We’ve accumulated millennia of philosophy and principles, of dogmas and history. We’ve seen science clash with religion and gained an enormous amount of self-reflection through sometimes painful confrontation. We’ve been given commandments, laws, rules, methodologies and all manner of tools for self-improvement. And yet sometimes all is needed for peace is just four words.
After years of philosophizing and ethical debates, the beautiful simplicity of these simple words hit me out of the blue one day. Hundreds of hours spent “debating life” crystalized into what I consider to be an easy to remember (and perhaps harder to follow) principle.
These four simple words represent the very essence of peace. When this tolerant and empathic principle is applied, the result is a reduction in negative feelings and a strong movement towards friendship and understanding. My life became more positive since I started repeating these words in my head before getting upset on somebody, or when I realize I harbor any negative feelings towards somebody.
Instinct and free will
There will always be friction in society. This is a healthy, constructive process. But friction can also lead to excessive heat. Would it not be wonderful if, before it hurts, we can call upon a peaceful mantra? We can relish in the understanding that nobody is perfect so… just be and let be. It is this behavior that I strive to offer to those around me, and it is the same that I wish to receive.
Does this mean that we should allow people who do not live by this mantra just step over us? Of course not, because that would not be something we’d do instinctually. The verb “be” is very much related to instinct. To be means exactly that. It goes beyond thought and down to the very core of our being. Life will defend itself if threatened. That is precisely why we are alive.
But does this mean that we should live according to instinct only? Assuming we actually have free will (that’s a debate for another time), its gift is a certain freedom from instinct. To “be and let be” is a way to guide this freedom towards a peaceful and harmonious life. Humanity has made it this far because sometimes people have put their self aside and acted for the greater good. And assuming we don’t have free will (just self-awareness that makes us think we do), then this mantra of peace is even more meaningful. If we’re just creatures of instinct, then it’s important to understand that others are too. This realization will lead to a calmer life, without having to sacrifice our own well-being.
Several schools of thought and traditions indicate that we all come from the same source. The current consensus in the science world is that this Universe has been born of a singularity of everything. Subsequently, the death of a star made our existence possible. Religions also speak of single sources of life and common destinations where life returns.
Given the repeated motif of common ancestry, it is easy to see ourselves as parts of the same whole. In other words: we are one. We may play our individual roles for now, but at a certain level, we are one. Let’s take another leap of faith: if we are all one, then you are me and I am you. And then, however I act towards you, I in fact act towards myself. If at one point, we will all be one again then I want to act towards you in a way that is respectful and loving. And so we should act towards ourselves, because love starts in our insides and because we need to always keep into consideration our needs as well.
The hall of mirrors
The paradox of existence lies in duality. Existence can be incredibly simple: just be. Yet, within life lies infinite complexity, forever unfolding for as long as we adventure inside the hall of mirrors. And that’s as it should be. Otherwise we’d be bored to death. But sometimes it’s good to go back to the core, to center ourselves and find peace.
Perhaps even the question of having free will is a paradox of duality. Is there any free will? Perhaps it’s a matter of our own free will to decide if we have free will or not. But maybe the discussion about free will should simply be left well enough alone. Just be and let be. Less philosophical struggle and more enjoying of what is.
Back to simplicity
“Be and just be” is a savior of time and energy. There are fewer rules required, there’s less thinking and less keeping track of personal score boards. It’s not surprising at all: being is simple. But it’s even simpler to let others be as well.
We are born with an endless supply of tolerance and love. What our society needs in order to progress to a whole new level is a style of education based on empathy and understanding. This should integrate and reinforce our natural-born constructive tendencies. The light-motif should be: try to see things from the other’s perspective and if things don’t make sense: dig deeper.
Especially in this fast-moving world where we scavenge every second and ounce of energy, being more efficient is a life savior. Help and ask for help, relish in the support society gives. Combine this with the ability to let negative feelings pass over and disappear back into nothingness. Even better, as we analyze negative feelings and the effect they had on us, we gain the ability to extract understanding from these feelings and turn this into a source of energy for progress.
I am grateful that you were here.
I love the minutes you’ve given me.
I will strive to be and let be.