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The Core of Peace


Fortunately, below the crust of the Shallows is an aspect of consciousness I call the Core of Peace. We can reach this whether we're rich or poor, married or single, famous or totally unknown—in fact, we've already reached it, because it is our essence. Sadly, most of us never realize this. We're so obsessed with the Shallows that we lose touch with our Core. We experience the disconnection as an aching inner void, which we diligently try to fill with more Shallow goodies.

Our culture, grounded in empirical science and the European Romantic tradition, sees material wealth and/or the perfect lover as the keys to happiness. That's why so many relationships disintegrate over monetary arguments, or the accusation "You stopped making me happy." Again, all ancient wisdom traditions teach that no external person, place, or thing can "make" us happy. They recommend various methods for rediscovering the Core of Peace: meditation, introspection, renunciation of shallow attachments, the exercise of focused kindness and compassion.

People who become skilled at such pursuits report feeling more peaceful, joyful, and connected. Neurologists are discovering that these folks may have actually increased neural connections in parts of their brains responsible for happiness. Yeah, yeah, whatever—the really cool thing about the Core of Peace is that when you go there and make magic lists, they work!

I can't explain this, I've just seen it—over and over and over. When my clients are in the Shallows, I can tell that the dreams they describe just won't fly; when they're speaking from their Core, I feel a kind of "click," like a puzzle piece fitting in place, and I know I'll see their dreams come true. I can feel the difference as they express the desire—and so can you. It's the same as the difference between a salesperson's flattery and the love of a faithful dog. One feels icky, the other pure. The sense of this may come from body language, vocal tone, or the vague New Age catchphrase "energy," but it's real. Scientifically measurable? Not yet. Tangible? Absolutely.

I've experienced this difference myself, many times. I once rediscovered an old journal in which I'd listed many desires, some calculated and probable, others deep but seemingly impossible. Reading over all the lists, I was stunned to realize that while almost nothing on the "logical" lists had actually happened, virtually everything on the "impossible" lists had.

For example, shortly after finishing my first book I developed a strange longing to write short essays for smart, insightful readers—exactly what I'm doing right now. I knew nothing about magazine publishing and didn't formulate my desire in terms of magazine writing. But two days later, a New York editor substituting for an absent colleague literally stumbled over my manuscript in the colleague's office. She read it, liked it, convinced the editor in chief of that publication to hire me...and later became editor in chief of this very publication. So here I am, awestruck, still riding the wave of my magic list.

Mind you, I'd accrued 10 years of sweat equity and countless devastating rejections before selling that first book. My Shallow hopes had burned away completely; my writing self was part of my Core of Peace. But why did the incredibly busy editor take time to read an obscure manuscript by a total unknown? Why did she convince someone else to hire me, at no advantage to herself? I haven't a clue. But things like that happen often, to me and those around me, when we dwell in the Core of Peace. So why doesn't everyone go there immediately?

Because of the Ring of Fire, that's why.

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