Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Accepting the worst

This thought is in my calendar: "Peace of mind is that mental condition in which you have accepted the worst" -- Lin Yutang

What comes to mind is that having acceptance for "the worst" then you cannot be knocked out of peace.

I think this challenges the common belief of what is peace. So, what is peace?

Is peace the absence of chaos? The absence of war or violence?

I've thought about this quite a bit, and for me the analogy for peace is a forest. A forest is more than the trees contained in the forsest.

One time I was sitting beside a road going through a redwood forest outside Santa Cruz. Sitting facing into the forest, my back was facing the road. And I noticed this stillness in the forest, yet at the same time there's a lot of activity in the forest. What happened is that after any event, such as a tree branch falling, or an animal rustling, that the forest would quickly envelope that event and peace would reign. But some events could not be swallowed by the forest, because the forest was not sufficient to envelope them.

For example, when cars drove by on the road that disturbed things in a way the forest could not encompass. Yet when the road had no cars, then the road became encompassed in the forest.

I think that peace is not the absence of chaos, but instead acceptance or encompassment of chaos. The forest is not at all without chaos, instead any forest is a living thing which is in constant change. Yet, the forest is the very example of peace, so what's going on? I suggest what's going on is that the forest has acceptance of whatever happens within itself. And, to a degree, no matter what happens in the forest, the forest can envelope that event.

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