MAKE ME AN INSTRUMENT OF THY PEACE
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
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;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.
In the month of March, we are going to explore this profoundly significant and beautiful prayer written over 800 years ago by a Catholic monk in Italy who was canonized in 1228 and became St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of the animal kingdom. Each week, we will take a line or two to look at and embody.
This topic is so important this month as there is a lot going on right now in our world that doesn't look like peace. It is also appropriate as this month marks a significant event in the life of the "Prince of Peace" (and a significant metaphysical lesson of rising above that which does not look like peace) as we move toward Easter next month.
I invite each of us here today to commit to being instruments for God's peace, love, pardon, faith, hope, light and joy. Let that be our resurrection story this month!
This morning, we are going to explore the first line of the Prayer of St. Francis: "Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace."
MAKE ME AN INSTRUMENT OF THY PEACE
Gregg Braden wrote a book called The Isaiah Effect. Braden is a scientist and scholar and an expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls. He has trekked across the globe to read ancient scriptures from all spiritual teachings and to meet with the leaders of those groups, looking for consistency (or not) with the teachings of the Dead Sea Scrolls. His findings have been absolutely astounding!
He had an audience a few years ago with the abbot in a remote Tibetan monastery. He asked the abbot: "If there was one message that you could share with the people of the earth, what would it be? What would you like us to carry to the world outside of Tibet?"
The Abbot's reply was simple. He said: Peace is of the greatest importance in our world today. In the absence of peace, we lose what we have gained. In the presence of peace, all things are possible. Peace is the source of all things. I would ask the people of the world to find peace within themselves, so that their peace may be mirrored in the world.
Braden wrote: Each word of the Abbot's became a source of amazement to my intellect, as well as a source of joy to my soul. The answers that the abbot shared were the same concepts, in some instances nearly the same words, as were recovered from the Dead Sea texts of the Essenes, written over 2,500 years ago. Through the Essene Gospel of Peace, for example, the Essenes begin a lengthy discourse on peace by opening with a single eloquent passage: "Peace is the key to all knowledge, all mystery, all life."a
Who were the Essenes? They were an ascetic sect of Jewish holy men who existed in ancient Palestine from the 2nd century B.C. to the 2nd century A.D. They were prolific writers of the thousands of pages that did not find their way into what we know as "The Bible."
Braden continues discussing the Dead Sea Scrolls: In an account over twenty centuries old, the people of the Holy Land asked their leaders a question that continues to ring in our minds today. . . . With regard to peace in our world, those who have come before asked, "How, then, may we bring peace to our brothers? . . . For we would that all of the Sons of Men share in the blessings of the angel of Peace." . . . In words that sound surprisingly Buddhist as well as Christian in nature, the Essene masters replied: "Three are the dwellings of the Son of Man . . They are his body, his thoughts and his feelings . . First shall the Son of Man seek peace with his own body . . Then shall the Son of Man seek peace with his own thoughts . . . Then shall the Son of Man seek peace with his own feelings."
The ancient Essenes 2,500 years ago and the modern Tibetan abbot said the same thing: To change the conditions in our outer world, we must actually become the conditions of our desire from within. To bring peace to this world, we must first become that very peace in our thoughts, feelings and body.
Why have we not yet seen peace on earth? Because the activity of peace in our individual lives is still missing. There is a vital difference between wanting peace, praying for peace, or even working for peace and BEING peace.
Every interaction can become an opportunity for us to BE peace. Every day, we face the choice repeatedly. We can each become an instrument of peace in any given moment of our lives by choosing in that moment to BE PEACE.
I realize that suggesting we "be peace" in every moment may sound extreme or naïve, or, frankly, not very realistic. After all, think about all the stuff you have to deal with in your life: Every one of us has difficult people we have to deal with right?
We may have financial challenges; personal illness or illness of a close relative. How about the inconsiderate boss you must face, the taxes you owe, or the outrageous traffic delays and on and on. How do we BE PEACE in this midst of all this?!?
It no doubt takes attention. It no doubt takes acute awareness in the moment. And it no doubt takes some self-discipline, but it also, no doubt, can be and MUST be done. This morning, briefly, I want to share with you 4 ways to bring peace intimately into your life.
1. HONOR YOUR PEACE TEACHERS.
Wayne Dyer suggests in There's a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem that the most important moments for cultivating BEING peace are when we find ourselves right smack in the middle of a tumultuous exchange -- when someone is argumentative, surly or irrational -- in our face and we feel anything but peaceful.
He suggests that we honor those people who seem to be able to push our buttons and send us into a frenzy! Spouse. Child. Co-worker. Boss. Employee. Neighbor. Friend. Who is it for you? I'm talking about the ones who really seem to get to you. It's those button pushers, the ones who succeed in sending you into a state of frustration and turmoil who are your greatest teachers.
Dyer writes: Begin recognizing that all of these people are assisting you in being an instrument of peace. They are your guides, and they have much to teach you. The moments when you think someone else is causing the disorder and chaos that you are feeling, are moments to recognize that the person is allowing you to discover what you have not yet mastered in yourself. That's right, you needed a reminder that you have work to do on yourself in order to be an instrument of peace. Remember, the state of enlightenment is a state of being immersed in and surrounded by peace. Anyone to whom you have given authority to remove you from that position is a reminder of just what you must do in order to become more peaceful.b
2. STOP YOURSELF WHEN YOU ARE MAKING YOUR PEACE DEPENDENT ON OUTER CIRCUMSTANCES
So if we have this attitude of peace, does this mean that we will never have any conflict? As long as we live in a world populated by other God beings, each of whom have their own desires and ways of doing things, we will encounter conflict. So, peace does not mean that situations will never arise that cause you conflict or concern.
Hillary Manley said: Peace is not the absence of conflict, but serenity in the midst of it.c
And Dyer says: Peace is not the absence of conflict, but rather is the experience of the Presence of God.d
Memorize this line of the prayer and silently repeat: Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace or the wonderful line in The Course in Miracles: I can choose peace, rather than this.e
When you come to the realization that you can choose peace even in the most trying of moments, you become an agent of God. Choosing peace is an energizing call to action that eliminates self-pity and thoughts of why something is happening. Choosing peace then gives you a serene quiet mind that makes conscious contact with God and brings peace to bear on the so-called problem.
Right in the midst of a no-peace moment, give yourself a gentle reminder than no one and no thing can take away your peace without your consent. The more you can overcome your conditioned response of blaming things outside of yourself for your lack of peace, the more likely you will eventually become a living testament of "thy peace."
Your peace is between you and God. Period. It is not between you and anyone else, or any set of circumstances, as difficult as that is to accept sometimes. You must come to the point where you bring your peace to everyone and everything, rather than attempting to secure it from outer experiences.
Parable: There once was a king who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The King looked at all the pictures, but there were only two he really liked and he had to choose between them.
One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror for the peaceful towering mountains all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.
The other picture had mountains too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky from which rain fell, in which lightening played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all.
But when the King looked, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest ... perfect peace.
Which picture do you think won the prize? The King chose the second picture. Do you know why?
"Because," explained the King, "peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace."
Remember, your peace is not determined by outer circumstances, but by your inner connection with God.
3. PRACTICE THINKING PEACE
Remember, you become what you think about all day long. How often do you clutter your mind with thoughts of non-peace? How many times a day do you say out loud how terrible the world is? How violent we have all become? How uncaring we seem to be? How racist we are? How little the government cares about us?
All of these thoughts and their expression are indications that you have become trapped in a non-peaceful mind and, therefore, a non-peaceful world.
Every time you bemoan the horrors of the world, or listen to media reports on all that is evil, or read tabloids that exploit the unpleasant facts about other's lives, you are containing the conditioning that takes you away from becoming an instrument of thy peace.
When you remind yourself that for every act of "evil" there are a thousand acts of kindness, you put your thoughts back on peace. When you stop someone who is relating yet another disaster story and change the tone to something more loving, you become an instrument of peace. When you stop yourself from rehashing the same old scenes, with new characters, concerning accidents, crimes, poverty, mistreatment, and disasters of all kinds, and put your mind on making these things disappear, you become an instrument of peace.
4. BECOME A PEACEMAKER
Each day you are provided many opportunities to practice peacemaking. St. Francis wrote: "For it is in giving that we receive."f By giving peace you will receive peace, and after you are at peace, your problems begin to dissolve or fade so far into the background that you forget they are there.
By becoming a peacemaker you are literally providing yourself with a remedy for virtually all your anxious moments. Today, be on the alert for any opportunity to become a peacemaker.
Will you succumb to road rage today or will you stop, notice your response and reroute it with a prayer, a deep breath, or compassion?
Will you call the difficult sales clerk an idiot or will you exhibit kindness and grace while dealing with him or her?
Will you cling adamantly and fearfully to your own views or will you allow differing opinions and methods to co-habitate with your own?
These are the mundane but vital moments where we can choose to pioneer peace in our lives. Make this the day that you practice becoming a peacemaker, rather than looking for peace to come to you from outside. Truly it is in giving peace that you will receive it.
Martin Luther King once said: Sooner or later all the people of the world, without regard to the political systems under which they live, will have to discover a way to live together in peace.g
That way is for each of us to be peace. And if enough of us globally choose to be peace by thinking peace, feeling peace and acting peace, we WILL shift the consciousness of humankind. I absolutely know that. That is what the ancient Essenes taught, that is what Jesus taught, that is what a modern abbot in a remote monastery in Tibet taught. There must be some Truth to it!
So, you have a mission should you choose to accept it! This week, 3 times a day, find a way to be an instrument of peace. I'll check back next week! For now, let us conclude with a slightly modified peace meditation from Dr. Ernest Holmes:h
My Inner Mind is still.
My Soul reflects the Most High.
My Spirit is the Spirit of God.
In the great calm of the All Good,
I rest in peace and security.
My life is now reflecting the Perfect Whole.
I am Peace; I am calm.
I am security and complete satisfaction.
I am One with God.
I am filled with peace.
Today, Lord, I am an instrument of your peace.
aGregg Braden The Isaiah Effect
bWayne Dyer There's a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem
dWayne Dyer There's a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem
eThe Course in Miracles
fSt. Francis of Assisi
gMartin Luther King
hDr. Ernest Holmes, Science Of Mind, p. 511