[You can ask your own question here.]
First of all thank you a lot for all your classes. Your way of explaining Yogananda's teaching is huge help in my spiritual development. The classes are not only the source of detailed knowledge with many practical examples but also motivate me to keep going this path.
Recently I came back to the lecture "The Eight-Fold Manifestations of God". I realised that I am not able to discriminate between 'peace' and 'calmness' and I have little idea how to apply them in everyday life. Could you explain it once again?
I am so happy to hear that what we are doing here is of benefit to you on the other side of the world. Many great advantages to being in early Dwapara Yuga! One big one is this wonderful unifying of all the citizens of the "Nation of Self-Realization," as my friend calls us, crossing traditional national borders.
It is not surprising that you find it a little difficult to discern between "peace" and "calmness." In many ways they are similar. In English, they are often used together, referring to something as "calm and peaceful." It is notable, though, that one uses both, because they do have a nuance of difference.
I think the problem comes when you think of them at their perfected end, that is, close to their source in God. At that level, the distinction is difficult to see.
If you think of them, instead, at their most extended, in the middle of human activity, the distinction is clear.
Peace, in terms of human life, means the absence of conflict, stress, or even action of any kind. An empty meadow at dawn is peaceful. The house after the children finally are asleep in bed is peaceful. The quiet harmony between husband and wife as they fall asleep together at night is peaceful.
Calmness, however, can exist in the middle of stress, conflict, or dynamic action. Two people could be having an intense verbal debate, but it is possible, even at such a time, to be totally engaged but inwardly calm. A soldier may be in the middle of battle, racing across a field with bullets flying, but can, in himself, be calm. A child may be having a tantrum, even pounding with his fists on his mother, but she can remain calm in the midst of it.
Nothing about these scenes is peaceful, but calmness can exist, even in the absence of peace.
Often in life peace eludes us. That is the time to concentrate instead on calmness. Which is to say, don't become agitated by outer circumstances but, even in the midst of agitating events, remain calm inside.
Does this help?
[Questions and answers from other Ananda ministers worldwide can be found on the Ask the Experts page of Ananda.org.]
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