How can we create Peace on Earth? Wise spiritual masters tell us that only when each person works to build peace in his or her individual heart can the ideal of world peace be realized. When we cultivate serenity of mind, letting go of resentment, anger, blame, the many causes of suffering, as Buddha called them; when we end our resistance to what is; when we accept life on life’s terms, then peace will spread like a wonderful virus throughout the world.
Taoism offers a beautiful prayer that expresses the essence of
If there is to be peace in the world, there must be peace among nations;
If there is to be peace among nations, there must be peace in the cities;
If there is to be peace in the cities, there must be peace between neighbors;
If there is to be peace between neighbors, there must be peace in the home;
if there is to be peace in the home, there must be peace in the heart.
I’ve been attending the “World Peace” meditations at Kadampa World Peace Temple in Glen Spey, NY, every Sunday since November of 2011. Each week a lesson about inner peace is taken from “8 Steps to Happiness”. The idea is that when we know we have a choice, we can turn off “monkey mind” (our constant stream of thousands of thoughts) for awhile and contemplate our natural inner serenity.
The first lesson I heard was on “cherishing”--that if we cherish one another without expecting or judging, we may be able to accept the possibility of seeing all beings as rare and precious. If we can see their special preciousness, then perhaps we can accept that they (and we) deserve to be cherished. Another lesson was about longing; we can never be peaceful if we believe there is something or someone outside ourselves: our position in the world, wealth, the right partner, a new computer, that we must have in order to be happy. This teaching says our happiness will only come about when we understand that it is the inner peace we carry, nothing material, that will fulfill our real needs.
Speaking of our “real” needs, it occurs to me that our inner wealth depends on developing emotional “muscles”. One might be when we irritate others, or they irritate us, it may be that we need annoying people around to help us to exercise our “patience” muscle. As Carlos Casteneda pointed out, “the petty tyrants” are our best teachers. How could we perfect ourselves in the areas of anger, patience, taking things personally, if we didn’t have these “personal trainers” to work with us? You might consider that idea when you’re confronted by someone who triggers your anger, or Hurts your feelings.
There’s a saying, “Within, within...my wealth is within...” We are never poor as long as we treasure and have compassion for others. According to Buddha, all our reactivity is caused by delusions. In the 12-step communities they say, “feelings are not facts”. Buddhism says all negative states of mind --anger, craving, jealousy, pride, selfishness; all are poisonous delusions that cause suffering. We are temporarily controlled by these delusions, like a computer mouse that’s controlled by a giant hand. When we are stirred up, “upset”, we’re like a glass of dirty water--the delusion is the dirt. Clarity helps us see that our judgement of others’ behavior and what’s causing it is coming from our own belief system, our attitudes. When someone criticizes me, I can take it as an insult or I can wish for that person to stop being harmed by their own poisonous delusions. Which thought will bring me a sense of peace?
A prayer I’ve found helpful in learning to let go and forgive others goes like this:
—If anyone has hurt me, knowingly or unknowingly, I forgive them and I let them go with love.
—If I have hurt anyone, knowingly or unknowingly, I ask their forgiveness and pray they let me go with love.
—And if I have hurt myself, knowingly or unknowingly, I forgive myself, and grant myself peace.
May all who read this let go of any delusions that are keeping them from peace and happiness. May we all learn to cherish one another. And as a result of our awakening, may Peace on Earth manifest in our lifetime. Amen.
Rev. Alyta Adams is an ordained Interfaith Minister since 2004. You can call on her to
serve as officiant for unique, personalized weddings, baby blessings, memorial services,
or any life-transition ritual. She is the founder of the SPIRAL CENTER, a real, yet visionary space. As an Interfaith Minister (meaning: including and beyond traditional religions), my dream and my intention is to offer an inclusive, loving, and respectful experience of the “Divine” for those who consider themselves “Spiritual, but not Religious” For more information about Rev. Alyta Adams and the Spiral Center, visit her website by clicking here.