One morning in the fall of 2003, I walked into the kitchen and remarked to my mother, “You know what? I’m not seeking anymore.” A peace-infused clarity had moved from the background to the foreground of my awareness. Suddenly, feeling peaceful seemed quite normal. Other than my memories of a life lived mostly lost in thought or reacting to things emotionally, it felt as though peace had always been my natural state.
It was as if I had come home to myself. Only now did I notice how deeply embedded the “seeking” me had been. I had no idea of the extent of my anxiety, and how desperately I had wanted to find peace, until after years of seeking, that morning my distress was finally gone for good.
Everyone wants to feel peaceful, don’t they? People go out of their way to avoid stressful situations, or to bring about their dreams, in the hope of finding peace. Would it surprise you if I told you that feeling peaceful has nothing to do with your current personal situation, but everything to do with where your attention is?
To illustrate what I’m talking about, if you are in a room right now, are there more things in this room, or is there more space? You may not have noticed until now, but there’s far more space in most rooms than there are things.
The average room is, in fact, mostly space. Indeed, the world itself is mostly empty space—atmosphere, with shapes on the ground. Isn’t this also true of the universe itself? The apparent solidity of anything material is a perceptual illusion. Even the atoms that make up matter are almost completely empty space, since the nucleus and electrons constitute an infinitesimal part of the atom.
The space between individual atoms is even greater, regardless of the material. We could lift the roof off a house and pour concrete until every inch from bottom to top is filled, but the resulting solid block would still be more than 99.99 % empty space. Did all of this space just arrive, or was it here long before us?
Of course, it’s been here a very long time. We just weren’t aware of it.
Where should I be looking for peace?
You may think you’ve looked everywhere for peace. You may feel quite frustrated, perhaps even exasperated, because you believe you’ve looked everywhere, tried everything, and come up empty. However, I’ve already shown you there is a reality around you that you likely haven’t paid attention to before now. In fact, the peace you have been looking for emanates from the emptiness of the space we’ve just been talking about, the space in which you exist.
Peace has always been here, and indeed everywhere, without us knowing it. Once you learn how to tune into the peace that’s already here, you’ll have all the peace you could wish for. If you aren’t at peace with yourself, you certainly haven’t looked right where you are.
How do I know this?
Because to look here, you have to be here.
What do I mean by “be here”?
To be here, you have to be in the present moment, giving it your full attention. Sadly, instead of being here, in most cases our minds are elsewhere. When we aren’t completely here in this moment now, we don’t experience reality as it actually is.
Instead, we view it through a heavy filter of beliefs, thoughts, and emotions. These are characteristics of the mind, which we might think of as an interpreting and measuring mechanism. If you pay attention to your thoughts, you’ll notice they are constantly evaluating everything, commenting on everything, drawing conclusions about everything. The problem is, the constant interpreting and evaluating that takes place when the mind is active tends to disconnect us from the aliveness of reality.
In other words, the thoughts we use to try to understand reality have a way of removing us from the actual experience of reality.
Most humans suffer from a case of mistaken identity.
We believe ourselves to be our thoughts, emotions, and behavior, each of which are products of the mind. We think of ourselves as “me” with a story about our likes, dislikes, what happened to us in the past, and what we want to happen in the future. In fact, we often associate life with “what’s happening to us.”
When we make the shift into just being in the present, we experience a deep, vibrant peace that’s vast and intelligent—a peace that’s nothing to do with how we might attempt to rearrange our lives or alter what’s happening to us in the hope of making things more peaceful for ourselves. We discover peace as our primordial characteristic, which has always been there.
Is personal peace in some way related to peace on the planet?
Yes—and in fact we will never experience planetary peace without going deep into this moment to experience the source of all peace. Most of humanity have been looking for peace in the wrong place for thousands of years. Throughout history, there has never been a time when humans brought about peace. What was claimed to be peace was just superficial and temporary.
A cease-fire between two warring nations is only a declaration of less violence for a limited period—a promise to refrain from behavior the ego finds irresistible. This isn’t peace.
Although a temporary calm is certainly preferable to violence and upset, it disappears soon after it arrives because the ego—the image of ourselves we carry around in our head—is by nature dissatisfied, and its compulsive thinking and reactivity makes it prone to new rounds of negativity. Consequently, just as nations haven’t been able to bring about peace in the past through wars, negotiations, and treaties, so too all future attempts to create peace are destined to fail.
How exactly can personal peace lead to world peace? The awakening of one person to their true nature acts as a catalyst for others. It’s as if the peace emanating from that one person begins to resonate with and awaken something deep within another.
As we wake up out of our false images of ourselves, we act as mirrors for those around us, so that it becomes harder for them to continue playing their roles when they encounter an authentic being. Awareness of our true self then spreads across the planet and is carried on a wave of peace. In other words, the unseen peace that pervades the universe only becomes what we call “world peace” when the personal experience of peace becomes widely recognized and embodied.
You could say that peace is rather like a single living entity that engulfs and penetrates not only our entire planet, but all the galaxies, indeed the whole universe. It extends from the vastness of space to the infinitely small at the subatomic level. This living entity is the intelligence, the awareness, the essence of who each of us truly is. All we have to do is tune into it.
Does the peace you speak of ever leave you?
Back to the kitchen where we began this journey together.
When I told my mother I was no longer seeking, I noticed that her eyes focused elsewhere. Of course, she replied approvingly, “Okay, Chris, that’s good.” Although she was genuinely happy for me, she didn’t really understand what “no longer seeking” meant.
I was more than happy. I was serene, content, and quietly amazed by what had happened. Since that day, this peace has been with me continuously. It’s accompanied by a sense that when I observe the world, I’m observing something sacred. I can feel that people, places, objects, and indeed the whole of nature are grounded in a deep sacredness.
Even on the most challenging days, I feel the presence of peace somewhere beneath the tumult. I find myself aligned with something that lies beyond my wants, fears, and the stories I tell myself about life. It’s as if someone turned down the volume of what’s happening not only around me, but also in my own head. Like a compass that always aligns with true north, my inner being is in permanent alignment with a peace that’s both intelligent and vibrant.
Even after that morning when I walked into my mother’s kitchen, my experience of peace continued to grow slowly and gently, as it does to this day. I realize that what’s been happening to me for some time is something that can happen to anyone. This is encouraging, because like so many other people, I always wanted to make the world a better place. Now I know this begins with the discovery of our peaceful self.
In 2003, Christopher Papadopoulos experienced a permanent shift in consciousness from anxious thoughts about himself to the peace we discover when we are in touch with our authentic being.
Since then, he has worked guiding others to experience peace through the process of his own self-discovery.