February 3, 2017
Without a doubt, peace is my favorite word. To me, peace is more than just a pleasant sounding word, peace is the experience I seek more than any other in my life. It would be fair to say that peace is the reason behind every choice I make. For the record, I am not saying that every choice I make leads to the experience of peace. I still have some work to do before achieving that goal. However, I am saying that peace is the goal, or the end game as it were, of all of my thoughts, words and actions.
This week, as I considered and meditated on the idea of “being a catalyst for peace,” I became attracted to the word catalyst. As a writer, I love words. I routinely consult a dictionary to review the definitions and etymologies of words that I use all the time. Like the word peace, I hold the word catalyst in high regard. But, until now, I don’t recall ever looking it up to deepen my understanding of its proper meaning.
So, what exactly is a catalyst?
The word catalyst itself is a derivative form of the Modern Latin word catalysis, which is itself derived from a Greek word meaning “dissolve.” Its modern usage, which did not come into fashion until the early 20th century, is most commonly applied in the sciences where a catalyst is a “substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change.”
In chemistry terms, a catalyst offers four major benefits to the process of change. First, a catalyst stimulates reactions and changes faster than natural processes. In this sense, a catalyst is a cause rather than an effect. Secondly, because of the catalyst, the process of change requires less energy to activate. Perhaps the biggest benefit is that a catalyst is not consumed or permanently altered in or by the processes of change they stimulate. This means the same catalyst can be used over and over, potentially without depleting or diminishing its effectiveness through the repeated use. The final benefit of a catalyst is that often only tiny amounts are required to spark major changes, like throwing a match on a mound of starter fluid infused charcoals on a backyard grill.
Can there be peace without war?
Beyond its usage as a chemistry term, the word catalyst is also used to define a “person or thing that precipitates (or causes) an event to occur.” For example, the presence of war in the world is a catalyst for sparking the debate on the need for peace. While we may all wish there was no need for such a debate, events in the world demand that we make a choice.
It is a well established fact that there are enough nuclear weapons existing on the planet right now to destroy the world several times over. In truth, only a tiny fraction of the total number owned by just the United States alone is needed to blot out the existence of the entire planet and all life forms on it. This begs the question: why does humankind need to build more weapons than needed to destroy the entire planet many times over? Perhaps the more relevant question is: what is going on in the collective consciousness of humankind that we would allow or support this historically unprecedented buildup of weapons of mass destruction? Do we really need war as a catalyst for peace? Can there be peace without war?
Peace is not a cause. Peace is an effect.
One thing I have learned along the way is that peace is not a cause, peace is an effect. In the book Power Vs. Force, Dr. David Hawkins places peace above love and just under enlightenment in his ascending scale of creative power. In other words, the only attainable condition of mind for humankind beyond peace is the ineffable transcendence of enlightenment usually associated with history’s master teachers, like Jesus or Buddha. Like peace, enlightenment is also an effect, rather than a cause. Both are the consequence and effect of demonstrating unconditional love, which is the most powerful creative power available to humankind. The only path to peace and enlightenment is through the willingness to practice unconditional love.
To Hawkins, the “energy field” of peace resonates with the experiences we describe as “transcendence, self-realization, and God-consciousness.” At the level of peace, the “distinction between subject and object disappears” and a consciousness of unity and oneness emerges. Peacemakers commonly transcend the limitations of formal religion to embody the “pure spirituality out of which all religion originates.” Those who demonstrate the energy of peace inhabit the same world as everyone else, but they view it much differently. Instead of a world of conflict punctuated by brief respites of truce, for peacemakers, the world becomes an “exquisitely coordinated evolutionary dance” that is beyond mere conceptualizing.
At the level of peace, the witness and the witnessed assume the same identity. The observer is also the observed. Peacemakers experience everything as being “connected to everything else by a Presence whose power is infinite, exquisitely gentle, yet rock-solid.” Hawkins points out that many of the greatest works of art, music and architecture calibrate in resonance with the energy field of peace, and each one has the potential to “transport us temporarily to higher levels of consciousness.”
Do not pray for peace. Pray peace.
In Unity teachings, affirmative prayer and silent meditation are the most powerful practices available to us in creating the energy field of peace. Affirmative prayer is the equivalent of what Gregg Braden calls the “lost mode of prayer.” In the simplest terms, affirmative prayer does not pray for anything, but rather prays the thing itself. Praying for something is praying from the perspective of lack. In other words, praying for peace implies not only a lack of peace at the level of consciousness, but also affirms the presence of war as a condition in the world that must be eliminated before peace can be achieved in consciousness.
The truth is, the world does not have to be at peace in order for me or you to be at peace. Nor, does the presence of war have to be altogether eliminated before we can achieve and demonstrate the energy field of peace. As Dr. Hawkins points out, at the level of peace, there is no separation between the prayer and the object being prayed. In other words, if we pray peace, rather than for peace, we experience peace even in the midst of the prayer.
Love is the catalyst for peace.
Remembering that a catalyst is an agent that “increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change,” then what is the catalyst for peace? What agent can interact with war to “dissolve” its grip on the consciousness of humankind and speed up the realization of peace without being changed, altered or diminished in the process? The short answer, love.
Love is the most powerful catalyst for change in the world available to each one of us. Love is the key to unity and oneness consciousness, which is also the gateway to peace. We do not arrive at peace accidentally, nor can we simply choose peace like an a la carte item from a buffet. Peace is the effect of chemicalizing and dissolving all the limitations of consciousness that foster a world of war, judgment and separation in the first place. To achieve peace requires the consistent practice of unconditional love, the catalyzing agent of peace.
The legendary rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix, once said: “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” For me, I can think of no higher calling or purpose for my life than to be a “catalyst for peace” in the world. To achieve that goal requires that I am also a willing agent of unconditional love.
Our calling to be catalysts for peace is not just for today, but for everyday. So, wherever you are and whenever you read this, know that to be a catalyst for peace is also to be an agent of unconditional love. As we practice unconditional love consistently, one day we will awaken to find that the power of love has eclipsed the love of power and the world will know peace. However, you and I do not have to wait for the world to be at peace before we can be at peace. Each one of us has the power within us to experience peace today, right now, wherever we are. All we have to do is be willing to pray the energy of unconditional love and peace is ours.