By Pranav Khullar
Jan 07, 2015
Even as news comes in from Paris of gunmen attacking a French magazine office and killing 12 people, I grope to comprehend the minds of people who can snuff out lives —whether men, women or even children. In a story by Krishan Chander, two soldiers are returning home in a pensive mood after world War II . One soldier hopes that someday all soldiers will lay down their arms and refuse to fight. The other responds that in that case the enemy would win. The story captures our innermost insecurities and conditioning of our minds, which would require an enemy even when none might exist. The search for peace is a journey which must begin with a reality check within, of our real anxieties, fears and hopes, and the realisation that these are common concerns.
If wars are triggered in the minds of men then it is from the same minds that peace must be resurrected. In Ashoka's rock-edicts, you’ll find one of the earliest instances of an emperor, who, shaken by the horrendous consequences of war, abjured it. Ashoka went on to ban war in his kingdom as a measure of state policy. His inquiry into the psychological roots of war led him to believe that intolerance for the beliefs of others is the primary cause of war, and that hatred can never be appeased by hatred. It can only be appeased by love which is the eternal law. This inner understanding transformed Ashoka into the great apostle-king of peace and spiritual values, remembered today not because he fought and won wars but because he had the courage to choose the more difficult task of winning the hearts of people. "Belief and behaviour go together," said S Radhakrishnan, "if we believe in blood, race and soil, our world will be filled with Buchenwalds, but if we believe in universal spiritual values, peace and understanding will grow." It is this leap of faith in spiritual values which we need to take, to forge greater bonding and brotherhood. With everyone a loser in any kind of violent attack, the therapeutic balm of understanding and respect for all faiths and freedom of expression is critical The shadow of a wasteland looms large, wrought not only by war but a wasteland of values.
J Krishnamurti believed that since we are constantly being conditioned by beliefs, ideas and dogmas, these are bound to cause disquiet. He would cite the example of two boys fighting over a toy, and then going on to fight as grown-ups as well, over new toys of power, position, wealth and ideology.
One can learn to de-condition oneself from these external trappings only when one has found the courage to be free of the fear of losing them. The manipulative, restless mind has to be anchored in love and compassion. Only when the desire to dominate the other -- physically, psychologically or intellectually -- is understood as a power game of the mind, will prejudice and bias be extinguished gradually.
Seeking freedom from fear and insecurities can resurrect our basic human values. . And this seeking need not just be a seeking of the unknown -- spiritual seeking can be rooted in the here and now, in trying to create a better blueprint for living.
I try to revive my spirits by listening to Lennon's call to the human spirit in his song, ‘Imagine’ -- maybe a dreamer, but not the only one.
Imagine there’s no country / It isn't hard to do / Nothing to kill or die for / And no religion, too / Imagine all the people / Living life in peace…