You may be familiar with the inspirational writing called The Desiderata. Although the entire writing is exquisitely presented, one statement in particular can be quite beneficial. It states, “Go placidly amid the noise and the haste.” This could be particularly relevant to life in a big city with all its hustle, rush, and sometimes confusion, and equally meaningful for smaller towns and areas when we seem to get caught up in the “busyness” of daily life.
An important thing to remember is that whatever kind of confusion may be around you, what is within your own consciousness is what counts. And you have available two of the most powerful tools to use—love and prayer.
The Hebrew greeting “Shalom,” a beautiful and meaningful word, means “surrender.” We may have often thought of surrender as connoting coming to the end of a struggle, such as a war or some major dispute or conflict. To say, “Oh, I give up,” may seem to indicate futility and resignation. But the Oriental idea of surrender is quite different. It is that which comes first. It is a spiritual state that establishes harmony and brotherhood and oneness with other people and conditions. What more meaningful way can we bring this feeling of oneness about than through love and prayer!
In the New Testament, Jesus admonishes his followers to “become as little children” and to “love your enemies.” Probably no two commands may be more difficult to follow in today’s world, confronted as sometimes happens with our own negative thoughts, whether in business, within our family, or among our friends.
It may be easy to look at a negative example set by others and shrug off our responsibility to “love one another,” even as God has loved us. We might use the excuse that if no one else follows these spiritual principles, why should we? And yet, throughout history, it seems almost impossible not to notice the success of those who have acted on the courage of their convictions to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”
There are some in modern times who, if asked how to handle a difficult relationship, may respond by saying, “Just tell them you love them.” Mother Theresa, as she lives out these spiritual principles of love in her own life, declares that “love for God is love in action.” She states, “loving Him through words is not enough,” and she has shown her love for God through a lifetime of dedicated work with the poor. But what really sets the Mother Theresas of the world apart is their ability to enjoy the “fruits of the Spirit,” as described by St. Paul after his conversion to Christianity on the road to Damascus.
Most people now understand the term “the laws of nature,” the multitude of principles discovered by scientists, primarily in the last four centuries, explaining or describing the physical Universe. However, as mentioned in my book The Humble Approach, not everyone yet understands the phrase “the laws of the spirit.” There is a difference between laws of the spirit and religious laws such as those formulated by Moses, Hammurabi, Muhammad, and other ancient lawgivers. More benefits may result in the domains of the spirit if each individual drew up his own personal list of the laws governing spiritual matters. It may be that when we understand and claim as our own some actual laws of the spirit—such as love and prayer—that we begin to build our own heaven.
As the anthropologist Margaret Mead states in her book Twentieth Century Faith, “Each man is indeed his brother’s keeper and the need to love our enemies ought to be given new scientific meaning. If only we are able to love those who are our enemies, in the sense of cherish and protect, can we hope to protect the lives of men and the life of the world?”
Once we understand how to express this love to others through our own lives, we may then be better able to direct our prayers to make God’s priorities our own. As we learn to share and give and care, love increases. A person who knows how to love does not seem to feel lonely or alone. In this sense, the power of love can become a true weapon against harm. As a friend of mine is fond of saying, “Love given is love received,” and happiness is a by‑product of that kind of love. This law of life, when put to use through loving expressions and prayer, can guide us in fulfilling our every aspiration, as well as enriching the lives of those around us.