The Appearance of Inner Harmony

Inner harmony is an internal state that permits us to be at peace and act confidently even in the face of difficulties. Inner harmony is not being in a good mood all the time; it is not ceasing to experience problems or the emotions associated with them. Inner harmony is neither the permanent show of a smiling face, nor the constant display of an optimistic posture. Instead, inner harmony is an evenness of the mind that, when troubles do arise, prompts our skills toward corrective actions, if they exist, or submits us serenely to the acceptance of reality, if problems actually have no solution.

Inner harmony is a worthy state of being—the ideal state—where most everybody would like to dwell. When we are enjoying inner harmony, we are living well. The paradox is, however, that we cannot move to such a wonderful state directly; we cannot take a particular sequence of steps that lead us there; we cannot produce inner harmony in a straight line.

Inner harmony is more the spontaneous result of a way of living than an intended, planned goal. People may look for things such as money, friends or academic degrees; these pursuits, though they may bring success, do not necessarily lead to inner harmony. While inner harmony is quite different from success, the two qualities do not exclude each other. People enjoying inner harmony might be successful—they might have money, friends and academic degrees—but those things come to them naturally and they do not get frustrated if such effects do not arrive. To the eyes of others, they are successful; to themselves they are at peace with whatever happens in their lives. Inner harmony, which is personal and intimate, cannot come from outside; this would make it outer harmony.

We should not seek inner harmony; when we are chasing inner harmony, we are losing it. If we should not hunt inner harmony, how do we get to experience it? How do we fulfill a yearning that we should not pursue? Instead of running after inner harmony, we have to direct our actions toward eliminating suffering, the opposite of inner harmony. Since suffering means anguish, agony, anxiety, desperation, pain, affliction, and a few more states or experiences, the word needs to be delimited.

Suffering is the set of negative feelings generated by cravings for what we lack, and aversions to what imaginarily or actually surrounds us. Since cravings and aversions are the originators of suffering, it is these maladies what we have to eradicate from our lives.

We can compare inner harmony to silence. Both occurrences come from the absence of certain disruptions; they are not the outcome of specific actions. When there is noise in the environment and we are longing for quietness, we work on the sources of the distressing sounds: we turn off loudspeakers, end chattering and still motions. When the noise sources settle down, silence comes about.

Similarly, we cannot design or produce inner harmony; there are no instructions to build it. Instead, if we wish to experience inner harmony, we should work on the sources of the mental noise and shut them down; we must attack and destroy the roots of suffering. Cravings and aversions are the sources of the distressing sounds; they are like loudspeakers the stridencies of which break off inner harmony; we must turn off the sound system if we want to stop the noise. When we eliminate cravings and aversions, the suffering they are producing disappears; then inner harmony spontaneously blossoms.

Atlanta, June 11, 2013


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