Let there be peace on Earth
And let it begin with me.
Let There Be Peace on Earth,
The Peace that was meant to be.
With God as our Father,
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my Brother
In perfect harmony.
– Jill Jackson-Miller (1913-1995) & Sy Miller (1908-1971) from “Let There Be Peace on Earth” (1955)
We all are undivided aspects of one God. We know now that there is a single Consciousness that includes each one of us, and we know that this Consciousness at its highest aspect is the God which manifests all of reality. Of course, this means that reality is fundamentally mental, and not physical. Reality is indeed, as Albert Einstein is said to have once jovially remarked, one heck of an illusion, but it is an illusion all the same. As A Course in Miracles wisely tells us, “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Therein lies the peace of God.”
I can remember what it was like to fret. I can recall what it was like to worry, to struggle, to have a care, but now all of that is in my past. I am all. I am everything. I am one with all that is and was and ever will be. And I marvel to realize that I have spent my entire life exploring what amounts to just about the whole of accessible reality before arriving back here at this simple understanding that has me sitting mentally in the Buddha’s lotus position and murmuring as the Buddha once did, “I am awake.” I look around in soft wonder as it occurs to me to assume that probably everyone must make this same circular journey.
But no, as I consider matters further, I imagine not. I still get so many emails from people who are terrified of death. And I still see amazingly few people who seem to know this deep peace, which fact perplexes me. How can everyone not have this stillness within? But Jesus also has this same deep peace. Oh, yes indeed! You see it in His face, in His eyes, in how He can sit with His hands cupped one within the other and that soft almost-smile on His face, and He can listen to you in perfect stillness as if only you matter to Him. Or He can close His eyes and commune with God in an attitude of absolute bliss, while nearby yet another group of newly-arrived Christians is gathering to await His blessing. At this advanced stage in Jesus’s eternity, nothing ever really troubles Him at all.
The Apostle Paul called this deep tranquil feeling “the peace of God which passes all understanding” (Phil 4:7). And we all can have it, here and now. We don’t have to wait until after we have died and then discovered that, well, what do you know, human life really is eternal. I have been sitting here trying to determine where this peace of God comes from and how it might have begun for me, so how I might help to begin it in you, and it occurs to me that owning eternity probably is its foundation. For so long as you believe that your existence is tied to the survival of that fragile meat-body that grows weaker with each passing moment, you never can know any kind of peace.
When Craig Hogan and I conceived the idea for Seek Reality Online, it was really about easing human pain. Fear of death is the base fear, so when you no longer fear death, you no longer fear anything. And since we knew how much our having conquered the fear of death had improved our own lives, we thought we could similarly improve the lives of many other people around the world. So let’s assume that conquering the fear of death must be the first and most essential step. Once you are certain that your life is eternal, you begin to live in an eternal frame, and the difference that makes in your life is immense. It is impossible even to quantify it, but I do distinctly recall the difference. You go from feeling as if you are living in a box with a beginning and an abrupt and final ending, from there to having a sense that you have unlimited horizons of forever ahead. That constant awareness of death as a black ending that might at any second land on you is a profound horror! It is a terror that makes life miserable until you can conquer it. I believe that I can date the beginning of these wonderful changes in my own life to the moment when I first understood that my life truly never will end.
And it is only then that you can dare to venture beyond the safe humdrum of the narrowest of lives. One of the great joys of my life has been the fact that my husband is a high-functioning Asperger’s person, so two of our three children are Asperger’s people as well. As a result they never have married, and rather than downsizing from a house that is much too large for just two people, years ago we invited them to come and live with us. There are some who might not love this arrangement, but we consider it to be ideal. Two brilliant, quiet people that we adore who have interesting careers and busy lives, and who gladly share their lives with us? How perfect! I might eventually blog about how our living together works and what I have learned in the process, but my point here is just to talk about our daughter’s kittens. Six months ago, our son’s much-beloved old cat died, so three months ago our daughter decided that it was time to adopt some kittens. And watching these kittens’ surprisingly different approaches to life mimics the two very different ways in which most people live. There is Vicki, who is highly prudent and basically afraid of everything. And on the other hand, there also is Morrie, who is a supremely curious and utterly fearless pain in the neck. And once you lose your fear of death, you too can live like Morrie, happily investigating and figuring things out.
And living like Morrie is so important! When you closely study the Gospels, you come to see Jesus as a modern Man, or even as a Man from our distant future, who entered a time capsule and traveled back in time to teach first-century primitives. He speaks to them simply, while knowing that His words are going to be preserved and will be read in all the ages to come. He knew even then that He was speaking to the ages, and He urged us to keep on asking questions, because in all the ages between two thousand years ago and now, and in all the future ages as well, human understanding would be deepening more and more. So He says to each of us, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (MT 7:7-8).
Jesus is saying that to you and me now! Before you understand that your life is eternal, you have no choice but to live like little Vicki, protecting your precious meat-body at all costs. You are afraid to do any research at all, because your research might lead you to learn something horrible and unforgettable about reality, and you will have to live with knowing that unforgettable negative thing forevermore. And when you have to live that way, you are going to learn so little! However, once you come to understand that human life really is eternal, then you know that you are indestructible, and a curious and joyous Morrie life is your own. You, too, can be gleefully pulling computers and everything else off overhead tables even if it all might land on your head, and generally raising havoc with the world so you can try to figure out how everything works! (Fortunately we love little Morrie a lot, and we think this is probably just a phase).
The more you come to understand about the greater reality, which is everything that we know exists, the safer you will feel in God’s everlasting arms. Learning that my life is eternal was the beginning for me. But it was only the beginning! The more I learned, like curious little Morrie, the more I was eager to learn even more. And the more I actually needed to learn, since I was finding gaps in what I was learning that my swelling curiosity was desperate to fill. “Ask, and it will be given to you…” What I have been discovering throughout my life is that Jesus is as good as His word. The evidence of what was true was everywhere, and the pieces were fitting together like puzzle-pieces in a vast and complex puzzle that made up all that there is. And that, Craig Hogan was also finding, was true for him as well. Craig and I did not become aware of one another until 2008, and that was rather late in our separate efforts to understand and make sense of reality. Even then, as soon as we began to talk about all the evidence about reality together, we were already at the point of completing one another’s sentences. It is truly far beyond wonderful to meet someone who shares your own eccentric obsession. And then, to find when you begin to discuss it that your very different approaches to the research have led each of you to reach identical conclusions is so very far beyond wonderful!
I soon discovered that there were other people, too, like the Zammits and Sandra Champlain, who had achieved what Craig and I had achieved. All over the world, people here and there had been individually studying the afterlife and the greater reality, and all of us had reached identical conclusions and personally conquered our own fear of death. So when I realized that my lifelong eccentric hobby wasn’t only my own eccentric hobby, with Craig’s encouragement I wrote what became The Fun of Dying. My particular bent seems to be to write simple books for laypeople that are easy to understand. As I have explained the difference between Craig’s books and my own: “Craig uses footnotes.” And of all of these afterlife and greater reality scholars, I am the only one who also is a long-term student of the Gospels, which has turned out, I think, to be my big advantage. That nexus has been of immeasurable value, since Jesus actually talks about some of the same things that dead folks mention from the afterlife. The outer darkness and living water, for example. Wow, talk about cross-validations! The more I learned about our eternal lives, and the more what I learned was validated by what other people were learning, the more comfortable I began to feel in this life. That really is how doing extensive and in-depth afterlife research works.
Sadly, though, discordant fear-based Christianity still was dragging me down. I had given up television by 2010. I could control everything else that was impacting my life, but still I was going to Mass every week to keep my husband company, and that life-size, full-color plaster Jesus that was bleeding for my sins on the cross above the altar was filling me with so much guilt that eventually I had to stop going to church altogether. In retrospect, I realize that ending my church attendance was what made the final difference for me.
That was about the time when I also decided to stop traveling to give talks about the afterlife at conferences and at Unity Churches. My business clients didn’t want me to retire from my legal career just as we were preparing to pass their businesses to their respective next generations of ownership; and my blog posts had to happen each week, my weekly podcasts had to happen; and frankly, of all the things that I loved doing, it was traveling to speak that seemed to produce the most stress for the least reward to both speaker and audiences. So then, little by little, as I settled into my quieter life that was now entirely free from fear, I began to get whispers of what I can only call joy, kind of effervescing in me. You can’t do much about these unexpected bouts of joy. They simply happen when they happen.
My dear friends, after a lifetime of research and learning, at last it all was coming together. The Emperor Constantine’s bogus Christianity was receding in my mind, since I was no longer confronted each week by Jesus’s sorrowful plaster face as He bled out over the altar. I have read the Gospels so many times that Jesus’s words are always in my mind, and I think it was the combination of my certainty that my life is eternal and the gentle words of Jesus always there beneath the surface that caused this permanent elevation of my whole being in a way that I could see only in retrospect. Then, two years ago we suffered a catastrophic financial loss. I wrote about it at the time, and what surprised me most when it happened was how untroubled I was, and how easily I forgave such a heinous crime by someone I had loved and trusted. It was first then that I realized how much I had changed! I look back now in wonderment, and I see what should have been a calamity as barely a bump in my spiritual road. I never think of it now, beyond seeing it as part of my broader relationship with Thomas.
But I look back now over all my life, and I realize that what can give to you this same ineffable peace of God is just freedom from the fear of death plus a deep familiarity with the teachings of Jesus. That for certain is what has done it for me! When you, too, live in an eternal frame, and when you live with our beloved Friend in your heart, then how can you not also always be joyful? My dear friends, that elusive peace of God which passes all understanding must come from knowing that you are eternal, and from this blissful walk with the Prince of Peace, who sweetly lives with you in perfect love. The fear-based age of the Emperor Constantine is becoming a fading memory. The Age of Jesus has begun.
Let peace begin with me.
Let this be the moment now.
With ev’ry step I take
Let this be my solemn vow
To take each moment and live
Each moment in peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me!
– Jill Jackson-Miller (1913-1995) & Sy Miller (1908-1971) from “Let There Be Peace on Earth” (1955)