People are busy finding out ways and means to bring about peace in the world. So many conferences are being held and pacts are entered into; still the situation remains more or less the same. Then, where is the way out of the difficulty that confronts us? Everybody seeks to solve the problem, but there is no solution found. We are in despair and are getting nervous. Intense fear has seized us. That does not help matters. We do not know what to do in order to bring peace and goodwill in the world.
The fights, wars and discords in the world have no high purpose, aiming as they do only at ephemeral power, wealth and glory. The material achievements appear and disappear like bubbles on the surface of the ocean. We strive to catch them and for a moment they seem to be in our grasp, but the next minute they vanish and turn to nothing.
Peace is our quest. It is the hunger of our soul. But that peace can be had only by uniting ourselves with the supreme Truth pervading everywhere. We are fighting to put down others and think that by doing so we will be happy and peaceful. History also goes to show that, from time immemorial, fights and wars have been waged for world domination, with the ostensible object of establishing peace and harmony in the world.
It is, indeed, an irony that people should fight in the name of peace. Real peace can be got only by going within ourselves and by finding the great Reality, God. The quest must be turned inward. But what the politicians are now doing is, they are trying to patch up differences on the surface. They cannot achieve lasting success by such methods, and naturally there will be clashes again and again. All of them talk of peace and at the same time prepare for war. If we find the Truth within us, we know that all this talk of peace and harmony in the world, by adjustment of differences on the surface through conferences and pacts, goes only to show the depth of our ignorance. We are coining new formulae to convince each other, but without true conviction. The result is failure and confusion all round, bringing misery to the world.
There is only one way out of the impasse. That is for every individual to realise the great Truth that underlies the entire universe and thereby establish true harmony and goodwill on this distracted earth. Peace is within us. It is in the Self, the Atman, which, as the Upanishads declare, is Shanti Samriddham Amritam – is full of Peace and is immortal.
So we should set about realising the Divine within our hearts and spread the glory of God everywhere and shed on all the people who come in contact with us the light which we have gained for ourselves. We can thereby create a truly peaceful atmosphere in and around us which will scatter the war clouds that hang over us. As a preparation for this great task, we must rid our hearts of all hatred so that God’s light may shine in them and waves of Divine love may rise and spread over the world. This love will enable the current of peace to pass from heart to heart and spread a peace-atmosphere all over the globe and make wars and strifes impossible.
Some may contend that the war-mentality is created by a few politicians or by a small set of people – the imperialists or militarists – and that the general population are not really in favour of war and are not responsible for it. But this is not true. Each one of us is responsible for the war-mentality. So long as there is hate and wrath in our hearts we directly or indirectly help to produce this war-mentality. We are also responsible for electing, as our representatives in our respective parliaments, those who believe in war and who are ready to support their leaders when they enter into war.
If we keep our mind calm and peaceful in the contemplation of God within us and learn to love one another, these very persons who now want to wage war will disarm themselves and the war idea will entirely disappear from the mind of man. So we must individually and jointly try to produce a peace-atmosphere. Each individual must do what lies in his power to create the atmosphere for peace and harmony in the world, because individuals make up humanity. So the responsibility lies on the shoulders of everyone of us both for war and peace. We cannot blame anybody else. We find now there is a cold war going on in the world – a war of nerves. Even the peace-loving peoples are getting affected by this. So we as individuals must first create an atmosphere, and then a collective effort also should be made for putting down this war-mentality and spreading love and goodwill on earth.
There is another weakness in us which breeds the war-mentality. It is the fear complex. We have become prey to fear. Death holds terrors for us. This is because we think we are merely physical bodies subject to birth, growth, decay and death. To shed this fear we must realise that we are immortal and that even if the body perishes we are not going to perish. Only when fear leaves our hearts we shall remain in peace. Otherwise we shall distrust others and hate them. Fear causes agitation in our minds and we become restless. We invite mishaps, calamities and catastrophes all from fear. Our body-consciousness has become so firm through fear that to take the mind off the body and fix it on the Divine within us is very difficult. We must give up fear, knowing full well that by the death of the body we do not die.
Therefore, let us realise that death is to the body and not to the Spirit within us. A man who has really attuned himself with God is not at all afraid of death. So it is incumbent on everyone of us to be free from the fear of death. This fear contributes a good lot to the present agitated condition of the world. It adds fuel to the fire, as it were, because fear and hate go together. Where there is hate there is fear, and where there is fear there is hate. Both are born of the sense of diversity and separateness.
If we talk about love, we must first practise it ourselves. If God has given us the power to love others as we love ourselves, then we should bring out that power. Unless we see the Divine everywhere and can look upon all as our own Self, we have no right to speak about love. Our love must be such as to transform those who come into contact with us. Preaching is not always necessary, nor successful. There is a better and surer way by which we can commune with and seek relationship with another. It is by recognising the kinship of the Spirit. If we transmit this universal love from person to person, country to country, and nation to nation, then we shall be able to create what is called world-brotherhood. This is essential to stem the tide of war that threatens to overwhelm us.
So individuals should first try to find peace within themselves. Then all such individuals in all parts of the world should jointly try to bring peace by spreading the message of peace. Though the entire humanity may not join, let a small percentage of it at least take part in this. It will gradually transform others who are not at present in favour of the movement. Man’s nature is developed according to the influence of the company he keeps. If we are true to God within us, and love our fellow-beings equally, by our contact they will also be inspired to do likewise. In this way we shall be able to start a current of universal love and peace, which will steadily neutralise the antagonistic forces of discord, strife and war.
Those engaged in the movement must, above all, remember that peace cannot be established unless humanity is freed from the clutches of pride, greed and hate that make for international warfare, both economic and political. Mere negative methods of combating the spectre of international wars and strifes should give place to positive methods of work. There is need for mobilising along constructive channels all the available spiritual forces derived from outstanding men of high spiritual attainments and creating thereby a widespread atmosphere of harmony and goodwill in which wars would be rendered impossible.
(Extracted from an essay in Swami Ramdas’ The Divine Life [vol. 2])
Swami Ramdas (1884–1963), lovingly called ‘Papa’, was a Spiritual Master and founder of Anandashram, in Kerala, India. He was leading an ordinary life till God’s grace descended on him in or about the year 1920. In a short while, he could behold God everywhere, both within and without. Having thus attained spiritual liberation and God-vision, he started on his mission to awaken mankind to the awareness of God.
Swami Ramdas wrote many books in English and in 1933 started a monthly called The Vision to carry his message of Universal Love and Service based on cosmic vision. The magazine continues to be published today.
For more details, see anandashram.org