Paths of Peace
By Maggy Whitehouse
Walking paths of peace is about how to live lightly in an increasingly-complex and divided world. It’s simple – we can consciously choose a peaceful response at all times. However, no one ever said it was easy! And the peaceful response can, and often does, mean offering a gentle but powerful ‘no’ and holding to it with grace and compassion.
It all comes down to consciousness rather than acting on automatic. This is not selfish work; by doing it, we will become a light by which we can guide others.
It is said in mystical circles that 1% of humanity is interested in spiritual work and 1% of that 1% is willing to commit to doing something about it. Learning how to live in peace means we become part of the 1% of the 1%. Miraculously, a fully-working 1% of 1% is said to be enough to keep the World on an even keel. Imagine what we could do for the planet, for our governments and for those in need if we raised that even to 2%…
I learnt about paths of peace after I walked away from a conventional Christianity that told me that my dying husband (an atheist) could not go to heaven. I became a seeker and studied healing and complementary therapies but, eventually, I realised that I walked a path of anger and resentment over Christianity and, unless, I healed that, I would never live in peace nor prosperity.
The answer, for me, came through the Jewish mystical tradition, known as Kabbalah, which means receive in Hebrew. Slowly and steadily, I learnt to turn over my prejudices, beliefs and blockages to the Divine so that I could receive clear answers instead of repeating old patterns. Unity also had a strong chapter in my story as I could balance the two teachings incredibly easily – that’s what’s so wonderful about Kabbalah – it’s a scaffolding, not a system of faith, so all systems fit onto it and yet can remain themselves.
There are 22 paths on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, each one is assigned a letter of the Hebrew alphabet and represents one of the Major Arcana of the Tarot. The simplest analogy to understanding their importance is the game of Snakes and Ladders. All too often, when we need a ladder, our childhood training has taught us to choose a snake…
Kabbalah is a 3000-year old teaching of the Perennial Truths that exist at the root of all the world’s faiths. It is a tradition that is meant to update for each generation, so a teacher of Kabbalah will always demonstrate the teaching in the light of today’s world as well as showing its Biblical relevance. For me, it finally made sense of the Old Testament – that seemingly harsh and law-based book – and it made the New Testament come alive with rich symbology and lessons in love.
Just one story in the Gospel of Luke tells us of the three balancing paths on the Tree of Life—it’s the story of Jesus on the cross with the two other crucified men. Their story is also told symbolically by the Greek Orthodox cross which has three crossbars. The first man has no concept that he is responsible for his fate. He knew the consequences of his actions if he were caught and yet he wants a free ride on the back of another. This is ego-consciousness at work – locked into blame and unwilling to change.
The second man understands that he had a part in his fate and accepts that. He asks Jesus to ‘remember’ him but not to release him from the consequences of his actions. Jesus says to him ‘today you shall be with me in paradise’ showing that self-responsibility is the pathway to heaven.
Finally, there is Jesus himself who offers only forgiveness to those who have tortured and killed him. We may not be able to get to the cross of Christ, but we can work from that second cross and it is that cross that lifts us to the level of our soul – refusing to walk the paths of entitlement, blame and self-pity. It is only when we realise that opening our soul to the Divine means we will be blessed with Grace that we are usually willing to let go of those patterns that have hurt us for so long.