Spiritual Letter 52 - Original Version About Spiritual Letter 52
Title: "On Security and Peace"
Date: September, 2, 2003
Written by: Ahamed Muhaiyaddeen (Jonathan Granoff)
Written to: The Brothers & Sisters of the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship
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Text of Spiritual Letter 52:
May God's grace and peace be with us In the name of God, the Most Merciful, Most Compassionate. We are all interested in peace and security. Inner peace, the source of peace, is an inside job. One important aspect of a healthy inner life is prayer.
The evidence of real prayer is whether it opens the heart to love, regardless of whether we pray quietly, out loud, within a tradition, out of a tradition, facing the east, the west, up or down. If it's prayer, it opens the heart to God's love. If it doesn't, it's not prayer.
The evidence of prayer is love and the evidence of love is caring for other human beings. The evidence of that caring and that compassion is service. And the evidence, experientially, of service is a clear conscience. The evidence of a clear conscience is inner peace. Inner peace gives us the capacity to receive wisdom. Wisdom further reinforces our humility as we realize it is a gift, not something we can achieve through egocentric willful effort.
Gratitude follows, and with that gratitude, openness and love. Wisdom tells us that we are dependent and connected to the Divine and that all other lives are so connected. All lives, all objects, all things are relational. The only thing that is sovereign is God's absolute generosity, grace, love, and Being itself. A consequence of that realization is a deep tranquillity of heart, a profound appreciation for the miracle of consciousness and knowing and a sense of purpose.
We awaken to praise that Wonder that is God; we praise in our seeking to know ourselves and in that knowing discover the Source; we praise in working to enhance our lives by living within God's qualities. We praise by living close to love and service. It is a cycle, an actual turning within the Divine. Our life can become a journey within That. That is peace and security.
It is this capacity of transcendence that is everyone's birthright regardless of historical circumstances, regardless of joy and sorrow. It must exist independently of attraction and repulsion. It must exist independently of identification with race, tribe, religion, gender, class. This journey of the soul takes place beyond the symbols of the intellect, beyond separation.
In that journey we can be sanctuaries of peace. That's what the world needs more than anything: the example of what it is to be a peaceful secure human. It means that regardless of circumstances and what governments do, and what the person sitting next to us does, and what our spouse does, and what our children do, and what our parents did, and what our neighbor does, we know there is no excuse for not doing this. This is the work that we have to do and it's a personal secret work.
We are ultimately responsible to only one Being. Make no mistake, we are responsible for doing this work. If we don't do this work and we do everything else, we will not be saying thank you at the end of our lives and we won't be ready for the next part of the journey. This lack of readiness will cause us to live in fear. As my Teacher, Bawa Muhaiyaddeen said,
"Fear is a thief who is forever afraid of being caught. Afraid of facing the truth."
When the angel of death comes, if we have made good friends with fear, we are going to be afraid of getting caught.
Fear continues to govern the vision of many of the world's leaders and they instill it in the people in order to further their own fear-based agendas.
"Why of course the people don't want to go to war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? . But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy. And it always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they're being attacked. Denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
Herman Goering's testimony at the Nuremberg Trials.
Fear based on ignorance creates a cycle of armaments and war which reinforce the causes of fear. We want to create cycle where cooperation and trust reinforce disarmament which in turn reinforces our good qualities. We are the place where the cycles begin.
Since the end of the Cold War, the world has spent more than $10 trillion on armaments. The United States alone spends approximately $100 million every day to keep its nuclear arsenal at ready. Other nations squander assets as well. Neither security nor our humanity is enhanced thereby. The nuclear arsenals are on the ready, just as they were at the height of the Cold War. Yet, the entire budget of the International Atomic Energy Agency, for all the inspections in the whole world last year was less than $90 million, which is less than the United States spends on one weapons system a day.
One of America's great military leaders, General Omar Bradley said,
"We live in an age of nuclear giants and ethical infants. In a world that has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. We've solved the mystery of the atom and forgotten the lessons of the Sermon on the Mount. We know more about war than we know about peace. More about dying than we know about living."
America is a nation founded on a vision of faith and hope in the capacity of people for self governance. Fear was not the model upon which America was founded. Even amid the crucible of real international threats and conflict, the founders of America were governed by profound insights into the human condition and the importance of having a sense of humility.
The Capitol was burned in Washington by the second decade of the 19th Century. Yet, curtailing civil liberties to create greater governmental efficiencies did not rule the day. Enough were informed by the intelligence of John Adams who had said that,
"Jealousies and rivalries have been my theme, and checks and balances as
their antidote, till I am ashamed to repeat the words."
Inefficiencies were intended to check the quest for power and the hand guided by greed and not justice. The oversight of courts, the Congressional system of debate and protections for dissenters, and even the Supremacy of Treaties, as well as many other political mechanisms, were designed to ensure that the arrogance of power did not crush the experiment of freedom based on faith.
Although not particularly religious, many of the creators of America were men of faith in God. The importance of dissent and open discussion even arose from their faith. They were familiar with John Stewart Mill's analysis of the basis of freedom of speech where in his famous essay On Liberty he stated: "To refuse a hearing to an opinion, because they are sure that it is false, is to assume that their certainty is the same thing as absolute certainty. All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility." The subtext is that only God is infallible. What does a man do when he places himself in the position of claiming to be infallible? I believe that such supreme arrogance is usually based on weakness of faith and a deep fear of differences that could present a challenge to a fragile faith. Real faith listens with an ear of compassion and responds with reason and kindness. Real faith knows that truth can come from the most common of sources and thus never discards anyone.
Fear is responsible for closing down dialogue and discussion and denying our interconnectedness. Fearful people can close their hearts and think they have all the answers. Religious and political fanaticism develop in that atmosphere. It also happens in each of us when we claim that the worldview that our mind develops is the actual, real world and from that point claim that our limited point of view is the singular and only correct point of view.
We have to learn to walk a little bit more softly on this earth. It doesn't belong to us. We are privileged to be here for a while and then we have to move on. And what we do matters, because we have been placed here as the witnesses of the Divine.
It is up to each of us to show what a human being looks like. Human beings are not afraid. As Bawa Muhaiyaddeen said:
"If each of you will open your heart, your action, your wisdom, and your conduct, and look within, you will see that every face is your face. Every nerve is your nerve. Each drop of blood is your blood is your blood. Every sickness is your sickness. All hunger is your hunger. All poverty is your poverty. All sorrow is your sorrow. All lives are your life. You will experience all this in your nerves, in your body, and in what you see. When that state develops inside you, that is God's love."
"That is God's true love because all suffering is His suffering. All sorrow is His sorrow. All hunger is His. All poverty is His and all grief is His. Every torment is inside Him. That is how God does His duty. Therefore, if you develop that love, you will do your duty in the same way. If that love develops, you will not hurt any other living thing. You will not cause pain, you will not reject any life. And you will not torture any other life. Because if you hurt anyone, it will hurt you."
If that love is alive in a heart it is like a magnet for grace. That heart is electrified and illuminated because that heart has the appropriate humility to serve. Politics informed by such qualities guide toward policies of compassion and justice exercised with the humility that affirms our capacity to work together. Such policies alone bring peace and security to a family, to a community and to the world.
We can't get angry. We can't give up. We can't answer real questions about complex issues with slogans. We have work to do. The opposite of fear is love. The politics of love affirms human unity. Yet, there is a deeper unity: God lives in us and we live in God.
Law based on this insight always promotes equity and justice. It is always consistent with conscience. Law is a living art, the social expression of our values. Laws of justice find structure to our longing for peace and security. Law is not just something that somebody wrote in Washington 200 years ago, in Mecca 1400 years ago, or in the desert of the Sinai thousands of years before. It's something that's alive now. It's something that humans create out of love and justice. It can, by demonstrating compassion, affirm our unity and connectedness. It must not be afraid to see and address suffering. It is not afraid of anything because it is based on love. Those who seek loves source find the greatest wonder.
There is an ocean of love that is our birthright. It is more powerful than the energy in the atom which when harnessed with weapons can destroy the earth. The same Power that put the capacity of a nuclear holocaust in subatomic particles has put a great power in the core of each of our beings. We come from that Power and that Power has also given us the wisdom and the abilities to meet all challenges, even those that nuclear weapons pose. We do have the resources to find peace and security for all peoples. We do have the audacity to assert that all people have a right to peace and security. We do have a duty to work to help all obtain this right.
May God make us sanctuaries of peace inspired by love, guided by compassion; those who remember and those who demonstrate that remembrance in our daily lives; as simple as that, and God will guide us. All praises are to God.
End of Spiritual Letter 52
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