself is to understand and believe in my inherent value as a human being. Every thought we have and every breath we take is valuable. Dadi Janki speaks of the deep inter- connection between our thoughts, our breath and our energy. We breathe according to the quality of our thoughts. Our breath provides the energy for our interaction in the world. So, our actions are an expression of our innermost thoughts or the subtle intention in our being.
So, for me, the challenge is to keep the awareness of my own original state of peace and to also recognise and relate to that in the other. I have to see through the personality in front of me to a new possibility for that person. Thomas Hübl, a contemporary spiritual teacher, said, “If you say that you know someone, then that is laziness.” In other words, we slip into an old habit of relating to that person as they have been previously, even just yesterday. It is necessary to make the extra effort of putting aside old impressions and being present to make the relationship anew.