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Peace Pilgrim: An Authentic American Sage Who Walked Her Talk

“We are all cells in the body of humanity — all of us, all over the world.
Each one has a contribution to make,
and will know from within what this contribution is,
but no one can find inner peace except by working,
not in a self-centered way, but for the whole human family.”
~ Peace Pilgrim
“I feel a complete protection on my pilgrimage. God is my shield.
There are no accidents in the Divine Plan nor does God leave us unattended. No one walks so safely as those who walk humbly and harmlessly with great love and great faith.”
~ Peace Pilgrim
“Evil cannot be overcome by more evil. Evil can only be overcome by good. It is the lesson of the way of love.”
~ Peace Pilgrim

Peace Pilgrim (July 18, 1908 – July 7, 1981)
© James B. Burton – Friends of Peace Pilgrim


Peace Pilgrim: An Authentic American Sage Who Walked Her Talk

Peace Pilgrim was an authentic American spiritual teacher whose life and words have inspired countless people worldwide.

Until 1953 she had lived as Mildred Ryder, an apparently “normal” middle class American woman, without formal religious or spiritual training or discipline. Whereupon after a midlife spiritual awakening period, she took a vow of poverty – renouncing her past history, name, and worldly possessions – and at age forty five embarked from California on an extraordinary coast to coast walking pilgrimage, vowing to “remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace.”

Thereafter for twenty eight years she walked all over the US well over 25,000 miles, carrying her few possessions in her clothing, which always included an outer blue tunic embroidered with the name “Peace Pilgrim”. True to her vow of poverty she walked penniless and without asking for money, food or lodging, but accepting only nourishment and shelter which was freely offered by kind strangers – and not even accepting rides instead of walking everywhere.


Wherever she went she spontaneously shared deep spiritual wisdom in simple and understandable language. Peace Pilgrim was authentically unique yet universal, transcending religious, secular, or nationalistic bounds. Her life was her message. And she truly walked her talk.

Following her 1981 death in a car collision, an inspiring book about Peace Pilgrim and her teachings was compiled, published, translated into many non-English languages, and distributed worldwide and without charge by a small group of her dedicated friends known as “Friends of Peace Pilgrim”. Due to generous donations, the printed book became a freely distributed world spiritual classic, with numerous re-printings.

Entitled “Peace Pilgrim – Her Life and Work in Her Own Words”, it also became available as an audiobook and as a free pdf download together with much more information about Peace Pilgrim at this website http://www.peacepilgrim.org

Also, “Friends of Peace Pilgrim” have produced and freely distributed an extremely uplifting and excellent one hour documentary video about her life and teachings, titled: “Peace Pilgrim: An American Sage Who Walked Her Talk”. A YouTube video of that film is linked below, and sincerely recommended.

Peace Pilgrim (July 18, 1908 – July 7, 1981)
© Friends of Peace Pilgrim


Ron’s Comments about Peace Pilgrim

After reading the Peace Pilgrim book and watching the video, we may wonder what happened in the 1950’s to Mildred Ryder, an apparently “normal” middle class American woman, that transformed her into a unique sage. How was it that without formal religious or spiritual training or discipline, she became Peace Pilgrim, a saintly ascetic and renunciate spontaneously sharing perennial spiritual truths, in simple understandable language with unconditional love, insight and integrity?

Perhaps, answers to these questions can be found in Peace Pilgrim’s simple yet profound words, as quoted in “Peace Pilgrim – Her Life and Work in Her Own Words”, like these:

“As I looked about the world, so much of it impoverished, I became increasingly uncomfortable about having so much while my brothers and sisters were starving. Finally I had to find another way. The turning point came when, in desperation and out of a very deep seeking for a meaningful way of life, I walked all one night through the woods. I came to a moonlit glade and prayed. I felt a complete willingness, without any reservations, to give my life–to dedicate my life–to service. “Please use me!” I prayed to God. And a great peace came over me.” ~ Pg. 7

“There was a time – when I attained inner peace – when I died, utterly died to myself. I have since renounced my previous identity. I can see no reason to dwell upon my past, it is dead and should not be resurrected. Don’t inquire of me – ask me about my message. It is not important to remember the messenger, just remember the message.” ~ Pg. 126

“Intellectually I touched God many times as truth and emotionally I touched God as love. I touched God as goodness. I touched God as kindness. It came to me that God is a creative force, a motivating power, an over-all intelligence, an ever-present, all pervading spirit — which binds everything in the universe together and gives life to everything. That brought God  close. I could not be where God is not. You are within God. God  is within you.” ~ Pg. 2

“When love fills your life all limitations are gone. The medicine this sick world needs so badly is love.” ~ Pg. 12

“Of course, I love everyone I meet. How could I fail to! Within everyone is the spark of God. I am not concerned with racial or ethnic background or the color of one’s skin; all people look to me like shining lights! I see in all creatures the reflections of God. All people are my kinfolk – people to me are beautiful!” ~ Pg. 50

“If you don’t know what God’s guidance for your life is, you might try seeking in receptive silence.  I used to walk receptive and silent amidst the beauties of nature.  Wonderful insights would come to me which I then put into practice in my life.” ~ Pg. 76

“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others. Inner peace is not found by staying on the surface of life, or by attempting to escape from life through any means. Inner peace is found by facing life squarely, solving its problems, and delving as far beneath its surface as possible to discover its verities and realities.” ~ Pg. 132

If you are harboring the slightest bitterness toward anyone, or any unkind thoughts of any sort whatever, you must get rid of them quickly. They are not hurting anyone but you. It isn’t enough just to do right things and say right things – you must also think right things before your life can come into harmony.” ~ Pg. 16

“How often are you worrying about the present moment?  The present is usually all right.  If you’re worrying, you’re either agonizing over the past which you should have forgotten long ago, or else you’re apprehensive over the future which hasn’t even come yet.  We tend to skim right over the present moment which is the only moment God gives any of us to live.  If you don’t live the present moment, you never get around to living at all.  And if you do live the present moment, you tend not to worry.  For me, every moment is a new and wonderful opportunity to be of service.” ~ Pg. 64


Video – Peace Pilgrim: An American Sage Who Walked Her Talk





Conclusion

Inspired by Peace Pilgrim’s visionary legacy of nonviolence, peace and love, may each of us in our own way and our own time discover and be guided by that universal light of Love and Truth within all of us.

May we together live as One Love in peace and harmony with Nature.

And so it shall be!

Epilogue

Peace Pilgrim’s twenty eight year peace odyssey occurred during very tumultuous and dangerous times when the world was threatened with a possible World War III nuclear holocaust between the US and Soviet superpowers, while plagued by alleged anti-Communist wars in Korea and Vietnam, and elsewhere. Also, domestically these were dark days of assassinations by their own government of peace proponents President John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr.. Moreover ‘red-scare’ McCarthyism was so rampant that J. Edgar Hoover even regarded Albert Einstein as a security risk.

Peace Pilgrim was adamantly opposed to war and violence, but she primarily taught love and inner peace as the only solutions, because

“Evil cannot be overcome by more evil. Evil can only be overcome by good. It is the lesson of the way of love.”

Yet – like Dr. King – she publicly proclaimed that we were spending more than enough on wars and weapons to comfortably care for every human on planet Earth. So the FBI also had a file on her as a possible ‘subversive’.

Before her passing Peace Pilgrim believed her peace pilgrimage was succeeding because people worldwide feared nuclear annihilation and weren’t insane enough to allow that to happen. Nonetheless, we are again threatened with possible ‘red scare’ nuclear catastrophe as the US Empire is psychopathically spending billions to upgrade an atomic weapons arsenal already more than capable of destroying life on our precious planet.

Consequently, Peace Pilgrim’s message of perennial spiritual and political wisdom may be more crucially relevant to these troubled times than it was when she walked her talk. And her teachings – expressed from deep experience in simple understandable language with unconditional love, insight and integrity – may be more inspiring and important than ever before, imparting crucial ‘critical mass’ spiritual energy.

And so may it be!

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2 Comments

  1. Bob Kline on August 13, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Peace Pilgrim touched countless lives with her profound message and complete dedication to her mission. Thank you for sharing her thoughts and insights.

    To read more about Peace Pilgrim, especially a compilation of her own words, I invite you to visit http://www.peacepilgrim.org/htmfiles/WorldSteps.htm where you will find “Steps Toward Inner Peace” in various languages.

    I also invite you to visit another website where a member of Friends of Peace Pilgrim blogs, writes bi-weekly Words of Inspiration, a Peaceful Journey newsletter and has authored a book, Wholeness in Living: Kindling the Inner Light — http://www.WholenessInLiving.net/english

  2. John Small on August 21, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Ever since I learned of Peace Pilgrim many years ago, she has been, and continues to be, one of my spiritual role models.

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