When I was 12 someone asked me what I wanted from life - possibly a strange thing to ask a 12 year old! But at the time my reply was even stranger. It shocked me because it was immediate, and I had never thought about such a question before - at that age, why would I! But nevertheless the answer came spontaneously. "Peace", I said. "I want peace".
Big. Very big. Very BIG answer! Once I had got over the shock of that reply, I went away and thought about it. And I realised that that was actually what I did want out of life. To be at peace. I didn't know then where that quest for peace would take me, the various paths I would have to travel in order to find it. Nor did I know how fundamentally crucial it would be to my overall well-being, my feeling of place in the world, my feeling of purpose.
But then again, at some very deep level, from that ancient core at the centre of my being...I did know. Even at 12.
I started on my spiritual journey in my mid teens, found the Buddhist path in my twenties, including a range of teachings and practises which taught me much about the mind through inner reflection and meditation. Much about life. Peace came. And much more.
Then a profound spiritual upheaval left me suspended for a while, floating in a great void, as I tried to get my head around what had happened. It was bad for a while - peace disappeared.
But surrounded in all that space, I had time to explore, to discover new pathways. New modes of 'Being'. My deep and urgent need for spiritual sustenance led me to delve into, draw comfort and inspiration from a range of different faith traditions.
And what I discovered is what I had always known. Peace, love and compassion, kindness and empathy for the suffering of others are not values that are exclusive to the Buddhist path. Rather, they are inherent, universal ideals - simalarities which unite every belief system that seeks to honor through reverent expression, That which is true and good and most sacred.
Peace came back - it never actually left. But stronger, richer, more sustaining. And this time, reflecting all the colours of a rainbow.