In the summer of 1995 I had the chance to spend twelve amazing days in the mountains of Bosnia with a community of mystics who called themselves the Emissaries of Light. This book is not meant to go into the details of that journey, but needless to say what I learned when I was with them left an indelible mark on my consciousness and will forever influence the way I relate to the concept of peace. They said to me: "Our role is not to bring peace to where it is not, but to reveal peace where it is hidden." This one sentence became the foundation of my ministry, and as I began traveling to the areas of the world where peace was more than obscured by centuries of hatred and violence, I learned that they were not just words at all, but a powerful reality.
Peace, the Emissaries said, is not something that can be understood with the mind, but must be experienced with the heart. Try to grasp it and it is gone; try to write words to describe peace and it vanishes like the wind.
Peace is Always Present
The Emissaries of Light said that peace is always present, that it is the simple truth of our existence. The question then becomes, "Where does violence come from? Surely good and evil exist side by side." The facts seem to prove this theory, for everywhere we look we see division, separation, and the need for peace. How can peace be the foundation of a world such as this, where children starve to death everyday and ethnic wars rage for centuries? Isn't it our job to resist these evils and to actively fight against injustice? This, after all, is what we have always been told by all our heroes, all the men and women throughout the ages who have helped turn the tide of social discord.
Or did they? Certainly there is a legacy of social activism, those who have "fought the good fight" and resisted the disciples of violence and fear. Yet even among these people there are different modalities of action, and what works for one may not necessarily work for another. Martin Luther King promoted a non-violent revolution to ensure equality for all people regardless of their color or race, and Malcolm X shared his passion for peace. And yet these men did not always agree upon the appropriate method to bring about this end. King was a proponent of the Gandhi school of peacemaking, while Malcolm X confronted injustice with a different attitude. Same goal, different formulas.
Anti-War or Pro-Peace?
Mother Teresa was once asked why she never participated in the anti-war demonstrations during the 1960's. She simply smiled and said, "I'll never go to an anti-war demonstration, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there."
The Emissaries of Light are an example of a different school of peacemaking. They existed in the secret places of the world, like the mountains of Bosnia, working on the inner planes to bring about change on the outer. They never protested or raised their voices at all. They recognized that there is a deeper law where fundamental change is really made, and once this shift in consciousness occurs, then the outer world falls naturally into place. The question they asked is a simple one: "Is it better to work on the level of effect, or on the causal level where the effect is born?" This is really the essential question of this book. (Praying Peace by James F. Twyman, with Gregg Braden & Doreen Virtue)
So what does it mean to work for peace on the causal level? If their earlier statement is true, that peace is the foundation of reality itself, then it is toward this foundation that we must turn to find our answer. The Emissaries believed that reality is born in the mind and then extends into the world of form, not the other way around. Peace, then, can only prevail when the fearful patterns that allow conflict to exist are released, and this release must occur in the place where the conflict was born, which is the mind. How many times have we seen progress made in one area of the world or another through the use of what we'll call 'exterior peacemaking', only to be replaced by another level of discord? If you are tired of the furniture in a particular room of your house, what sense does it make to move the furniture around? It may look different, but the real problem has yet to be addressed.
From the Emissary perspective it makes more sense to remove the furniture and start over. If the chairs and sofas don't match the wallpaper, then find furniture that does.
Addressing the Problems
But does this mean that we're to discard 'exterior peacemaking' altogether and sit in our rooms meditating all day? Not necessarily. The point the Emissaries made was that we cannot possess true wisdom until we address the problem where it really is, not where it seems to be. Then we will likely be inspired to act, but we will act from a new place, from a wider and more enlightened perspective.
Once again, Mother Teresa was a brilliant example of this. She did not run around the world with her fists clenched, filled with anger. She held the quiet space of compassion, and she extended that compassion to everyone she met. And when a particular situation required immediate action she did not hesitate for a moment but got off her knees to serve. And yet her smile never faded, especially when she held a dying man or woman in her arms. She was not fooled by what seemed to be happening, because her mind was so focused on what she knew was there. She saw holiness everywhere she looked, and that holiness became the foundation of her world.
Mother Teresa understood the difference between praying for something to happen, and 'Praying Peace'. Her life was a prayer, but it was not confined to the traditional definition of the word. She did not look upon a world that required peace, but on a world that was already healed. She didn't think that she was in Calcutta holding a dying child; she knew she was in Heaven holding the infant Jesus. And yet, her hands and her feet were in constant motion, for she realized that looking upon the 'real world' didn't mean denying someone's pain. "Give everything," she often said, "even when it hurts... especially when it hurts," but don't lose sight of the Vision of God that heals every ill and brings peace to every mind.
Praying Peace: What Does It Mean?
So what do the words 'Praying Peace' actually mean? Let's begin by defining a more traditional form of prayer, that of asking for something that we believe we do not already have. This is called a 'prayer of petition', which begins with perceiving a particular lack, and then believing that there is a God out there, sort of a spiritual Santa Claus, who can give it to us. There are a number of problems with this kind of prayer. Primarily it establishes and maintains a kind of spiritual dependency that we can never fully transcend. It is also the ultimate act of separation, the ego's need to be less than or separate from our Creator. The idea that we are One with God is seen as the greatest blasphemy, for we can never depart from the level of a servant, never enter into true communion with the Divine. To do so would really invite trouble, because then we would have to be responsible for what we create.
There is actually a technology of prayer that has been practiced for thousands of years, but which was lost to the West seventeen hundred years ago. I had suspected this for years, but it wasn't until my friendship with Gregg Braden deepened that I learned the actual details. In his book Walking Between the Worlds Gregg focuses on the teachings of many ancient traditions and shows how these cultures possessed a very advanced understanding of the 'Science of Prayer', much more advanced than our so-called modern churches claim to possess. I began to appreciate this science on a whole new level, and Gregg's passion for the material began to rub off on me.
Prayer is More Than Asking for What You Want
To the ancients, prayer was much more than asking for what they wanted. They knew that the mental decisions they made were only one part of a whole system that activates the creative power of prayer. The mind, they believed, is like a map. One can interpret the territory by reading the map, and can even determine the best route to take in order to arrive at a particular destination. But the mind cannot move the body to that destination. It needs help, like a car needs gas in it. Then the mind can work with the vehicle, directing its path, and so complete the journey.
In other words, a prayer that is centered only in the mind is a very weak prayer. It has no gas, and it is completely unable to move a person to the ultimate fulfillment of their dreams. Other elements are required, ingredients that when combined create an alchemical reaction. This is the basis of the science that mystics from every tradition have mastered and taught for centuries.
So what happened seventeen hundred years ago that made us lose this important technology? I personally don't believe it was a malicious decision that caused this information to be buried for so long. I like to think that it was due to ignorance, the belief that people weren't ready for such a powerful system.
The "Lost" Scrolls
In the fourth century the leaders of the Christian Church came together in Nice to determine an official doctrine that would be accepted by everyone. Some texts were adopted and others were rejected. The texts that conformed to the current version of Christian theology were bound together in a book that they ultimately called 'The Bible', and the others, dozens and dozens of rare manuscripts, were destroyed. If it had not been for the foresight of a few monasteries that buried these texts, we might never have realized what we had lost.
Soon after World War II, discoveries were made that rocked the world of Biblical scholars. In 1945 a peasant at Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt uncovered a clay jar containing a library of thirteen papyrus books bound in leather, which are thought to have been buried by a Gnostic community. And then in 1947, among the mountains beside the Dead Sea in Israel, Bedouin nomads accidentally found a cave where quantities of holy texts had been hidden by members of the Jewish sect of the Essenes from the Qumran monastery nearby. They included the so-called Isaiah Scroll which is very different from the canonical Book of Isaiah.
Many of the Dead Sea scrolls are fragmentary and, through ignorance of their value, some of the Nag Hammadi papyri were burnt. Nonetheless, for the first time since these books were marked for destruction, the modern world has regained a wealth of resources, and an insight into the mystical teachings of our ancestors. Many of these books were hidden from public view for decades, such was the transformative power of the contents. Only recently have most of them been released, and the contents have shocked the world. The Gospel of Thomas from Nag Hammadi, containing the sayings of Jesus, is still ruled heretical by the Vatican.
The Wisdom of the Essenes
The wisdom of the Essenes, a mystical sect centered at Qumran, was far deeper and richer than most theologians had expected. It is now commonly accepted that Jesus himself was likely an Essene master, and many of his lessons and parables came directly from Essene teachings. But it is their contribution to prayer that we are concerned with here, and their contribution was vast.
This ancient community developed a system of prayer that was more reliable and scientific than anything we have today. It is possible that this wisdom was hidden from us because it was so powerful, and the goal of the early church was to establish the priests as intermediaries between Divinity and the people, something that would have been impossible if the people had been so empowered. And yet the real question here is not whether we were ready to harness this power seventeen hundred years ago. The question we should be asking ourselves is -- are we ready now? Because now is the time that the information is finally made accessible to us.
Becoming the Peace We Seek
To begin answering this question, let's look at the Essenes' fundamental teaching regarding prayer. The title of this book, Praying Peace, sums up the basic principle upon which every other principle of prayer is built. As Gregg Braden says, "We must become the peace we seek." In other words, the way to enhance any experience is to come into conscious resonance with that experience, or to vibrate at a similar frequency. In this sense the word 'Pray' means: to become, or to be like. If you want to experience peace, become peace. We are then able to experience ourselves as the source of prayer, rather than the beneficiary.
This idea is so foreign to our conventional understanding of prayer that you may be lost at this point. Think of it this way: When you pray 'for' something to happen, then you are focusing on the fact that it is not there already. This is the way most of us were taught to pray. The two main words the soul hears in this case are 'not there', and so this becomes the real prayer. The soul resonates with 'not-thereness', and therefore does nothing to attract the desired state.
Feeling the Peace
But when we 'Pray Peace', what we are really doing is feeling as if the peace we seek is already there. We feel the completion of the prayer rather than the lack, and the soul responds accordingly. It begins to resonate with peace, drawing into its sphere the experience of peace, since this is what the mind has focused on. The prayer is answered automatically because the soul has followed an established code, attracting the state that has already been 'felt' rather than the experience that has been resisted.
As simple as this formula is, it has been the subject of suspicion and debate for nearly two thousand years. The idea that we are powerful spiritual beings has threatened the institutions that were meant to guard our Divine evolution. Why? Simply because the survival of an institution is sometimes more important than the truth upon which the institution was founded. Therefore, the truth must be hidden, unless we mature to the point that the institution loses power. After all, we often use religion in the same way that we use a business -- to gain power and prestige. If people begin to realize that they are one with God and that no intermediary is required to experience our Divine Inheritance, then the institution will need to change its form, and this is the greatest threat for anyone who wants the institution to remain unchanged.
Prophecies: Peace Prevails At Last
The ancients spoke about a time when all this would change, when the water would rise so high that the levy would finally break, flooding the whole valley with Light. Many people believe that we have now entered that prophesied era when peace prevails at last, and there are many signs that seem to affirm this theory. Most cultures have legends and stories about what will happen during the 'Great Shift', and these legends are being fulfilled at an alarming rate. And the release of these ancient texts corresponds with this as well, for how could it be a coincidence that sacred libraries buried for nearly two thousand years would be unearthed not more than two years apart?
Could it be that we are finally ready to realize our incredible power, and use it to create a world based upon the laws of love rather than the rules of fear? Has the time arrived when we begin to consciously implement the most powerful force in the universe?
And yet some of us may still find reasons for hanging back. It may happen that, as individuals, we are suspicious of our power. Perhaps we once unleashed it in a fit of anger, and seeing its devastating effects, have foresworn its use. We have been afraid that we lacked the purity to wield it without our imperfections creating unintended side effects. Will the experience of praying peace, of becoming peace, take us safely past this threshold so that suddenly, amazingly, we perceive ourselves as pure?
This article is excerpted from the book:
Praying Peace by James F. Twyman,
in conversation with Gregg Braden and Doreen Virtue, Ph.D.
About The Author
James Twyman, (the Peace Troubadour), is an internationally renowned author. He is the author of Emissary of Light, Portrait of the Master, Secret of the Beloved Disciple, Praying Peace as well as a musician who performed Peace Concerts in some of the worst areas of violence and discord around the world. Visit his website at www.jamestwyman.com.