This morning I woke up and did the laundry in the bathroom sink and then asked my two-year-old, Isabella, and my wife, Michelle, if they wanted toast. They both said no. Assuming Michelle could gauge the truth for herself, I made only enough for me and Isabella. Then Michelle changed her mind and started eating toast I’d earmarked for Isabella. That made me think I’d have to give Isabella my toast (when actually I could have just made more). I got mad.
Mad for me does not mean that I run around flailing my arms about. It means a grumpy look on my face and silent scorn. But it still makes life unpleasant for the people I love. I got mad because I made up this story in my head that I would end up hungry later in the day and would not be able to work through lunch as I had planned.
What I want to point out is that having no peace in myself means that there is no peace in the world around me.
Krishnamurti, the late philosopher, speaker and recipient of the United Nations Peace Medal, says that the way to bring peace to the world is to bring peace to ourselves. To bring peace to ourselves, he says, we have to let go of the false idea of the ego which constantly lords itself over the rest of our personalities. He says we have to let go of the very idea that there is an ego, that there is some part of ourselves that can lord itself over other parts. He says we have to let go of our will.
Letting go of will is problematic in Western culture. We celebrate the idea that if you want something badly enough and work hard enough you can have it. Will power is our religion. Will power gets you rich and famous. On the other side of the coin, if you talk about letting go of the will, people say you are nihilistic and don’t care about helping the hungry.
But that’s not what I understand Krishnamurti to mean by letting go of will. Letting go of will just means letting go of internal conflict. It means letting go of the conflict between the way I want things to be and the way things are. It means letting go of the idea that Michelle shouldn’t eat toast when she says she doesn’t want any. It simply means approaching life, not antagonistically, but with love.
When I have less internal conflict, I cause less external conflict. When I cause less external conflict, there is less conflict in the world. I am the world and the world is me, Krishnamurti says. If you want peace in the world, he says, find peace in yourself. You cannot fight for peace. Find peace in yourself by letting things, even your thoughts, be the way they are.