A couple years ago I was contacted by a bright young woman who was getting her new business off the ground and wanted to talk about commissioning a painting of herself as a warrior/archer on a battlefield with her vanquished foes lying around her, symbolic of her quest and well earned victory. While it rang a little too sci-fi for me and typical of the Joan-of-Arc model, it made me think how often we see our challenge to “success” as an outside force that needs to be erradicated. An enemy. A threat to our well being, our hopes, dreams and desires. Interestingly enough, the society norm that posits an outside enemy as a constant threat to our desires, also promotes the ‘society norm’ that these same desires is what makes life worth living. I have come to believe that it is this norm of the pursuit of desire against a persistant outside threat that is the actual enemy. – the enemy of peace. And the weapon of choice against such an enemy? Gratitude.
Acknowleging the good in our lives, whether a tree trunk or a sliver, is the foundation upon which peace is built. The Buddha says “Happiness does not depend on what you have or who you are, it solely relies on what you think. Praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and sorrow come and go like the wind. To be happy, rest like a giant tree, in the midst of them all.”
According to Eckhart Tolle, being spiritual has nothing to do with what you believe and everything to do with your state of consciousness. And what blurb about the essence of peace would be complete without Lao Tzu:
“Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world.”
The Archer, while acknowleging the wisdom of the ancients and the discoveries of the present, puts the power of choice in our own hands as she shoots a silver lining into the clouds. Gratitude is our gateway to peace and peace our gateway to understanding the nature of all things.