We human beings, like everything else, are just like simple objects, which have both inside and outside. Deep inside of us is an inner core. On our outside, we have an outer layer that is in touch with the outside world. Various forces are acting upon us through the outside layer and are transformed into various signals and passed through to the inner core. The matter of the outer layer, according to my personal experience, is like fluid. It flows naturally and responds to the outside like a mirror in a very spontaneous way. The inner core, however, seems to be of a matter that when overworked becomes very sticky and it sticks itself to whatever it touches. When you see a table, the concept of table will arise in your mind, which traps you and drags your mind preventing it from following the flow of the outside world.
The inner core is shaped by the signals and forces passed through the outer layer. Though the inner core carries out certain functions based on the signals from the outside world and is important to us as human being, the inner core by itself is never able to figure out the truth. Many problems of our world can be attributed to people’s tendency to acknowledge the inner core unconditionally, and attempting to figure out the truth by the inner core itself. Every concept has two sides. So they will start fighting with each other. One concept leads to another concept. They begin fighting among themselves. This drives the person crazy. He becomes mad. That is why we have wars. Cultures that are obsessed with this inner core, acknowledging it unconditionally, have caused conflicts and great harms around the world.
Understanding this root of violence, we should realize that violence can never be overcome by the force of violence. Only the force of peace can dissolve force of violence.
Thus it is important to go back to the nature, realizing we are part of the nature, that is where we come from, and that is our source. By fully in touch with the outside world with all our senses (which compose our outside layer), we can get out of the grip of the inner core, and our mind can start flowing and reflecting like a mirror again. Realizing the inner core, which we often culturally mistake as our identified self, is by every means connected and shaped by the outside world, is the base of love. Without love, we probably cannot live even for one single day. The fact that we are still living in this world means that we are in love with this world.
The whole universe never changes and never moves. Just as in our sitting meditation, we are able to feel the absolute stillness. As the world goes faster, it has to split into small parts. There are greater forces applied to those small parts, and it relies on the response of those small parts to follow the flow. When those small parts can follow the move of the whole, there is no time and there is peace. For example, when playing sports, you need to put greater emphasis on the parts of the body that are involved in that sports, such as legs in soccer. As the game becomes faster, you need to make your legs stronger and more skillful in its following and interacting with the space. When you can follow the flow, you feel of no time. When activity is very slow, you can feel total harmony with the bigger environment, and the consciousness can reach very far. When the activity gets faster, because of our limitedness, we have to focus on the specific parts that are involved, and thus we are not able to pay attention to things far away. For example, in martial arts, if it gets faster and more people attack you, you will have greater difficulty to focus on things far away, and dodging the arrows that enemy shoot at you. 🙂 Thus playing and fun are essential for us to be able to follow the flow of the moving world.
Our world manifests both absolute and relative. Absolute is the absolute stillness. It is the thing that never changes. Relative is the relative dynamic evolving process. This process is the activity of living. Thus this is what life is about. It is the thing that never fixates and is always evolving. To obtain the peace in our world, it is not enough to just understand the absolute. It is also important to understand the changing and evolving aspect of our world. I guess this is a lesson the east can learn from the west.
To understand the relative evolving process, we need to understand the peaceful forces that cause the evolving process. To understand this is the same as to understand what life is about. These forces are the same forces that acted upon our outer layer and shaped the inner beauty of our core.
So what are the outside forces that shape our inner core? I would say briefly that they are beauty, fun, and love.
We are often awed by the beauty of the outside world, and we strive hard to create beauty in our lives and in our minds. The beauty of the nature is such a powerful force that drive people for their whole life. We perceive the beauty of the outside world through various senses in our outer layer. The emptiness manifests itself as various senses of beauties that we can perceive with our senses. It is beautiful because it contains both absolute and relative within itself. It has the absolute stillness which never changes. It has the dynamic flow, which never fixates and is always evolving. Through our ears, we perceive the emptiness and beauty of sound. Through our eyes, we perceive the emptiness and beauty of light. All these senses of beauties shape how our inner core perceives as beauty of emptiness. And it shapes how the inner core considers as beauty in the human world. The inner core manifests its understanding of beauty through literature, music, arts, and so on. That is the beauty of the human world.
Fun is our body being able to interact with the outside space, and being together with the outside world. By being able to follow outside world, we can have peace. To be able to follow the outside world, the related part of the body has to truly enjoy its interaction with the space. Having a very good sense of humor is a manifestation of understanding of emptiness. Thus to have a good sense of humor requires a deep understanding of emptiness. That is why humor can dissolve anything and connect people together, making them realize their common humanity even if they had been on ill terms in the past.
Love is realizing the inner core, which we often identify as our self, is actually shaped by the outside world, and thus we are one with the outside world. Manifesting this oneness with outside world, with other people is interpreted as love in every culture. Thus as we are interacting with the outside world every day, we are receiving love every day.
Thus to build the peace in our world, we need to build a society in which every individual can do what s/he likes to do, e.g. pursue her/his art of life. Everyone is unique. Everyone must have something in the world that s/he is the best at. Diversity is the relative thing. It is the nature of life. Equality is the absolute. Equality manifests itself as diversity in the relative thing of life. To achieve equality, we have to encourage our individuals to greatly develop themselves, which is itself the activity of life. The activity of life, is to perceive the force of beauty, to play with this beauty of emptiness and interact with the outside space, and thus to receive love and manifest love. Thus life is to pursue art. Life activities are to learn/grow, to play, and to create.
To create is to grow as life demands enriching itself and creating new lives.
This essay is a general description of what is peace and how to build peace. As to more specifically what we can do to build peace, for me it is my efforts in changing the way people learn and the way how people organize and cooperate with each other. But I will not cover these in this essay.
One extra note on the function of our inner core. One important function of the inner core of our human being is memory. Because of memory, we are able to hold the past and the future together. As life is an dynamic evolving process, we need to grow and figure out the relative of things, which is to tell the difference. To tell the difference is also one important function of our inner core. This is the importance of learning. So learning is an essential part of life. Thus in this relative dynamic evolving living process, we will have confusion. But we need to remember in the absolute there is neither the past nor the future. There is only the present. The necessity of knowing the relative of the past and future is to enable us to be able to better follow the flow. Since we are in a living process, we have no choice but to follow the flow. To follow the flow we need to understand the relative of the dynamic evolving process, which in the human world translates to understanding our history, our current conditioning in our current society and culture, and how we go to the future. If we can be at now, our mind can follow our body instead of being somewhere else. Then you can have peace. In peace, the power of inner core will allow us to follow and creatively engage in the flow of the world.
So the function of the inner core for the purpose of learning is legitimate, and is an essential part of living as a human being. But as said above, when the brain is overworked, it becomes very sticky and attaches itself to whatever it is in touch with, and thus slows you down, exhausts you or drives you crazy. We also need to keep in mind that the relative, no matter how rich it is, is very limited compared to the absolute. Thus it is always important to have access to the unlimited absolute and have it as the source. That will be your base of peace. Indeed, the relative is just the manifestation of the absolute.
I feel the eastern cultures traditionally have played down this relative part of reality. It might because they fear of losing clarity of the understanding of the absolute. As the east meets the west, it is time for us to learn how to sort out the relative of life and build the richness of life, at the same time not to forget the absoluteness of our still and never changing source. Indeed, the absolute and the relative are inextricably bound to each other and they should serve each other.
Now let me bring this a little into our current context of war and peace. It is my understanding and a shared understanding with many people in other countries that the greatest strength of America lies in the relative lack of wars in the continent of America. The long time peace that Americans have enjoyed have built up a strong force of peace within people’s hearts. Even people here may not realize this themselves, it is easy to tell if you compare people here to people in other countries. There are many subtle differences. The few wars that did happen in this continent or wars that America was involved actually did have a traumatic effect on American psychology, as you can find that in the literature and films. The two wars (Civil War and WWII) actually transformed America from scattered, more individual states centered country to a country that has a stronger national identity, from which the corporate and the capitalists are able to have a tighter control of the nation, and thus America loses its essence to the war. 911 further drags America away from who she is. No matter what rhetorics people have for going to war and no matter what noble causes they are trying to serve, they didn’t have the deep experience of the forces of peace. It is because of realizing this power of peace, MLK came to the understanding that non-violence includes not using violence in self-defense. Violence can never be overcome by the force of violence. Only the force of peace can dissolve force of violence.
Whatever people say of the big success and transformation of China, to me that success mostly can be attributed to the peace that we are lucky enough to enjoy for the past 30 years. As I grew up in China, I could feel the functioning of peaceful forces in people’s hearts which gradually settle down the social order from chaos and make people’s hearts warm to each other again. So for me I feel the most important thing for my country (and thus for the world) is to enlarge those peaceful forces, making them functioning more smoothly. One way to do that is to open up more, and engage with the diversity of the outside world. That is the peaceful force that will cause the greater diversity in China (the greatest diversity is that each individual can pursue her/his art of life according to her/his uniqueness.) and enrich life. That is why I think the culture communication among people at the bottom level is the most important thing among people of different countries.
A little commercial for myself. This essay is just one way I can use to present my understanding of peace. There are many aspects of peace that will be too big to be covered in one essay. You will have to read my other articles to get to know more the complete picture of how I understand what is peace and how to build peace. 🙂
Note: this essay is more about the big picture of peace. For fine tuned techniques to deal with peace in various situations on a daily basis, I will cover them in other posts.