1 – Everlasting Quiet
“First, how can the peace of God be recognized? God’s peace is recognized at first by just one thing; in every way it is totally unlike all previous experiences. It calls to mind nothing that went before. . .The past just slips away, and in its place is everlasting quiet. Only that. The contrast first perceived has merely gone. Quiet has reached to cover everything. (M51)”
2 – Personal Experience
This morning, a Sunday morning, I am experiencing some of that peace of God told us in this passage. There is no preparation that is for certain; the peace comes out of the blue; prayer doesn’t necessarily precede it.
3 – Personal Experience II
I am sitting on my screen porch while the rain pelts down. The ambiance may have created some of the mood necessary to feel God’s peace.
4 – Surreal Peace
The quiet comes unbidden, but then it stays and stays, if we are lucky. The peace is almost surreal. It truly does feel like nothing experienced before, as the passage says.
5 – Presence of God
I know that this mood of mine, this Presence of God, felt, will not last. But while it is lasting, it is blessing me. And I hope that knowing it comes to anybody else can encourage a hope in you that the peace will descend upon you just as unexpectedly.
6 – Satisfy the Conditions
“How is this quiet found? No one can fail to find it who but seeks out its conditions. God’s peace can never come where anger is, for anger must deny that peace exists. (M51)”
7 – Avoid Anger
I am not angry at all this morning. Perhaps that is one key, as this passage suggests. If we seek out the conditions of this peace, what will we seek? We will strive to stay on an even keel with our moods (though sometimes this may seem impossible). We may pray without ceasing, and this too is calming to the mind and negates the ego’s striving to “get.”
8 – War
“How is the peace of God retained, once it is found? Returning anger, in whatever form, will drop the heavy curtain once again. And the belief that peace cannot exist will certainly return. War is again accepted as the one reality. (M51)”
9 – What to Avoid
The stress in these passages is to avoid anger, but I think that this does not mean that we suppress anger. We use our minds to get us out of the anger. We know that whatever we are experiencing is coming about because we don’t recognize another’s attack as the call for love and the call for help that it truly is. When we answer a call, we are no longer bound by the negative feelings that will come up if we don’t answer, if we just try to suppress.
10 – Mindfulness
Our own mindfulness, really noticing each thing that we do, will create conditions welcoming to the relief of anger. Mindful breathing and mindful walking are two techniques recommended by the well-known Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh. Perhaps today we all need to take a cue from his teachings.
11 – Justified Anger?
“Who sees anger as justified in any way or any circumstance proclaims that peace is meaningless, and must believe that it cannot exist. (M51)”
12 – Call for Help
Anger, it is said elsewhere in the Course, is actually a call for help. It may also be viewed as a call for love. Our task is to run to our brother or sister’s side, and to offer solace–that help or love that is really wanted. We may not do this overtly if the other person is not receptive. We may only pray for our brother or sister, or smile at them, or even just make small talk. Ask for guidance in the thought or action that is needed. We must be sensitive to the plight of our brother or sister, and overt action may not be desirable.
13 – Take Peace to Heart
So we see that anger is never justified. Peace is not meaningless. God’s way is right, and peace can exist. These are wonderful concepts to take to heart.
14 – Retaliation
As long as the ego is in charge, we will be tempted to return attack for attack, but responding in this way is always wrong. Attacks is what Jesus calls a “magic thought,” and anger is thus not justified. We need to the inner quiet and calm that ensures that we will respond to magic thoughts of others (and ourselves) with compassion.
May I immediately recognize anger on my own part and that of others to be a call for help, meriting compassion rather than anger. May I offer the help and love that is needed. May I be gentle to myself, and may I be gentle to others.
Peace is what I want above all else. I do not want to do anything that renders peace meaningless. Please help me in this.