Peace that is based upon a circumstance is not spiritual peace. For me, spiritual peace is both the experience of one’s True Nature (which is peace itself), and a general perspective on life. To perceive through meditation and the grace of God that your True Self is eternal and indestructible is the source of a peace that cannot be shaken, and does not oscillate as circumstances inevitably change. It is as if one is watching a movie that has all sorts of ups and downs, thinking that they are an actor in the movie. Then they realize that the Watcher of the movie cannot be affected by the images that are, in reality, merely entertaining illusions.
Meditation does not solve all of one’s problems, for we must still do our duty, serve others, and remain subject to the law of karma as long as we are on Earth. But spiritual realization catalyzed by deep meditation can give us access to a Peace that is beyond the constant ups and downs of life, and the gains and losses of karmic fortune. People may pass out of our lives; we may lose all our wealth and talents; everything we love, and even our body, will someday be taken from us. The wise, however, never grieve about this natural schema. For the peace of God, which comes from understanding that you and God are eternally One, can never be taken from you. To realize this for yourself is truly a priceless gift beyond any means of comparison!
The perspective of peace also comes from trusting the Personal God in the more dualistic sense of being His devotee. When you trust that God is perfect Intelligence, surrender your life to Him, and take refuge in His Grace, you can have complete confidence that God will never allow you to go through something you cannot handle. You can also rest assured that the Personal God’s love is deliciously unconditional, and that you never have to earn the right to be His deeply beloved and precious child. Just as you do not earn the air you breath, so God’s love is your ever-present birthright. Additionally, you can have deep confidence that, if you ask with sincerity, He will guide you on a path that will lead to your ultimate spiritual fulfillment, even if you do not understand how. Once you make the realization of God the goal of your life and take refuge in Divine Grace, you can have supreme confidence that you will reach your goal, regardless of whatever circumstances you must temporarily endure.
Peace cannot be found is anything impermanent, and even if it is temporarily found in a person or a situation, such a peace is unstable and will quickly dissolve. Peace can only be found in the realization of God. Wise people therefore, as Jesus taught, build their house on the “rock” of God-Realization, not on the “sand” of worldly desire (Matthew 7:24-27). Wise people understand that their path to God is life’s highest priority, and do not get distracted by the carnival of lesser illusions that society falsely claims will lead to happiness. The Buddha similarly taught in the Dhammpada that, “If a person beholds a lesser happiness and a greater happiness, let them leave behind the lesser to attain the greater.”
True wisdom can be summed up like this: seek God first. This wisdom – the understanding of the superiority of God-Bliss to fleeting worldly joys – cannot be understood with the rational intellect alone. Rather, it can only be understood by God’s grace through a deep faith in the Path. If this wisdom is taught to people with their mind’s set on worldly things, as Ramakrishna said, it is like a droplet of water dropped on a hot pan that immediately fries it out of existence. They hear it but do not listen to it. Yet, as the Buddha says in the Dhammapada, “The tongue knows the taste of soup.” People with wisdom naturally and intuitively understand that only God/Enlightenment will bring them lasting peace. As Jesus taught, they choose “the narrow Way” to Enlightenment instead of the “wide road” that leads to the “destruction” of insatiable desire and perpetual dissatisfaction (Matthew 7:14).
Yet faith is only the beginning! The Buddha, along with many illumined sages, taught that Enlightenment can actually be experienced through the power of meditation. This is not easy, however. We all must walk the “middle path,” and find a proper balance between worldly activity, self-preservation, and deep meditation. No one can tell you what your path is, for only you can walk it.
Yet whatever their path is, the wise set their compass “due North” and realize that nothing short of God-Realization can bring them lasting peace. When you actually understand this through the grace of God, it will not be difficult to sacrifice anything holding you back from the reaching your goal. As Ramakrishna said, the path to God is not “gaining” something, but is like a needle covered in dirt near a magnet the size of a football field. When the dirt is removed from the needle, it naturally is immediately attracted to the super-magnet. Similarly, when we remove the ignorance of thinking that impermanent things can satisfy us, we naturally gravitate to the Superior, Supremely Attractive, and Eternal Bliss of God that is far greater than any worldly goal.
When people paint the spiritual path as bleak and joyless they do it a great disservice, and are merely projecting onto it their own illusions. How could they say that the path to God is bleak, when God is Joy, Bliss, and Peace Itself? Those who know God know that the Bliss of God is incomparably greater than any transitory experience. As Yogananda taught, It is like working your whole life for a thousand dollars and then, in an instant, becoming a billionaire. Even this brilliant metaphor cannot possibly convey the superiority of God Bliss, and no metaphor can capture the experience that is beyond words and is the goal of religion.
May all beings realize the superiority of of God-Bliss, and be led to a path that leads to Its full realization! May all beings know the peace of Enlightenment that alone can satisfy our wandering hearts!
Thanks for reading,
p.s. My full thoughts on how I integrate spiritual practice into my life can be found in my new book, Daily Bliss (link above).
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- Remembering the Goal of Life
- Peaceful Protest: Wisdom from the Bhagavad Gita on Helping the World from a Spiritual Perspective
- Travel Blog 2: Bodhgaya – Circumambulating the Diamond Throne
- Lessons from the Gita 2 – Three Dimensions of Renunciation
- Mechizzawhaaaaaa? Melchizedek and the Source of Spiritual Authority
- Zen Meditation in Activity
- Working from the State of Rest