Each Sunday here at Unity Church at the end of our service we join hands and sing LET THERE BE PEACE ON EARTH AND LET IT BEGIN WITH ME. In these words, there is a lasting recipe for peace. What the song is saying is that peace always begins internally. Peace is always an inside job.
It is easy to understand the angst, despair, fear, and anger that circumstances in this world can trigger. The challenge, in these times, as in all times, is to cultivate and strive to maintain that internal peace, a zone of safety and serenity throughout notwithstanding the external happenings.
My recipe for peace begins with reminding myself that although it appears we have many, many complex problems in the world, that actually there is but one problem in the world. And next ingredient is to remind myself that this one problem has already been solved.
That one problem is the notion and the perception that we are separate physical beings. The solution to that problem is the realization of the truth is that we are not separate physical beings, we are not our bodies and indeed that we are connected most durably and irreversibly to the fiber of God/Spirit/All That Is. Indeed we are that fiber itself. Thus, at the level of energy or spirit, we are all one. One with each other and one with our Creator, our Source. I am not speaking symbolically or metaphorically. We couldn’t separate ourselves if we tried. And believe me we have tried!
And the most horrible and horrifying events in the world today do not change that. Now obviously, on a body or ego level, our fears are certainly real, justified, and palpable. But on a spiritual level, we remain the same as we always were and are. What we so often do, however, is to live at the level of our ego — which is that part of us that continues to see us as separate, different, and special. And from the ego’s perspective we are indeed a world of bodies, personalities, prejudices, and causes. And in that perspective is the resulting sense of separation, which gives way to understandable and we believe, justifiable fear and anger and retaliation.
But my recipe for peace says that while we can choose to believe that this is the way things are, that’s a choice that we don’t have to make. We can choose peace instead of that. We can choose again to see things differently.
Our challenge is not to become consumed with fear and anger but to remain peaceful inside. This, by the way, has absolutely no bearing on our political perspectives about what’s going on in the world. Nor does it have any bearing on the passion or inclination that we may feel to take action in one form or another to advance our principals or values, or to contribute to world peace.
How then does this play out in the practical and physical world? Moderate the amount of television watching that you do if it is making you feel frightened, angry or sad. If reading the newspaper creates a state of duress or discomfort, adjust accordingly to a practice that allows you to remain at peace internally.
Develop a spiritual practice such as meditation or yoga. Attend a church like Unity and hear a message of love, forgiveness and peace every Sunday!
Remember, if we are not completely in a state of peace, then we are in a state of fear. Do your best to choose love (defined here synonymously with “peace”), not fear notwithstanding what you read about or become aware of in terms of world events. Just as light casts out darkness, love casts out fear. In Zen Buddhism, there’s a concept of “zen mind” or “beginner’s mind”. The mind should be like an empty rice bowl. If it’s full, the universe can’t fill it up. Only if it is empty is there room to receive.
Surrender is the process of emptying it. This is not always easy, but its value is inestimable. When your mind is filled with the angst, fear or anger over world events or even the troubling events in your backyard, it can’t be filled with the Truth. It’s hard, if not impossible, to see in the dark. It’s also scary. But in the light, you realize that it’s okay, that all is well.
The greatest miracle in the world will not be world peace. It will be a shift in our perception that beings to see us as One, not separate. To make this miracle happen, we must begin to choose love over fear. Whenever you make that choice you are returned to inner peace. Doing so brings immediate surrender and with it, bountiful and overflowing love and joy. And that is available to us all in the blink of an eye when we remember that we are not our physical bodies but rather that we are light beings who put on “body suits” and then forgot. “I am not a body. I am free. I am as God created me!”
By maintaining our own internal peacefulness, we contribute mountains of peace to the world. Because we are not isolated but rather all connected and part of the same “mind”, everything we do, every thought we have, affects the rest of the world. This has been referred to as the “Butterfly Effect”. Or the 100th monkey.
Thus, our most significant contribution to the world – and the challenge to us all — is creating and maintaining our own peaceful internal canvass, for from that canvas pours forth and disseminates love and peace and joy into the rest of the world in ways that are both abundant and immeasurable, even if they are invisible to our body’s eyes. Try not to become agitated and angry at world events. Such agitation and fear yields more of the same energetically. Do your best to maintain your groundedness, at your core, in peace and love.
Start by choosing to love even those that you may want to hate; for hating only contributes more fear and anger-based energies and manifestations to the world. This includes the often very palpable emotional challenge of not being angry with leaders, for example, with whom we may be in disagreement. Remember that on an energetic or vibrational level, our anger at anyone only enhances rather than diminishes the problem. This is the challenge.
Truly, let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me!