(Excerpted from “Let Go and Live in the Now” — Red Wheel/Weiser, 2004: 450 words)
Following is a list for special Self-study to help get you started up the path of spiritual freedom. After a careful review of these peace stealing conditions, take time to make a list of your own. Keep it simple. Use casual observations of yourself and others around you to be a spiritual detective.
1. One of the first thieves of our peace is spending time thinking about what others are thinking about us. Can we see that the only reason we are concerned with what others may be thinking about us is due to an imagined fear that they may have some power to take away what we are clinging to for our equally imagined peace? Let go! No one has the power to take peace away from you. It isn’t theirs to give!
2. Another thief of peace is building a “case” against anyone for any reason. No one can steal our peace, so finding fault with another for how we feel is like falling asleep under the sun and then blaming it for the burn we get! Drop whatever you have been tricked into resenting and watch peace return to take its place.
3. And last but not least, another common thief of peace is trying to measure ourselves. For instance, have you ever noticed how, most of the time, we cannot have a conversation with someone without walking away and measuring our own performance? Even walking through a supermarket we wonder whether people are looking at us or not, and then we act accordingly. Step out of these mental movies; their producer is the misery of self-measuring. Let go because you know that it’s impossible to be self-conscious and also be at peace.
There are many other ways in which our peace is stolen, such as when we find ourselves caught up in the excited anticipation of something, good or bad, coming our way or in the endless comparison of our lives to those of others — friends and strangers alike! Hoping to find a sense of peace in any form of comparison or anticipation is like waiting for a dark, overhead thundercloud to rain sunlight. We must aim to be this honest with ourselves in each moment.
For extra benefit, and as a way to amplify the impact of these lessons, take a piece of paper and write down on the top of it: “Known or Possible Suspects Who Are Stealing My Peace.” Then make a list of those thoughts, feelings, habits, or beliefs you have that you think need closer observation. This simple exercise will help you to exorcise those inner thieves that are intent on stealing your contentment.