TWO OBSTACLES TO PEACE Jul 26, 2006 11:51:16 GMT -5
Post by tomdurst on Jul 26, 2006 11:51:16 GMT -5
TWO OBSTACLES TO PEACE
By Thomas E. Durst
By Thomas E. Durst
John 14:27 (New King James Version)
27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
The most precious heritage that our Lord left on this earth was that of peace. Yet, many who profess to be His followers experience very little peace in their lives. The history of Christianity over the centuries has been replete with warfare and bloodshed. Christians have often waged more warfare upon one another than they have on the world, the flesh, and the devil. More strife than peace has characterized Christians both individually and collectively. There must be a better way.
Suffering and lack of peace are universal to human existence. The process of physical birth through which we enter this earth involves a lot of suffering. Suffering at some level dogs us at every step. I would like to suggest two primary ways to look at causes of suffering:
(1) Our attachments to our desires, cravings, thoughts, ideas, opinions, and positionalities of any and every kind bring suffering at some level, all of which are grounded in the false ego/mind/body self that we identify with as the center of our human existence;
(2) Our aversions in life from something as simple as our response to the weather to those of what other folks are thinking and doing.
We are very quick to give away our heritage of peace forgetting that inner peace is actually our home. It is indeed the greatest treasure of life. It is actually who we are which most of the time is deeply buried in much ego based clutter. That final Kingdom of Heaven is a place of absolute peace, harmony, love and joy without so much as a ripple. In order to be at home there we must be experiencing Heaven, peace, right now. Anything that hinders this experience needs to be released and this is a growing, daily process.
We have endless attachments that interfere with peace and bring suffering. We attach ourselves to such things as food, material possessions, substances of some kind, popular thinking, hurtful relationships, religious and political ideas, and opinions about everything. Religious concepts are often the most deeply embedded positionalities of all that bring suffering to ourselves and others whom we often view as objects to be converted and as inferior to ourselves. The truth is that none of our concepts about anything are ever 100% correct and in many cases have no objective truth in them at all. We project into the world what is in our mind and so truly each of us creates our own world. Any idea of God that we ever could have is at best only something that helps provide meaning and purpose to our lives but is far from the Infinity that we seek to understand.
The other cause of our suffering and lack of peace is our aversions. We tell ourselves that we “can’t stand” really hot or cold weather. “This hot/cold weather is making me ________” is often heard. Such expressions feed on themselves and spread with lightning speed. The hot/cold weather has no objective power whatsoever to make us suffer. Granted, the extremes of hot or cold weather can cause some physical discomfort or even pain and I’m not denying this. But when we see something outside of us such as the weather having actual power, allow it to disturb or take away our inner peace, and engage in mental combat, resistance, and sometimes even anger, we are suffering from that aversion.
We have aversions towards folks of other races or cultures that we don’t understand, government leaders, what other people believe, etc. We get upset when people or organizations don’t meet our expectations and we judge them in some way. Whether we express that judgment verbally or not is beside the point. If we allow these aversions to build nests in our thinking we suffer endlessly. There are many aversions that we face daily regarding things that people are doing around us. Are we going to dwell on them, magnify them, and allow them to have power over us? If we do, we choose the path of suffering.
There must be another way than living in this continual suffering. There must be a way of experiencing our heritage of inner peace which we often throw away in such a cavalier fashion. Whole books have been written about inner peace and many of them are really good but I would like to make some observations of my own.
We cannot experience inner peace unless we are willing to let go of both our attachments and aversions. We cannot hold on to them with one hand and inner peace on the other. The two are mutually exclusive. We must maintain a constant state of mindfulness or watchfulness, search our hearts diligently, and surrender those thoughts that keep us in bondage. This process could be called repentance, i.e., turning around in a different direction. There is no substitute for the time honored principles of humility and surrender. These are basic to the heart and core of all true spiritual teachings. Throughout all of our earthly pilgrimage we need to grow in the practice of humility and surrender. These are the keys to deliverance from suffering and experiencing the joy of inner peace.