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Peace Feeds Happiness
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Oswald Pereira

What has peace got to do with happiness? The connection is like that between life and living. For, peace makes life worth living, and paves the way to happiness. Peace and happiness are linked so inextricably that there's no happiness without peace.

What comes first: peace or happiness? Could you be at peace if you're not happy? The answer to these questions depends on your idea of happiness...on whether you get happiness from external factors or from within.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna that no man can know happiness without peace. However, to experience peace, we need to prepare ourselves to receive it; so in a way we are responsible for making peace and happiness happen. For peace and happiness to last, both ought to spring from within, regardless of any turmoil or otherwise that is happening outside. The more you internalise your feelings of peace and happiness, the more the chances are of your reaching blissful heights. Once you are able to source peace and happiness from within, you can transcend external vicissitudes to remain ever-happy and blissful.

Reverend Ernest A Fitzgerald described happiness as a 'deep sense of inner peace' that comes when you believe that you are 'making a difference for good in the world'. Thomas Jefferson, former US president, said that "it is neither wealth nor splendour, but tranquillity and occupation, that give happiness."

From a Buddhist perspective, too, one can learn that "people inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their happiness or satisfaction. Yet, true happiness comes from a sense of peace and contentment, which in turn must be achieved through the cultivation of altruism, of love and compassion, and elimination of ignorance, selfishness, and greed", in the words of the Dalai Lama. The Buddha said that to "enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one's family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one's own mind".

Peace is a recurring prayer in Holy Mass celebrated by Christians. The priest chants, 'Peace be with you' and the congregation replies, 'With you also'. The congregation offers each other 'The Sign of Peace'. The mass ends with a blessing by the priest, 'Go in peace, the mass is ended'.

What, then, happens to the non-believer? Is he doomed to turmoil and unhappiness? It would be presumptuous and uncharitable to draw such a conclusion. For, there's peace in the smile of a child; there's peace in the tender touch of one's mother...it's got nothing to do with God or religion, but everything to do with the state of your mind.

Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk says that "If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work." Again, no religious strings attached to peace.

The Vedic idea of peace includes peace in all areas of life - psychological, social and environmental, for instance. The Yajur Veda declares: "Let there be peace in heaven, Let there be peace in the atmosphere, Let there be Peace on Earth... May the waters and medical herbs bring peace, May the trees give peace to all beings, May all the gods be peaceful, May the Vedas spread peace everywhere, May all other objects everywhere give us peace, And may that peace come to us and remain with us for ever."

Could there be a more sublime yet secular declaration of peace and happiness?

pereira.oswald@gmail.com

Read more: Peace feeds happiness - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/opinion/edit-page/Peace-feeds-happiness/articleshow/6996229.cms#ixzz16fFOACks