Happiness is the state of no-mind, interior nowhere-ness, nothingness. Blessed (happy) are the poor in spirit (those who are in the state of interior nothingness), for theirs is the kingdom (the realization of the ultimate happiness of oneness with God) (Mt.5:3). All forms of prayer eventually lead to silence, interior nothingness and no-where-ness. It is a state of detachment and freedom in which you identify with nothing. Joy springs up naturally because joy is within you. And joy is within you because God is within you. In the nothingness of prayer God emerges from deep within. So, pray. Pray deeply. Pray beyond the mind in the silence of nothingness. Happiness is the state of interior nothingness. It is a state we receive through deep prayer and that opens us to inner freedom and joy. In prayer God naturally leads us here. Now, recall what Jesus says about violence and the Christian response in the Sermon on the Mount: offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on (your) right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. (Mt.5:38) The two teachings are intimately related. The one who is nothing, “poor in spirit,” is able to live nonviolently because that person is realizing oneness with God. And, to be one with God is to be one with all people, all creation. It is to act as God acts: nonviolently and with compassion. Dwelling in mystical nothingness we can absorb aggression instead of reacting to it. Interior nothingness allows us to absorb another’s aggression without the knee-jerk reaction of violence in return, because we are free from the emotions and thoughts that force us into the pattern of violent behavior. This is a tall order when faced with the kind of violence we are encountering at an alarmingly high rate: random shootings. As Christians I believe Jesus is calling us to this state of nothingness or poverty of spirit, to experience our oneness with God so we can respond with compassion and not with more violence. All-too-often that is how we want to respond to violence: with more violence. This, however, will only create more violence. Jesus is calling us to break the cycle by “turning the other cheek,” that is not reacting to violence with more violence but responding with gratuitous mercy – overcoming evil with good. But, I think we can do this only from a place of inner freedom and joy, which is the experience of being one with God who IS gratuitous mercy. I pray we can let God in to our lives by entering into a state of inner nothingness so we can act with gratuitous mercy at this time of rising violence in our country and around the world. It is the only way beyond violence. It is God’s way.