Showing posts with label World War I. Show all posts
Showing posts with label World War I. Show all posts

Monday, March 3, 2014

Give Peace a Chance?

Fighting in Ukraine: Russia vs the West? Sarajevo, 1914. One hundred years ago, the assassination of the Archduke, heir to the Hapsburg throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, triggered the outbreak of World War I, the war "to end all wars" among the competing trigger-happy, imperialist western powers. The first fifty years of the twentieth century saw violence and killing on a scale unprecedented in human history. The result has been the collapse of imperialist dynasties and empires. The residue, like acidic ashes, gave rise to the Soviet Union and to America as opposing imperialist forces. Each, though on different timelines, have been steadily weakened. Are they back at it? Will we never learn to be cooperative partners and equals with the rest of the world, especially its emerging nations and cultures? Must we always attempt to dominate?

Now, 2014, one hundred years later, a minor political flare-up in a small state resting on the fault line of east and west threatens to ignite Cold War and maybe Hot War tensions once again.

There exists a fault line through the Asia-European imaginary continental boundary that is not so imaginary and where tectonic cultural plates meet and all too often clash and thrash about for supremacy. Up through the near east (Egypt, Israel, Syria, Iraq, Turkey and right up the line to Scandinavia exists this (I wish it were) imaginary "fault."

The east in its higher values is expansive: Indian cultures inclines towards the impersonal, abstract and cosmic; China inclines to social ethics and responsibilities and harmony. In its darker side it inclines toward ruthlessness and an absence of value upon individual human lives.

The west in its higher values inclines toward individuality, personal liberty of thought and action, exploration of the material world, of nature through science and reason. The west in its darker side is domineering, arrogant, godless, prejudicial and exploitative.

(If I omit the southern hemisphere continents, well, they speak, or don't, for themselves. For whatever reason if any, the southern hemisphere has played a relatively small, perhaps insignificant, role in human history and culture in the few thousand years. Sorry to say this, but it seems self evident. If its a western prejudicial bias, well, there you have it, then!)

In the book, "The Yugas," by Joseph Selbie and David Steinmetz, (, the authors elaborate on a revolutionary view of history given to us by ancient cultures and specifically the culture of India as this view of history was modified, updated, clarified and corrected by a modern mystic and astrologer, Swami Sri Yukteswar (1855-1936), in the foreward to his one and only book, "The Holy Science."

According to this fascinating view of history, the planet earth and its human inhabitants are on a 12,000 year upward cycle of expanding awareness. The age we are currently in is not terribly enlightened but it is very energetic, rational, and technological. It is lacking, however, in wisdom. According to this account, the age we are in (which will last over two thousand more years before the appearance of a yet higher age), which they call Dwapara Yuga ("The Second Age"), warfare and insecurity (economic, planetary, weather, disease, political, etc.) will be unceasing. There may be periods, even some lasting a century or two, later on in this upward cycle, where peace will be experienced, but overall it is an age of energetic instability.

Well, who knows, eh? What we can see for ourselves, right now, is that on every continent, struggles by the have-nots against those in power and struggles between competing powers, parties, groups, nations, and tribes is unending. Armed now as we are with weapons of mass destruction (from automatic, rapid-fire guns to atomic bombs and everything in between), the causalities are shockingly high and shockingly inhumane.

Why would we expect such troubles to end anytime soon? People like you and I (why else would you be reading this blog), want it to be otherwise. Our own consciousness is peaceful and violence seems foreign to us. That fact, which is not unimportant, does not change the other and much larger fact of global violence and conflict.

Maybe we are still young adults and can still entertain roseate expectations, or not. So, shall we collapse in apathy and immerse ourselves in self-indulgence? Many have and many will continue to go this route. It leads to personal violence against our own health, happiness and well-being. So, in choosing that route, one is saying, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

But if you are reading this I would guess that's not the route you've chosen. We can give "Peace a chance" (John Lennon's song) by becoming "the change we seek" (Mahatma Gandhi). The odds of any one of us bringing the world to a state of peace by our own efforts is, well......I won't say it.

Our contribution and consciousness unites western individuality (sense of personal responsibility) with eastern expansiveness and cosmic view. As vibrant, conscious, living sparks of a higher intelligence, like points of light, we can reflect the light of wisdom and the healing rays of peace: first in our calm, centered, peace-filled heart; then, in the respect we show others; in the attentiveness, integrity, harmony, and excellence of our actions, no matter how mundane; and finally, in attunement with the great Will and Love of Life, the Spirit behind all seeming, we, as individuals, can know how we can be free from all violence.

Paramhansa Yogananda (1893-1952), author of "Autobiography of a Yogi," predicted that east and west (specifically, America and India) would work together to bring a higher consciousness into being during this energetic age. What he meant by "working together" wasn't explained but I suppose it ranges from the change of individual consciousness all the way "to the top" of international cooperation and exchange.

The tiny worldwide network of Ananda Communities and centers exists as a result of the efforts and dedications of thousands of individual souls. Our efforts provide a model and an example of how people who are otherwise from a wide range of backgrounds, can live together in harmony, serving creatively and being engaged, while yet retaining and refining our individuality towards our highest potential beyond mere ego consciousness.

It is a small step and it won't necessarily bring peace to Ukraine; or, will it? We may not know the consequences of our own consciousness and commitment to expressing it in outward effect, but we can make the effort and if we make no tangible contribution to the world around us, it will not be for lack of interest, but we will be changed for the better by the attempt.

Give a peace a chance!

Nayaswami Hriman