Go in Peace, Do No Harm.
The best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten is what my most influential teacher used to say at least a dozen times a day to all of the passing students in the hall: “Go in peace, do no harm!”
Walking by his classroom, you were always greeted by the perfume of vegetarian curry, and he would be standing there in the doorway holding on to his suspenders with a great big smile on his face. Truly, no other person could embody the character of the ideal enlightened teacher quite like him.
He was constantly spouting off inspiring quotations and crazy facts, inspiring his students to consider true suffering, and to seek out the truth that lies just beyond our mental, physical, and emotional barriers. Every day he wore a white button-up shirt tucked into his khakis, accompanied by his fluffy beard… and his glass eye. Not to mention, a big round jolly belly.
Long story short, he was in a near fatal car accident (actually, he did die, yet in his life he would die two more times) that resulted in the loss of his eye after having several reconstructive surgeries on his skull. Some time after, he moved to India to teach English, and there he contracted a flesh-eating bacterial infection that destroyed his abdominal wall. This is when he died for a second time.
The second incident resulted in having his abdominal muscles replaced with linen, hence the big round belly. Before his third and final passing, he said the first two deaths taught him the true nature of our fragile minds and bodies. I like to think that in his final moments, he was preparing to learn the true nature of spirit. After all, he was a philosophy teacher dying from ALS, so it only seems right.
To say that he’d been to Hell and back is probably a massive understatement.
I love to meditate on his famous phrase “Go in peace, do no harm!” because it’s there for you when times are good and when times are really hard, but more so the latter. It comes to mind when you feel so mad that you could break something, or hell, even kill someone. You will choose the higher road 10 times out of 10 if you truly follow this wisdom.
If you truly plant this wisdom and let it flourish in your mind’s garden, you will slowly begin to transform from the inside out. It may take a few years, but it will happen. Your lifestyle may begin to change.
Suddenly you may find yourself considering a diet change, participating in peaceful protests, or advocating for the wellbeing of your peers, or even perhaps becoming more adamant about knowing the source and suffering of your purchases. You will become hyper aware of all of the unnecesary suffering in this world, and go through a full-blown and very messy spiritual awakening.
You will soon come to understand gratitude of the highest degree. Slowly but surely, over time your heart will soften and allow forgiveness, and you will practice compassion in the face of fear and evil. You will be wise and humble.
If you truly follow this wisdom and weave it into the fabric of your daily life, you will learn to love yourself beyond all measure and all self-doubt shall cease. Tears of empathy and joy may fall upon your cheek for the first time in your life. You’ve now reached the point of no return because this of love cannot be taken away. This level of passion is what makes life worth living and dying for.
If you truly follow this wisdom and guild your heart with it, you will realize that it will result in a life well-lived 100% of the time. You will be brave, loved, and prosperous. You will shine a light in the very darkest places and make peace with your demons.
You will quickly learn what is truly good in life and worth celebrating.
So today and every day, just as he did, I bid you farewell on your life’s journey and to go in peace and do no harm.
And if you need to be bad, try being good instead.
Kayla Roles is an advocate for self-improvement and mental health, living high up in the Washington rainforest on a farm where she spends her days with her two German shepherds and two cats, just taking life one day at a time. Her goal is to inspire others to not be so hard on themselves and live their best life. Passionate about writing, photography, gardening, cooking, and art, Kayla is all about deepening your connection with yourself and your environment. You can connect with her on Instagram to follow her creative journey.