Philosophies of peace abound, but practitioners are often caught in little hypocrisies. Through history, priests and other advocates of peaceful religions have preached an apparent ideology based on peace, but have then acted in ways which can only be interpreted as angry, cruel, controlling or harsh.
Is a true philosophy of peace possible? What are the obstacles, and what are we to do with the rest of our nature, the bits of ourselves that don’t seem peaceful?
THE EVOLVED SELF
We are born into bodies full of chemicals and structures which are used to lashing out at other people. Look at the natural world, and you will see birds and other animals fighting it out for territory, food, mating rights and other resources. It seems that our natural bodies, which we are born with, are part of an evolved system of self-protection which involves unpeaceful action.
THE CEREBRAL SELF
Humans possess one of the larger amounts of cerebral material to think with. To a degree, this enables us to escape from being victims of our own emotional heritage. When our bodies want to hit someone, for instance, our cognitive brains seem to have an ability to catch ourselves before the act, and calm oursleves.
In this way, our cerebral gift enables us to begin to master our evolved aggression.
PEACE AND VIOLENCE IN PHYSICS
Looking outwards towards the universe, we can see that even the wider universe is full of a contrast of explosion and stillness, fierce heat and vaccuum. It seems that the study of astrophysics would give us plenty of examples of destructiveness, even if it is in the name of rebirth.
This might offer us the reflection that peace is not the natural state of the universe, and that the universe is a mixture of many different states.
THE PEACEFUL PERSON
Despite all these facts, many people decide to seek a life of peace, and in particular seek inner peace. Why would they want to do this, despite the number of clues in the universe that it is a mixed bag?
This is where, perhaps, you have to try it out to see if it works for you.
Meditation practice involves finding a peaceful environment to sit in. It acknowledges that this is sometimes hard to do, that a peaceful environment is in itself a gift. Many meditation philosophies also acknowledge that our behaviour tends to be destructive sometimes.
But some meditation philosophies do believe that we have a ‘true nature’ that is peaceful. They believe that it is possible, through discipline and reflection, to achieve a peace that, in a sense, has been inside us all along.
The best analogy might be seen in the outer universe in the tendency of things first to explode, and then to slow and calm down, until they become essentially peaceful, empty space. Meditation might be viewed as an accelerated version of that slowing down, a bypassing, with the mind, of the more explosive parts of the equation.
One might ask whether a totally peaceful existence is possible.
The human body is full of evolved tendencies towards aggression. However, we also have brains that are capable of moderating this.
The physical world, and the world of astronomy, are full of mixed examples of a universe with both explosion and stillness in it.
All you can do is try a peaceful life, and see if it works for you. It may be that you can use your mind to accelerate a kind of slowing down, so that you do not have to participate so much in the explosions inherent in the universe, and can find a home in a peaceful attitude and life that suits you better.