by Michael Maciel
Peace is knowing our inmost intention. There is nothing as unsettling as being confused about our direction in life, the relationships we are in, or the way we spend our time. Knowing our intention and letting it express outwardly in our lives is the beginning of peace. But, like the flower in the crannied wall, our intention will crack open any obstacle in its path. When we ignore our soul’s desire, our lives begin to crack open. We begin to fall apart.
Jesus said something very strange: “I come not to bring peace, but a sword.” Many interpreters have tried to explain this enigmatic statement. The best interpretation, I feel, is that when we allow our soul’s intention to express itself in our everyday living, the parts of our lives that obstruct that expression are “cut away”. Jesus is saying that real peace comes when we conquer the obstacles to that expression within ourselves.
When we choose the path of peace, chaos ensues. Peace is standing still in the midst of chaos without trying to resist the swirl. It is knowing our center and sticking to it, regardless of “Job’s comforters”, those who would tell us that we must have done something wrong to be in such a mess. If we refuse to buy into that accusation, they will call us stubborn. And it would be stubbornness, but only if we did not know the difference between a gut feeling and an entrenched opinion. Sticking to an opinion is not the same as being centered.
We are born with intention. Like an arrow shot from a bow, the arc of our life is powered by the thrust of our soul. What am I about? What is the direction of my life? What quest am I impelled to embark upon? These are the questions we need to ask ourselves. Until we do, we will not find peace, for life is never content to express itself halfway.
Each of us has our part to play, our mission to fulfill. To be at peace is to be in action with life, to engage with our circumstances, and to be taught by the intention within our soul.
Here are three things to keep in mind to help you discover your soul’s intention:
- Within normal social guidelines, it is not your actions that matter, but what those actions mean to you.
- Beneath every desire is a deeper, simpler desire of the soul. So examine your wants carefully – where do they come from?
- Identify with the source of your desire, not its apparent object.
The emergence of spirit in our lives can sometimes be as painful as childbirth. Physical and emotional anguish cannot compare to the sorrow the soul feels when it cannot unfold into the light of day, into its full expression in the world. The peaceful person knows what he or she is about. The only torment that such a person can know is the frustration of the expression of their soul’s intent. This torment becomes even more poignant with the realization that it is one’s own weaknesses and character flaws that stand in the way of complete fulfillment. In this, we are all alike. It seems to be the human condition.
“All life is suffering”, said the Buddha. Cuts and bruises, failure and death mean nothing to an unfolding soul. Comfort in life, honor amongst friends, victory over one’s enemies are all cheap in comparison to the accomplishment of the soul’s intention. What am I about? What am I here for? What MUST I do? These questions are engraved on the doorposts of peace. No one enters without first making these questions their inmost prayer.
The soul’s intention is a burning hunger that many try to alleviate with alcohol, drugs, uncommitted sex, power, and excitement. All these and more are the currency we gladly hand over to the world “out there” to keep the soul’s demands at bay. So the irony is this: one who appears to be in torment, because he or she is in the process of soul-discovery, is in fact at peace. It is the one who appears satisfied and content to take his direction from the dictates of outer circumstances who has buried the burning hunger. This is true torment, the source of all unrest.