In 2010, I set out to write a little book that would set forth exactly what I believe Jesus really taught. I entitled it The Way of Peace. Here is the first section of that text, entitled “ABOUT THIS BOOK.”
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Matthew 11:28-30: Jesus said,
Come to me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; …
and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
All my life, I have been concerned for people who seemed to me to have a harder lot than they deserved — who were loaded down with heavy burdens.
In time, I came to see that I likewise carried needless heavy burdens.
Life is difficult enough even without them. Jesus speaks here of a way to live without them. Life’s inherent difficulties cannot be avoided. Needless difficulties can be avoided, and one’s life will be far more pleasant as a result. I humbly believe I have come to understand what Jesus meant, and that is what I seek to set forth here.
This Way involves disciplines of behavior, of ideation (thinking) and of affect (feelings, emotions). In particular, it involves learning to choose one’s affects. It also involves learning to deal with unexpected events in the physical body, mind and emotions.
The aim (not “goal,” as I will explain soon) is to attain and maintain a state of being that I believe Jesus called “the Kingdom.” He also called it the “pearl of great price,” “a treasure hidden in a field, ” that which one should “seek first.” It is the same as what the Twelve Steps movement calls “serenity.” One may call it “peace of mind.”
One can see “the Kingdom” as a goal, but it isn’t really. It’s not a destination. You will obtain it, but this does not mean you have in any sense “arrived.” To the extent it is a destination, the destination and the path to it are one and the same. Being on the path — at all — is just as good as having arrived. Once one has “arrived,” however, one must still keep going. Both the “going” and the “being there” never end.
It takes work. It takes intentionality; that is, you must intend to do it; you must do it on purpose. It won’t happen by accident. I myself have been seeking to live like this now for decades, and I still must work at it every day. Yet every moment you spend living this Way, you will become a better person and will have a better life.
You will increasingly present your best self at every moment, no matter what your circumstances and no matter what happens. As a result, you will be best prepared to deal with whatever circumstances you meet and with whatever happens.
As I am a Christian, Jesus is the one to whom I look first for teaching and example, and I will refer to him many times in this book. However, he is not the only person who has ever taught this Way. I am sure it is available, though perhaps clothed in different terms and concepts, in every major historical religion in the world. There are also those who teach it, who do not belong to any particular religion at all.