Posted by: Lisa | December 4, 2011

Peace and Praise

I read an excellent article by Rolf Sovik titled, “Call for Peace,” in Yoga International magazine.  In it, he presents traditional prayers for peace in the yoga tradition, including one from the Yajur Veda:

May there be peace in heaven, peace in the skies, and peace on earth.  May all the waters know peace, may all the herbs and plants know peace, may the great trees of the forest know peace.  May all the forces of the universe know peace.  The immense, transcendent Reality [God] is peace.  May all know peace, peace and only peace, and may that peace come unto me.  Om peace, peace, peace.

As I was reading this (for the first time ever), I was immediately struck by its similarity to the Canticle in chapter three of the biblical book of Daniel.  (This exquisite song is not found in Protestant Bibles because the oldest known copies of that section of the book are written in Greek, not Hebrew.  Hence, Protestants reject it as not originally part of Daniel.)  Catholics revere this Canticle and, for centuries, have included it in the Liturgy of the Hours as part of morning prayer on Sunday and feast days.

Here’s a sample of the Canticle from Daniel.  I’m only including parts of it because it’s long.  Note that “bless the Lord” is a way of saying “praise the Lord:”

Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord.  Praise and exult him above all forever.  Angels of the Lord, bless the Lord.  You heavens, bless the Lord…  Sun and moon, bless the Lord.  Stars of heaven, bless the Lord…  Fire and heat, bless the Lord.  Cold and chill, bless the Lord…  Nights and days, bless the Lord.  Light and darkness, bless the Lord.   Let the earth bless the Lord.  Praise and exult him above all forever.  Mountains and hills, bless the Lord…  Seas and rivers, bless the Lord…  All you birds of the air, bless the Lord.  All you beasts, wild and tame, bless the Lord…  Servants of the Lord, bless the Lord…  Holy men of humble heart, bless the Lord…  Praise and exult him above all forever.

To me, the similarity between the Vedic and the Biblical prayers is uncanny.  They look at creation from three different levels:  universe/divine; the earth; and human beings.  We pray them on all levels simultaneously.  Sovik notes that the Vedic prayer, “comes to us from a time in which the cosmos and the lives of individual beings were seen as inherently parallel and interwoven.”

God (the transcendent Reality) is the source of peace.  This peace is indescribable – completely beyond our intellectual understanding.  When we experience this peace, we can’t help singing praise within our soul (the Canticle of Daniel); we can’t help wishing this peace for ourselves, all people, all beings and all of the universe.

This reminds me:  About three years ago, while in deep prayer and meditation, I realized if all beings, all creation, stopped its busyness and centered all attention, love and reverence on God, the created world would come to an end.  It would have served its ultimate purpose – voluntary return to the Lord.  When all of creation praises the Lord, peace reigns everywhere.  Amen.  Aum….

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