The commandment of this age is to strive for a peace that is not of this world. This peace is a profound, life transforming energy. When we have this energy, then we can be calm and tranquil even in the depths of hell. The whole world can be falling down around us, but we will be steady and firm.

On the other hand, without this energy, even in the most beautiful spot in the world, we can be agitated and ill at ease. Everything around us can effuse peace and serenity; but if we lack this energy it is to no avail.

The energy of peace has its source on a plane of consciousness in the spiritual realm. There is a plane in the Kingdom of God where all is harmony; where everything is peace. The Buddhists call it Nirvana; the Jews call it the plane of Sabbath. The energy of peace permeates the matter of this plane. It will penetrate the consciousness of whoever touches this place.

The great teachers of humanity have brought this energy with them. They have given the gift of peace to others through their presence. Jesus said, “Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)  Jesus gave this ability to bestow peace also to his disciples. He told them to greet all they met with the salutation: “Peace be with you”, and then he told them, “and if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.” (Matthew 11:13)

When an individual carries this energy, its presence is felt as soon as he enters the room. There is a change that takes place. The chaos and noise in one’s mind immediately disappears. All internal tension vanishes. There is calm and quiet and relief.

This energy of peace emanates from the sefirah of chochmah / binah – the third eye. This energy wipes away all feelings of conflict or turmoil, and grants the experience of inner stillness and order. The Indian holyman, Sri Ramana Maharshi, was known for the peace people found in his presence. Paul Brunton succinctly describes this experience of peace in the account of his first visit to the Maharshi:

“I become aware of a silent, resistless change that is taking place within my mind. One by one, the questions which I prepared in the train with such meticulous accuracy, drop away. For it does not now seem to matter whether they are asked or not, and it does not matter whether I solve the problems which have hitherto troubled me. I know only that a steady river of quietness seems to be flowing near me, that a great peace is penetrating the inner reaches of my being, and that my thought-tortured brain is beginning to arrive at some rest.”[1]

The Dhammapada declares:

“If you can be in silent quietness like a broken gong that is silent, you have reached the peace of Nirvana and your anger is peace.” [2]

For the Buddhist, the key to achieving peace is the removal of the ego. Our ego is the gong that must be broken. It is our desires and ambitions that create all the noise. When the power of the ego is shattered, then the passions that create such powerful agitation in us will disappear. Once this is achieved, we can learn to focus in the stillness and silence that remains.  In this emptiness, we will find the place of peace.

In this broken gong there is great wholeness. The Hebrew for peace comes from the word shalem – whole or complete. When there is peace there is a sense of rightness to all the elements of life. Each piece fits perfectly into place. This explains the Zen focus on the arrangement of space. When there is balance and harmony in an environment, it will naturally evoke the energy of peace.

In creating this environment, we are striving to make our surroundings correspond, in some measure, to the nature of the plane of peace. One who has deeply touched this plane will have a profound sense of this spiritual aesthetic: he will be a master of the evocation of peace.

When we enter such an environment we are immediately transported into another state of consciousness. It opens up our centers and brings into our mind the energy of peace. It need not be a grand presentation; it can even be a small detail in the way one object is arranged. But this detail acts as the key that unlocks the door, and through that opening we pass into an inner space.

When we look at a Zen garden or flower arrangement we get a momentary glimpse of the true reality that underlies this material existence. It is the recognition of the true nature of this world that leads us on the way to this inner peace. In that moment of revelation we give up strife and ambition in the light of the Divine harmony.  “In the light of his vision he has found his freedom: his thoughts are peace, his words are peace, his work is peace.”[3]

Thereafter, our search is not for success or fame and fortune, it is for the way of return to this place of peace. But it is more than a selfish desire for personal contentment. As a result of this experience we regard the world and its sufferings with a different eye. We feel deep compassion for all the human beings that must wander in this darkness. We sincerely wish to bring each of them to this peace. Our prayer now becomes the prayer of Saint Francis: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”

The Baal Shem has tied the fulfillment of the commandment love your neighbor as yourself, to the acquiring of this inner peace. He taught that when we can see each human being as part of the Divine union, then we will love them because we will know they are “ourselves”. In this knowledge we let go of all anger, jealousy and hatred. In this Self-love, we will discover the path of peace.

Peace is the greatest blessing we can receive; it is a gift beyond all others. The individual who carries this energy brings blessing to all those around him. Peace is a treasure that is pursued by sages and kings; in the end, it can only be acquired through the Grace of God. As it says in the priestly blessing: “May the Lord turn His Countenance unto you and give you peace.”

 

copyright © 2017, by Yoel Glick

Acknowledgements    (↵ returns to text)

  1. Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self- Realization, Arthur Osborne
  2. Dhammapada, translated by Juan Mascaro
  3. Dhammapada, translated by Juan Mascaro