“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Worldwide Laws of Life

A man who was weary of the frantic pace of city life gave up his job, sold his apartment, and moved into a small cabin in the woods. He wanted to find the peace of mind that eluded him in the city. For a few weeks, he thought he had found contentment, but soon he began to miss his friends and the conveniences of the city. When his restlessness grew acute, he felt the urge to move again.

This time he decided to try a small town. There would be people with whom to talk, and he could enjoy the conveniences of the city without the pressure of the noise, the size, and the constant “hurry, hurry” atmosphere. Surely, in this best of both worlds, he would find peace. Life in the small town, however, brought unanticipated problems. People were slow to accept an outsider, yet they seemed quick and aggressive when it came to prying into his personal affairs. Soon he discovered, to his annoyance, that strange rumors about him were circulating. Again the man grew restless and discontented and concluded that it was not possible to find peace anywhere. He moved back to the city, resigned to a life of inner turmoil.

This unfortunate man could have profited from an important truth realized by Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote, “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” Emerson understood that inner peace does not depend on where you live or even whom you’re with. True peace is a quality you carry within yourself regardless of external circumstances.

The Bible Scripture John 14:27 states: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” These comforting words, attributed to Jesus, seem to indicate that the world can give us a certain kind of peace. It can offer us a lovely country place, away from the hustle and bustle of the city; a quiet and eautiful park tucked amid the city’s activities; a peaceful, scenic beach upon which to stroll; or a distant mountaintop where all is serene and still. Although people may travel to faraway places, the journey is made in the company of one’s own consciousness, and we return home with ourselves. We cannot get away from our own inner being. If we have a problem, we take it with us wherever we may go. On the other hand, if our consciousness is imbued with gentle serenity, then it can also be imbued with power. Quiet, inner power.

One way to be successful in the world is to go forth to do what is ours to do with peace in our consciousness. This peacefulness is a state of receptivity that can allow us to be more open to other people. How can we get in touch with this inner peace? A simple exercise can help. Reserve some time each day—even a few minutes can be beneficial—in which you can be alone and undisturbed. Sit in a comfortable chair, close your eyes, breathe deeply and slowly, and let your mind and body relax. Repeat slowly to yourself, “I am now letting go. I am now letting go.” Mentally release the events of the day, one by one, until you feel yourself moving into a realm of stillness and peace.

This place of inner stillness and quiet is termed “the Silence.” A minister friend described it in this manner: “In the Silence, we enter an elevated state of awareness, of heightened receptivity, a time of being fully alive to the moment. It may sound strange, but when we are in the Silence, we do absolutely nothing. We are content just to be, and we luxuriate in the ecstasy of being consciously with God. The Silence is a time of stillness when we think neither of the past nor of the future. It is a state when we are detached from the ordinary world. If we are thinking about business, troubled relationships, or any other problem, we are not in the silence. And yet, although we are not thinking about ideas, concepts, or perceptions, we remain alert. Our receptivity and sensitivity are increased. It is truly an ineffable experience; words are inadequate to describe it.”

Anwar Sadat, Egyptian military and political leader, understood the power of peace when he said, “Peace is much more precious than a piece of land.” He spoke of the peace that cannot be bought, but that is available to us all, if we so choose. As new buildings and structures may be created from new plans and materials, so, too, can new thought structures be built. Through our peaceful thoughts, prayers, and activities we can build a consciousness of peace.

There may be times in the life of every person when he feels the Presence of the Creator and becomes aware, in one way or another, of an actual transcendental Presence, Power, and Peace. With this awareness often come a liberation and a freedom from negative thoughts and things of this world: its fears, doubts, cares, and problems. The degree of transformation may be immediately apparent in the visible realm, but, bit by bit, it becomes evident in the outer world.

Jesus acknowledged this truth and taught about the existence of an inner peace that “passes all understanding,” a peace that is not dependent on outer circumstances. As you discover this inner realm for yourself, you eventually realize it is the only real peace you can ever have. You don’t have to travel far to find it; you need only look deeply within yourself. External events can change at a moment’s notice and what you thought was peace may suddenly evaporate. But once it’s yours, true peace will remain with you—even in the midst of a rapidly changing world.

Try not to make the same futile mistake as the man who sought external peace by moving to various locations. That route leads to disappointment. Instead, spend some time each day in your quiet place. Release your cares until you make contact with your inner realm of peace. Today can be a day of transformation. The depth of increasing inner peace can continue to bring forth greater spiritual light, wisdom, and guidance, so that every day can be a day of deeper discernment.