Peace Prayer: “… Be a lamp unto those who walk in darkness …” ~ Baha’i peace prayer
“… Peace on earth, good-will to men …”
Longfellow’s line from the popular and classic song “I heard the bells on Christmas Day” always struck a deep chord within … even though the song is typically heard more during the Christmas/holiday-season but its key sentiment is worth remembering at any time … and especially in these curent, troubling times of COVID wreaking havoc. And despite the daily news of rising deaths, anxiety, economic hardship, and divisiveness, we can still find hope even if such songs – or the sentiments therein – are deemed cliche …
At Stillness Speaks, we always encourage peace and good-will (cliche’ or not) … and remind ourselves of yet another line from Longfellow: “… wrong shall fail and right prevail with peace on earth, good-will to men.”
So, in that spirit, we welcome this new 2021 year … by infusing the celebration with a few peace prayers along with Elias Amidon’s apropos message for the New Year!
The peace prayers below are excerpted from Harvard Divinity School(HDS)’s Prayers for Peace And Justice. These prayers were “… offered in Assisi, Italy, on the Day of Prayer for World Peace during the U.N. International Year of Peace, 1986 …” and they remind us of “… the sacred words and prayers of the world’s peoples throughout the ages as they longed and worked for peace.” The HDS page, most appropriately, goes on to remind us – which is as applicable today, in Jan 2021, as it was in 1986: “In this present moment, we pause in our own longing to rest from our work and to touch the center. Here and now, we make their words our own. So may our hearts be joined.”
Peace Prayer: Native American
“… Let us learn to share all the good things that you provide for us on this Earth …”
O Great Spirit of our Ancestors, we raise the pipe to you,
to your messengers the four winds,
and to Mother Earth who provides for your children.
Give us the wisdom to teach our children to love,
to respect, to be kind to each other
so that they may grow with peace in mind.
Let us learn to share all the good things
that you provide for us on this Earth.
Peace Prayer: Zoroastrian
We pray to God to eradicate all the misery in the world,
that understanding triumph over ignorance,
that generosity triumph over contempt,
and that truth triumph over falsehood.
At this time every year in a place beyond roads, far up in the hills near the Laotian border, a shaman calls the people of his village to gather next to a rivulet of water.
The water comes from the rain dripping out of broad-leafed trees and running down their trunks into the ground, reappearing in this fold of land where the villagers have assembled. They know they are guardians of this sacred place, the very top of the watershed.
The shaman performs a ritual over the water with prayers and songs joined by the villagers. Children play underfoot, happy that everyone is happy. This day is the annual ritual when the village asks forgiveness of the goddess Mother Water for all the waste the villagers have put in the water during the past year, asking forgiveness too for the pollution that people downstream from them have added as the water made its way to the Gulf of Thailand.
Once forgiveness is asked for, the shaman invokes blessing on the waters, asking that health and well-being be granted to all the growing things and creatures and people who will drink of it on its journey to the sea throughout the coming year.
We who don’t believe in goddesses of the water or other such spirits, we who are content with our scientific views of how reality works, do we not also maintain a remnant of this same ritual at the beginning of the year, despite how worldly-wise we are? After all, we call out to our neighbors “Happy New Year!” and mean it, we wish everyone well, we get extravagant and kiss each other, we take the day off, we set off fireworks, hooray for us! hooray for life!
Like the villagers at the top of the watershed, we believe—at least for a few moments—that we can start life afresh, throw off the habits we’ve accumulated and the old ways of thinking and behaving, and begin again. In particular we know how rough the past year was—2020—plagued with suffering, isolation, loss, limitation, injustice and divisiveness, like pollution cast into the waters, and we ask that it be done with, finished, and forgiven. We don’t ask a goddess, but we do ask.
“Happy New Year!” We sail that wish into the air between us, a generous blessing on the spirit-waters that will flow through the coming seasons. Something kind and resurgent in our nature believes that our wish for happiness and well-being for others will be carried downstream, as if our hearts are the top of the watershed and whatever the current is that carries that blessing will find its way to those who need it most.
Like the shaman and the villagers, may we know that we too are guardians of this sacred place and of each other, and that our prayers (for what is Happy New Year! but a prayer?) our prayers are not trivial sayings but carry something essential for our own hearts and for the sustenance of life everywhere.
Happy New Year!
~ Elias Amidon
A Buddhist Prayer
“… May all beings … be freed … and may they swiftly attain Buddhahood …”
May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind
quickly be freed from their illnesses.
May those frightened cease to be afraid,
and may those bound be free.
May the powerless find power
and may people think of befriending one another.
May those who find themselves in trackless, fearful wildernesses
—the children, the aged, the unprotected—
be guarded by beneficent celestials,
and may they swiftly attain Buddhahood.
A Jain Prayer
Peace and Universal Love is the essence of the Gospel
preached by all the Enlightened Ones.
The Lord has preached that equanimity is the Dharma.
I forgive all creatures, and may all creatures forgive me.
Unto all have I amity, and unto none, enmity.
Know that violence is the root cause of all miseries in the world.
Violence in fact is the knot of bondage.
“Do not injure any living being.”
This is the eternal, perennial, and unalterable way of spiritual life.
A weapon, however powerful it may be,
can always be superseded by a superior one;
but no weapon can be superior to nonviolence and love.
Peace Prayer: Baha’i
Be generous in prosperity and thankful in adversity.
Be fair in thy judgment and guarded in thy speech.
Be a lamp unto those who walk in darkness and a home to the stranger.
Be eyes to the blind and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring.
Be a breath of life to the body of humankind,
a dew to the soil of the human heart,
and a fruit upon the tree of humility.
Coronavirus continues to take a toll on humanity and tremendous, heroic efforts continue to be underway by many to ensure our health and safety … helping those who are involved in such efforts is the “order of the day” … and in this spirit, Go Fund Me needs to be commended for organizing various campaigns targeted towards COVID-19 relief efforts. All of these campaigns are worthy of our attention … but for now we wanted to highlight TWO critical ones that we have donated personally and also as Stillness Speaks:
Despite the financial challenges that are amongst us all, if your situation allows you to donate and help then …
… please visit Frontline Responders Fund’s Go Fund Me page … and help deliver crucial supplies to these frontline responders …
… and/or visit America’s Food Fund Go Fund Me page and help feed the neighbors in need.
And, we again, express our deepest gratitude to a) the COVID-19 Frontline Responders (all the healthcare professionals – doctors, nurses, hospital/medical-services staff – firefighters, law enforcement, volunteers, and any/all the people involved in keeping the “system-at-large” functioning for ALL of us) … and b) Go Fund Me for organizing America’s Food Fund to feed the needy.
Elias’ writes a monthly Notes from the Open Path which are short contemplations on an approach to living wholeheartedly and in clear awareness (aspects of his Open Path teachings) …
The entire text above (aside from the block quoted content) is authored by Elias and is from his January 2021 monthly email Notes from the Open Path. He has graciously given us permission to freely share these notes with our readers.
Happy New Year!
May the year bring ever deepening peace and contentment in every regard … and …
May you remain safe and healthy as you navigate these troubling times.