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Achieving that inner peace

The unity and inter-dependence of all beings is the basic nature of all creation.

india Updated: May 31, 2006 20:09 IST

In Manduka Upanishad (III. 4) the oneness of all beings is illustrated by likening all individuals to spaces confined in different jars, which unite with the Self when the jars are broken. It is the most lucid explanation of the interconnectedness of all beings. It has an important lesson for all those who seek contentment and peace of mind.

The unity and interdependence of all beings is the basic nature of all creation. Egocentric thinking is, therefore, against the order of nature. It prevents us from achieving harmony with the rest of the universe by creating artificial barriers between us and other beings.

It is these barriers that make us think in terms of you and I, and yours and mine. They prevent us from reaching out to others and prohibit our fellow beings from reaching out to us. This disconnect makes us view others as our rivals and breeds negative emotions - fear, hatred, jealousy, enmity and anger, one leading to another. And that is the biggest obstacle in achieving inner peace.

As the barriers arising out of egocentric thinking are our own creation, we alone can dissolve them. But how do we do that? The Isa Upanishad says, "He who sees all beings in Self and Self in all beings, feels no hatred" (Sloka 7). The stoic Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius held similar views: "..because he shares with me in mind and a portion of the divine - I, then, can neither be harmed by him, nor can I become angry….nor can I hate him."

Thus, the only way to free oneself from the vicious cycle of negative emotions is to expand one's ego till one achieves what is known as egolessness. Thinking deeply, it is not difficult to see that in many ways we all share a common destiny. There is something of us in all and something of all in us.

This realisation helps us feel oneness with others so that we are happy in others' joys and sad in their sorrows. That alone gives us lasting inner peace.