Peace. It’s not just for wimps!
A little over a week ago my wife and I did something we have not done for many years. Seven years, in fact. We went on a little trip all by ourselves. It was great. We had a good time and grew our relationship.
My wife, as usual, wanted to shop. We spent some time in a mall west of Houston. When we left the mall we went in search of a grocery store to get some snacks. Waiting to turn under a freeway I saw a man with a sign: “I’m Old, I’m Ugly, and I’m Hungry.” He looked pretty ragged. I took a few bucks from my bill fold and gave it to him. As usual, all my money was in the bank so I didn’t have much cash. I wanted to give more.
Leaving the man behind I drove half a block to a massive super HEB grocery. It was a huge store, the largest HEB I’ve seen. The amount of food in that store and the incredible variety and the price of most of it made me very guilty. What a contrast, a man probably my age in ragged clothes begging for money half a block from a store with enough food to feed a whole community for weeks full of shoppers spending hundreds of dollars for expensive wines, fancy cheeses, foreign delicacies, and so much more. There’s just no equity in this world. Life is not fair.
I am working on a re-write of my book The Lies, The Truth, The Way. When I finish that I’m going to write a short book called Buddha is not God… and other things Christians need to know. Those are top priorities. But they are yesterday’s projects. I have to decide what I am going to do next. Where shall I put my effort?
Poverty and world hunger come to mind. Images of the man in Houston and so many others we’ve seen with cardboard signs alongside freeways hover in my mind. Of course abused children is an on-going passion. All kinds of things need doing. The world is a terribly screwed up place. What to do? What is the single element causing all these hardships?
As I was working on an anti-war graphic for the CafePress thing Bohemian Paradise I decided the graphic needed an email so people could contact me and maybe we could work together to do anti-war stuff. To have an email that might lure people to write I’d need a proper dot-whatever. I rolled some ideas around in my slippery brain and decided to make something up and register a site.
Looking back through my old website ideas I opened up a folder called Peaceful Choice. Years ago I’d thought about a Peace website. It wasn’t bad. I tweaked on it some. Then I registered the address, peacefulchoice.org, and started working on a site that would have a little info on it that I could move on from and come back to when I finished the books.
As usual I bogged down in research about the war and writing pages for the website. It occurred to me that, as I’d written years ago on the main page of the site, peace on the earth really does require peace in people’s hearts. Not a big revelation, maybe, but a new idea. I decided my mission would be for Peace. The war needs to end. Conflict needs to cease. People need peace. With peace in their heart their lives will improve no matter what situation they are in.
Everything bad on this earth caused by humankind exists because people do not have peace, do not seek peace, and refuse to consider peace as an answer. Poverty, war, conflict, hate, on and on, every single negative emotion or action can be traced to a person or group of people whose heart or hearts are devoid of peace. Someone satisfies their greed so someone else goes hungry. Someone has fear or anguish in their heart so they become addicts and wind up in the street. Selfish, vain and hateful despots build armies and steal countries away from citizens. Greedy corporate leaders build empires of excess at the expense of others.
No evil deed would occur if there was true peace on this planet. Peace. It’s the missing element preventing our world from becoming heaven.
Virtually all religions preach peace but few followers heed the call. Christians call Jesus the “Prince of Peace” but are quick to brandish swords, guns or artillery, or to act hateful and cruel to those they believe are enemies. Christianity isn’t alone. Even in Buddhist countries there are many wars and revolutions. Some Buddhist teachers lament how the words of Buddha are ignored as well. Humankind seems to be hell-bent on creating hell on this earth. It’s the weirdest thing! I don’t get it.
As I put together Peaceful Choice I tried to explain that peace is not an end to war or conflict. Peace has to be something that starts inside. Even war protests cannot be hateful or belligerent. Otherwise they’re just replacing one conflict with another and accomplishing very little. Rather than radical passion one needs strength of purpose. Radicals of all colors hardly understand this.
I have found peace and continue to find peace through the religion I’ve been drawn to: Buddhism. The Buddha taught an excellent way. Through meditation and deliberate following of Buddha’s teaching–especially the eight-fold path–I find peace myself. It’s not the only way to find peace.
Within Christianity there is a call to peace. Christians true to the teaching of the one they call their Savior will also find peace. Once found, peace leads to love, compassion, respect for others, and a desire to bring peace to the world.
Other religions teach peace, too. Every follower must realize that Peace is not peace unless it is complete. One cannot have true peace and harbor ill will or hatred towards anyone. Therefore the follower must extend peace to the entire world and encompass all of humankind within it for peace to work.
Most important, Peace is a choice. Peace is a path. Peace is a way of life. One cannot be peaceful one day and hateful another and call themselves a person of peace. In fact, people who do that merely use peace as a tool. They use it to manipulate, to cajole, to establish a false image of themselves. Peace that does not come from a peaceful heart is not peace, it is deception. A peaceful heart does not arise until a person chooses the path of peace once and for all.
The Path of Peace demands a person live peacefully in every situation. It requires those who choose it to change everything in their lives that leads to conflict. It requires deliberate action and personal choice. In the beginning a person might feel hypocritical. Peace is not a feeling, it is a lifestyle. Thus at times every person on the path of peace will act peacefully when he or she does not want to. And sometimes humanity will slip in and make a mess of things. As the follower of peace moves further down the path disruptions and false-feeling actions are fewer. In time every action will be heart felt and always for the good.
I am convinced of this. I cannot prove it. It is something that cannot be proven. It is, however, something taught by Siddhartha Gautama, by Jesus, and by many others. They knew it was true because they exemplified it in their own lives. My mission in life is to share their message, to encourage people to choose peace.
The needs of this world are overwhelming. That poor man in Houston and so many others need so much. I wish I could feed them all, put clothes on their back, give them shelter. Even if I were the richest man in the world, however, I could not solve all the world’s problems. The only thing I can do is what I can do. I have little to give in a material way. Considering my situation and my nature it’s unlikely I ever will have much. What I do have is understanding. What I can give is peace. What I can share with the world is a way that will end poverty, hunger, addictions, everything there’s not enough money to fix. That way is the path of Peace.
No matter who you are that reads this post, consider the path of Peace. Consider setting aside the weapons of judgment and condemnation and self-righteousness for a short time. Recognize that we’re all on this Big Blue Marble together. We must either learn to live in peace or we’ll eventually kill ourselves and leave a battered and broken planet behind as our legacy.
Is this really too much to ask?
No comments yet.