Some days life can be such a pain! You know those days when everything seems to go wrong. The alarm doesn’t go off and you’re late for work. The car gets stuck and you miss an appointment. The computer won’t work.., oh don’t get me started on computers, there are times, I just want to throw it out the window! God, there are just so many frustrations in our day to day world. How do we find peace in the midst of it all? It’s very easy to say, Oh, just don’t let it bother you. But when it bothers you, it bothers you! How do you let things not bother you? Well, let me say it is not easy. I have been meditating most of my life and I do find peace during meditation. But when certain events happen or specific astrological aspects take place, sometimes my peace of mind goes right out the window. The Universe knows exactly what buttons to press to drive me crazy. You would think I would know better by now, but it doesn’t seem to be the case.
Jesus spoke a lot about peace in a crazy world. Things were crazy back then also. Maybe even crazier. Back then it was common place to kill people if they did not agree with the ruling theology. We are a little more civil today. At least in the West. There are still places in the modern world where they will chop your head off for divergent religious beliefs. Hard to believe, but there it is.
So, what did Jesus have to say about finding peace in the midst of apparent chaos. Well, where did he go in times of trouble to find peace? He certainly had his share of it. He went to the Garden! The garden of Gethsemane. Where is that garden? That garden is everywhere and nowhere, because it is the garden in the mind, where peace and beauty reign forever. Basically, Jesus went into the silence to meditate and find peace. Jesus was not always at peace throughout his life. He had worries and troubles like everyone else, but he was closer to God than anyone else.
Speaking of the garden, Jesus tells of an interesting story in Matthew 13, where the celestial farmer plants his celestial seeds in different types of soil. Some people are like rocky soil where they receive the seeds of Good News and begin to grow young plants. But their roots are shallow, and they quickly lose faith when they are trampled by problems of the world. Then their plant withers and dies. Then there is the good soil where the seeds of God grow into vibrant plants that are able to withstand the trials of the world and produce abundant harvests.
Many of us have these different types of soils within our souls. We have to learn to cultivate them with tenderness and much care. We can either be trampled by our problems and lose our peace of mind, or we can nourish our souls through peace and meditation which will produce abundant fruits of love and right actions, even in the midst of disaster and calamity.
Buddha also had a lot to say about finding peace. Before Buddha was Buddha, he was Siddhartha, Prince of a Royal Kingdom. He stood to inherit great wealth beyond measure and rule the entire kingdom. You would think he would be at peace with this. But he was not. He wanted to know more about the people and their experiences in the kingdom. He would go out at night without his father’s permission and explore the surrounding lands. He spent time visiting many of the poor people and learned about their many sorrows. He had never known such suffering living in the rich palace. This led Siddhartha on a quest to find the meaning in life and why people suffered. After many years of contemplation and meditation, Buddha attained enlightenment. Buddha discovered that the root to all suffering was desire. And the way to find peace was to let go of our attachment to things. It is our attachment to things that causes so much suffering. Our attachments to all our stuff or things on this physical plane; like our house, car, boat, money, and other people. There is nothing wrong at all with having these things. But when you believe that they are yours or part of you, then you become attached to them, and any thought of losing them will cause you suffering. Can you own something without being attached to it? Can you create something without being attached to the end result? Are you able to have friends without possessing them? Buddha had the keys to immense wealth and power, but he let it all go for ultimate peace and freedom.
Lao Tzu was a quiet mystic who lived in China back around 6th century B.C. He was a contemporary of Confucius and wrote the Tao Te Ching. He also had a few things to say about attaining peace. He said: Tao abides in non-action, Yet nothing is left undone. If kings and lords observed this, The ten thousand things would develop naturally. If they still desired to act, They would return to the simplicity of formless substance. Without form there is no desire. Without desire there is tranquility. And in this way all things would be at peace
Lao Tsu’s teachings are hard to comprehend for the western mindset. He advocates returning to the state of the “uncarved block” or the center of your being to find peace. In other words, there is nothing that you need to do, there is no action you need to perform. You just need to go to that simple awareness that exists within all of us. It is an awareness without prejudice, without discrimination, without desire that just exists. And it is so simple that a baby can do it, naturally. And yet it is so difficult for us to attain. We have been so shaped by our culture, our schools, our parents, our desires that we have forgotten the state of the uncarved block.
Look, it cannot be seen–it is beyond form. Listen, it cannot be heard–it is beyond sound. Grasp, it cannot be held–it is intangible… From above, it is not bright. From below, it is not dark: An unbroken thread beyond description Stand before it and there is no beginning. Follow it and there is no end. Stay with the ancient Tao, Move with the present.
Knowing the ancient beginning is the essence of Tao.
There is the Peace Prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. St.Francis was a very interesting monk. After undergoing deep spiritual experiences, he gave away everything he owned and went to help the poor and downtrodden. He lived a very simple life that was dedicated to spreading peace to other people and nature. His life exemplified the path of peace to all creation and the Peace Prayer is a dedication to him.
Lord make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, Let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is error, truth; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; And where there is sadness; joy. O Divine Master grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console. To be understood, as to understand; To be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Mother Teresa was a great admirer of St. Francis. She also lived her faith and dedicated her life to peace for the poor and suffering in India. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work. When she received her financial award from Nobel, she gave the entire amount to the poor. Mother Teresa was once asked how everyone could bring peace into the world. She simply replied, just love your family.
I think people today can identify with the spiritual struggles of Mother Teresa. Although she dedicated her life towards her mission to help the poor and needy, she had severe doubts about the existence of God and Christ. She confessed that deep in her soul, she did not feel the presence of God. She felt nothing but darkness and emptiness and yet she labored on. Many people in today’s troubled world, question their faith and the existence of God. Like the hero, Sisyphus in the Myth of Sisyphus, we toil everyday in our work, our jobs trying to make ends meet, rolling that stone up the hill. And when we get that stone to the top of the hill, it rolls back down. It’s like, What’s the use! Everything is just a struggle. Why am I bothering?
Well the answer is right in front of our face. It is the struggle that makes it all worthwhile. Sisyphus smiled when he got the stone up the hill and let it roll down again. I once wanted to learn how to juggle. So I purchased a juggling book and began to try to juggle. It was very difficult for me. I tried and tried and tried. I would always drop the balls down in frustration. I thought to myself, God can I ever do this? But I persevered and continued to practice. One day I got it! I was able to get all the balls flying through the air in uniform grace. I was simply amazed! It was so beautiful. And I smiled!
It was the work and struggle that made it so worthwhile. If someone had given me three balls and I would have instantly juggled them, I would not have valued it. It was the effort and the struggle that made it so valuable for me.