Friday, January 1, 2010

Peace as a Practice of Non-Attachment

Self interest is a great motivator. The day we come to realize that the welfare of all beings is truly in our self interest is the day peace will arrive on earth.

This is not a superficial idea, nor does it require the denial of a sense of self, nor the eradication of conflicting conditions. There is an interesting merger of idealism and practicality in the concept. Often I hear the saying that "peace begins with the self." I agree with this. It is like the concept of love, we can often be more caring, compassionate and thoughtful of others than we actually are of ourselves. At least we think that is so, until we find that we can harbor all kinds of complicated negative feelings as a result of the "good" we are trying to do. Love must begin with the self as well.

The practice of non-attachment is one with many concentric circles and layers. Non-attachment - the idea of letting go of outcome and just giving yourself whole heartedly to the act itself - is a strong foundation of love and peace. To really experience non-attachment you must let go of judging what you are doing or how it is going or how it will turn out. This does not mean acting irresponsibly as though none of what you do has consequences! It is a matter of opening to the possibilities that by giving all you have to the situation, that which is possible will come into being whatever that might be. That, in and of itself, brings a peaceful and deep level of being in the moment. Feeling that way, full and in the moment, you can see the roller coaster but don't have to take the ride. It is not your mission to change what other people do - or to manipulate yourself or others in spite of differing points of view or conditions. Feelings of compassion come more easily if you are not judging and attempting to control other people's experiences or their own evaluations of their experiences. You might more easily see how they fall into traps, suffer, find their ways out of traps, help make the traps less seductive, and perhaps even turn away from the traps towards non-attachment themselves. This compassionate non-attachment is the beginning of peace.

Non-attachment is not disengaged. This is caring about everything rather than not caring about anything or caring only about one aspect. Quite fundamentally the opposite, caring fully and being open to relinquish qualifying criteria, offers the chance to see more openly, more entirely. Exist in your full potential and you can offer all that you are.

Late last fall I walked several times a week past a huge overhanging rose bush on my way to teaching. I was struck by the intensity of the beauty of the few remaining buds and blooms at that late time of year. Yet just as those classic symbols of beauty held their own against the cold and grayness of the late autumn, the spent blooms also shone with all the depth of perfection in their faded, exuberant layers of browning petals, the loosening of their hold, and the sheer abandonment of their former form. The leaves of the bush were in every stage - green, new, brown, curled, fallen. The sidewalk littered with petals and leaves, the detritus of organic matter that is the same essence of rose as the tightly held bud. There is deep joy in this combining of non-attachment with non-judgment. Openness to the fullness of what is, heart filled by the vastness of life in all its many aspects. Compassion brings joy and sorrow, as does love. Non-attachment brings compassion and possibility, as does peace.

No comments:

Post a Comment