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Peace, Union, and Ecstasy of the Moment

Peace, Union
As God sent me to you so will I send you to others. And I will go to them with you, so we can teach them peace and union.” — ACIM T, 134

Peace, Union, and Ecstacy of the MomentPeace
There is — deep within each of us — a very special, pure, shining, radiant, luminescent core. That core, which traditional Christian theology calls the soul, also referred to as the Higher Self, the True Self, is the final reality of who we are. It is one’s Ultimate Identity. It is not the center of our Being, it is our Being, our essence, our “I Am.”

It is that which during moments of anxiety, in the midst of abject fear or uncontrollable excitement, remains absolutely tranquil, completely passive, and ever in a state of perfect harmony. It is that which absolutely no action of ours or circumstances can affect. It is that which is the very personification of peace itself; it is who we are.

Parenthetically, it is precisely this beingness that the celebrant at the conclusion of the Eucharist seeks to bestow upon us with the waving of vague crosses in the air above our heads and the hastily muttered words, “the Peace of God which passes all understanding . . .” Suggesting to the faithful that the magerterium of the church can confer upon us that which we already are, that which is our essential identity, brings new meaning to the phrase ecclesiastical presumption.

Everything else about us, everything, is subsidiary to that core which is our “Is-ness.” Our mind, body, and personality are only a means through which we express the reality of that center — the inner core, which is our true identity.

Peace can come to us only to the degree that we have learned to consciously identify with our own center or core, with that undisturbable “Is-ness.” To the extent that we relate to ourself through the environment, the intellect, the physical body, our sexuality, attainments, or achievements — in short, through anything other than our inner being — we relate incompletely and imperfectly. Because of this imperfect understanding, we become vaguely aware of an incompleteness, and experience a gnawing sense that “something is not right, that something is missing.”

It is possible to spend an entire lifetime attempting to find just what that “something” is. The essence of “who we are” can only be found by seeking it where it is, not through textbooks, public lectures, secret societies, or even in the corporate worship of any of the world’s religions. It is not, in a word, to be found anywhere outside oneself at all.

The reality of our true Self within us is a gentle, non-invasive, silent presence. It can be discovered by entering into the Silence itself — that is why we meditate, to discover who we are.

Union
There is only one. Your essence, soul, center, true Self, Is-ness, etc., and my essence are one and the same. Only the minds, bodies, and personalities are different, giving us the illusion of separateness. We spend most of our time living on the level of that illusion.

There is an important Sanskrit word, Advaita, which means “not-two.” This means there is no duality with respect to the ultimate reality. The “essence” in each one of us Is God. The I Am that I am, is God. God is “I.” I exist in essence as God.

Teaching
How does one “teach” this to another? The answer is that one doesn’t. As least not in the normal sense of the word. Anyone who is meant to be a spiritual teacher, a teacher of “these matters” as Eido-Roshi terms it, had better have more than words for tools, for words are woefully inadequate instruments. The best insight I have discovered concerning the “teaching” of this comes from the pen of Kahlil Gibran, author of The Prophet.

“The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness. If he is indeed wise, he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own knowing.”

How does the teacher do this? By doing nothing at all, because there is nothing to be done. By being who he or she is, by being awake to the Reality within and simply offering a consecrated presence, all is accomplished.

Reality has always been One and constant for the whole of creation. Becoming aware of this Reality and ultimately becoming one with it is expressed in the words of Jesus of Nazareth, who experienced “The Father and I are one.” It is the same for each of us, as well as the whole of creation. Being one with the Divine makes our real nature Divine. The only thing missing is the conscious awareness of this fact.

Ecstasy of the Moment
There is an old Zen saying, “After the ecstasy, go do the laundry.”

What mysterious wisdom is contained in such a statement? What inscrutable knowledge lies behind those words? The whole of our life is a seamless tapestry woven from a single ball of yarn. While the tapestry may contain within its borders different designs, pictures, and patterns, it is essentially one unbroken and undivided essence, a single reality devoid of all distinctions. Because of our western penchant for categorizing, labeling, and evaluating, the reality and significance of this fact escapes us.

Washing one’s clothes is the ecstasy of this moment. No moment has value beyond the value of any other moment. Nothing is specifically sacred or secular; there is nothing apart from the mundane. It is a way of being in the world in which one is completely present in each and every moment, fully aware of the nature of this “Is-ness.” This way of being in the world, in which what happened yesterday or last week, has absolutely nothing to do with the reality of this instant. For this instant carries within it its own uniqueness, its own completeness, its own perfection, its own ecstasy.

This complete commitment of absolute conscious awareness to what is now brings with it grateful acceptance of that now, an acceptance devoid of all judgment and comparison. It is St. John of the Cross saying:

“In order to arrive at having pleasure in everything, desire to have pleasure in nothing. In order to arrive at knowing everything, desire to know nothing. In order to arrive at possessing everything, desire to possess nothing. In order to arrive at being everything, desire to be nothing.”

It is doing the laundry with the same total involvement and commitment of being with which you make love, or eat your favorite meal. Then, when cutting the grass, doing the laundry, or meditating, we discover there is in truth not only no grass, no laundry or meditator, but that there is no action at all — the subject and object have become one. This is what Advaita expresses.

“After the ecstasy, go do the laundry.”

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Rev. John W. GroffFr. John W. Groff Jr. (1939-2021) was an Episcopal priest and the author of The Mystic Journey and The Smell of Incense, The Sound of Silence. He was director of The Mystic Journey Retreat Center in Guntersville, Alabama, where he taught meditation.

 

 

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