International Day of Peace: Fostering Universal Understanding


Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Peace is not just absence of conflict or violence. It is a positive inner phenomenon. When we talk of world peace, we forget an essential truth. World peace or outer peace is impossible to have without individuals being at peace with themselves. 

Inner peace

Inner peace indicates quieter mind, sharper intellect, lightness and positivity in our emotions, healthier body healthier, a heart that is ever willing to serve and kindness in our behaviour. 

Need for ethics

To shape a peaceful world, it is time to move towards ethical values which form the basis of any human society. What are ethics? Don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you. If you don’t want anybody to obstruct your practice then you should not obstruct others’ practice. If you don’t want to be harmed by anybody, you should not harm anyone else. We have to preserve our identity and at the same time honor others’ identities. 

From inner peace to outer peace

Inner peace is the key to world peace. If people can get access to this peaceful space inside them then outer peace can become a reality. In this quest for inner peace, knowledge of the true nature of the world helps – knowing that everything is going to change, and everything is changing. This very awareness, that everything is going to finish one day, can take you out of the worrying tendency of the mind. So many things have happened in the past, some pleasant and some unpleasant and they are all gone. When you see that everything is changing, everything is vanishing, then you remain strong, yet soft and centered.

Spirit loves diversity

There is not just one type of fruit, one type of people, or one type of animal on this planet. So let’s not confine the spirit to a uniform. Let’s enjoy the diversity in creation by honoring, respecting and loving them all. We have been using the term ‘religious tolerance’ too often. I think that these words have become obsolete now. You tolerate only that which you don’t love. The time has come to love each other’s religions as one’s own. A religion is great not just because it is mine; it is great because of what it is. This understanding, when imbued in all those who lead people in spiritual and religious light, would put an end to the fanaticism going on in our beautiful world. We need to educate our people to understand a little bit about every other religion and culture in order to encompass a broader vision about life. Without meditation and universal brotherhood, which form the very essence of spirituality, religion remains as just an outer shell.

All we need to do is discover the reservoir of peace that we are. Peaceful people will build a peaceful, beautiful world where diversity and kindness and service is honored.

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