By Arlette Poland
What is peace, anyway? Is it even real or possible? Is it the opposite of war? Or is it the opposite of life?
I suspect that Whitehead believed that peace should not be any more concrete than war. In other words, when we use a term, practice a system, there must be some flexibility in the term and the practice. So, if we say we want peace, how would we practice much less achieve that – particularly given the current condition of our world (a Kali Yuga time, according to some)?
I suggest that the first step to a practice of peace requires turning within. If we cannot touch the peace within, we cannot notice or nurture it in the world. If we cannot touch that peace within, we cannot be the peace that the world needs (thank you, Gandhi for that one!).
What does peace feel like? we might wonder. Maybe it is like the feeling we get when we see a shooting star? Maybe it feels like our breathing… in, pause and then out, pause? Maybe that is all that peace is – breathing, moving in harmony with the circumstances as does the breath.
If we want peace, we must be peace. If we wish to be peace, we must be able to touch it within. We must be able to know how it feels and bring it with us into all situations. We must have peace in our every thought and deed. Our breath can help us remember how simple that can be.
Peace? It is simple. Nothing complicated. Breath, listen within and you will feel it.
Take it with you to work. Take it with you to your place of worship. Take it with you into arguments with loved ones.
Be still and know. Know that peace is inside and flexible. It is naturally flexible and can embrace all manner of situations. It can embrace war. It can embrace cruelty. It can embrace you in your darkest moments.
Be still and know. Whitehead advocated for flexibility as that is what stimulates life and novelty. The breath is the epitome of flexibility and life. It is new in each moment. The breath is our ever present example of the connection between life and flexibility. It is our immediate reminder of how each moment can be new even as it is changing. The breath reminds us that we can create novelty in each moment as circumstances move around us. Life is peace. Being flexible is life. The breath is peace.
What is peace? Whitehead would suggest peace is flexible. I might add that peace is life as breath – ever moving and changing, always grounded in each situation and responding to conditions as they arise. BREATHE!
That simple. That flexible. And that real.