On a recent trip to the dreamy sun-washed landscape of Newport Beach, Calif., to celebrate the second birthday for the Center for Living Peace, my friend Kelly Smith's labor of love that brings peacemakers from the community and abroad to inspire people to live peace, I indulged in vast amounts of green juice and detox tea, ate too much vegan carrot cake and met a Buddhist monk.
During that meeting, a miracle happened.
Messages arrive when we are open and ready to receive them. The word "miracle" elicits images of enormous events of significant magnitude, such as surviving a life-threatening illness or intervention from an angel in a catastrophic accident. Miracles come in all shapes and sizes. But sometimes, a miracle can be a shift in one's perception, as A Course In Miracles explains.
On this particular occasion the messenger of miracles was Lama Tenzin, a Buddhist monk and emissary for His Holiness the Dalai Lama. His kindness and serene presence are an inspiring affirmation to living peace. He shared his insights on love and peace with Kelly and me. Quietly, he said, "Our mind is like a mirror, and what we place in front of our mind is what we reflect inward and outward. Our mind reflects the world to us."
Instantly, I was reminded of a similar idea in Dr. Norman Peele's groundbreaking book, The Power of Positive Thinking, in which he says, "Reality is the mirror of your thoughts. Choose well what you put in front of the mirror." Although, Dr. Peele wasn't a Buddhist monk he was a messenger of miracles, too.
Lama Tenzin spoke of Buddhist monks who go away on silent retreats for several years to purify their minds. I asked him about those of us who live in the world, and consequently encounter a myriad of life situations and challenges. His response was, "Victory is not reacting to a negative mind."
True victory is not reacting to a negative mind. Of course, this may sound easy in theory, but let's get real. How do you break the habit of negativity? And, while we're on the topic, where is this negative thinking coming from?
We've all experienced the strength of negative thoughts. If we are not aware in the present moment they can quickly sneak up on us and drag us down the rabbit hole of disconnection, despair and depression.
Near the end of Lama Tenzin's visit he was asked if he believed global peace would one day become a reality. After a long pause he said, "The enemy is within."
He then pointed out: Love exists within each of us, as does the enemy.
How often do we believe the enemy is someone or something outside ourselves?
So... if the enemy is within, then what exactly is this villainous darkness lurking inside all of us? Fear. False Evidence Appearing Real.
Fear is the consummate shape-shifter, disguising itself in many forms: anxiety, stress, worry, overwhelm, blame, judgment, gossip, anger, hate, resentment, and criticism.
In words of the great Viktor Frankl: "When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves."
The duality of love and fear live within each of us. The good news? We are all one choice away from a miracle that will change our lives, and consequently the world. The choice is simple: love or fear.
As I finish writing this blog an email arrives with a quote by William James: "If you can change your mind, you can change your life."
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