Five Wishes pt IV

We have been looking at the great wishes or petitions that conclude the prayer Khatum – earlier posts on this theme are here, here and here. The fourth supplication is “Send us the peace of Thy Divine Spirit.” As with the other wishes, it is immediately attractive to us, but it is worthwhile looking more carefully at the thought: what is it that we are really seeking?

The whole world desires peace; it appears to be a fundamental longing, as there are prayers for peace in every religion.  And yet, despite this universality, conflict in the world seems to be ever on the increase, and peace seems further away every moment. This suggests that peace isn’t what we think it is, because surely if we all agreed on what ‘peace’ means, it would be instantly achievable.  Is it that at least some of our efforts to reach peace are misdirected? 

According to the dictionary there are several possible interpretations of the word peace. It can mean stillness or a lack of disturbance and noise, as, for example, when we say, “Once the children went home from the birthday party, peace returned to the house.”  But it seems unlikely that this would be the object of our prayer.  Surely the Divine Creator will not be concerned with the tumult of a room full of six-year-olds, even if it costs the more limited resources of the parents. 

Another meaning of peace is the absence of conflict – “When the guns fell silent, there was peace.” Here again, though, it seems difficult – or impossible – to accomplish this kind of peace, because every group with arms has its own point of view, and these opinions seldom agree.  Indeed, Hazrat Inayat Khan said once that people love peace only after war; if they loved peace before a war would start, then wars would never happen.

Could it be, then, that we are praying for peace on the inner plane?  On a personal level, we may feel that we want peace, but it is one of those good intentions that always seems to be put off until another time.  It is very difficult to lay aside all the attachments and activities that absorb us; they work on us like a kind of addiction, for one action seems inevitably to multiply to others, and what is more, the pace tends to accelerate.  Although people say they want ‘peace,’ if they are offered a choice between their most hectic moments and the silence of the tomb, they will prefer to remain active.  

To enter into the silence of meditation requires an effort to still the agitation that seems to be an inherent aspect of our being. But that is one of the paradoxes of life, that we can have an appetite for that which has no form. To find that peace, only one thing is required: that we learn how to surrender. Letting go of all the claims of our senses and our ego, we yield to the infinite; we discover that ‘home’ has no limits, and the Divine Spirit, containing all, represents perfect, unlimited peace.

But this surrender cannot be accomplished by thought; it is only through feeling that we learn to lay down all our weapons.  Although these qualities may seem incompatible, it is love that leads to peace. As we read in Vadan Alapas: 
[…] love is willing surrender;
love is regarding constantly
the pleasure and displeasure of the beloved, for love is resignation to the will
of the possessor of one’s heart;
it is love that teaches man:
Thou, not I. 

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