Peace: An inward passage

There is only one passage to inner peace, and it is an inward journey. We might compare it to a river journey, for water is a dream symbol for the unconscious, and the flow of the river has been compared to the flow of the Tao since ancient times — the flow of life that comes from a source and weaves itself along the earth until it reaches the ocean of universal Oneness. All of us are in the river's flow, which is outside of our control, and yet we put most of our effort into claiming our uniqueness, and our special ability to master the ability to navigate this life, or we struggle with self-doubt and unhappiness because of our belief we should have done it differently.

The majority of people resist the inward journey — they fear seeing what is true in themselves because they were taught not to trust. They are distracted by mental goals and preoccupations, or they notice a mental boredom when approaching stillness. It is a path not taken unless they come up against a blank wall — a moment of realization that their pursuits have not made them happy, a grief that cannot be released, a realization of pending death, or an accidental eruption of energy that leaves them confused and searching for answers.

This waiting is unfortunate because the answer to the contentment and peace they seek is found when this inner passage is traveled back to its source, and there is recognition that at the core each of us is whole. When the passage brings us into our center and the fullness of consciousness, our cells relax, we are able to be present with the beauty of the moment, and we discover the strength to endure whatever we must face. We may even discover bliss or a quiet internal happiness at being alive, even while acutely aware of the transitoriness of this existence.

This inward passage is not necessarily an easy one, and at moments is more like riding the rapids. It takes determination and focus and self-valuing to stay afloat.

Along the way we will find shadowy parts of our character we would rather not acknowledge, and memories we would prefer remain in the unconscious. There can be moments of great liberating vision as well as appalling sorrow for the human condition. This river holds all of human history in its flow.

Why undertake such a journey? Most religions advise you to trust their words and forego your own search. Western cultures discourage you from letting anything other than a strong will and goal-setting determine your life path. And yet you may be called. This calling may be a question: "Is there a God, really?" or "Who am I?" or "Why isn't my life working the way I planned?" Or it may be a word in a book or a line in a poem that grabs you, and you cannot get it out of your mind, and you must learn more about whatever it is that hooked your curiosity. Perhaps someone else seems at peace and you long for it. Some are called by a dream entity or experience.

These callings lead to a search for "Self," the recognition of all the hidden parts of our psyche that are longing to be acknowledged and expressed, or to "no-Self," the essence of pure consciousness that moves through every avenue of our expression. It can lead us into meditation, depth therapy, spiritual community, or quiet introspection and journaling. If you feel this calling, allow yourself to unfold with it, trust and be curious rather than fearful, allow your self to begin the inward journey to the peaceful presence that you are.

Bonnie Greenwell, Ph.D., a non-dual teacher and transpersonal therapist founded Shanti River Center in Ashland. She recently published "The Kundalini Guide" and "The Awakening Guide," available on Amazon and Kindle. Her Awakened Living blog is

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