May 23, 2012

How To Find Inner Peace In 12 Simple Steps

Steps Toward Inner Peace Pilgrim Photo

Extracted and modified from the uncopyrighted book "Steps Toward Peace" by Peace Pilgrim:

When I talk about the steps toward inner peace, I talk about them in a framework, but there's nothing arbitrary about the number of steps. They can be expanded; they can be contracted. This is just a way of talking about the subject, but this is important: the steps toward inner peace are not taken in any certain order. The first step for one may be the last step for another. So just take whatever steps seem easiest for you, and as you take a few steps, it will become easier for you to take a few more. In this area we really can share. And I suspect that when you hear me give some of the steps toward inner peace, you will recognize them as steps that you also have taken.

Four Preparations

1. Simplify life to bring inner and outer well-being into harmony

Unnecessary possessions are unnecessary burdens. Many lives are cluttered not only with unnecessary possessions but also with meaningless activities. Cluttered lives are out-of-harmony lives and require simplification. Wants and needs can become the same in a human life and, when this is accomplished, there will be a sense of harmony between inner and outer wellbeing. Such harmony is needed not only in the individual life but in the collective life as well.

2. Find your place in the Life Pattern

You have a part in the scheme of things. What that part is you can know only from within yourself. You can seek it in receptive silence. You can begin to live in accordance with it by doing all the good things you are motivated toward and giving these priority in your life over all the superficial things that usually occupy human lives.

3. Live good beliefs

The laws governing human behaviour apply as rigidly as the law of gravity. Obedience to these laws pushes us toward harmony; disobedience pushes us toward inharmony. Since many of these laws are already common belief, you can begin by putting into practice all the good things you believe. No life can be in harmony unless belief and practice are in harmony.

4. Assume right attitudes toward life

Stop being an escapist or a surface-liver as these attitudes can only cause inharmony in your life. Face life squarely and get down below the froth on its surface to discover its verities and realities. Solve the problems that life sets before you, and you will find that solving them contributes to your inner growth. Helping to solve collective problems contributes also to your growth, and these problems should never be avoided.


Four Relinquishments

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No one is truly free who is still attached to material things, to places, or to people. We must be able to use things when we need them and then relinquish them without regret when they have outlived their usefulness. Anything that you strive to hold captive will hold you captive, and if you desire freedom you must give freedom.

1. Relinquishment of all negative feelings

Work on relinquishing negative feelings. If you live in the present moment, which is really the only moment you have to live, you will be less likely to worry. If you realize that those who do mean things are psychologically ill, your feelings of anger will turn to feelings of pity. If you recognize that all of your inner hurts are caused by your own wrong actions or your own wrong reactions or your own wrong inaction, then you will stop hurting yourself.

2. Relinquishment of attachments

Only when you have relinquished all attachments can you be really free. Material things are here for use, and anything you cannot relinquish when it has outlived its usefulness possesses you. You can only live in harmony with your fellow humans if you have no feeling that you possess them, and therefore do not try to run their lives.

3. Relinquishment of the feeling of separateness

All of us, all over the world, are cells in the body of humanity. You are not separate from your fellow humans, and you cannot find harmony for yourself alone. You can only find harmony when you realize the oneness of all and work for the good of all.

4. Relinquishment of self-will

You have, or it's as though you have, two selves: the lower self that usually governs you selfishly (ego), and the higher self which stands ready to use you gloriously (consciousness). You must subordinate the lower self by refraining from doing the not-good things you are motivated toward, not suppressing them but transforming them so that the higher self can take over your life.


Four Purifications

1. Purification of motive

Obviously your motive should never be greed or self-seeking, or the wish for self-glorification. You shouldn't even have the selfish motive of attaining inner peace for yourself. To be of service to your fellow humans must be your motive before your life can come into harmony.

2. Purification of desire

Since you are here to get yourself into harmony with the laws that govern human behaviour and with your part in the scheme of things, your desires should be focused in this direction.

3. Purification of thought

It is not enough to do right things and say right things. You must also think right things. Positive thoughts can be powerful influences for good. Negative thoughts can make you physically ill. Be sure there is no unpeaceful situation between yourself and any other human being, for only when you have ceased to harbor unkind thoughts can you attain inner harmony.

4. Purification of the bodily temple

Are you free from all bad habits? In your diet do you stress the vital foods—the fruits, whole grains, vegetables and nuts? Do you get plenty of fresh air, sunshine, exercise, and contact with nature? If you can answer "Yes" to all of these questions, you have gone a long way toward purification of the bodily temple.


A few really dedicated people can offset the ill effects of masses of out-of-harmony people, so we who work for peace must not falter. We must continue to pray for peace and to act for peace in whatever way we can. We must continue to speak for peace and to live the way of peace; to inspire others, we must continue to think of peace and to know it is possible. What we dwell upon we help to bring into manifestation. One little person, giving all of her time to peace, makes news. Many people, giving some of their time, can make history.


Peace Pilgrim walked more than 25,000 miles spreading her message: "This is the way of peace: Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love". Carrying in her tunic pockets her only possessions, she vowed: "I shall remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walking until given shelter and fasting until given food". She talked with people on dusty roads and city streets, to churches, colleges, civic groups, on TV and radio, discussing peace within and without.

Her pilgrimage covered the entire peace picture: peace among nations, groups, individuals, and the very important inner peace–because that is where peace begins.

She believed that world peace would come when enough people attain inner peace. Her life and work showed that one person with inner peace can make a significant contribution to world peace.


For more, read the book Inner Peace: How to Be Calmly Active and Actively Calm