Sunday, March 28, 2010

Define:peace - Common Meanings For Peace

How interesting that even such an ideal state as "peace" is defined by its opposite. The commonly given meaning for the word "peace" is "the prevailing state during an absence of war"; "the time between periods of conflict", or "a treaty to end hostilities".

Other web meanings for peace include: "harmonious relations; freedom from disputes" and "the absence of mental stress or anxiety".

Personally, I like "harmonious relations". It seems to be the only positively spun, self-sufficent definition that good old Google has put before the masses. It does not speak of dischord and lack, absence or opposing ways of being. It is a little limited though in that, for me at least, peace is not just about interacting harmoniously with others - it's also about FEELING harmonious.

Perhaps we have not yet adequately defined peace? Given, as my high school English teacher would say, you cannot use a thing to define itself. Meaning, it's not enough to say "peace is feeling peaceful". Ha ha ha!

So what is peace, in this personal sense of the word? Uh oh... perhaps it is "the absence of mental stress or anxiety". Another definition that speaks of lack and opposites! No no no... surely we can do better?

I like some of these definitions from the Macquarie Dictionary*:

Peace is: 

  • ease of mind or conscience;
  • a state of being tranquil or serene;
  • a state conducive, due to, or characterised by tranquillity or calm;
  • quiet; stillness; silence.

I'd like to stretch this a bit though... could we live with a definition of peace that is somethng like this?

Peace: A Definition

Peace is a state of love, generosity and expansion in which the mind is still and heart is open.

I think, for today anyway, that's going to be my definition. If you have suggestions though, I'd love to hear your definition of peace.

* Source: The Macquarie Dictionary. © Macquarie University, Published by Macquarie Library Pty Ltd (online edition 2005).

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  1. Harry O'DonovanMarch 31, 2010 at 6:36 PM

    Hi Elayn
    Ive got a friend who loves cars and spends most of his time talking about them and drooling over them in the garage...(he's commonly known as a petrol head)...I spent 3 hours one day talking to him about his Alfa Romeo and i mean we talked about every detail !!! Such as engine,door weight,door handles,stainless steel screws,tyres ,tyre rims ,exhaust ,roof dimensions,handling and steering wheel just to name a few.Now, i'm not that fussed about cars myself,but as we stood there devouring every aspect of this car we literally came to the end of the road(sorry for pun)in regards to what more to say about the thing...,and there was a beautiful and profound silence between us.
    It was not until after that i realized the long observation of the vehicle had led to a letting go (or transcending period),where the car was seen for what it from both our attachments to it.And i tell you what !!! It changed my perception dramatically !!!
    I asked my buddy about what he experienced and he said "he felt at peace with the car and himself " and also mentioned that this was why he loveed cars.. We concluded that by immersing ourselves in the car (egos and all) and then letting go gave us a feeling of peace.
    So in response to your blog ,i would have to say that maybe everybody has a different definition of peace due to there cultural conditioning .Maybe the core feeling of peace might be the same throughout the world ?? I don't know ??
    I hope men will never again have to deal with the stereotype of "men and their toys" syndrome,because in actual fact they most likely are practicing the latest spiritual movement of DTP (drool+transcend=peace).
    seeya Harry

  2. Brilliant observation Harry and a great story. I think a profound freedom can be acheived by this letting go of the ego. The more I think about it, the more I realise that the untamed ego stands in the way of our personal realisation (and beyond) of peace and happiness. I think the trick is to have the ego/mind work for you and not be worked by it (as is the usual case).
    Ms Meow, will you be making a similar inquiry into 'happiness'? Great blog btw.

  3. ...p.s. I think many men could respond to this DTP spirituality.

  4. There's a lot to be said for immersion and I agree that, of course, everyone has their own experience of peace... but there are societal definitions of peace, which was kind of the point of the original blog entry. How do we, as a society, define peace? (And is our formal definition accurate enough?)

    I think the DTP concept may warrant it's very own blog post at some point! Nice one Harry. Thank you for sharing. (Is it an Alpha Romeo thing? I have a mate who is also quite infatuated with his).

    Happiness... ah! Now that is an ongoing enquiry Mr Euler Tour... (as in "ET phone home"? :o)

    Lovely to hear from you both