EMBRACE CABDRIVERS AS GOD’S CREATURES.
People in New York actually have more opportunities to develop consciousness than people in most other places because of the constant possibility for adversity. Behold the divine in everything, even when you’re annoyed. When I first moved to New York, I was amazed by cabdrivers. They don’t seem to realize what those yellow and white lines on the road are for! But that gave me many opportunities to work on this principle, to see them as divine human beings. Our initial human reaction, if someone is inconveniencing us, is to be angry. But you cancel out the energy of that anger and return to a state of peace simply by blessing that person, by thinking of them as a divine being, as a child of God. Or, if you don’t think in those terms, just as an important part of the universe.
—Jim Gaither, Senior Minister, Unity Center, midtown Manhattan
THINK COSMICALLY, ACT LOCALLY.
Inner peace needs to be a daily spiritual practice. Reflect for five minutes daily on what a blessed life one’s leading. Think about the advantages in life and what one is doing with them. Contemplate that one is mortal, and that this kind of life will not last forever. Watch one’s ethics all day long. There is really no substitute for keeping a journal for checking in on one’s ethics. Every day, do something for someone else, something not just selfish. Keep track of that in the book when you do. Try to engage in some spiritual study or test. It doesn’t really matter what tradition it’s from; it should just focus on how to be less selfish and more compassionate and kind to others. Everything that we see in another person—positive or negative—is coming from us, not them. Stop blaming others for being pains in the asses. The only way you’ll get an irritating person in your life is by being irritating. Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. That was Jesus, but the Buddha says the same stuff.
—Venerable Sumati Marut (Brian K. Smith), Three Jewels Community Center (Buddhist), East Village
SAVE YOURSELF, THEN THE WORLD.
We didn’t experience a peaceful life in 2006. There was too much violence, too much war. In pursuing a religious life, it’s important to free ourselves from outside influences like politics and economics. In order to achieve inner peace, we need to be away from all those influences. Muslims are very influenced by the political and international arena, and we forget that we need to come back to ourselves in order to tackle the many problems we face today. There must be peace in our minds before we can go out to help our community. People shouldn’t only be influenced by material purposes
—Imam Shamsi Ali, Jamaica Muslim Center, Queens
USE THE BRAIN THE GOOD LORD GAVE YOU.
Peace occurs naturally when your values and your activities are in agreement. Your activities should be designed around your purpose, and your purpose is an extension of the gifts, talents, and abilities that God has given to each individual. Use well what God has entrusted to your care. And don’t think just money. Think of spiritual knowledge, family, friends, children, a spouse, experiences, aptitude. Everybody has some God-given gift. When what you’re doing with your life is in agreement with God’s value for your life, inner peace comes naturally.
—Pastor A. R. Bernard, Christian Cultural Center, East New York, Brooklyn
DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE APOCALYPSE.
How to find inner peace in an overly complex and anxiety-ridden world? It’s day-to-day, moment-to-moment faith that God is around us. For example, we had that gas smell on Monday. I was running around the corner to the deli in the morning when it was at its worst, and I was thinking, New York, damn, 2001, the towers. You know, that whole CNN litany. And I came around the corner and saw the sermon for next week is “Panic or Pray.” And I’m still running to the deli, and I thought, Oh yeah. I began humming this song I love called “We’ve Come This Far by Faith.” I do have these moments, you know, smelling a gas smell and cussing. But God is in the next moment.
—The Reverend P. Kimberleigh Jordan, Marble Collegiate Church, Midtown Manhattan