Late 13th and early 14th century mystic Meister Eckhart said, “God wants nothing of you but the gift of a peace-filled heart.”
This is true. God wants my heart to be peace filled.
This, I have learned, is not the same as happiness.
is a notion on the street that God wants you to be happy all the time.
That’s simply not right. (You might, after taking your
spiritual-religious life into your own hands, feel more peace filled,
but that’s not the same as happy.) God wants me to have a peace-filled
heart, to experience all the emotions of a filled life, not for me to
be constantly strung out on or looking for a hit of the drug
is a dangerous goal. “Happy” is a relative term, and therefore it both
has limits and is momentary. The pursuit of constant happiness and its
inevitable failure, however, does drive much of the U.S. economy.)
isn’t just the absence of strife – it’s the harmony of the apparently
disharmonious. A peace-filled heart is one that can contain in harmony
the apparently disharmonious – happy and sad, love and hate, good and
As a child, I used to fervently strive to see only
the happy, to the point of denying “negative” emotions and imagining a
“happy island” that someday I would reach. I’m wiser now to know that
within each joy there is sadness – for example, at every wedding there
is a cause for celebration that the couple found each other and there
is also, while hardly ever acknowledged, a sadness that they will have
to lose each other. I know now that there is a shadow side to every
positive emotion and that God wants my heart to be filled, not
wants me to be present to reality, accepting and experiencing reality
as it is. To accept the things I cannot change, even if I don’t like
them. To exist in the world, as it is, right now, wholly.
is not abetting, advocating, agreeing, aiding, approving, assisting,
authenticating, authorizing, backing, complying, concurring,
confirming, consenting, cultivating, encouraging, endorsing,
furthering, liking, maintaining, permitting, promoting, ratifying,
reinforcing, sanctifying, supporting, or sympathizing. Acceptance is
saying, “It is what it is, and what it is, is what is.”
Jane, my wife, once defined true happiness for a class I was teaching with the following:
Happiness is not things going or coming your way, but being in a relationship with reality.
That’s it. Taking reality as it is, accepting it. Exactly what Eckhart said, but in different words.
We can also sing it with the Beatles‘s wording and melody, “Let it be.”
truth is repackaged over and over and over again, in every language,
and at least once a generation, one form of it becomes a hit. It’s the
crux of the current-day bestsellers “The Power of Now” and “Loving What Is.”
And, there’s reason to say it over and over again: it’s a truth, like a
songbird or anything holy, that cannot be held in captivity and
maintain its radiance.
1970s iconoclast and guru, Ram Dass said it in three words, “Be Here Now.”
truth is that this, right here, right now, is the only reality. Now.
Here. Not hoping that anything will be different, but just being here
with a peace-filled heart.
regretting, and living in the past is a denial of the splendor of the
present. Fearing and overly preparing for the future does the same. We
need to understand something that 17th century philosopher Benedict Spinoza said: “Reality and perfection are synonymous.”
With a theological bent to it, Eckhart said the same:
might ask, “How can I know if something is God’s will?” My answer is,
“If it were not God’s will, it wouldn’t exist even for an instant; so
if something happens, it must be God’s will.”
we accept that reality is exactly as it is – then accepting that
reality is exactly synonymous with God’s will isn’t a far leap at all.
Let me end with the rest of the above Eckhart quote:
you truly enjoyed God’s will, you would feel exactly as though you were
in the kingdom of heaven, whatever happened to you or didn’t happen to
This week’s spiritual-religious advice: Accept more and more and more and more.