We all want peace and happiness for ourselves. The wise among us desire peace and happiness for all; they feel concerned about conflicts and wars anywhere in the world. International leaders and philosophers have said and written volumes on the subject of World Peace. Yet how World Peace eludes us!
Some think it is poverty or want that is at the root of conflicts, but even prosperous nations have had internal conflicts. Some say, it is the lack of education, but literacy does not guarantee values, either. Religionists may think only their way is right; every religion indeed enshrines values for universal peace and humanity, yet people kill one another in the name of religion.
The real reason is ignorance about our basic identity. Joy is our essential nature at the soul level, and since peace is the necessary condition for durable happiness to exist, peace is our soul-nature, too. We all seek peace and happiness, yet how we work against these in ignorance!
Let us understand it. Whatever we do in life, we do it to find happiness. As we evolve in our intelligence and reasoning, the things or activities that give us happiness, also evolve. Prince Siddhartha was happy in his palatial comforts until he witnessed sick, old and dead people among his subjects and wanted to know why people suffered and whether there was a remedy. Seeking the truth then became his goal and he finally became enlightened. His teachings have given peace and understanding to millions, and this is true of each prophet of each faith.
The happiness we all seek is already within us, but we do not identify with its inexhaustible source. Ignorantly we seek it outside in perishable things and sensory excitements. I may overeat my most favorite sweet dish and feel satiety and even nausea over it; many wealthy people have given away their riches and found in giving what they missed in possessing.
Now, we all do NOT have to become hermits, we do not have to renounce everything. We all have different roles to play. Everyone does not have to relinquish the world and go to the forest, else we shall have to build a township with housing and sanitation in each forest so that so many people can live there properly! The answer is here and now because the crux of the matter is moderation - we must grow more aware and segregate need from greed.
Another truth of our being that we all need to grow more aware of, is our connectedness at soul-level. We all affect each other. That is why wise people seek happiness for all, not just for themselves.
If a family member or close friend of mine is unhappy because of disease or want, I cannot stay happy. That is because my consciousness expands and reaches out. The little 'I' of my egoistic body-identification expands and becomes two or more. Family and community living do good because through loving and sharing, we expand our awareness and sense of belonging.
A UNESCO report on Education for the 21st Century titled 'Learning - The Treasure Within' talks of four pillars: Learning to Know, Learning to Do, Learning to Live Together, and finally, what is most important in the present context, Learning to Be. We must learn to be, and manifest, what we essentially are.
No matter how much we ignore our soul-identity, sooner or later, the truth flashes before us. There are interesting findings in the super-sciences of psycho-neuro-immunology and neuro-cardiology. For long, doctors everywhere have believed that the human heart is just a blood pump. But now, neuro-cardiologists say the heart thinks, feels and intuits - often better than the cerebral region.
All religions are true; they have not failed us, we have failed them. They all mean well, they are all based on the teachings of the greatest prophets of their times - teachings that are so deeply united, but overzealous and blind followers who put the dogmatic practices above the spiritual values - those who mistake the form for the essence, have been erring. Such overzealous people may again be in all religions, so we cannot single out any. But, let us forget that; perhaps finally, what we did not understand through religion, we can now appreciate through modern science.
Humans exist at mainly three levels: Body, Mind and Soul. At the basic body level, we are not much different from animals in our needs and desires. Food, shelter, sleep, procreation etc. are our basic needs. But there is an important difference. Human body has a vertical cerebro-spinal axis that is conducive to higher reasoning and intuitive understanding, as the science of Yoga tells us.
At the mind level, we are more evolved than other species - we have thoughts and creative ideas that have led to great inventions and discoveries in so many fields, and created great cultures and civilizations. Our mind at its higher end, has a developed reasoning and discriminating faculty. But overall, the human mind is tricky; mishandled, as it often is, it can lead us astray too. Even reasoning can be lopsided. So it is that humans alone of all species have devised means of mass destruction, only they have organized cruel wars and created pollution for all species. On the other side, human mind alone elaborately thinks and strives for World Peace.
So mind is a great power and only something that is above it in our inner hierarchy can ensure its right use. That is the 3rd or the highest level of our being: soul. Unfortunately, not much scientific work has been done by us to understand this most important dimension, or the very foundation, of our being. Masters have said in different ways that love alone can heal this world, but this love that they are talking about is unconditional empathy, equal compassion for all, not the selective attachment of 'me' or 'mine'. There is enough love in most homes even now, it must come out; there is enough wisdom in every soul, it must manifest in daily conduct. As soul-awareness grows, the feeling of mutual connectedness and empathy will also grow.
God is One, and only has different names in different faiths. That Supreme Power is not hiding in the 7th heaven, but is in each of us and our destiny's highest fulfillment is in this Realization that Spirit is our Highest Self. When through meditation and right living, we grow aware of that Spirit's presence within us, we also grow aware of its presence everywhere - in each being and thing. Then we shall like to love and serve, not kill or harm, each other; then we shall not waste or blindly indulge in selfish and reckless over-consumerism. With whole Nature as our extended being, with all beings as our own extended Self, peace and happiness, love and harmony, understanding and forgiving, empathy and service will be natural results.
There is no other way. We must grow aware of our true identity and find within what we have always sought out; we must realize as Walt Whitman said: "...Every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you..."
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