For just a moment, imagine that it’s early morning of an ordinary day. Maybe the sun is shining, or maybe the sky is cloudy. Let’s say it is fairly warm outside, with perhaps a light breeze. On this imaginary morning, you have arisen from sleep in a bedroom of a relative’s home, because you have sold your own house. You have also sold or given away all of your possessions except for what you are wearing–tennis shoes, blue trousers, and a dark blue tunic–and what you are carrying in the pockets of your tunic: a pen, a toothbrush, a map, and a comb. Oh, and you are also carrying three petitions: one for peace in a certain troubled part of the world, one for the establishment of a national Peace Department, and a third for increasing world prosperity by decreasing armaments.

You open the front door.

You take your first step outside.

You are 45 years old, the year is 1953, you are a woman. You are divorced, you have no children. Many of your family and friends have turned their backs on you because of what you are about to do: You are going to “walk for peace.” There is war in Korea, it is the McCarthy era, nobody has heard of Betty Friedan. Prior to this mission of yours, you were already quite a walker, having been the first woman ever to walk the entire Appalachian Trail by yourself in one trip. You have been preparing for this moment for fifteen years, or perhaps for your whole life. You carry no money on you, not a penny. You have no credit cards, no bank account, no source of income. (When you begin to get speaking engagements, you will never accept payment for them.) You have vowed never to ask for food or lodging, but only to accept whatever may be offered to you. By the time of your death 28 years later, you will have walked so far for peace that you will have stopped counting the miles when you reached 25,000. You will be jailed for vagrancy. You will be investigated by the FBI. But you will never be ill, you will never go more than four meals without being offered food. You will sleep by the side of roads when you have to, but more often you will rest in the homes of strangers who approach you because they are curious about, or because they are drawn to, the words on your tunic. On the front, it says your new name: Peace Pilgrim. On the back it says your goal: WALKING COAST TO COAST FOR PEACE, and later; 25,000 MILES ON FOOT FOR PEACE.

On this imaginary day, take your second step, put a smile on your face, and then keep walking. This is now your life.

And now,here is Peace Pilgrim, in her own words, in the first section of the pamphlet we will be dissecting this week and next.

Series Introduction: LINK:
TODAY: What does it feel like to be at peace?
TUESDAY: The message is old; it’s the practice of it that’s new.
WEDNESDAY: The Four Preparations
THURSDAY: Preparations, continued
FRIDAY: The Four Purifications
SECOND WEEK: The Four Relinquishments

Our goal is to observe how one peaceful person did it, in the hope of strengthening in ourselves the inner peace and conviction from which meaningful action in the world arises.

And speaking of action, here’s a link to BostonJoe’s current diary. LINK:: Picket for Peace.

Steps Toward Inner Peace

(In Peace Pilgrim’s own words. Reprinted with permission.)

In my early life I made two very important discoveries.  In the first place I discovered that making money was easy.  And in the second place I discovered that making money and spending it foolishly was completely meaningless.  I knew that this was not what I was here for, but at that time (this was many years ago), I didn’t know exactly what I was here for.  It was out of a very deep seeking for a meaningful way of life, and after having walked all one night through the woods, that I came to what I now know to be a very important psychological hump.  I felt a complete willingness, without any reservations, to give my life, to dedicate my life to service.  I tell you, it’s a point of no return.  After that, you can never go back to completely self-centered living.
    And so I went into the second phase of my life.  I began to live to give what I could, instead of to get what I could, and I entered a new and wonderful world.  My life began to become meaningful.  I attained the great blessing of good health; I haven’t had a cold or headache since.  (Most illness is psychologically induced.)  From that time on, I have known that my life-work would be work for peace; that it would cover the whole peace picture-peace among nations, peace among groups, peace among individuals, and the very, very important inner peace.  However, there’s a great deal of difference between being willing to give your life, and actually giving your life, and for me, 15 years of preparation and of inner seeking lay between.
    During this time I became acquainted with what the psychologists refer to as Ego and Conscience.  I began to realize that it’s as though we have two selves or two natures or two wills with two different viewpoints.  Because the viewpoints were so different, I felt a struggle in my life at this period between the two selves with the two veiwpoints.  So there were hills and valleys-lots of hills and valleys.  Then in the midst of the struggle there came a wonderful mountain-top experience, and for the first time I knew what inner peace was like.  I felt a oneness-oneness with all my fellow human beings, oneness with all of creation.  I have never felt really separate since.  I could return again and again to this wonderful mountaintop, and then I could stay there for longer and longer periods of time, and just slip out occasionally.  Then came a wonderful morning when I woke up and knew that I would never have to descend again into the valley.  I knew that for me the struggle was over, that finally I had succeeded in giving my life, or finding inner peace.  Again this is a point of no return.  You can never go back into the struggle.  The struggle is over now because you will do the right thing, and you don’t need to be pushed into it.
    However, progress is not over.  Great progress has taken place in this third phase of my life, but it’s as though the central figure of the jigsaw puzzle of your life is complete and clear and unchanging, and around the edges other pieces keep fitting in.  There is always a growing edge, but the progress is harmonious.  There is a feeling of always being surrounded by all of the good things, like love and peace and joy.  It seems like a protective surrounding, and there is an unshakeableness within which takes you through any situation you may need to face.
    The world may look at you and believe that you are facing great problems, but always there are the inner resources to easily overcome these problems.  Nothing seems difficult.  There is a calmness and a serenity and unhurriedness-no more striving or straining about anything.  Life is full and life is good, but life is nevermore overcrowded.  That’s a very important thing I’ve learned: If you life is in harmony with your part in the Life Pattern, and if you are obedient to the laws which govern this universe, then your life is full, and good but not overcrowded.  If it is over-crowded, you are doing more than is right for you to do, more than is your job to do in the total scheme of things.
    Now there is a living to give instead of to get.  As you concentrate on giving, you discover that just as you cannot receive without giving, so neither can you give without receiving-even the most wonderful things like health and happiness and inner peace. There is a feeling of endless energy -it just never runs out; it seems to be as endless as air.  You just seem to be plugged into the source of universal energy.
    You are now in control of your life.  You see, the ego is never in control.  The ego is controlled by wishes for comfort and convenience on the part of the body, by demands of the mind, and by outbursts of emotions.  But the higher nature controls the body and the mind and the emotions.  I can say to my body, “Lie down there on that cement floor and go to sleep,” and it obeys.  I can say to my mind, “Shut out everything else and concentrate on this job before you,” and it’s obedient.  I can say to my emotions, “Be still, even in the face of this terrible situation,” and they are still.  It’s a different way of living.  The philosopher Thoreau wrote: If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps he hears a different drummer. And now you are following a different drummer-the higher nature instead of the lower.

To be continued tomorrow.

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