Monday, January 17, 2011

Teaching & Inner Peace

Jim Schaefer

A simple story from Buddha may offer some insights into finding inner peace and teaching. The story goes like this. A teenage mother who had lost her infant to death was frantic with grief and outrage. She traveled from village to village with her child on her hip, looking for a miracle to bring the child back to life. Someone told her that the Buddha, who was preaching in a nearby town, would be able to help (Leyden-Rubenstein, 2001).

When the young woman found Buddha, she approached him and implored him to bring her son back to life and ease the terrible pain in her heart. In his wisdom, Buddha told her that he would help her if she would first bring back a mustard seed from a household in which no one had ever died (Leyden-Rubenstein 2001).
The young woman followed Buddha’s instructions and traveled from house to house. During her travels, she heard many stories about illness, pain, and death, and her heart was opened to other people’s pain. Eventually, she realized that all families have been touched by death, so she returned to the Buddha. “I know now what you were trying to teach me,” she said. “I am not alone in my misery. All people must endure death, not only their own, but others around them” (Leyden-Rubenstein, 2001).
Leyden-Rubenstein (2001) said this story shows how we can attain inner peace when we accept suffering, pain, and death, and “begin to see how [we are] connected through meaning, and to others through compassion.” In addition, we do not have control over everything that happens to us, but we “do have control over the way we react to what happens to us” (p. 1).
I think the story can help teachers because it focuses not on judging but on working with people, so we can “transform” fears and anxieties and compulsions about possessions, positions, and relationships into love and compassion. Then we can work on ways to make the world a better place to live and find inner peace.


Leyden-Rubenstein, L. (2001). Peace on earth begins with inner peace. Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association, 4(6), 24+.

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