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Peace Is a Double Standard

Last updated on May 4, 2021

This photo shows a wall of graffiti. To be peaceful I have to apply a double standard for myself. I should not make graffiti, but I should not expect others not to. Anything else is stressful.
Peace for me feels like not damaging other people’s property. But peace also feels like not expecting others not to damage my property. It may not be fair, but it feels peaceful.

Do You Want It To Be Fair? Or Do You Want Peace?

The words “not fair” are fighting words. We all used them when we were kids. If you want to win, you call out “Hey, that’s not fair!” And hopefully, some higher authority will come to your rescue.

The whole court system in adult life is set up for this too. Keep appealing to a higher court whenever something is not fair. This is the way of the world. But it is not the way of peace.

The Way of Peace Is Not Fair

This is what peace looks like in my experience: not hurting you, but not expecting you to not hurt me. Why does peace look like such a double standard? Because peace is not concerned with external things like winning. Peace is only concerned with my internal experience.

When I try to hurt you, it hurts me inside. I feel awful when I try to do something hurtful to you. And when I think that you shouldn’t try to hurt me, it also hurts me inside. It feels awful to try to control you, even if I gain from it.

This Came Up Recently in Inquiry Circle

We did a great piece of work together on the statement “We should follow the guidelines.” Inquiry Circle is my ongoing, online practice group for doing The Work. Some of us have been doing The Work regularly for years in Inquiry Circle.

We have some guidelines that we all do our best to follow as we work together.

The problem comes if we expect others in the group to follow the guidelines. That’s when it becomes stressful. Again, it’s a double standard. I should follow the guidelines, but you should not (unless you do). It sounds strange at first, but it’s peaceful to see it this way.

Let’s look a little more closely at it.

Here Are Some Turnarounds and Examples From This Work

Original statement: We should follow the guidelines.

Turnaround: I should follow the guidelines

1. Yes, the guidelines are for me to follow, not for others to follow. I only have jurisdiction over myself.

2. As soon as I want others to follow the guidelines, I am no longer following the guidelines which clearly state that I should stay in my own business, not the business of others.

3. It is stressful to try to control others.

4. By using the guidelines to make Inquiry Circle “safe” by controlling others’ behavior, I am actually using the guidelines to hide. I would much rather get what I came for and dive into my own work when others don’t follow the guidelines.

5. Peace is a double standard. If I want to be peaceful, I have to stay in my own business, even when others get into my business. And this doesn’t mean I have to be a doormat, I can still ask for what I want (my business), but it just means that I don’t ever expect others to do what I want. That’s freedom.

6. If I fully follow the guidelines, I don’t even care if others are not following the guidelines. I’m too busy doing my own work.

Turnaround: We should not follow the guidelines.

1. Because we are all human beings. Expecting ourselves to do it perfectly is unreasonable.

2. Because it even states explicitly in the Inquiry Circle guidelines: “These guidelines are just guidelines. They are not about judging yourself or others as doing it “right” or “wrong.” They are not about doing it perfectly. And they are not hard and fast rules. These are just guidelines. The intention behind these guidelines is to allow us all to feel safe in being vulnerable together. These guidelines also give each of us a chance to notice our motives when writing comments. If you notice any motives in yourself when writing comments, I invite you to write them down and question them. Questioning my motives has been, and continues to be, a very valuable part of my growth. So read these guidelines with a gentle spirit. And meet them with, ‘I’m willing to…’ and ‘I look forward to…’ not following them perfectly.” So not following the guidelines is following the guidelines!

3. Because guidelines are different than rules. Guidelines are like a record of experience: we’ve found that this works and that doesn’t work. The attitude is “test it for yourself,” not “break a ‘rule’ get punished.”

4. Because we all need practice dealing with situations when people don’t follow the guidelines. Can I handle it? What does it bring up? How can I stay peaceful even when that happens. What a great challenge!

5.It’s also a lot closer to real life. People can do anything in real life. The more practice we have with that here, the better equipt we become for dealing with real-life situations.

6. There can be any number of valid reasons why we don’t follow the guidelines at any point: stress, forgot them, tried to follow but failed, trying to find the balance point but overshot or undershot, maybe a living turnaround is pointing someone to break the rules more, or maybe someone doesn’t understand a particular guideline, etc.

7. Maybe some of the guidelines are not helpful, or are just wrong.

8. Following our own internal guidelines is the goal of self-inquiry. When there is a conflict between internal guidelines and external guidelines, we should follow our internal ones.

9. It’s good to experiment with doing it different ways.

10. We don’t want a bunch of unthinking robots in Inquiry Circle. That would be more like a cult. I’d much rather have a bunch of free people here, even if they don’t follow the guidelines at times.

11. When we don’t follow the guidelines, it offers the opportunity to ask for what we want, instead of being given what we want from the guidelines. We become more self-sufficient.

These turnarounds make it really clear for me that it’s my job to stay out of your business, even when you get in my business. It may not be fair, but it’s much more peaceful that way for me.

Where Does Unfairness Come Up for You?

Unfairness can be a great opportunity to play with this double standard of peace. Just the other day, I ordered a burger and fries at the airport. I picked up my order, and went to my gate. The burger was there, but not the fries, and there was no time to walk back.

Not fair! But luckily, in that instance, I chose peace instead of fairness. I immediately saw how understandable it was that they forgot the fries, and I saw that I didn’t really need the fries or the extra money I had paid. I simply sat in peace and ate my burger. Life really can get simple without the concept of fairness.

If you would like to join Inquiry Circle, we’d love to have you with us. We meet online to do The Work every day. If you want to join us in Inquiry Circle, the prerequisite is The Work 101.

Have a great week,

“Who would you be in people’s presence without, for example, the story that anyone should care about you, ever? You would be love itself. When you believe the myth that people should care, you’re too needy to care about people or about yourself. The experience of love can’t come from anyone else; it can come only from inside you.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy

Further reading: Have You Done The Work on Board Games?

About the author

Todd Smith has been doing The Work of Byron Katie on an almost daily basis since 2007. He is just as excited about this simple process of self-inquiry today as he was when he first came across it. He also enjoys writing about The Work, and training others in the subtleties of this meditative process. Join Todd for The Work 101 online course, private sessions, virtual retreats, and his ongoing Inquiry Circle group.

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