We are living under the threat of violence and war. What can an ordinary yogi do to go in the direction of peace?
Yogis always use the word shanti. Shanti is peace. They always chant the word three times, 'Om shantih, shantih, shantih.' That means shanti at three levels – peace within one’s own self, peace all around one’s self, and peace in the whole world. How to achieve this peace? From time to time people have experimented by various methods to achieve peace.
Once upon a time, people thought that if everybody adopted one religion there would be peace. They thought that if everybody belonged to the same religion, then nobody would fight. But history has proved them wrong. Great, destructive wars were fought among people belonging to the same religion. Therefore, one universal religious structure is not an answer for peace.
Then some people thought that there should be only one race in the world, either only Aryans or only Semitics. They thought that if there was only one race, there would be peace. But history has proved them wrong. Then people thought, no, there should be only one God. His name must be one without a second name, and then there will be peace. But history has proved them wrong.
In this way, many experiments were conducted in the last few thousand years, but what have we found? Only destruction. When I went to the Vatican museum a few years ago, I read a letter by the Pope to Genghis Khan. He was a terror, he used to kill and destroy village after village. Starting from Mongolia, right down to the Balkans and Caspian Sea, he collected only skeletons.
Now the Pope wrote a letter to him asking for mercy and sent it with three of his priests. The priests took many months to complete the journey. On the way they saw deserted villages where only skeletons remained. By the time they arrived, Genghis Khan was dead. His place had been taken by another commander who flatly refused to admit them. Millions of Christians were killed. From this story we learn that the way to peace lies somewhere else.
In this age there is another group of people, the political ideologists, who say, “Give food and shelter; there should be enough money for food, clothing and housing. Then only can there be peace.” This is also the view of many political thinkers and philosophers. In his famous book, Das Kapital, Karl Marx clearly wrote that unless you improve the economic balance, there cannot be peace.
Of course, history will judge him. It is too early to make a judgment on what he said. However, as an Indian, I can say prosperity is no answer to peace. People who have enough to eat and a house to live in have no peace. Why only look for peace outside? Peace has to start from within. Therefore in order to accelerate the movement toward peace, the whole thing has to start from within one’s own self.
Some years ago, there was great trouble in India. I was sixteen years old, and Mahatma Gandhi was alive at that time. He undertook a forty day fast. Every leader in India was skeptical about his fasting. They said, “The problem is outside. The problem is with the communities. What has your fast to do with them?” Gandhiji gave a very impressive reply, “The mistake is in me, and I radiate this mistake, I transmit this mistake because I have not attained peace within myself, and therefore I will fast until my mind is purified.”
The other leaders said, “No! Don’t fast. You should go out and people will come to listen. You tell them to be peaceful and they will listen to you.” Gandhiji said, “I have not attained peace, how can I tell them to be peaceful?” He refused to eat until the inner peace came.
This is how the problem of peace will have to be solved, but it is a stupendous task. You can withdraw the missiles, you can destroy all the atom bombs, all the fighters and guns, but these alone will not bring peace. The world has been destroyed many times. It is not for the first time that we are facing fear.
The Huns came to the West massacring the people. They came cutting people down like grass. Genghis Khan and many others came, cutting people down like grass. Six million Jews were killed like animals. Our philosophy has to be based not on politics, but on one’s inherent spiritual philosophy.
In this particular context yoga can help mankind to a great extent because the main aim of yoga is to create harmony within and without. It gives one a sense of inner discipline. Discipline on the mental, intellectual, emotional and physical planes. It gives one patience to bear the events outside.
Somebody gives you a slap, and you can take a revolver and shoot him. This is impatience. If somebody gives you a slap, show him the other cheek. That is what the Bible has also said, but Christians have never practised it. If they had practised it, the 1st and 2nd World Wars would not have taken place. The Bible said, if somebody slaps you on the right cheek, you show him the left one. What did we do? Somebody slapped my right cheek and I shot him. That is not the way to peace.
Patience is an outcome of peace of mind. If you have insulted me, I will wait. Maybe one day you will understand, because the force of love, the power of love can be expressed through patience and understanding. This patience has not been practised in the past. There is not one race which practised patience in the past. The Egyptians, Romans and Greeks did not practise patience, so they were destroyed by barbarians and their slaves. Patience is the outcome of love.
Love is not embraces and kisses. I consider you as mine, and you consider me as yours. You share my pain and I share your pain. I share your poverty and you share my poverty. If I am unhappy, you are also unhappy. That is the outcome of love. If I am unhappy, and you are happy, that is the outcome of hatred.
Love means no hatred, and hatred means no love. Where there is love, there is understanding. Understanding brings patience, and patience can give the strength to face injustice. You are unjust to me, but I do not have to react. Patience can make me wait. One day you will realize that you were unjust. There is no other way to make an unjust person realize his injustice. If parents, society, the government are unjust, there is no use fighting. You have to bear it. In the course of time, even a cruel man will realize his wrongdoing.
There are many items required for the establishment of peace on this earth, and the most important nucleus for the establishment of peace is called love, but this word love has to be explained.
There are two forces in constant conflict with each other: the balance of these forces should not be destroyed.
Dharma means righteousness, it is not religion. Viciousness is adharma. Sometimes the balance between dharma and adharma is broken. Adharma is rising and dharma is declining. Dharma is not a slogan, not a flag or political group. Dharma is a way of thinking, understanding and living. When you join the side of dharma and live a dharmic life, you change the balance. Dharma and adharma should balance each other.
Dharma and adharma should be properly understood in the context of peace. Do not confuse dharma with religion, religious rituals or beliefs. It is a belief in the eternal values of life. There are certain eternal values which you may not practise or even know, but you believe in them. Satyam, truth, is an eternal value, so is ahimsa, non-violence. These eternal values are called dharma, and the opposite is adharma. Therefore, in order to help peace in this world, live the life of dharma.