No, I know all the war rhetoric, but it's all aimed at achieving peace.
George W. Bush
She was perhaps not that well known in her lifetime. After all she was penniless, homeless and did not have a blog. Her days were filled with walking, often sleeping rough, and talking to those who might have approached her asking what 'Peace Pilgrim' written on the front of her tunic was all about. She would then share her views about the true meaning of peace and how it could only be achieved by individuals who actually lived it. Like her. She regularly got arrested as a vagrant and must have been one of the most delightful people to take into a jail for overnight stays. Today in Las Vegas it is a crime to walk the streets with no money in your pocket. You might be well dressed and even have a profession but beware of actually being without cash in that disneyland for contemporary zombies.Though we were all born essentially as pilgrims, in my understanding of the word as spiritual travelers, it is now a crime to be one perhaps. I mean NO money. NO possesions she had. A toothbrush maybe..now just who was she and what was she up to?
At some point in our lives, if we are at all alive, we will experience a crisis that to me is always spiritual in nature. We are not supposed to have such crisis in our welfare state world of course. It is seen as a failure. A trip to Las Vegas is supposed to make us feel better. There we can gamble and take in a show and eat gargantuan meals whilst sipping on cheap booze. We can feel via all that gold and glitter in the desert desert (not a typo) that life is OK and that we, though miserably overweight and spiritually discombobulated beyond all recognition, are essentially doing fine. Our ability to actually feel how far we have plummeted into the morass of hopelessness that so often assaults our every sense in a glitsy metropolis, has atrophied beyond the fossil stage. Yes, I am a fan of the idea that three meals a day and a good job amounts to not much more than a prison sentence in pleasantville.
The crisis hit Peace Pilgrim in her forties when the cold war promised to freeze us all to hell. But she did something about that real feeling of helplessness and profound dissatisfaction that everybody else with a heart carried within themselves, but were just too scared to admit.She quit the world. Or rather she quit the world of denial and stepped into the real world of the human heart. She became an individual the day she put on that tunic and started to walk. She continued to walk for over quarter of a century, all through the air conditioned nightmare (as Henry Miller aptly coined modern America), in every state along endless byways and highways. She would fast until being given food and would sleep out unless offered lodging. She relied entirely on that something that I guess we all have to get familiar with if I am right about our future. She put her trust in Life itself and knew that her extremely simple needs would undoubtedly be looked after day, after day, after day.
She did this with dignity, in deep peace and with the mesmerizing verve of a true missionary. Her mission was to show people what peace means. It is an act, not simply a state. It is not the result of political decisions made by economically powerful people in rooms high above the Earth. It cannot come via treaties, agreements, nuclear brinkmanship games or grand speeches in giant halls where jewel bedecked humanoids preach what they cannot practise. Peace Pilgrim was an excellent example of a Christ in action, a Gandhi without a press, a Buddha minus his disciples. She was an absolutely unique expression of the simpilicity and the humility that must always accompany any true measure of what I understand now to mean peace. She was a state of mind that the whole universe has always adopted to get things done perfectly, elegantly and with creative joy. Her life was health incarnate, freedom unsurpassed and natural passion unbridled. If only she could let everybody know the unspeakable joy of this inner peace, if only her life could inspire others to stop looking to others to create a peace that will never exist unless YOU are that peace here and now.That was her crazy dream.
It does not matter what she was before all this, or where she went or when but her words matter. Her mission matters still. She lives on in her friends and in the hearts of all those who yearn for a post Las Vegas planet. A planet where we actually realise that the only option for a real life is one in peace and that no amount of coercion at any level or in even the slightest of outside ways will ever produce it. A planet where war is so unthinkable that we have lost the word for it. A life during which there is absolutely no necessity for stress whatsoever since we are existentially fearless. Can you imagine that in post 9/11 days? It was the cold war that set her off on the road. What will it take for us? Do we even have the receptors to dream it anymore?
Peace requires a state of consciousness that according to psychiatrist David Hawkins is at least 600 on a logarithmic scale of 0 to 1000. If Buddha and Jesus sit at the top of such a scale and Albert Einstein at just under 500 with Gandhi clocking in at around 750, just imagine how much work we each have to do in order to be peace. You cannot buy such a state of consciousness even with the best of education. Our churches and our temples no longer practise it fundamentally at all. The peace that democracy promises us is backed up by military budgets that require war to be penned in the first place. As a mental idea it is about as effective as a celibate preaching the virtues of abstinence in a brothel during an orgy. It is a matter of the heart and who among us still has a handle on that most misundestood of all organs? Are you sure?
On and on she walked. One night in a snowstorm and with nowhere to sleep she came close to becoming a frozen pilgrim. A car was stopped by the snowdrift across from her. Inside a man. She, a not unattractive woman, alone and helpless in a country where women get raped every minute somewhere. Of course he let her in and his intentions were very clear. The only reason that nothing happened that night as she slept in the back of his car, was undoubtedly the fact that her inner peace had reached a level of consciousness that touched everbody around her with its magical presence. I hear the sceptics roar through their noses at this. As if a state of consciousness could change others' behaviour. You better believe it. It is the only thing that ever does...