What is our peace formula? What keeps us at peace? When asked this question, we might list any number of things: watching a sunrise, meditation, listening to music, walking on the beach, cooking, spending time in nature, painting, being in silence. Notice that these are all things that occur in the material world.
Yoga prescribes a simple, three-step formula to finding peace that is based in the spiritual world. Understanding and living these principles is the secret to having a peace mindset, which is necessary to find peace. This peace formula is in our minds and our hearts; it is who we are. It is not focused on anything outside of our true spiritual being, which is the only place we can find peace. We cannot find peace in the material world.
The first principle is to understand that nothing in this world belongs to us. When we have the mindset that nothing in this world belongs to us; it separates us from the material objects in the world. It’s hard to find peace if we are unable to detach from what happens on the physical plane. We have to separate ourselves. And when we are able to separate ourselves—ambitions, possessions and everything we gather over this lifetime—we realize that they don’t belong to us.
There are many things we take, we use, we inherit and then we leave for the next person. Similar to a kitchen, after we cook, we clean the kitchen and leave it for the next person, who then does the same thing. And the cycle continues.
When we were born, we didn’t bring anything with us; we barely even had hair. As we age, we accrue more and more things. Keep in mind that we came with “no-thing” material. We come with no-thing and we gain every-thing while we are on the material plane. We gain clothes, books, education, jobs, family and possessions. Every-thing we get is after we are born. And then when we leave this world, we have to leave every-thing behind, and we still go. So we are just these beautiful transient visitors going on this journey in the material world.
No-thing belongs to us.
The second principle is that we are not the enjoyers of matter. If we start to think “this house is mine,” “this car is mine,” and “I get to enjoy it” and “I get to do this,” then the identification as the enjoyer of matter will lead to disturbance of the mind. So we shouldn’t think that this house is mine, this car is mine. If we are enjoying material objects, it will cause disturbance of the mind and peace will disappear.
As yogis, this is our aspiration. We want to come to this state of consciousness when we realize we are not the enjoyers of matter. Rather, we are enjoyers of the eternal part of our being, because that is the real enjoyment. Temporary enjoyment on the physical plane will take us away from peace, it will take us away from our spiritual core.
We are not the enjoyers of matter.
And the third principal needed to obtain the peace mindset is that we are the well-wishers of all living beings. If we follow this basic principle, it will remove us from any form of competition in this world. We will no longer try to be better than others, we won’t be jealous, and all the issues we have with other human beings will go away.
This principle allows us to always think of the well-being of others. We always wish the best for others, regardless of what they may or may not have done to us. We are not attached to an outcome in a relationship; we are not attached to someone doing something for us. Whatever they do or don’t do, we wish the best for them no matter what. It doesn’t mean that we should still continue to subject ourselves to harmful situations; we simply wish the best for all beings, not being attached to an outcome in the relationship.
These three beautiful concepts enable us to find peace. If we truly analyze our life, we may realize that we do everything but follow these three simple principles, and that’s why it’s difficult for us to find peace. When we realize that there is so much that we are doing that is contrary to the three principles of peace, we will understand why we are not peaceful. That’s why the yoga texts are always saying “shanti, shanti, shanti.” We all seek peace. We all want peace.
The interesting thing is that sense gratification is the opposite of renunciation. Renunciation brings us peace; sense gratification does not bring us peace. Relocation also does not bring peace. Some people feel that if they just move to Maui, Vrindavan or the Swiss Alps, they’ll find peace.
Peace is not defined by geography. Peace is a level of consciousness within our mind. It is that beautiful feeling that, “I control no-thing, I enjoy no-thing and no-thing belongs to me.” It is “the things” that we have to detach from. When we renounce ourselves from things, then we will find peace. And the real peace is this beautiful eternal space within our hearts. Whenever we spend time in our heart, that is the real seat of peace.