If your inner peace is being ruined, ask yourself if a confrontation is really worth it?
A businessman I met yesterday said he was forever on tenterhooks. Because, he said, he is always fighting for ‘what is right’. He fights his brother’s reckless decisions in the business that they jointly operate, he is fighting for a parking space, that he legitimately owns, with his apartment builder, he is fighting for an Income Tax refund with the authority for over 10 years now and he is fighting within himself unable to reconcile to the surge of Hindutva and communal strife in the country. Phew! He asked me what he must do to be peaceful.
“Meditate.” This is what I told him.
But the last thing that will come easy, when you mind is agitated and firing on all cylinders, is meditation.
I have been the way this man is right now. So I know.
Our sense of morality, propriety, integrity and intention often wants us to demand a fair world. Besides, the human mind is wired, through years of conditioning, to point out to you that you are always right; that while everyone around you is either doing wrong or doing only what appears to be right, you, and you alone, are the messiah who is clamoring to do what is right. Any definition of right and wrong involves individual judgment and perception. What may be right to you may be wrong from another’s point of view. So, the moment you get into this ‘I-am-right’ mode, you have launched into an endless, zero-sum game! This is how, for many years, I vexed over trying to create a better world – for me, around me. I discovered, through catharsis, that there is nothing wrong with wanting an ethical, fair, egalitarian environment around you. Except that you mustn’t try to create it at the cost of losing your inner peace. Anything that demands a fight that disturbs your inner equilibrium is simply not worth it.
So, fight the good fight, take up causes, choose issues that you want to campaign for, but first win your inner battle. Nothing in the world, nothing in Life, is worth more than your inner peace. If you are at peace, you will have the energy to face the world, you will have stamina to last any crusade and you will have the focus to devise and execute a winning strategy.
Do what you must do in any situation but do it only if you can be detached from the outcomes. Invest in the process, but be detached from the outcomes. Often the biggest hurdle to an individual’s evolution is the desire to want to control outcomes, to prove oneself right and to hold on to opinions. Focusing on the merits of each experience is perhaps a good way to ascertain and convince yourself if such clinging on is really worth it. So, I always recommend a three-step check before you take up any issue that you want to invest your energy in:
- Will what you are fighting for really matter some years from now?
- What is best for all parties involved – letting go or proving yourself right?
- Which stance – letting go or clinging on – will help preserve your inner peace?
This approach has helped me immensely. I have come to realize that wanting a perfect world is not a wrong expectation. But you wanting to create this perfect world your way, well, that’s a stance you may want to rethink and, perhaps, even avoid. Instead, choose an intelligent approach, which is, decide on whatever you do, or want to do, basis your inner peace being first protected. So, ask yourself, each time before you launch into an ‘I-am-right’ mode, if it is really worth it?