The topic of inner peace addresses a universal need. There
is nobody on this planet that does not desire inner peace. It is not a desire
that is new to our time; rather, it is something that everybody has been
searching for throughout the ages, regardless of color, creed, religion, race,
nationality, age, sex, wealth, ability or technological advancement.
People have taken a variety of different paths in trying
to achieve inner peace, some through accumulating material possessions and
wealth, others through drugs; some through music, others through meditation;
some through their husbands and wives, others through their careers and some
through their children’s achievements. And the list goes on.
Yet the search also goes on. In our time we have been
led to believe that technological advancement and modernization will produce
for us physical comforts and through these we will attain inner peace.
However, if we were to take the most technologically
advanced and most industrialized nation in the world, America, then we would
see that what we have been led to believe is not factual. The statistics show
that in America some 20 million adults suffer from depression yearly; and what
is depression but a total lack of inner peace? Furthermore in the year 2000
death rate due to suicide was double the rate of those who died from Aids. However,
the news media being what it is, we hear more about those who die from Aids
than we do about those who die by committing suicide. Also more people die
from suicide in America than from homicide, and the homicide rates themselves
So the reality is that technological advancement and
modernization have not bought inner peace and tranquility. Rather in spite of
the comforts that modernization has brought us, we are further away from inner
peace than our ancestors were.
Inner peace is for the most part of our lives very
elusive; we never seem to get our hands on it.
Many of us mistake personal pleasures for inner peace;
we achieve elements of pleasure from a variety of things, be it wealth, sexual
relations or other than that. But these do not last, they come and go. Yes we
have personal pleasures from time to time and we are pleased with various
things from time to time, but this is not inner peace. True inner peace is a
sense of stability and contentment which carries us through all the trials and
difficulties of life.
We need to understand that peace is not something that
will exist in this world around us because when we define peace according to
the dictionary definition it states that peace is freedom from war or civil
strife. Where do have this? There is always a war or some sort of civil
unrest happening somewhere in the world. If we look at peace in terms of the
state level then peace is freedom from public disorder and security, but where
in the world do we have this in a complete form? If we look at peace on a
social level, family and work, then peace is freedom from disagreements and
arguments, but is there such a social environment that never has disagreements
or arguments? In terms of location, then yes, we can have a place which is
calm, peaceful and tranquil, some islands for example, but this external peace
only exists for a small amount of time, sooner or later a storm or a hurricane
“Verily, I have created man in toil (struggle).” (Quran 90:4)
This is the nature of our lives; we are in toil and
struggle, ups and downs, times of difficulties and times of ease.
It is a life full of tests as God says:
“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear,
hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to as-Saabirin
(the patient ones, etc.).” (Quran 2:155)
To deal with our circumstances, the circumstances of
toil and struggle in which we live, patience is the key.
But if we go back to the inner peace that we are looking
for, then patience cannot manifest itself if we do not have that inner peace.
We are living in a world of toil and struggle, but yet
within ourselves it is possible to attain inner peace, peace with the
environment, with the world in which we live.
Obviously there are some obstacles which prevent us from
attaining peace. So first we have to identify the obstacles in our lives which
prevent us from achieving maximum inner peace and develop some kind of strategy
to remove them. The obstacles will not be removed just by thinking that we
need to remove them; we have to develop some steps to achieve this. So how do
we go about removing these obstacles so that we can achieve what is possible of
The first step is to identify the obstacles themselves.
We have to be aware of them, because if we cannot identify them then we cannot
The second step is to accept them as obstacles within
ourselves. For example anger is one of the biggest obstacles to inner peace,
for example. If a person is angry, worked up and has blown a fuse, how can he
or she have inner peace in that circumstance? It is not possible. So the
person needs to recognize that anger is an obstacle to inner peace.
However, if a person states that, “Yes, it is an
obstacle but I do not get angry”, then such a person has a problem. He has not
accepted that obstacle as a problem and is in a state of self denial. As such
he cannot remove it.
If we look at the obstacles in life we can put them
under a variety of headings: personal problems, family issues, financial
dilemmas, work pressures and spiritual confusion. And there are many issues
under these headings.