I was on the balcony of the monastery. Despite the beautiful scenery formed by the surrounding mountains and forests, I was enjoying the stillness of the moment trying to look inside myself. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. This was the code I needed to decipher in order to follow my studies on The Eight Gates of the Way. Studying, alongside perception, is of fundamental importance in order to understand the next transformation of the being, without which one cannot advance on the infinite journey towards the light. This is the natural process; we absorb knowledge and improve it through experiences lived in our relationships. In the next opportunity, when we are ready, or better, when the knowledge is sedimented in the being, the improvement becomes inherent to the choices. Thus, little by little, as we transmute ourselves, knowledge becomes wisdom. That is why it is common for everyone to know more than they are. Being is always the next step of knowing.
The silence and tranquillity were taken away from me by a shout. Two monks were arguing aggressively in the library. Nothing is by chance, I thought. It was an excellent opportunity for me to exercise my peacemaking skills, precisely the gate that at that moment I was studying. I left the book on the small table beside the armchair and went to where they were. I arrived together with the Elder, as we affectionately called the oldest monk of the Order. Other monks were already there and tried to prevent the verbal offenses from escalating, pushing away Michel and Peter, the two who were arguing. The strangest thing was the fact that they were close and long-time friends. Although they lived in different countries, they always tried to coincide their respective periods of study at the monastery so that they could be together. I asked the Elder to allow me to talk to them and calm the situation down. He looked at me with his enormous kindness and asked: “Are you in a position to accomplish this difficult and beautiful task?” With assurance, I replied that I considered myself up to the challenge. The Elder just nodded his head in agreement, turned around and went into the garden to continue tending the rose bushes, one of his favourite pastimes.
I asked the other monks to leave as well. When I was alone with Peter and Michel in the library, I asked them to explain to me the reason of the disagreement. At that moment it was not possible; both were talking at the same time and neither was willing to listen to the other. I suggested that I would talk to them separately; then the three of us would sit down to settle the matter. That was done. The conflict, in short, was because they had been writing a book for years. Each one his own book. While Michel talked about esotericism, Peter talked about occultism. As they talked a lot and the subjects mixed in various aspects, they began to accuse each other of plagiarism. Both were angry, offended and felt aggrieved. I listened to the friends separately, forgoing any comment, so that they could vent out the dense emotions that were suffocating them. This would help them to calm their tempers and, consequently, to reason with greater clarity. Then I asked them to go away and rest in their rooms. We would talk again after dinner.
In the evening we met again; this time the three of us together. I began by explaining that any work has authorship, but ideas and knowledge are universal; the same concept or theme can be inserted in many works without characterizing plagiarism, provided it is approached from different angles. Therefore, both were right and nobody was right. In fact, there were ideas in common in the works of Peter and Michel; however, they did not have owners, because they had inhabited the collective unconscious for a long time and were known by the world; therefore, they could be used by both of them from the moment they made distinct and personal approaches. When I finished speaking, I thought I had managed to pacify my friends. What a mistake. Even worse, to my surprise, they turned against me. Peter accused me of not having moral conditions to talk about the subject, because my advertising agency was facing a difficult lawsuit for plagiarizing an advertising campaign broadcast by a competitor. I argued that there was no plagiarism and that the unfoundedness of the lawsuit would be proven. I explained that the purpose of that lawsuit, in fact, was not to prove the existence of plagiarism, but an indecent way to demoralize the agency and remove it from the dispute for future accounts, since it would be badly spoken of in the market. In short, the misuse of the judiciary as a nefarious commercial move. I said that the attack had been fruitless, because, although there was no definitive sentence, we had already won in the first instance on the trials. I regretted that the newspapers usually make a lot of noise with mere suppositions, when a lawsuit of this size is initiated. Unfortunately, years later, when there is a definitive decision, they report little, if anything at all. Popular memory ends up being contaminated by lies.
In spite of the explanations I had offered, that conversation began to change my mood. As if it were not enough, Michel said that the fact that I had been victorious in a preliminary trial meant nothing, since it was common for sentences to be reformed in the courts. He added that he had followed the case in a large circulation magazine. For him there was no doubt: the plagiarism was indisputable. This new comment was enough to make me deeply angry. I changed my tone of voice to accuse them of not facing their personal issues by deflecting their aggressions in my direction. I warned that my company was not the focus of the conflict in the monastery. They returned the accusation by saying that I was trying to make myself feel like a better person by showing them weak and unable to solve their own problems. This culminated in me getting emotionally out of control. The argument escalated tones until other monks, because of the shouting, came in to help us. They saved us from the danger that each one offered, above all, to ourselves.
They directed me to my room. I was advised to have a deep sleep and restful night as an infallible remedy to tempestuous and wild emotions. I couldn’t get any sleep. I rolled from side to side of the bed until at the first sign of dawn, when I got up and went to the canteen in search of a mug of coffee. At the last table in the corner, the Elder seemed to be waiting for me between a cup of coffee and a piece of oatcake. He gestured for me to approach and welcomed me with his usual sweet smile. I asked if he knew about the facts of the previous night. Without any trace of recrimination in his eyes, he nodded. I told him that I had been attacked for the simple fact of trying to help. The good monk reminded me of an old lesson: “Discard the victim role. This gets in the way of better understanding.” I agreed with a shake of my head and then lamented that I had failed in the mission for which I had set out. The Elder said, “On the other hand, the same role as the victim. That way you will keep yourself mired in regrets.” With the patience that was peculiar to him, he explained, “It is not a question of failing the mission, Yoskhaz. You just haven’t managed to overcome yourself yet.”
I interrupted him to say that I was studying the Seventh Gate and understood the importance of becoming a peacemaker. The Elder argued, “No one pacifies the world while his heart is at war. You cannot offer what you do not have; in truth, I only have what I am. Thus, the things I have are only those that no one can take from me; everything else may even be around me, but it is not mine. What is really mine is only the I. Only in this way do I find peace. Peace is a plenitude, a definitive conquest of the being. Peace is alien to any circumstance outside the individual. As long as one does not understand this, one will not know peace.
“Remember, the great battle of life is the one we fight within ourselves. As long as there is no harmony between the ego and the soul there will be no peace of being. You will not see the end of the storms on the external the world while the conflicts persist in the internal world. This is the single clause of the primordial treaty of peace.”
“It is worth pointing out that in the sacred texts the term peacemaker translates the one who already brings in himself all plenitudes. Thus, it serves not only for peace, but also for freedom, dignity, happiness and love.”
“Being a peacemaker is simple, beautiful and difficult. Simple like tying a bow on a ribbon; sometimes all it takes is a good word, an unlikely gesture of love like apologising or forgiving, a sincere smile or a strong hug. Beautiful for making the ribbon connect one heart to another; uniting all hearts is the beauty of life. Difficult, because without the ribbon can’t make the tie; without the tie I can’t bring the hearts together. In order to have the ribbon and to give the bow I need to be both the ribbon and the artisan of the bow. Nobody achieves this until they align the ego with the soul on the same axis of wisdom and love. The ego is the ribbon; in the soul I make the tie. For this, all the virtues indispensable to the previous portals must remain sedimented in me.”
He took a sip of coffee and continued the explanation, “Every gate has its guardian. He does not precent anyone’s passage, but challenges the walker’s ability. Not out of malice, but out of love. It is of no use for anyone to advance along the Way if he is not ready, for he will get lost and hurt himself further on. Like a father who does not allow his son to throw himself into the sea for a crossing before he knows how to swim. The gatekeepers are not enemies of the walkers; in fact, they protect and educate the travellers. We are the ones who, in our eagerness to reach the end without understanding the importance of the process, moved by the shadows of pride and vanity of a still wild ego, look at the guardians as obstacles and not as masters. Learn, transmute the knowledge in yourself, apply it in your relationships and then, you will receive permission from the guardian to move on. This is the wheel of evolutionary cycles and the law that governs these valiant sentinels.”
Referring to me, the Elder explained, “Emotional intelligence succumbed with the first strokes. Faced with provocation, pride and vanity came out in its defence and took control of its reactions.” I argued that I was attacked on my honour. The good monk shook his head in negative and pondered, “One confuses honour with pride and vanity. In truth, honour is linked to dignity. Therefore, being a plenitude, it is invulnerable to any attack. Dignity boils down to me treating others the way I would like them to treat me. Consequently, it is connected to the virtue of justice, which in turn is founded on the virtues of sincerity and honesty. Thus, I know that criticism only portrays the opinions of others, without necessarily reflecting the purity of the truth. When true, may the criticism serve as a lesson; when not true, may it be wrapped in compassion. For this, doses of humbleness and simplicity are indispensable.” He took another sip of coffee and said, “Do you see how the virtues are interconnected and connect with the plenitudes at different points of the same web in which they are all sustained? One virtue serves as a bridge to the other in constant reciprocity. The threads of the virtues make up the webs of the plenitudes. One plenitude strengthens the other and together they form the universe of a full life. He paused for a rhetorical question, “Do you understand now what a whole being is?”
Without needing an answer, he continued: “Whoever is still led by the shadows possesses an ego that has little communication with the soul. When the parts of the same being do not dialogue, they remain isolated. This makes him feel divided. A huge crack opens up and an apparent emptiness settles in. This dissatisfaction spills over into interpersonal relationships. The smallest issues end up bothering us a lot; we can’t find beauty in life. All the conflicts in the world arise because of incomplete or broken personal universes.”
“It is fundamental to a whole individual not to let the mind away from the heart.” He nibbled on a piece of cake and warned, “The mind is the road to bring light to the heart. Good thoughts lead, guide and perfect the feelings. No one will feel good or do good while their emotions are tempestuous. Every time passions get ahead of love there will be conflict. How can I offer the world a peace that I do not carry within me? You must always be adjusting your route in order to reach your destination.”
Based on this reasoning, I questioned whether I had the right to get involved in other people’s fights. He explained: “If it is to take part, to make one subjugate the other, to display absurd superiority, to exercise any type of domination or in the search for mere applause, it is unnecessary, harmful and sombre. However, it is indispensable and divine to calm tempers, to align misplaced reasons and to serenade conflict. Peace, as well as other plenitudes, is dynamic in its own existence. The individual that is loving, free, dignified, happy and at peace with himself possesses an aura that radiates to everything around him. His words and gestures illuminate everyone without invading anyone’s life.”
“We feel a pleasant sense of welcome and calm next to someone who brings the plenitudes in himself. The true peacemaker needs no stage or spotlight. In him, peace overflows the boundaries of his being and spreads wherever he goes. Nothing irritates him, harms him or is stolen from him; with simplicity he finds the best solutions and is enchanted by the beauty that is in everything and everyone. The yes has the clarity of the yes; the no has the sincerity of the no. Any storm turns into a small drop of water”.
“On the other hand, the individual in conflict with himself sees problems in everyone and difficulties in everything. They make a mess of sunny mornings. They think the world is bad and consider people complicated because of their lack of understanding of themselves. He usually confuses social order with personal peace”.
I argued that if peace is a personal achievement, I could not offer peace to anyone. The monk agreed: “No, you cannot. However, you can enlighten the environment in which you find yourself. Faced with yesterday’s provocation, if your ego were in balance with your soul, the reaction would be gentle, compassionate, humble and loving at the same time as firm and courageous. This harmony has immeasurable power. It would be like a seed of light; the life force. Nothing and no one would have the power to pull you out of the essential axis of yourself.”
“The way I act demonstrates who I want to be and is undoubtedly full of honest intentions. However, the way I react in the face of the imponderable defines who I can already be by showing me the values rooted in the ego through the soul. In short, the virtues I have conquered are only those inherent in my attitudes. If I need time to reason it means that the virtues are not yet sedimented, but in formation. Do not see this as something bad, because that is the evolutionary process. My reaction is the perfect ruler for me to understand what, for the moment, is within the baggage I carry. Therefore, I only have what I am. If I am peace, I have it as a bloomed flower in me. If I do not have it, I know that its seeds are asleep in me. I go out in search of them in order to awaken them. Thus, I become a gardener through my words, actions and choices. In today’s garden I set flowers of other colours to enchant the morning of the following day.”
“In due time and little by little, the soil of each person’s heart will become fertile and conducive to the flowering of the seeds of peace, dignity, freedom, happiness and love that one day I am able to spread through the woods of humanity. That alone will make me a peacemaker; and, believe me, this little is so much that it makes me a child of God.”
I questioned the Elder if we are not all children of God. He explained, “Undoubtedly. However, the sacred texts refer as a child of God the one who already mirrors His image and likeness; not by the mere fact of existing nor by his body and face, but through the way he walks.”
We were silent for some time. The good monk emptied his coffee cup and excused himself. The day was dawning and there were other things to do. I watched him get up and continue with his slow but steady steps.
Translated by Cazmilian Zórdic