The year was 2006 and a community of dedicated peace activists gathered in downtown Atlanta for Mahatma Gandhi’s 137th birthday celebration. Years before I had moved to Atlanta to find peace but wherever I looked I saw only violence and chaos. This gathering reminded me of the diverse gifts that I discovered in the midst of all that confusion. I found myself working alongside a satayagrahi – a woman who had walked and worked with Gandhi himself. I was surrounded by devotees who lived long lives immersed in this practice of peace, the energy that I so craved. And I remember the thrill of being in Ebenezer Baptist church, in the very environment where Dr. King had preached his passionate sermons.
My five minute speech seemed so small in the grand scheme of things, but for me it was a monumental “Yes!” that the universe sang out in affirmation of my life’s journey. The theme of that occasion was, “Peace now, more than ever” and my message still rings true eight years later:
“There is only one way to experience this peace now, and that is to become peace, now more than ever. I am inspired by the simple eloquence of Gandhiji’s words: “There is no way to peace, peace is the way.” We must each be that way of peace. Are you that way of peace in your daily life? We all have the gift of being at peace with our minds, our bodies, our hearts, and our world, but we will never find peace walking and working in the outer world until we experience it in the topography of our own inner landscape.
And remember there are other traveling companions along that way of peace. We can embrace peace now, more than ever, but let us also remember peace’s compadre, love. Love now, more than ever. I am not speaking of a sentimental or an emotional love. Let us remember that we all are fueled with Satyagraha – soul or truth force – and that power resides inside all of us.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus advised us to love our enemies. Today I am not asking you to love your enemies or even to tolerate them, but instead to release any and all ideas of enemies or “other-ness”. Perfect love casts out all fear, and it is only by following the way of fear that we believe we have enemies. The noble ideal of Ahimsa doesn’t just stand for the absence of violence, but instead bears witness to the active presence of love. Love now, more than ever.
And let us hope now, more than ever. We live in a world where we are barraged with images of violence and fear and hatred on a daily basis. This world tells us to be very afraid. Afraid to let our children go to school, afraid to make eye contact with strangers, afraid to speak up about the things we know to be true. But as the pop song Hands avows: “I won’t be made useless, won’t be idle with despair. I will gather myself around my faith, for light does the darkness most fear.” I will not be intimidated by a consciousness, a group mind-set, that states that we must make war to keep peace. Hope now, more than ever.
It is also time to embrace unity now, more than ever. We are one universal family rooted in the soil of peace. We are not bound by race, creed, religion, or nation, but by our common humanity. God never drew any lines around the countries; it was man that constructed fences and borders and walls to keep “those other people” out. Our history is filled with stories of man waging war against man. Unity is our only choice now, for in the web of life whatever action we take against another we ultimately do to our self. Unity now, more than ever.
Peace now, more than ever. Love now, more than ever. Hope now, more than ever. Unity now, more than ever.
Let us go forth today to be the way of peace. I am so glad that my global family is walking that path with me. Namaste, shanti, peace.”
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Dedicated to the memory of Giriraj Rao as we celebrate Gandhi’s 145th birthday on October 2nd.
Through her ministry, “Doorway Into The Infinite”, Rev. Maria holds the vision for the transformation of the consciousness of planet Earth. She is a spiritual change agent committed to … educating people in the process of healing … empowering the world one creative thought at a time … and experiencing peace in our lifetime. Her articles, essays, and meditations have been published in various magazines. She has self-published numerous books and manuals, and released two recordings of guided meditations. She’s created a variety of classes, workshops, and spiritual performance pieces, where she expresses her profound interest in spirituality and peace. For more information, she can be reached at her website: www.be-the-change.com or at her e-mail: RevMariaS@aol.com.
Through her ministry, “Doorway Into The Infinite,” Rev. Maria holds the vision for the transformation of the consciousness of planet Earth. She is a spiritual change agent committed to … educating people in the process of healing … empowering the world one creative thought at a time … and experiencing peace in our lifetime. Her articles, essays, and meditations have been published in various magazines. She has self-published numerous books and manuals, and released two recordings of guided meditations. She’s created a variety of classes, workshops, and spiritual performance pieces, where she expresses her profound interest in spirituality and peace.