Peace be still. God bless you. I love you. That’s where I still am, about a year later since we last gathered for this kind of an occasion for The Institute for Individual and World Peace. This is a place of peace. I took in J-R’s words earlier; that each one of us is a place of peace if we choose that for ourselves.
I’d like to share some words from Jesus with you. This is in Matthew 11:28. “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, and do not be afraid.”
There is this presence that peace carries, that transcends what’s in the world. And I’d like us all to dwell upon that as best we can: to take whatever resources we have inwardly or outwardly to marshal up our commitment to peace, our dedication, our willingness to live in peace. And to understand that what the world would give in that way doesn’t measure up.
Is your peace in some way dependent on how the world treats you? Is there anybody in here that gets caught up in that a bit? There’s my hand. I do, too. I have a tendency to want to say, “And I can’t help it.” But I have a better knowing that says, “Yes I can.” And the way we can help it is if we have some allowance for the way the world is, so that we stay with the peace, the peace that is present.
In our work we’ve identified some key principles. Some of them are the ones that seem to be the most important. One of them is that peace is present regardless of external conditions, regardless of what is in the world. Here is a little test. If you had in front of you right now all of your personal financial details, would that be an inspiration of peace for you? Okay, just the current year—2005—regardless of what went on previously. How about wherever you identify as your address? Is that a place of peace for you? When you go to that place, does it represent going to peace? Does peace welcomes you? Does peace greet you as you come in the door? Or is there something else that greets you?
Do you have a place of work? Is that a place of peace? And of course, if you’re a homemaker, then you get perhaps the same address as your place of work. Do you relate to it in peace?
I would like you to consider what it means to not let your heart be troubled. And if I told you that is your job, that is your assignment, your responsibility - do not ever let your heart be troubled - would you accept the assignment? Would you take on the job?
Perhaps you have a consideration like I do: what happens if I do? Is it over? Am I done? Am I eliminated? Am I some kind of smoke that now scatters from whence it came? Or do I get another chance? I happen to think this is a place where we get another chance, no matter what. And that is a reason to not let your heart be troubled. With whatever has gone on in your existence—and consider that you remember little of it—and given what we know about progression, that is a good thing.
It is in our favor that we have a life that progresses by going forward and does not call upon us to look back. In my ongoing independent survey about this world, much--if not virtually all--of our trouble is because we look back. We allow things that have already happened to disturb us, and we allow that disturbance to hold. When we allow that disturbance to be held, it increases, it multiplies, it becomes something that, like an entity that grows, must seek its destiny, its purpose. And if that purpose is retribution, then it is retribution. If it is vengeance, then it is vengeance.
Is there somebody in your life who you do not welcome? Is there somebody who calls you on the phone and you have a sense of dread or reluctance? Consider that as evidence that you still let your heart be troubled. Whenever you let something disturb you, that is humbling. On a personal level I do not know how to stop myself from being troubled. I have given up attempting to control that.
What I have found is that I do have the opportunity to let it go, to drop it, to let the hit that comes to me not be returned. Even if it is in kind, like “You deserve this. Let me give you some of your own medicine. Let me teach you a lesson.” Be careful of that.
Let us consider that if we are peacemakers it is not our job to seek retribution, as we do not function in the law. We function in the grace because that is where peace is—the kind that surpasses all understanding—which is beyond conception. What does that mean—peace that surpasses all understanding? My mind does not make that trip. But I do have an awareness of peace that does, and it is a peace that is present regardless of circumstances, regardless of anything. And it is a choice.
Another one of the principles that we have discovered in our study of peace—is that it is a choice. Peace is a choice regardless of what has happened. Do we choose peace, or do we choose something that is of the nature of the disturbance or the trouble that has found us?
Earlier this evening a young man came up to my wife, Laura, and said, "Your son is hurt, he was outside playing really rough. We went outside and found our bleeding son. This was an opportunity to find out if I let my heart be troubled, or let my heart find the peace that is present—to choose the peace. I discovered that he had somebody with him who was ministering to him. He was shook up and still sobbing, the kind that has its own rhythm, comes somewhere out of the stomach, out of the emotions. Another person wanting to assist told me, "We can't find any ice. We asked for some ice and we can't find it." I said, “It's in the restaurant." Then I realized that was my responsibility, so I went to the restaurant to get the ice, and brought it back. My son was still there, but now he was in a whole different place. He was not shook up. He was more in a place of letting the wound be dressed. He let the love that was present come to him, and he was soaking it in for all it was worth. He wanted to get something to eat - a Mounds bar. I discovered once again that I am not raising a dummy. He is using everything for his advantage.
I was part of a group a while back that created an educational workshop. Our intention was to discover the keys to peace, articulate and identify those keys as simply as possible, and then make our discovery known, to make it an offering, a presentation. I am glad that this work of peace is going on through IIWP. I had visions that it would become greatly popular, greatly useful. In considering those keys in my life experience in the last ten-to-fifteen years, I've not discovered something that would tell me, "You were off. You did not have the keys." I consider that we found the keys and I continue to work them. I practice them.
One of them is the cessation of againstness. That is something I first heard from John-Roger: that peace is the cessation, the stopping, of againstness. Can you imagine that for yourself? That you would never have a moment again in which you held or expressed againstness? That is one of those situations where I say on a personal level--mentally, emotionally, “I don't know how to do that.” My personality--my mind, my emotions--seem to dilly-dally in againstness, finding reasons why I do not like that or I do not like them. And then as I entertain and hold those kinds of thoughts, they become progressive, they become separation, they become disturbance and trouble that enters the heart. And that is where I draw a line.
Of course it really is not a line. It is a place of peace inside of me that cannot hold againstness. And at times it is troubling because it means I need to forgive. I need to make amends. I need to apologize. I need to make correction. What needs correction is not always what I had planned for my day or my week. But it is a responsibility if I'm going to be a place of peace, and accept my dedication as a peacemaker. I tell that to all of you as something you could use toward me. Notice I did not say "against me." You could use it toward me as, “I want those amends you were talking about, Okay?”
I was at the restaurant in the hotel a little earlier and somebody said, " I remember a time when you came over to the house with J-R and the guys. You came into the kitchen and you said, 'Where is that water I asked you for?” I did not remember what she was talking about. But I thought about it because she had a real clear, emphatic way of remembering and relating it back to me. I figured that just because I do not remember it, that does not mean it is not so.
So I went to my inner librarian (it is not named Google), used my own search engine, I did some spiritual exercises, and got a memory on it. What I remembered is that when I had asked for the glass of water, it was for the Beloved, it was for the Lord. And for me that became very important. There was nothing else in my life that I wanted to do more, even though in the moment the situation appeared casual, easy, and deserving of politeness.
It built up inside as something that was not being done but I did not say, "Where's the glass of water for the Lord? What are you doing that is so important that you are not doing the water? He's thirsty." Maybe that gives a little different perspective on what was going on. Maybe you say, "What are you talking about? The Lord who? The Beloved who?" It is the One that is the Lord of peace, that One, that consciousness.
I have another bible reference from our friend Jesus. It is Matthew 28:29. "Lo, I am with you all the days, to the very close of the age. I will never leave you or forsake you. My peace I give to you." Who is that? Who could say such a thing and not be lying? "I am with you all of your days." Well that must be someone who is with us all the time. "And to the very close of the age." That sounds like something on God's terms. "I will never leave you or forsake you." So this is someone who stays and does not abandon. Now the statement, "My peace I give to you."
The next time somebody wants to give you a piece of their mind or they give it to you in ways that you don't like, that is troublesome and bothersome for you, imagine this: Look them right in the eyes and say, "Lo I am with you all the days, to the very close of the age, I will never leave you or forsake you. I give you my peace." See what they do with that. No gritting of the teeth, no shaking of the fist. Say it with the authority of that presence that is peace regardless of the circumstance, that has no againstness and is your choice regardless of the circumstances. True peace has that authority.
You probably have heard that Jesus also said, "When you have seen me, you have seen the Father." Which Father? If you remember when he was twelve, his father Joseph and mother Mary were walking towards Nazareth. They were leaving one of the holy days in Jerusalem and they realized Jesus was not with them. They went back and found him in the temple and he was preaching with authority. Jesus informed his parents, "Do you not know I must be about my Father's business?" Since he was saying these words to his father Joseph then which father was he referring to?
Do you have the courage, the willingness, to speak from that authority, that consciousness that is the peace that surpasses, that has no againstness in it, regardless of what has happened, regardless what they have done to you or somebody else?
I had the news on tonight. If you want to be peaceful and you turn on the news, it is quite an exercise. They were talking about a serial killer who had just written a book. There was controversy about how he is going to make money from this terrible thing that he did. They had the mother of one of the victims, one of the people that he had killed. Understandably, she was still troubled and disturbed and expressed it. She expressed outrage. “How dare he do anything to represent that he has transformed, that he has been redeemed, that he could be anything good." I prayed for her, that the trouble in her heart would leave, and that she could see mercy, see God's grace, and see God's love for all of the creation.
You know some people think that the cessation of againstness is some form of weakness or meekness, like you cannot stand up to anything. No, part of stopping againstness is standing up to it, stopping it. And while this went on I was reminded of a scene in the movie about Gandhi.
There is a scene when Ghandi was fresh from his law degree in England and on his way to South Africa to begin his law practice. He found that his kind—whatever that meant—did not have the same privileges. He realized that the law that applied to that part of the world was being violated, not practiced. He stood up to it, and he was struck by an officer of the law. He was stuck hard enough that he was knocked down to the ground. He got up and was struck again. Every time he was struck he got up.
Think about what that takes, if that is what is involved in the cessation of againstness, that you would stand up to the againstness to stop it. That may take all the courage and all the strength and commitment you have, maybe more than you are aware of within you. But let me remind you, do not let your heart be troubled. Do not be afraid. If you practice this peace, if you hold in it, then the One who is with you to the ends of the world—the One that never forsakes you in all of your days—also stands with you.
Maybe you would allow yourself to be struck or put into a place where someone who has againstness could do you harm. That is up to you. I make peace with you, regardless of your actions, regardless of your choices. That means you do not have any requirement with me. And if I take exception with that, you can remind me and say, "You said you did not have any demands." My experience in our humanity is that we do not always know how to live with no againstness. At times it does ask of us to get bigger, to get stronger, to be something we have never been before, to find what it means to be in courage.
I would like to go on record and have my life accounted toward greater peace. I do not want to be remembered or noted as a troublemaker, as someone who could not be trusted, who would forsake you with whatever you gave to me of value. So let me put that on record, as my intention.
Peace be still. I love you. God bless you. I give you my peace. Would you mind turning to somebody and telling them, "I give you my peace," out loud? You can do it with more than one person. I give you my peace. And those of you who know other languages, would you just now say it in another language out loud, into the room?
And let us consider that when that went around, it went around to whoever speaks the mother tongue, and if that person knew another language, they could speak it in another mother's tongue. Let us consider that eventually it would get around to every mother.
Wouldn't it be nice if we could give our peace and be done with it? Just consider that we are now in peace everlasting, because of our willingness to give the peace that we have to another.
I want you to consider that if you accept this responsibility, to give your peace, to add some more words to "Peace be still, I love you, God bless you, I give you my peace,” you will be tested. Not at a level you cannot handle, but at a level where you have the peace to give. When some situation or person comes to you and you do not want to give them your peace, that is the moment I am talking about. That is the turning point in your existence. That is when you decide if you go to Hades, or the great oblivion, or the fathomless chasm, whatever you want to call it. Or it is the moment of your resurrection, when the angels of mercy sing your name in praise, because you have chosen this day to live in peace.