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Hubert Pryor

Serenity 101:
The Wisdom of Old for Today
by Hubert Pryor

Serenity is within your arm's reach. Really. It doesn't say, "I am your serenity." Not quite in those words. But once you've reached for it, you'll see it's reaching out for you.

That's been the persistent theme of my spiritual self-help writings over the years. Achieving serenity, of course, comes with understanding, not just with the push of a button. And yet all inspirational messages through the ages come down to this:

Open your mind and your being to this certainty: God is all and God is good, and therefore you are God-given-and-driven and all with you is good.

What seems to point the other way in our lives results from a human, material view that forgets that one verity--that God is all and is good. It's hard to believe that, when we're struggling with worldly concerns. But we can--as millions have done--when we drill our minds in the Truth.

How to do that? The one, all-purpose way--as I show in a new book I'm writing-- is to reach for your serenity. And the readiest way to do that is to reach for ready-made ways to achieve peace of mind--probably, as I say, within an arm's reach.

Three of those ways are recitations we may have learned as children--the 23rd and 103rd Psalms and the Lord's Prayer.

Perhaps we can still recite them word for word. Just doing that can make us feel joyful. But here's the challenge: What's their message to our soul? For lasting peace of mind, what do they really mean?

If we can see their true meaning, we're truly blessed.

So reaching for a copy of the Bible, let's see what each of those three so-often quoted passages declares. What do we find to be its meaning to us today?

First, the 23rd Psalm:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for though art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anoinest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

This moving and lovely psalm is an extraordinary affirmation when we consider how long ago it was written and how it can work for us now. By thousands of years, it anticipates the very sort of thought-affirming exercise advocated by practitioners of mental science today. After all these centuries, it is a model spiritual mind treatment for anyone in search of personal peace.

Consider that the first three verses fill our need to embrace the truth of being--the creative power's total goodness in and as us. They don't ask for that truth. They declare it. And they do so to each one of us personally--in phrases like "my shepherd" (or guardian) and "my soul" (or spiritual ID).

In the next two verses, the focus shifts, as the psalmist addresses "the Lord" directly. The switch to a conversational tone has the effect of completing a session of contemplation--"he-me" on the one hand and "I-thou" on the other. As we read or speak the lines, we're affirming that every single one of our needs is being taken care of.

Finally, the last verse of the psalm wraps it all up in the inspiring conclusion that a perfect outcome is assured--from now on into eternity.

If we had to choose one affirmation to use throughout our lives, the 23rd Psalm is it.

But hardly less inspiring are the opening lines of the 103rd Psalm. They assure us of all the many blessings that already are ours--forgiveness, health, redemption, loving kindness, tender mercies and rejuvenating nourishment. In case you've forgotten, consider them:

Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits;
Who forgiveth all thine iniquirites; who healeth all thy diseases;
Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.

"Forget not" is its message. Which is to say, "Remember!" In other words, bring to mind all the benefits with which you're blessed. You have concerns that aren't benefits? Of course, you do. You're human. But that's just what you see with your eyes and feel with the other four of your five senses

It's that "sixth sense" or "gut feeling" or "hunch" that transcends any woes. Just repeat the psalm over and over until its meaning is engraved in your subconscious. It may happen right away or it may take repeated work. Some negatives are deeply etched in our minds. So just believe that you believe and surely, eventually, you will.

Finally, the Lord's Prayer:

Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and glory, for ever. Amen.

In reciting the Lord's Prayer, it helps to examine and understand it. Note that the opening three sentences don't so much affirm universal good as say, in effect, "Let it be so." And the following three sentences plainly don't affirm God's good, they plead for it. Only the last phrase plainly declares it.

Obviously, any prayer is more effective if it declares rather than pleads. But as long as we know that Jesus, who gave us the prayer, was no pleader but an affirmer, we can relax. But just in case, I once had the temerity of rewriting the words attributed to him. I was writing for a magazine in the New Thought movement, and so my "translation" was not word for word but concept for concept:

Almighty creator of all things, you are within me. You love me and I love you. I feel your presence now. Your good is here as it always is everywhere. You supply all my needs. You forgive me my mistakes as I forgive others their mistakes. You guide me and protect me and keep me in good health. For you rule the universe, you are all the power there is, and everything comes from you. And so it is.

Perhaps you should try a translation of your own. With all these three ready-made ways to serenity, your own understanding of them is what counts. Go to it!

©Copyright 2003 Hubert Pryor. All Rights Reserved.

Hubert Pryor
Hubert Pryor
is a retired editor of national magazines--Modern Maturity and Science Digest among others--Hubert Pryor is the author of SOUL TALK: Positive Mind Treatments to Turn Your Life Around (available through DeVorss & Co., 553 Constitution Ave., Camarillo, CA 93012, 800-843-5743, www.devorss.com) and a forthcoming book, SERENITY 101: Spiritual Wisdom, Ancient and Modern, for Peace of Mind Today.



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