Mildred Norman Ryder, better known as Peace Pilgrim, had a mission to help promote peace by helping others find inner peace. She said,
“Peace is an idea whose time has come.”
She backed her words with action as a spiritual teacher, non-violence advocate, and a peace prophetess who lived from July 18, 1908-July 7, 1981.
In order to direct the attention of United States’ citizens to her desire for peace in the world, Peace Pilgrim began her first coast-to-coast pilgrimage across the United States on January 1, 1953.
She said of that day, “On that day I became a wanderer relying upon the goodness of others. It would be a pilgrim’s journey undertaken in the traditional manner: on foot and on faith. I left behind all claims to a name, personal history, possessions and affiliations.”
When she was not on the road, she was busy speaking and gathering signatures for the three petitions she carried in her satchel–one petition with a plea for immediate peace in Korea, and one petition for the President and congressional leaders requesting the installation of a Peace Department.
The third petition she carried was a plea to the United Nations and the world leaders for world disarmament and reconstruction:
“If you would find the way of peace you must overcome evil with good and falsehood with truth and hatred with love. We plead with you to free us all from the crushing burden of armaments, to free us from hatred and fear, so that we may feed our hungry ones, mend our broken cities, and experience a richness of life which can only come in a world that is unarmed and fed.”
She presented the petitions to officials at both the White House and the United Nations at the end of her first walk across the country.
Throughout her twenty-eight year pilgrimage, she honored the same commitment with which she began. She walked until she was given shelter, fasted until she was given food, and went without money. The only possessions she had were the clothes she wore, a toothbrush, and a comb.
Peace Pilgrim’s pilgrimage covered “the entire peace picture: peace among nations, peace among groups, peace within our environment, peace among individuals, and the very, very important inner peace.” She talked about inner peace most often because she felt that was where peace begins.
Peace Pilgrim said, “The situation in the world around us is just a reflection of the collective situation. In the final analysis, only as we become more peaceful people will we be finding ourselves living in a more peaceful world.”.
The following is The Summary of Steps Toward Inner Peace written by Peace Pilgrim:
1. Assume right attitude toward life
Stop being an escapist or a surface-liver as these attitudes can only cause inharmony in your life. Face life squarely and get down below the froth on its surface to discover its verities and realities. Solve the problems that life sets before you, and you will find that solving them contributes to your inner growth. Helping to solve collective problems contributes also to your growth, and these problems should never be avoided.
2. Live good beliefs.
The laws governing human conduct apply as rigidly as the law of gravity. Obedience to these laws pushes us toward harmony; disobedience pushes us toward inharmony. Since many of these laws are already common belief, you can begin by putting into practice all the good things you believe. No life can be in harmony unless belief and practice are in harmony.
3. Find your place in the Life Pattern.
You have a part in the scheme of things. What that part is you can know only from within yourself. You can seek it in receptive silence. You can begin to live in accordance with it by doing all the good things you are motivated toward and giving these things priority in your life over all the superficial things that customarily occupy human lives.
4. Simplify life to bring inner and outer well-being into harmony.
Unnecessary possessions are unnecessary burdens. Many lives are cluttered not only with unnecessary possessions but also with meaningless activities. Cluttered lives are out-of-harmony lives and require simplification. Wants and needs can become the same in a human life and, when this is accomplished, there will be a sense of harmony between inner and outer well-being. Such harmony is needful not only in the individual life but in the collective life too.
1. Purification of the bodily temple.
Are you free from all bad habits? In your diet do you stress the vital foods – the fruits, whole grains, vegetables and nuts? Do you get to bed early and get enough sleep? Do you get plenty of fresh air, sunshine, exercise, and contact with nature? If you can answer “Yes” to all of these questions, you have gone a long way toward purification of the bodily temple.
2. Purification of the thoughts.
It is not enough to do right things and say right things. You must also think right things. Positive thoughts can be powerful influences for good. Negative thoughts can make you physically ill. Be sure there is no unpeaceful situation between yourself and any other human being, for only when you have ceased to harbor unkind thoughts can you attain inner harmony.
3. Purification of the desires.
Since you are here to get yourself into harmony with the laws that govern human conduct and with your part in the scheme of things, your desires should be focused in this direction.
4. Purification of motives.
Obviously your motive should never be greed or self-seeking, or the wish for self-glorification, you shouldn’t even have the selfish motive of attaining inner peace for yourself. To be of service to your fellow humans must be your motive before your life can come into harmony.
1. Relinquishment of self-will.
You have, or it’s as though you have, two selves: the lower self that usually governs you selfishly, and the higher self which stands ready to use you gloriously. You must subordinate the lower self by refraining from doing the not-good things you are motivated toward, not suppressing them but transforming them so that the higher self can take over your life.
2. Relinquishment of the feeling of separateness.
All of us, all over the world, are cells in the body of humanity. You are not separate from your fellow humans, and you cannot find harmony for yourself alone. You can only find harmony when you realize the oneness of all and work for the good of all.
3. Relinquishment of attachments.
Only when you have relinquished all attachments can you be really free. Material things are here for use, and anything you cannot relinquish when it has outlived its usefulness possesses you. You can only live in harmony with your fellow humans if you have no feeling that you possess them, and therefore do not try to run their lives.
4. Relinquishment of all negative feelings.
Work on relinquishing negative feelings. If you live in the present moment, which is really the only moment you have to live, you will be less apt to worry. If you realize that those who do mean things are psychologically ill, your feelings of anger will turn to feelings of pity. If you recognize that all of your inner hurts are caused by your own wrong actions or your own wrong reactions or your own wrong inaction, then you will stop hurting yourself.”
For twenty-eight years, Peace Pilgrim’s message was, “This is the way of peace–overcome evil with good, and falsehood with truth, and hatred with love.”
She also said, “The Golden Rule would do equally well. There is nothing new about that except the practice of it. But I consider it the lesson for today and so it becomes the message of the peace pilgrimage. Please don’t say lightly that these are just religious concepts and not practical.”
“These are laws governing human conduct, which apply as rigidly as the law of gravity. When we disregard these laws in any walk of life, chaos results. Through obedience to these laws this world of ours will enter a period of peace and richness of life beyond our fondest dreams.”
“The key word for our time is practice. We have all the light we need, we just need to put it into practice.”
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