The Staircase to Heaven?

As I sit now to recollect my thoughts which had been floating in my head since long, too long in fact, these thoughts revolve around just one word and how it is actually the most important word in the universe. It is bigger than love, it is bigger than motherhood, and it is bigger than anything that we as humans can ever think or talk about for it represents prosperity. Even though it has been a constant companion of ours yet it has been the most marginalized word.

This word is the crux of all the major religions of the world; it is what the great saints and prophets preached about; it is what ‘moksha’ is and it is what ‘heaven’ is. It is not the reason of our being but it is the manna of our soul, its absence eats us away and we weaken physically and mentally. This word, so simple yet so powerful that it has been used by the bigots to attract crowds whom they feed upon as parasites feed upon their victims, yet no matter who and no matter what, it remains elusive, though it is right there, for us to embrace and nurture.

I have seen people splurging to get a glimpse of it, I have known people renouncing the world to embrace it, I have seen people kill and plunder to enforce it and I have seen a man toiling in the heat of Indian summers wearing it so delicately.

And this word is ‘PEACE’. I call it a word because for me it is difficult to describe it otherwise. Is it a way of life, is it a religion, is it an attitude, is it an achievement, is it a companion or is it an embodiment of God. Is it to do with spiritualism or is it just a feeling or an enforced thought or a learned behavior? I don’t know; there could be several definitions or just one.

Peace, the one thing we want and we want it so badly that we drive it away. All that which is negative, all the chaos is a direct result of us misunderstanding this word. No I am not religious neither am I a spiritual man. I loathe, I lust, I lose temper, I splurge, I love, I seek, I fear, I lie, I get agitated, basically I am just a regular person and I go through all the cycles that any human goes through, phases of highs and lows. Why am I talking about myself here? Because I just want to clarify that I haven’t found my peace and I have had no spiritual awakening but yes the constant lingering thought in my head has taken some form to enable me to pen those down.

The one thing that every truly enlightened human has known is that ‘peace’ exists within you and not beyond. It is incapable of any manifestations; and it dies the moment you try to look for it elsewhere. And this is our dilemma; we go on the paths guided by our malformed thoughts looking for it everywhere else and not for a moment do we look for it within us.

The greeting in Islam is ‘as-salaamu-aleykum’ which means ‘peace be upon you’ and the word Islam derived from the word ‘salam’ means peace. In Buddhism, Shakyamuni achieved enlightenment that is also referred to as ‘nirvana’ which is about inner peace.  In Hinduism ‘shanti’ is the epitome which a soul searches for and is the cause of ‘moksha’. In Christianity and Judaism also, peace is something which is indispensable, the word is ‘Shalom’ and even their old greeting is ‘peace be upon you’ or ‘peace to you’. Sounds so similar right? It can be said that each religion evolved from the same concept. Yet through the centuries till date we have the followers of these religions committing and justifying every possible heinous crime just to force others into believing that their religion is the most peaceful and the best. And this is not restricted to any one religion but is true for the followers of each of these major religions.

And why do the followers of these religions commit such acts? Because even though their religion upholds the doctrine of inner peace yet they do not follow it through. They belie their prophets and saints and sacred texts. They have little peace inside of them.

Millions upon millions of disillusioned people flock at the doorsteps of conniving god-men in search of this peace. And majority of these spiritual gurus across the world have a brisk business selling happiness and peace in exchange of materials in the form of donations, power in the form of followers and influence which comes from amassing wealth and followers. And all of this is done in the name of peace and love and harmony. They are the most successful of quacks selling placebos and they are also the pirates for they sell a commodity which they themselves don’t own. Because somebody at peace will not go out in search of followers and will not adorn the cloths of a hermit while being driven around in Jaguars or BMWs and their cronies will certainly not threaten or incite chaos when questioned. A person at peace doesn’t worry about others’ opinions. They don’t need to adopt symbolism or seek recognition. Whites, greens, blacks and purples are for the people who want to stand out; they want to be identified as something or as someone and their desires are witnesses against their farce.

The world is a mess because of the inner conflicts in which we all are embroiled in and then it spills forth in the form of anger, frustration, depression, irritability, resentment and over time we see the manifestations of this conflict in the worst imaginable forms of violence and abuse; either directed towards others or ourselves. In any scenario we end up losing. It’s difficult to attribute all the ills of the society on this missing inner peace, but it is not an abstract concept or a spiritual one either. It is just that it’s a fact to which we give little thought.  And since none of us realize this fact we mislead ourselves into the rat-race where we indulge in everything that actually lessens our chances of success. And even if we are aware, we still continue acting as per the herd mentality to which we grow accustomed to.

The reason why none of the wars over plagues of humankind are ever won is that the objective is never peace, although it is touted as the reason for all the actions and misadventures. Sadly, the people trying to cure the ailments themselves suffer from a host of diseases. They are as much in frenzy as the people who cause those ailments.

To be at peace is to be free of the afflictions of uncertainties and to gain that freedom one needs to gradually outgrow their self restricting boundaries and our dependencies on the world outside of us. Whenever one says that if such and such things happen then I’ll be happy and content then that person is being naïve, criminally naïve. Trying to find peace in the embrace of your lover or in money or in a cigarette or a drink or fame or vacations or friends or anything at all except your inner self are all temporary solutions and they set you back almost immediately. If you feel peaceful from the inside then you are calm, open, creative, you absorb the positive aspects and you gain the ability to deal with problems objectively. I remember having tea at a small kiosk by the sea at Al-Ghubaiba, on a beautiful sunny afternoon with cool breeze keeping company and not far from me there was a couple who though looked like lovers and sat beside each other seemed distant and lost. Even though I was alone, I felt loved and happy yet they together seemed aloof and distracted. Obviously they have had a fight or an argument and that had disrupted their peace. So even though it was such an enigmatic setting yet they were prevented from enjoying it. Peace is never the result of an action or interaction it is the product of your approach towards yourself; while at peace trivial things will become the source of enjoyment and when that peace is disrupted then the best of the best bring little joy.

Your discontent gives rise to expectations which in turn make you a slave. Expectations restrict you because with expectations you give up the power over yourself. Still, being peaceful is not the same as being happy or feeling content; because peace is everlasting. Though happiness is closely related to peace but it is not a prerequisite or a byproduct. I can be happy for a few days because I bought my dream car but if I have no peace then the feeling of happiness will wane off and I’ll be looking at something else to make me happy. On the contrary if I am at peace and I am unable to fulfill my desires then it won’t agitate me. If I truly want something then I would come up with ideas and means to fulfill it without losing my mind over it.

The biggest way to achieve peace is to give up thoughts of yesterday and tomorrow; life is right now, it doesn’t exist in the past or the future. Giving up the struggle to control; you never controlled anything outside of yourself and you will never be able to control them, irrespective of who you think you are. Seeking others’ approval to feel better is definitely a sign of weakness. Those who need a crowd to feel important are truly unimportant.

Gradually detach yourself and look at the life from a distant view. See it happening right now. Feel the energy and the flow, be ready to transform and transcend boundaries. Lose so that you shall gain. Stop the quest of searching for peace because if you will allow it, it will envelop you and be with you at every step.

May peace be upon you.

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