So often, when we hear the word “peace” it is being used to mean calm, gentle pleasure, satisfaction, quiet, a state of mind.
Industries are founded on the deep yearning for peace, mistakenly expressed in the hunt for a calm mind. Their message is that if you practice the mantra, follow a particular way of life, hang out with the right people, do good works or learn some information, you’ll be okay.
And sure, experience suggests you might get a calmer mind. But if anyone calls that peace, or even a gateway to peace, they are selling you short.
We’ve known this for millennia. Here’s one expression, from the tradition I studied in my first degree:
“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
- Philippians 4:7 (RJV)
I’ve used a classical translation, because non-theologians, non-Christians will recognise it. The recognition of the words, though, can obscure the depth of the message. Try this version of the same verse, from the Holman translation:
“And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Now look at what was hidden in plain sight. I’m going to go quick, so if I’ve skipped a step that you don’t get, come ask me.
Peace of God = peace is divine = peace is of the ultimate reality = peace is a constant
Surpasses every thought = is more than thought = is before and beyond the mind = not personal
Will guard your hearts and minds = will hold the person = ‘contains’ everything of the person
In Christ Jesus = in the embodiment that God and man are one = in a recognition of ourselves as god
If I want to really skip forward, here’s a non-dualised expression of the same verse:
Peace is the recognition of our essence, and of the nature of that essence.
No wonder that, in the story of Elijah (maybe 900 years before Jesus), he discovered that the wind, the earthquake and the fire were not enough to drown out the voice of peace (1 Kings 19:12). And where did that voice send him? Back to the fight. Back to a high chance of imminent death. Back to speaking of truth, regardless of how it was received.
Peace is not about finding a calm mind in the chaos. It’s not about pretending the chaos isn’t real. It’s not about claiming the chaos can’t make your thoughts or feelings take a particular route. It’s not about imagining thoughts have nothing to do with you. (It’s not even about getting it right or being brave: Elijah was hiding in a cave. Jesus prayed for his suffering to be lifted, and died at best to make a point, at worst because he failed in his message.)
Peace is a radical calling. Elijah knew it. Jesus knew it. Do you?
With Love & Peace,