What is Peace?

By Arun Gandhi

A favorite story that Grandfather liked to tell us was the story of an ancient Indian King who was obsessed with the desire to find the meaning of peace. What is peace and how can we get it and when we find it what should we do with it were some of the issues that bothered him. Intellectuals in his kingdom were invited to answer the King's questions for a handsome reward. Many tried but none could explain how to find peace and what to do with it. At last someone said the King ought to consult the sage who lived just outside the borders of his Kingdom:

"He is an old man and very wise," the King was told. "If anyone can answer your questions he can."

The King went to the sage and posed the eternal question. Without a word the sage went into the kitchen and brought a grain of wheat to the King.

"In this you will find the answer to your question," the Sage said as he placed the grain of wheat in the King's outstretched palm.

Puzzled but unwilling to admit his ignorance the King clutched the grain of wheat and returned to his palace. He locked the precious grain in a tiny gold box and placed the box in his safe. Each morning, upon waking, the King would open the box and look at the grain to seek an answer but could find nothing.

Weeks later another sage, passing through, stopped to meet the King who eagerly invited him to resolve his dilemma. The King explained how he had asked the eternal question and this sage gave him a grain of wheat instead. "I have been looking for an answer every morning but I find nothing."

The Sage said: "It is quite simple, your honor. Just as this grain represents nourishment for the body, peace represents nourishment for the soul. Now, if you keep this grain locked up in a gold box it will eventually perish without providing nourishment or multiplying. However, if it is allowed to interact with the elements - light, water, air, soil - it will flourish, multiply and soon you would have a whole field of wheat which will nourish not only you but so many others. This is the meaning of peace. It must nourish your soul and the souls of others, it must multiply by interacting with the elements."