Read an Excerpt
By Scott Shaw
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 2001 Scott Shaw
All rights reserved.
108 Ways to Be at Peace When Things Are Out of Control
Life is complex. Sometimes it seems a never ending series of disagreements, differing opinions, dissenting philosophies, emotional manipulations, and even physical confrontations. Conflict is a part of life. If you allow your peace to be taken away from you by external occurrences or internal disharmony—the person who cuts you off in traffic or the internal "I'll never get everything done," "I'm stupid, bad, and guilty" voice that won't shut up—you will never know contentment. When we can't seem to get along with the people in our lives, including ourselves ... When we let others, who seem to thrive on conflict, pull us into it ... we can choose peace.
Why don't we? Why don't we stop interacting with people who are willing to do whatever it takes to gain whatever gratification they desire at that moment? Why don't we check out of a society that says "motivated," "driven," "hungry," and "goal seeker" are good things to be? Why don't we just give up our own disruptive inner dialogues the moment we realize they're robbing us of our tranquillity? Well, we try.
But not even the ancient masters were free of strife. In the seventh century C.E., legend tells us that the monk Hui-neng defeated his master, Hung-jen, the Fifth Patriarch of Ch'an Buddhism, in a contest to see who could write the best spiritual poetry. Hui-neng proved that he was more enlightened than his master—but he had to flee in fear of Hung-jen's reprisals. Not a very peaceful interaction, even though it led to the establishment of what we now know as Zen.
Some people believe that if they could just go someplace else, do something else, then they would know peace. But that place is not here. That action is not now. And they are probably no more satisfied, fulfilled, or at peace than before they made those changes. Unless, that is, they also work at the process of peace, at developing that in-the-here-and-now, eye-of-the-hurricane attitude.
Peace is an inner triumph. It's not something that someone or something can give to you. To embrace peace, in all life situations, you need to develop the skills to become the eye of the hurricane—calm and still—peaceful in a world torn by conflict.
About Peace is a collection of 108 meditations aimed at helping you gain and maintain your own inner peace. One hundred and eight is a sacred number in Buddist tradition. It represents the number of desires one must overcome in order to gain enlightenment. In many Eastern traditions, people use strings of 108 prayer beads, known as malas, to aid in their meditation. As one recites a mantra, a prayer bead is passed between the fingers, helping one to focus the mind and embrace the calming realms of meditation.
The 108 meditations in this book are offered to serve as inspiration and reminder that peace is possible. There is no better time to embrace peace than in this moment.
What would bring you peace right now?
A greater amount of money?
A more fulfilling job? A new place to live?
A loving relationship with a specific person?
To be ten years younger?
Being more beautiful, thinner, or taller?
To be enlightened?
Anything that you do not currently possess,
anything you are not right now,
does not exist in this moment.
As long as you choose to hold on to the desire for something you do not currently possess or to be something you are not—you will never be at peace.
As long as you choose to believe that something outside of yourself will bring you peace, you cannot experience peace.
All life is movement.
This universe is in constant motion.
From science we learn that everything around us, from the smallest subatomic particle to the largest planet, is in a state of continual flux. The majority of this movement is unseen by the human eye.
All of this movement is in perfect harmony.
If it were not in perfect harmony, this place we call life would instantly cease to exist.
If everything is moving in harmony, you too must be moving and progressing in an unseen accord.
When you understand that the universe is in harmony, you know that everything happens for a reason and lends a hand in the expanding perfection.
You are a functioning part of this cosmic whole, and everything that happens to you, no matter how traumatic, happens for a higher purpose and leads to a larger good.
Relax, be peaceful, and watch it unfold.
Life is life.
No matter how much you protect yourself,
things are going to happen that you do not like.
When they occur, what are you going to do—become angry at life, God, and all
those people who allowed it to happen?
How many times has something you did not like happened to you?
How many times has that initial negative experience led you to a higher
making you a stronger person,
introducing you to new people,
allowing you to understand human nature more clearly,
giving you the ability to more profoundly understand your existence.
Situations are not bad.
How you choose to deal with situations gives you control and the ability to
remove any hint of negativity.
On the road to peace, do not allow seemingly negative occurrences to take
control over you and dominate your mind-set.
Instead, see how you may consciously grow from the experience.
We all have our personal likes and dislikes.
With every experience in life, you have two choices:
One, you can choose to enjoy and learn from the encounter, even if it is something you don't like.
Two, you can struggle through the experience, blaming everyone and everything else around you the entire time.
What if you were to view any unfavorable experience in a new way?
What if you simply accepted the experience as momentary and learned what you could from it?
Think how peaceful that experience would become.
If you love Hell, it becomes Heaven.
Your feelings are your choice—choose carefully.
Goal setting is claimed by many to be a necessary element of a fulfilled life.
Goals are fine but they create an atmosphere from which peace is absent.
Because when you believe you should have something you do not possess, be something other than what you already are, you keep yourself from witnessing the perfection and glory of your life in this moment.
Thus, you can never know peace.
Let go of goals and you are at peace.
Momentary desires ...
How many times have you wanted something, only to lose all desire for it once
you obtained it?
What is wrong with where you are,
with what you possess,
Why do you desire to change it?
What will be the price of that desire?
What unseen circumstance may this desire bring about?
Think how peaceful you would be if you just decided to love everything about
yourself and your life, Right Here—Right Now.
Choose to be strong enough to walk away from the fulfillment of momentary
desires and allow yourself to be at peace.
Your needs are your choice.
Because they are your choice, this means you are not bound by them.
You can choose to change your needs.
If something is lost—it is lost.
Desiring its return will only cause you pain.
Far better to replace what has been lost—
be it a life,
with something different rather than with some object closely resembling the
In this way, new emotions and new feelings are born.
Nothing is permanent.
Do not believe the illusion that what you are doing,
what you are feeling,
what you own in this moment will last forever.
Once you accept this, you will begin to experience true peace.
Anger springs from desire.
The desire for something to be other than it is
If something is not—it is not.
Free yourself from anger.
Free yourself from anger.
The human mind loves to recall negative emotions.
The human mind loves to dream up negative situations that may or may not happen.
The human mind loves to fantasize about possibilities.
Do you do this?
Many people do.
How many times have you remembered something that angered you and felt your
heart begin to pump harder, had your blood pressure go up, and lost all your
How many times have you repeated this peace-disturbing pattern as you began to
imagine some negative event that might occur?
Thinking is a process.
Peaceful thinking leads one to a more peaceful body, mind, and soul.
It is your choice.
If you desire to become peaceful,
discard any thinking that removes you from the Now.
People who think disruptive thoughts attract disruptive encounters.
Because they place themselves in the confrontational environments they
Choose to think peace.
Choose to see peace.
Choose to live peace, and you will be peaceful.
that would disrupt the peace of another,
will not affect you,
for you have embraced your own inner peace.
People do all kinds of things to find peace:
they buy things,
they go on vacations.
Because they believe they will find peace by performing an action.
Actions do not bring peace.
Believing that performing an action will bring you peace is no different from
believing that obtaining a desired goal will bring you peace.
You either accept everything and love it as it is or there is no peace.
and no external action or technique is necessary.
How many times have you become very anxious when forced to wait?
There are a million beautiful things to see.
There are a million beautiful sounds to hear.
Open your eyes, see—as if for the first time.
Find peace in the moments of waiting,
sand you will witness that all life can be perfectly beautiful.
We all know what peace is not:
Knowing this—leave these emotions behind.
If you compare yourself with others there will always be someone:
If you don't compare yourself with others,
what they are is what they are,
and what you are is what you are.
Peace lives in letting things be.
Ecstasy is not peace.
Ecstasy is emotion pushed to its maximum.
Ecstasy creates a desire to repeat the experience.
That desire for ecstasy creates an eternal lack of peace.
People feel out of control because of:
an abusive relationship,
an overbearing employer,
extensive bills to pay.
Desire leads you into these problems.
Desire for peace can lead you out.
Change consciously ...
If you feel out of control, and do not know how to regain it, begin by focusing
on small things:
what you eat,
what you drink,
what you think.
Each step will add to your overall experience of peace.
Being in a position of authority gives one a false sense of empowerment.
Control over others is a fleeting form of power.
The spiritual person never attempts to dominate another individual.
Because history has taught us that domination is temporary and against the laws
The powerful always fall.
Negative emotions will be focused on a dominant person.
A person bombarded by negative emotions encounters only the negative.
Let others be who they are.
Let others be who they are.
"This person did that to me."
"That person said this to me."
By allowing another individual to manipulate your peace with words, behavior, or
actions, you are allowing that person control over you.
Thus, you allow them to dominate your peace.
If someone says something to you, analyze it.
If it is true, listen to it.
If it is not, discard it.
If someone performs an unkind act toward you—walk away, and do not give that
person a second opportunity to repeat the action.
Control your own peace.
Have you ever observed a sports team,
a group of people,
a street gang,
or just individuals work themselves up into a frenzy over nothing?
These momentary lapses of peace and self-control may instigate negative
consequences that will last a lifetime.
Do not let the emotions of the moment direct you down a negative pathway that
will dominate the rest of your life.
remove yourself from any frenzied situation.
Lies are told because a person is not comfortable with the truth of the moment.
Do not let the lies of others take control of your life and cost you your peace.
Consciously know and consciously embrace your own truth.
You can lie,
you can cheat,
you can make excuses for getting what you want at the cost of others.
You may even feel good about your acquisition at the time.
But, lies only yield lies.
Deceit only yields more deceit.
Bad only yields bad.
Many people believe,
"It happened to me, so it is all right if I do it to another person."
This "get it at any cost" attitude prevails in the world because people choose
to view their lives as lacking. They choose to believe that another possession
or another conquest will make them more worthy. It will not.
The cure for this disease—
Choose to see yourself as Whole and Complete Right Now.
Peace will follow.
If you project aggression toward another person,
aggression is what they will answer with.
If you meet a person and project peace,
even if they are angry, they will be calmed by your presence.
Situations beyond your control
do not represent a life out of control.
What situations are beyond your control?
the anger instigated by another individual or group,
another person's choices,
other people's opinions of you.
Do not let situations beyond your control
disrupt your life.
Do not let situations beyond your control disrupt your life.
Does what you drink or the narcotic you take make you peaceful?
Many people believe that the substances that they put into their body are their
keys to peace.
Artificial intoxicants may make you feel relaxed.
But, artificial is artificial.
Once you stop partaking of the substance,
your lack of peace will return.
Peace, found anywhere other than your inner self, can never last.
Do you wish to be dominated by a narcotic?
Even one that is commonly accepted?
How many times have you rushed somewhere—knowing that once you arrived you would
be at peace?
But, when you get there,
there is no peace to be found,
only the remains of the adrenaline pulsating through your body.
You think, "I should be peaceful, I should be happy. But, I am not."
You cannot rush to peace.
Peace must emanate from deeply within your inner being.
What are you surrounded by?
Are the words you hear,
the things you see,
the people you continually encounter,
good for your body, mind, and soul?
Lack of peace is born in your surroundings.
Peace is also born in your surroundings.
Live surrounded by peace.
Attempting to give someone what they
will only cause you to lose your peace.
Some people can make you feel guilty or saddened for not delivering to them what
they feel they deserve.
You can only give what you can give.
When you fulfill someone's cravings—that person's needs may be momentarily
satisfied, but his or her desires will never end.
Live in a state of conscious peaceful existence, where you know what you can
give. Do not make this a selfish act; make it a very conscious act—full of self-knowledge.
With this personal understanding, you will wholeheartedly give what you can, and
when you cannot give, you will not feel guilty.
Realize that it is a selfish act to ask anything of another person. If you must
ask for something, realize that it then becomes an obligation, not a gift. This
is the birthplace of Karma.
Know your own peace.
Find your own fulfillment.
Then, the need to give or to receive is removed.
People overeat and hate themselves when they become fat.
People smoke and ask, "Why me?" when they develop a lung disease.
People drink and become angry when they are arrested for drunken driving.
People commit crimes and blame their parents and social conditions when they are imprisoned.
Everyone does what they do.
Of course, there are many external influences, if you allow yourself to be swayed by them.
People choose to live in a state of denial, oblivious to the consequences of their actions, until they come face-to-face with them.
Choose peace, and external stimuli become unimportant.
Is eating meat a peaceful experience?
Does drinking liquids loaded with caffeine or excessive sugar lead your body and mind to a peaceful state?
Eating meat means that a living entity was killed to satisfy your hunger.
Caffeinated and sugary drinks unnaturally stimulate your metabolism.
When you begin to consciously evaluate all your actions, you will realize that what you do affects not only every element of your being, but also all other processes of this world.
Does what you do yield peace, not only for yourself but also for the world around you?
Excerpted from About Peace by Scott Shaw. Copyright © 2001 Scott Shaw. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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