If we look at what has happened in the world during the past hundred years, and what is still happening today, the exhibition of the negatives in human character is discouraging: so many weaknesses and cruelties, animalities and jealousies, pettinesses and stupidities.
Animal man has been violently on the rampage in our times, robbing, hating, attacking, destroying, and killing. Spiritual man has remained weakly in the background. Reasoning man has oscillated between the two poles, sometimes sensitive to higher ideals in the guidance of his thinking, more often selfishly blind to any other welfare than his own.
All sincere well-wishers of humanity are today distressed in heart and doubt-ridden in mind. Baffled and bewildered, they stand before the complex spectacle of this disordered age. Doubt is a figure always pictured by the ancient world with a bandage across her eyes. This is the exact condition of our age.
Whoever looks around at the world of the past half century, at its negativity, its folly and insanity, its horrors, may say that it is a wicked world, that man is incorrigibly evil. It would be fairer to introduce a note of balance and refer to the existence of Yin and Yang in life, in the universe, and consequently in human character.
It is the work of evolution in our time to bring to the surface of thought and action the most ferocious instincts and darkest bestiality which many men still hide beneath their civilized exterior. But such an outbreak of evil is destined eventually to modify evil itself, to tame those instincts and subside the bestiality. The night is darkest just before dawn.
The evil things we have seen and still see all around us in contemporary humanity have come to the surface only to be carried off again. The decadence of human society and the degeneration of the human race which shadow contemporary history, are signs of the scum arising out of the human subconscious. But they arise only to be cleared away. Out of this clearance there will later come an awakening to the Good, an appreciation of the True. In this sense their darkness is an inverted precursor of the light, the worse which makes a way for the better. It is a token that the cycle of materialism will eventually turn on itself and yield to a cycle of spirituality.
If the world's present state is so ugly and menacing, we ought not to blame it as a failure on the part of God but rather on the part of man.
The monstrous cruelty and baleful influences which have shown their detestable faces in world history from time to time, are reminders of how far man has yet to go in fulfilment of the World-Idea.
In large regions of the earth it seems as though moral darkness has enveloped mankind. Although a fair appraisal requires us to examine how far this swing of the pendulum against established religion represents rebellion against its superstition and imposture and how far it represents a real loss of conscience and deterioration of character, there is still enough residue of evil to instigate apprehension as to the future course and results of this situation.
Anyone who has travelled this wide earth knows that there are greedy men who are like ferocious tigers, and smooth-tongued women who are as dangerous as devouring serpents. The evil of such people lies not so much in the character which they reveal as in the character which they hide. It is the suave dissembler who reproduces the words of goodness without its heart and who cynically divorces creed from conduct that we must fear, rather than the man who has "scoundrel" stamped all over his face and actions. We are not apt to be on our guard against a silky voice, saintly manner, and smiling lips, but when these things hide a devil's heart of dark intentions, we are in peril of being undone.
It is true that the respectable often hides the rotten.
Whether they call it evil and sin with the Christians, or ignorance and immaturity with the Hindus, or insufficiency of the good with the Platonic thinker, or weakness and failure, or the blindness of materialism, the presence of deplorable or horrible or criminal tendencies need not be denied. They are in the world, but then, other better nobler and purer tendencies are also there.
There are savage creatures, moral monsters, and insane animals who look like men but have only partially entered into the human species in their passage up from lower ones. Having human faces and limbs, digestive and sense organs, is not enough to render them worthy of human classification.
If there is so much more interest in the spiritual truth, there is also much more interest in its sinister reversions and perversions, in black magic, satanic forces, the misuse of drugs and the abuse of sex, witchcraft, sorcery, influencing others through mental means for selfish ends, and worship of the powers of darkness. Young naïve and unbalanced persons seeking occult thrills and excitements, or recklessly curious about (to them) psychical novelties, are brought into foul malignant circles where their character is degraded and their understanding twisted.
The sinister spread of black magic, witchcraft, sexual perversion, and drug addiction in our own time is menacing. Some of their votaries are consciously worshipping demonic powers, evil as such, others only because they have been misled into the belief that it is the Good.
We find that the character of these black magicians contains much of cruelty and hatred. To inflict suffering on others gives them pleasure: and this is not necessarily a reference to those who have studied what is technically known as "black magic." It may also refer to cold-blooded scientists and politicians, misguided idealists and statesmen, obsessed drug addicts and one-sided vivisectors.
The world today, more fiercely than ever, is a battleground for this ancient conflict between Right and Wrong.
Various kinds and degrees of madness have appeared in the world in various expressions--in the forms of immorality, in the frictions of politics, and in the teachings of religion.
If there is infinite love in or behind the world, there is also infinite suffering in the world, as Buddha noted.
The evil forces have stirred up evil events and provocative crises, and striven to get the masses to react to them in an evil way.
If you could trace out the intricate ramifications of the effects of all your actions, you would find that the good ones were eventually shadowed by evil, and the evil ones brightened by good. This idea may seem strange when first heard of, and may require some analysis to make it seem plausible. But if you ponder on it, you will begin to understand why modern European thinkers like Schopenhauer and Spengler and modern Hindu seers like Atmananda and Vivekananda reject the belief that the world's evil is growing less as much as they reject the assertion that it is growing more. If we compare the general moral level of different centuries, some sort of a balance between the good and evil can be seen. If we are to look for any striking advance in the good, we shall have to look for it not in the masses but in single individuals who are seeking and nearing the Overself. This is because our planet is like a class at school where the average standard remains not too widely different. The progress and deterioration which appear at times do not alter this fact, since they appear within these maximum and minimum levels and shift about from one part of the planet to another. There is no room here for undue optimism but neither is there any for undue pessimism. The savage of low degree may be taught the tricks of science until he can shoot from atomic artillery instead of from stringed bows, but he still remains a savage. Recent history has shown this plainly and revealed civilization as a fact in technics only and as a myth in morals.
Coming events cast their good or evil configuration beforehand upon calm, sensitive souls. That the unseen hand of destiny is unfolding the vivid scenes of a unique drama is evident to them. That the contemporary currents of world-throbbing happenings are but presages indicating that a radical shift-over in human existence is upon us is also clear to them. In geological history, earthquakes are a means adopted by Nature to restore a disturbed equilibrium. In human history, wartime world-upheaval is both karma's way of attaining equilibrium in an unbalanced society and evolution's way of making another spurt forward.
The opposition has its role to play in this world-crisis. Even while obeying its own evil nature, it is frightening half of mankind with its menaces and undermining their confidence in keeping alive for a reasonable period.
These are the forces which foment hatred and disrupt society, which deny truth and garble fact.
We are victims of a civilization which does not know where it is going, trivial in purpose and corrupt in character.
Strife or hate, dissension or violence rears its fearsome face in every quarter of the globe, like some hydra-headed dinosauric monster.
We dwell in chaos and violence, in a world that knows no peace without and feels none within.
The lunacy which has poured into the political demagogues and their followings, the pseudo-artists and their audience, has spread into the religio-mystics and their believers.
The evil which is present in the world may show a new, exaggerated, and deceitful form but in itself is no new thing. On the contrary, it is an ancient thing. Plato predicted that if one of the gods came to this earth, he would not be allowed to live. His ethical ideals would be rejected in practice. His physical presence would be removed in murder.
The universal despair which has crept over the world--a world which has watched the sayings of many years dwindle or disappear within a year or two, which has found its jobs become daily less secure--induces people to draw a slender comfort from that hope which is supposed to spring eternal in the human breast. The hope formulates in the possibility of hearing that Fortune's wheel will now turn for them. Perchance the fates will relent tomorrow, relentless though they have been in the past. The old stand-bys such as religion and a good bank-balance are going or have already gone. Can one blame them if, in their anxiety, they summon planetary support to allay their fears.?
We are struggling into a finer epoch. But because we are and have been struggling blindly, the course of events has and had to get worse before getting better.
From one point of view, the atomic bomb has created wholly new problems. From another point of view, it has only pushed to the front for urgent dealing quite old ones. Both are correct.
The second world war now belongs to the past. Yet nobody feels that peace has come, everybody fears what the future might bring. None of us is living happily ever after.
Evil men and dangerous forces thrive today as they did in Nazi days.
It is the danger and tragedy of our generation that just at the time when man's power to injure his fellows has reached its peak, the religious checks and controls of hurtful propensities have fallen to their lowest influence.
Internal disquiet and external disorder characterize our times.
Inside himself, the Good the True and the Beautiful may seem to be the governing forces; but outside himself, in the world of toiling and fighting men, the Bad the False and the Ugly may seem dominant.
Mankind has proved itself unworthy to handle powers of atomic destructiveness and unable to manage its affairs without stupidity or its relations without evil-doing.
Life today is filled with too many cares or uncertainties for anyone in any part of the world to enjoy complete happiness.
Although our practical duty involves resistance to evil, it should be clear that such resistance is itself an evil, but it is the lesser of two evils and a necessary result of the imperfect side of human nature today. It plays the same part in each individual's life that a police force plays in the social life. The presence of the policeman is an indication of the presence of the criminal. With the development of human character, criminal tendencies would disappear and with them police forces. But we cannot anticipate that time so far as the immediate present is concerned, although we ought to deal with the crime in the most enlightened way possible.
The malevolent energies and destructive forces which have been abroad in our time tell us how strong is the evil that lies mixed with the good in humanity's heart.
He need not have a low opinion of the human race to conclude that there is sufficient evil in it--whether petty or serious--to make a sloppy sentimental idealization of its character just silly and perilous.
The upsurge of interest in Eastern religion and Western cults is welcome, and may help a turn to the Good; but it has its negative side in a matching interest in Evil with a capital E.
These evils, sufferings, and calamities exist for all, the good and the bad; such is the human lot.
Whether in politics or in society, there is widespread double-talk, publicly upheld untruth, and differing views expressed.
Boehme's illumination opened his eyes to the depth and extent of the evil in man. He became very sad over it. Today nobody needs to become illumined in order to see the same thing.
If some men wish to withdraw from the world, disgusted with its repeated brutalities and malignancies, need we wonder?
Because the universe is a manifestation of the Divine, it must be divinely guided. Therefore its history must be divinely controlled. What has happened in human world affairs so recently and so dramatically is not outside the divine will. What is happening today is just as much inside it.
The degenerative process which replaced the universal-mindedness of Goethe by the fanatic narrowness of Goebbels, the calm wisdom of the earlier man by the obscene insanity of the later one, is a subject for reflection.
The good and the evil in man are such long-associated partners that co-operation of the good alone between men is impossible. At some point of their contact, in some way, the reptilian evil will creep in and make its unpleasant discordant presence felt. Hence universal brotherhood is only a beautiful dream, to be shattered upon awakening to the ugly facts.
The lives of so many good men in our time have moved inexorably to disaster, like the gloomy story of a Greek tragedy, that the helpless but friendly onlooker may well wonder where God is.
If they could penetrate, by some mystical insight, the awful horrors and repulsive episodes which mar modern history, they would find something unimaginably grand, beautiful, and wise behind it all, unseen and undreamt by the human agents responsible for this misery.
The real enemies of mankind today--as in the recent past--are doctrines which have issued from the womb of hate and greed, suspicion and violence, and grown only to spread hate and greed, suspicion and violence. For the inevitable harm of such thinking is as self-destructive as it is socially destructive.
A period so filled with confusion and so rife with evil, drives thoughtless people to more sensuality and materialism but thoughtful ones to more aspiration and higher values.
It is unjustified escapism. Postwar sensualism is as much a form of escapism as postwar ashramism.
Folly and evil play the most powerful parts on the contemporary world stage.
If we look at the large panorama of twentieth century history, with its tortures and devastations, its epidemics and destructions, its famines and depopulations, above all, its menace of horrors yet to come, we can see how trivial a thing in fate's eyes is personal life, how unimportant in them is personal emotion. What does fate, God, Nature, care about the little histories, the little loves, the little griefs of pullulating humans, who must appear in those same eyes as hardly more noteworthy than pullulating ants! There are millions--nay, billions--of these men and women who are so like each other in their basic natures and desires, that it does not make any difference to the planetary Mind or the protoplasmic Force whether some of them die or survive, mate or frustrate, are ecstatically happy or dully miserable, stay perfectly whole or limp hideously maimed.
The fact is that the world finds itself today very nearly spiritually bankrupt.
Snobbishness is only misplaced reverence. Any good that is misplaced easily becomes an evil. The older nations were permeated with this evil far too much.
The world approaches insane chaos and convulsion at most, perilous conditions at least.
The fault lies not only with the criminal but also with the society which created the conditions which tempted him to enter criminality.
There is such insecurity and instability, so much demoralization and so much discontent.
Are human life and human destiny ruled by mere chance or by iron law? If by chance, then our race is wholly at the mercy of evil men, but if by law, then we may hope to see the pattern of ultimate good eventually show itself in its history as these men and all men are steered back to righteous courses by suffering and intuition, by revelation and reflection.
The fact that human character as a whole seems not to have improved in our time does not mean that it will fail to improve in the future. Human virtue is only in its infancy and will one day attain its maturity. Human goodness in essence is indestructible because the divine soul in man is indestructible.
There is in the very midst of humanity today, albeit hidden and awaiting its hour of manifestation, that which is the very opposite of what has already manifested itself through the evil channels. There is divine pity as against barbarous cruelty, sublime wisdom as against materialistic ignorance, altruistic service as against aggressive selfishness, and exalted reverence against hard atheism. There is the recall to a forgotten God. There is redemptive grace. There is a hand outstretched in mercy to the worst sinner, and in consolation to the worst sufferer. Those who are mystically sensitive feel its presence even now, however intermittently.
Too many people hold, whether consciously or unconsciously, the materialistic belief that they are here on earth to satisfy their material desires only, and that they have no higher responsibility.
This is no time for smooth words that hide the true state of affairs, no time for shallow optimism that screens the precipice along whose edge we are walking. Humanity passed through the five-year agony of life-and-death conflict against Nazi attempts at world domination because it earlier hugged the delusion either that the danger did not exist or that it was very slight even if it did exist. It cannot afford to repeat that error. The peril in which it now stands from materialism--whether avowed, open, or disguised, supported by out-of-date science, or molded from out-of-date religion--is just as grave in its own way because of its terrifying spiritual and physical consequences.
The materialistic view of man, which would regard his life-functioning as a set of physical processes only, which would condemn him to an absolute lack of spiritual awareness, must die or man himself will die with it.
Materialism leads to a faulty interpretation of historic events and a one-sided interpretation of personal ones.
Most of the modern civilizations which are based on materialism and take no account of the spiritual nature of man are building towers of Babel which, when they have reached a certain height, will topple down. The greater the height, the larger the number of broken pieces. The creativity of these civilizations is illusory; they seem to be productive, but they are really destructive, for since they do not conform to the World-Idea the karma they are making must inevitably bring all this about.
The gods of quiet virtue and spiritual wisdom have had fewer votaries than at most other parallel periods of our history, while the grinning demons of brazen pleasure and materialistic pursuits have been far busier. Folly holds the field. Despite all the scientific backwardness and primitive character attributed to them, there was always a place in most of the civilizations of antiquity--and there still is in the Orient--for the sage or the prophet. In the West there does not seem to be one for him today--on the contrary, he is too often met with unjust suspicions and hopeless misunderstanding and so can do nothing else than crawl into his shell. This accusing fact that our society has no place for him, sets no importance on him and perceives no value in him, is of itself enough to damn it for having strayed so far from its higher purpose. There is something seriously wrong with a civilization which thinks that the effort to come into Overself-consciousness is an abnormal and even an insane one.
Whether we take the industrialized machine-ridden civilization of Europe or that of the United States, in the end they are setting up the same goals--the creation of a slavery to technology which can only end in nervous breakdown and physical illness.
We have passed out of the centuries of superstitious belief in fossilized creeds only to pass into the centuries of superstitious belief in credalized fossils--such as the materialistic conception of Man, the crude notion that might can ultimately conquer right, the ignorant acceptance of a belief in the inferiority of all Oriental knowledge.
It is a stupid and narrow outlook which equates the desire for material progress with the pursuit of materialism.
When a people is concerned only with material things, and when their desires are wholly confined to them, it is proper to call them materialists.
Unbalanced technological development
To regard all material improvements as a move away from spirituality, to assert that science, and the industries based on it, is absolutely evil, is unfair and untrue.
The grim needs of war pushed technological advance ahead at an amazing speed. This advance may be used either to make us more materialistic or to make us less so. In itself it is neutral.
There is a line of connection which can be traced from the appearance of gentle Jesus to the terrors of the Inquisition. There is another line which can be traced from the work of pioneer scientists like Galileo and Bacon to the work of atomic scientists like Einstein and Oppenheimer. If Jesus' gospel was a message from God, science was a different kind of revelation from God. Both Inquisitional tortures and Hiroshima's horrors are evidences of what men have done to the fine things entrusted to them. It is for the men themselves to undo their misdeeds and not wait for a Saviour to do it. The responsibility is theirs.
It was the prevalence of superstition in all departments of human life, activity, belief, and thought which brought about the needed counter-culture of the exact sciences. But under the various superstitions there was not seldom some measure of covert fact and hidden truth. Science has itself become, because of its one-sided, self-made limitation, and through refusal to depart from materialistic views, a sort of superstition. Technical skill, verified experiment, and laboratory research are necessary and valuable, but their presence ought not to be used as an excuse for abandoning everything else which ought to be considered. Hence we witness today such evils as the pollution of nature and the poisoning of human nutriment. There is no other way out now than to compensate for the missing elements, to broaden culture in a basic way--a coexistence previously believed to be impossible.
Man looked into the mysteries of the atom when he was too selfish to use it rightly, too ignorant of the higher laws to use it wisely--that is, when he was unworthy and unready. He is in such danger today that many regret he ever did so. But he could not help it, could not have done otherwise. The mind wants to know; this is its essential nature: it was inevitable that what began as simple childish curiosity should end as rigorous scientific investigation. Nothing could stop this process in the past. This was the warning of Greek, European, and American history. It is now the warning of Chinese, Southeast Asian, and Indian history, where seemingly static civilizations become more dynamic.
When science serves politics only, and both are unguided by knowledge of the higher laws governing mankind, then both, in this age of nuclear weapons, put mankind in danger of nuclear annihilation.
Where the nineteenth-century Westerner displaced religion by science, the twentieth-century Westerner is increasingly being faced, through the unexpected results of nuclear science, with having to refind interest in religion, recover the truth in religious teaching, and regain the peace in religious experience.
The scientists conceived the atomic bomb, the heads of government financed it, and the military used it. This was the triple combination which brought humanity to its present plight. Admittedly, they did this with the best intentions and under the stress of seeming outer necessity. But the fact still remains that it was they who created the danger for all of us and it is they who now seem unable to free us from it.
It is necessary for man to be reminded of his comparative nothingness when his intellect swells into dangerous arrogance. With the triumphs of atomic research and the gadgets of mechanical civilization, he has reached such a point. He will not have to wait long to see that the failure to balance them with moral and spiritual advance will bring its own punishment.
The scientist who foresees a happy abundant future for mankind (because of technological advance) while so many of his colleagues are preparing the weapons to wipe out the species itself, is either insane or incapable of non-specialized thinking.
If the scientific gropers-in-the-dark were allowed fully to explore, and their political masters to exploit, the atom until all its energy were released, our Earth would either blow up into pieces and all mankind with it, or else have its atmosphere so poisoned by radioactivity as to make any life within it impossible. But it is not in the World-Mind's World-Idea that this shall be allowed. The so-called progress of man in this direction will be arrested. He will be allowed to injure himself, since he insists on playing with these dangerous forces, but not to destroy himself.
This one event has dominated the intelligent human mind in the mid-twentieth century more than any other. This release of the atom's energy has forced a rethinking of the human position in politics, society, health, and economics.
The social, economic, and political problems which have developed with the development of science, and its use in industry, have reached their ultimate in the hydrogen bomb. This is the Frankenstein monster which will destroy its master, if he does not soon renounce all nuclear weapons.
The worth to mankind of an invention or a discovery depends on the uses made of it. If these are warlike and destructive to an appalling degree, then it might have been better for mankind to have continued in ignorance.
The world has moved too far from the quest of religious values to the quest of earthly ones; it is passing too quickly from faith in the myth to faith in the machine.
Many have been forced to stop and think about the failure of science to improve man despite its success in improving his tools. For the nineteenth-century naïveté about "progress" which had believed one would inevitably lead to the other, has been exposed for the foolish thing it is.
Progression forwards, which is what we have witnessed in this scientific age, is not the same as progress.
The end of all one-sided growth is usually catastrophic. This is true of the outer world of science as of the inner world of man himself. If the wonderful achievements of the scientist in controlling physical energies have now become highly dangerous to man, this is simply because they are unbalanced by equal knowledge of his own nature and equal achievement in controlling it.
The greater the pressure produced by this machine age, the greater is the revolt against it. Foolish materialists call this revolt escapism. Whether it appears as a turning to the arts or to mysticism, it is the cry of the human soul seeking to remember again that it is a soul.
If every invention which has benefited the human species has also introduced evils or disadvantages not present before, too often that has been due to human misuse or greed, materialism or ignorance.
I know there is some belief that not only has human capacity been extended by modern scientific knowledge but also that human character has been improved by modern civilization and culture. I doubt that this is so.
As modern technological civilization increased in power, the size of its problems increased too.
Even without a war the mere belief that they have to go on improving their nuclear knowledge by experiments and nuclear weapons by tests is leading to a disastrous result--the poisoning of the entire human race and the damaging of its organs, or its children's organs, and the deforming of its next generations.
Of what use are all these vaunted conquests over Nature if they are all to be lost again in a vast man-made calamity?
Man's success in using his knowledge of the working of the external world can come only if it is linked with the knowledge of the working of his own psycho-physical mechanism and function. For if the first leads him into self-destruction, as it is now doing, the second can control and safeguard him against such an ill destiny.
Control of mind by electronic machines is being actively sought by researchers without conscience, devoid of ethics, sorcerers using twentieth-century science.
To believe that the old past was quite barbaric, that the new present is quite civilized, as do those who pin all their faith to the "progress" brought about by science, shows definite ignorance of the past and lack of insight into the present. Moreover it also shows a dangerous lack of humility, dangerous because the first need of humanity is to be humble, is to confess its failure and admit its weakness.
Technological triumph, if held in equilibrium by spiritual intuition, can lead to a glorious civilization, but without such intuition, it can lead to mankind's destruction.
It is not enough for our civilization to express the discoveries arising out of scientific knowledge. It must also express the ethics arising out of spiritual knowledge.
Hatred and violent revolution
The forces of evil which are unloosed upon the world attain their maximum potency with the attainment of maximum hatred. Hence revolution based on hatred is not foolish; it is criminal.
Movements or men spreading hate or promoting violence to achieve a religious, political, or social aim fall into an ancient error--that the release of evil passions can increase and not hurt the general welfare.
I prefer evolution to revolution in political affairs. All revolutions are born of violence, hatred, and assassination whilst the attempt to establish and maintain them leads to oppression and despotism until their karma is exhausted. Evolution moves more slowly but also moves more peacefully, more bloodlessly.
Those who seek reform are too often too impatient: so they resort to revolution or violence. The price then may be exceedingly heavy. Even where the reform has been successfully brought about by such means, the success was due chiefly to other factors.
The vengeful hate-filled hysteria with which black leaders, leftist revolutionaries, and political fanatics try to arouse their young followers can only destroy them spiritually.
Agitators work up passions and hatreds and lead mobs to commit violent acts. It is thus that the first Alexandrian Library in ancient Egypt was destroyed.
Those youngsters who call hysterically for proletarian revolution, fill their minds with hate at the same time. This is as destructive to themselves as it is hurtful to others. If social injustices are repaired in the wrong spirit, new injustices replace the old ones. "Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven, and all these things shall be added unto you." That is, seek first the revolution in man himself, and then your quest of social justice will be aided by higher forces.
Those who demand liberty in order to destroy liberty itself are often in the noisy minority which claims that any attempt to protect liberty is an attack on "civil liberties"!
If those who denounce the world so strongly would then go on to renounce it, their attacks would be more convincing. The fact that most of them continue to stay in it, to live among all its evils (and attractions), is sufficient answer to their criticisms.
The mistake is to be so affected by the evils as not to see the good, so eager to destroy what is wrong that the right is destroyed along with it.
They are not evil in the fundamental sense of the word, all these men who commit crimes to further what they believe to be a righteous cause: they are mistaken.
It is significant that Communist leaders like Lenin despised all schools of spiritual thought, denounced religion, and scorned metaphysical reflection. This is now the nominal inheritance of half the world, most particularly the so-called workers' class.
If social justice means that every man, however deprived his background, should have a chance to develop himself and to better his standards of living, then it is certainly a good thing. But if it means the forced regimentation of everyone, the compulsory equalization of everything, the denial of individuality and the destruction of freedom, then it is surely a bad thing.
If we only pause to consider that half the entire human race has fallen under the enforced leadership and tyrannical domination of those who would limit man to his ego and reality to matter, we may see how urgently necessary is an arrest to this downward trend. The world is in a state of spiritual crisis.
Where the physical body is cherished as the sole reality and made the sole basis for social and political reform, where hate-driven men advocate physical violence as the sole means of effecting progress, be sure of the presence of evil forces, dangers to society, ignorant opponents of truth, and enemies of the Light.
It is very meaningful that the filthy abuse which Lenin put into his writings against the idealist metaphysicians like Berkeley is no longer able to detain Soviet psychologists and philosophers in the utter blindness which he left them as part of his spiritual legacy. More and more they begin to question the nature of consciousness as well as its relationship to the external world, more and more they investigate borderland experiences like telepathy and hypnotism. On the question of consciousness' relationship to the brain they are now arguing quite widely, but, for obvious reasons, they remain unable to come to definitive conclusions on which all could agree. They are not satisfied with the completely materialistic answer and yet dare not venture into the purely mentalistic one. Meanwhile they go on debating, and so long as this continues, it is spiritually much healthier than their state of thirty years ago. Problems are being stated and solutions are being discussed. If the Leninist inheritance overshadows it all, that cannot be helped in a totalitarian Communist country. At the present stage of history the truth must be left out in such a land, but it cannot be left out forever. Out of all their mental and verbal activity, the Russians will have to draw a little nearer to it intellectually. What is happening on a deeper plane is outside their knowledge.
No materialistic organization of society can prevent the appearance and development of spirituality in the individual, but it can create the conditions which will obstruct the appearance or hinder the development of spirituality.
The intellect, uncontrolled by intuition and unguided by revelation, has spawned the two great masters of our time--Science holding the atom bomb and Communism holding revolution. Science, which in the last century promised so much, gave us the terrible problem of atomic war instead. Its ardent advocates pointed at it only yesterday as the road to our salvation. Today it has become the road to our destruction. This is not to say that it was a false light, but that we mistook its proper place and claimed too much for its human possibilities. We let it run away with us and with our religion. We lost ourselves and our bearings. It made us regard Nature as self-operative in a solely mechanical way. It left life on earth without spiritual meaning, without moral purpose. Communism is the other heaven-promising panacea which has helped to make this earth a little hell. There can be no worthwhile future for humanity if it accepts the leadership of men, such as Communists, who regard conscience as a disease. The Communist insensibility in practice to human suffering accords ill with its vaunted idealism in theory. Communism's twisted ethic of wild hatred, its hard cruel face, its blind slavish obedience to a brutal organization which cares more for itself than for the workers it was supposed to save, its insane preachments against religion and denial of life beyond matter, have brought enough suffering to make its claims sound absurdly exaggerated. But the intellectual movement which produced Science and the social movement which produced Communism will not continue unchecked. They are approaching the utmost limit possible. The violent materialism for which they are responsible will culminate in the next Armageddon, which will not only end them, but also end the epoch itself.
Excerpt from an article in a Czech magazine on contemporary Czech literature: "Those ideals which were formerly given to the world by prophets of religion, headed by Jesus the Nazarene, are now practically applied by scientific socialists beginning with Karl Marx." Such is the plausible self-deception into which so many intellectuals have fallen. This quotation shows a grave lack of understanding of religion, of the prophets, and especially of Jesus. The distance between the Nazarene and the author of the first Communist Manifesto is not merely horizontal, it is vertical. The two men stand on different levels, belong to different worlds.
The presence of hatred as one of its animating ingredients is a moral disadvantage to any social movement. This is one reason why modern Communism is built on an unsure foundation.
The organized politico-economic substitutes for organized religion have hardly proved any better when put into active life rather than mere theory. They have introduced much hate, misery, oppression, persecution, superstition, and war, like the other.
In connection with the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, Mao Tse-tung wrote that the working classes would from then on take over leadership in all activities. That is to say, the least fitted by natural mental development, experience, and acquired education would dictate what was to be taught in philosophical and similar reflections about life, man, and history, if indeed such subjects would not be dropped altogether as unpractical, hence useless. The Peking Institute of Philosophy, a leading one in China, stopped publishing its journal Philosophical Research in 1966.
The fundamental mistake which is responsible for the harm and evil and misery caused when these teachings of economic equality are put into harsh practice, is to do so in separation from the teachings concerning man's spiritual life and spiritual needs. If the two were joined together then the fanaticism, delusion, and brutality of such practice would eliminate itself.
It is inevitable that a group which espouses belief in atheistic materialism will also espouse belief in the use of force and violence to establish itself and its views. If there will be no peace, it is because they do not really want it.
The most frenzied exponents of materialistic values today are those who have developed enough intellect to lose their faith in the hypocrisies of conventional religion but who have lost their true intuition along with their false belief. Such are the leaders and advocates of communism everywhere. Thus the good in their development is offset by the evil. The result is spiritual chaos and social turmoil for the masses who follow them. Since both the religious and their rebels have contributed to this situation, there is no remedy save in a clearer insight on the part of both.
It is impossible to reconcile the criminal ethics and materialistic ideology of Communism with the lofty ethics and mystical ideology of philosophy. There is no communication and every disparity between them.
The itch to meddle in other people's affairs and to mind their business for them is an ancient one. It was rightly reprimanded by the Bhagavad Gita in India and by the Tao Teh Ching in China. It reaches its extreme degree in tyrannies like the German Nazi and the Russian Communist, where state interference in the people's lives, culture, religion, and freedom becomes intolerable.
The Evil Spectre of Communism (Essay)
Abundant living will belong to the twenty-first rather than the twentieth century. Years must pass before even Europe alone can restore its shattered economy. For a number of years there will be immense and tragic shortages of food, clothing, and other necessities. The era of abundance is, therefore, not an immediate possibility. The postwar years are necessarily filled with privation for many millions of people.
Now this may be done and these problems may be solved by peaceful discussions and mutual agreement, which is the philosophic way, or by bitter strife and physical violence, which has been the common way. The first seeks the general welfare whereas the second seeks a partisan victory. The advantages of the philosophic way of speeded up evolutionary change are manifold in the economic sphere. The afflicted world's need is not more hatred but less, not more warfare but more co-operation. Philosophy is opposed to all doctrines of class hatred. It believes that the situation today requires an integral multi-class outlook. Its opposition to the old-fashioned materialistic propaganda for abrupt social change is not to its egalitarian aims but to the preaching of hatred as a personal ethic and the advocacy of violence as an instrument of attainment. For both hatred and violence are the voices of the beast in man. An age sickened by the horrors of scientific warfare ought not need to witness the further horrors of scientific revolution. But it is hard to persuade them that reconstruction is a saner and safer path to take than revolution, the ballot-box wiser than bloodshed, and that our duty is not to imitate the terrorists but to build peacefully a better order suited to sensible kindly and decent human beings. It cannot accept hatred as an inspiration to social betterment. For it knows that we cannot gather grapes off thistles nor human happiness off the tree of hatred. The history of mankind has shown what psychology always knew, that the hater will start looking for new human objects of his hatred, new enemies, as soon as the existing ones have been, in his horrible modern terminology, "liquidated." The ugly passion of hatred, having been developed and nurtured, will still exist and still seek an outlet as soon as it can persuade the mind to interpret conditions in its favour.
This is why the Buddha said: "Hatred ceaseth not by hatred. It ceaseth by compassion." If philosophy advocates the peaceful way of quickened evolution and dynamic progressivism as against the violent way of abrupt revolution, it is because it knows that the moral evils which are introduced by brutality--not to speak of the physical ones which inevitably follow from it--constitute too high a price for the benefits received. For if the latter tend to disappear, the former tend to become stabilized. A great social change which stimulated hatred, passion, selfishness, and materialism would negate the ultimate purpose which lies behind all social evolution--the spiritualization of human character. A better society, to be based on goodwill and co-operation, cannot be reached by arousing hatred and selfishness. The defense that ends justify means is a self-deceptive one. It is for the votaries of philosophy to follow the right path and to abstain from brutal or bloody methods, especially as we know that whilst conditions create them, there will always be others who are naturally inclined towards the transplanted barbarism of Communism.
Russia is today the homeland of Communism. Her achievements, sacrifices, and struggles during World War II, unexpected as they were and so valuable in giving other nations a respite of time to eliminate their own unpreparedness for the Nazi aggressions, forcibly brought Russia's thought and fate to the whole world's attention. By reason of her exceptional geographical position, with one foot in Europe and another in Asia, Russia would have been a suitable mediator between the cultures of both continents and an especially suitable interpreter of Asiatic wisdom to European minds, had she not been formerly so cut off from the rest of Europe by her intellectual and industrial backwardness, her difficult language and her deliberate exclusion of foreigners. The course of recent history, and especially wartime history, delusively appeared to be bringing these hindrances to an end. Given entirely different leadership, there might have been within the Slavonic republic the impending gestation of a new spiritual-practice culture, of a spiritually aspiring economic order. Russia and Germany constitute the two largest national populations in Europe. If the old Slav mysticism and the vanished German idealism could have been reincarnated in new non-materialistic, uncorrupt, and undistorted forms, there would have been hope for Europe. But the criminal leadership which existed actually destroyed this chance. This was all the more regrettable because, before the revolution of 1917, the Russians were particularly reputed to be a religious and mystical people whilst their literature was known to reflect these attributes. However, the explanation is easy. Russia was then a land of peasant communities with very few towns. Because their daily work keeps them in constant touch with nature, the peasant classes everywhere in the world have more religious emotion and mystical feeling than the others. But because they are also the most illiterate, the least educated, the most economically depressed and least travelled of all classes, their religion is more virulently intolerant and stupidly superstitious and their mysticism more medievally anti-rational and emotionally unbalanced than are those of other classes. All these undesirable features were prominent in pre-revolutionary Russia. The type of mysticism which can best flourish today and best meet the modern need can arise and develop only in more advanced countries, where the agricultural and industrial classes are more evenly distributed.
What is happening inside the Russian soul must interest us because it is important to us. The direction taken there is deciding the fate of other peoples as well as that of the Russians. They are a remarkable people, a bridge between Asia and Europe, and it would have been fitting that out of their tremendous sufferings and sacrifices there should emerge a happier country. Everything had depended on how far the Russians could overcome their greatest defect--fanatical lack of balance. Had they done this quickly enough, they could have risen to the grand height of a spiritual-material civilization. But, because they failed, because they listened too long to the evil voice of Communism, we have the danger of a third world war.
We should feel sorry for the Russian masses, who are blind dupes of their leaders, where the real evil resides. The inspiration of Russian leadership has been brutal hatred and camouflaged materialism, as well as the selfish preservation of their own power. But the law of compensation makes the masses responsible for their surrender and obedience to such criminal leadership. Their years of sacrifice in blood and comfort profit them nothing. They are sacrifices made in an evil cause. Those whose whole attitude is quarrelsome and carping and hating and irresponsible can contribute only unscrupulous criticism and hysterical destruction towards life. They are eager to obstruct and even destroy, but never to create, to co-operate, or to build. The Communist leaders, as distinct from their blind dupes, are the poisonous scorpions of society.
Their fanatic hostility to all spiritual enlightenment is inspired by the same dark forces that inspired the fanatic hostility of Nazism. The second world war was the epochal struggle between the unseen powers of evil working through mesmerized Germans and barbarized Japanese and the unseen powers of good instilling ideals of decency into other peoples. This inner war between good and evil goes on at all times; the military world war was but a dramatic outward representation of it. That--the real war--is not ended. We must beware of those who never went to Germany and never wore a swastika on a brown shirt, but who nevertheless imbibed the Nazi spirit and wore the swastika in their hearts. They have reappeared in Russia. Those unseen spirits which animated, prompted, and inspired the Nazi leaders are now performing the same office for the Communist leaders. It would have been better for Europe if the Communists and their twins, the Nazis with their slippery morality, had never existed. It is an unendurable thought; nevertheless, the truth must be faced that we shall have peace only by having war. The dangers to which humanity was exposed did not all vanish with the Nazis' defeat. Those unseen powers still exist. What they could not achieve through a straightforward conflict, they will desperately try to achieve through a confused one. This indeed is the next phase of experience through which we are about to pass and which we shall have to endure.
Nevertheless the presence of an evil tyranny in both Russia and Germany ought not to blind us to the vital difference between their forms of government. In Russia, Stalin's dictatorial control was expounded and accepted theoretically as a purely temporary measure on the road to full democratic freedom, whereas in Germany Hitler's dictatorial control was expounded and accepted as an ultimate ideal in itself. The dangers to which Nazism exposed the human race were immeasurably larger than those to which Communism exposes it. For no matter how brutal, how violent, and how materialistic Communism became, it always remained in theory an anguished and desperate attempt--however ugly in form--to win justice for the underprivileged and to compel the social whole to accept responsibility for their unavoidable sufferings. But the ultimate trend of the Nazification of Europe could only be the animalization of Europeans. All that gives dignity and worth to human beings, all their ethics and rationality, all their art and idealism would have disappeared under Nazi reign within a generation or two. The disfigured form of man would thenceforth bear a close resemblance to the worst kind of beast, albeit a cunning one, whose God was Hatred. If we must compare the two evil systems, Bolshevism had this superiority at most, that it arose under the inspiration of great hope, whereas Nazism arose under that of great despair and revenge.
But alas, just as the arising of Nazism earlier forced the world unwillingly into a struggle to the death, so the leaders of Communism are now forcing the world into the same kind of struggle. The human race is being made to chalk out a boundary line and to take sides in preparation for the inevitable.
The responsibility for this degeneration does not lie with those who still believe in the ideals of freedom and truth, but with those who reject these ideals. The guilt does not lie with those who seek to defend themselves against the aggressions of an evil doctrine, it lies with those who spread this doctrine by every means, including the most criminal means.
It is better, indeed, that the face of Communism should be seen for what it is, with all its malignant cruelty and materialistic criminality, than that the world should continue in complacent blindness to the danger in which it stands. Ever since the war ended we have tried to make peace or effect compromises with this dark force, but to no avail. It does not want peace because it does not believe in peace. It is committed to the doctrine that it must fight for the soul of humanity--which soul it seeks to enslave for its own evil purposes.
The frightful shape which the next war would necessarily take may make us wonder whether it would be better for humanity to save its body at least, by appeasing the powers of evil or by surrendering to them. But is it only for the body's sake that we are upon this earth? If there were no higher purpose to life than preserving the body, such appeasement and such surrender might be worthwhile. But we know that there is such a purpose, that we are here for soul development even more than for any other kind. If appeasement and surrender are the only price at which we can purchase peace, then the still small voice within answers, "War is still better--even if costlier."
The effort is one thing, whilst its effect is another. We must estimate the Bolshevik achievement by its practical results rather than by its theoretical claims. We must keep close to earth in these matters and test the printed page by the human scene. And if we do this without paying uncritical homage to the dynamism it has shown, we find that Bolshevism has dragged men's souls in mire and their bodies in prison--for Russia became nothing else--and the economic lot of the peasant and the workman is no better, and generally is far worse, than it is in most capitalistic countries. Russia suffered the painful consequences of her own barbarities and fanaticisms, and she has pruned her communistic ideas of some of their extremism. She found by experience that it was an error to withdraw the profit motive entirely. Human nature being psychologically what it is, sufficient financial inducement had to be given to evolve personal efficiency and enterprise and to encourage new inventions. She found that any economic order which ignored the inequalities of capacity and qualifications, talents and minds among its members, could only be a half-success and must be a half-failure. Men require the energizing motive of more pay for more work or higher pay for higher type of work. Men must have rewards for extra labour or extra talent, which means they must own possessions and get privileges in unequal degrees. Any economic scheme must frankly face and accept this psychological fact, otherwise it would set up a perpetual friction between the individual and the state. Russian Communism was compelled, by initial failures in obtaining adequate production, to give more remuneration to skilled workers and to institute hierarchic organization in factories. Moreover the ever-present need of stimulating general human evolution requires the offering of rewards to draw out the varied possibilities lying latent within man, the holding-up of baits to make him realize the fuller stature of his being.
The crude kind of socialism which would erect the state into a tyrannous dictator, create an order of bureaucratic parasites, and organize every detail of the mental and physical existence of its unfortunate victims, is intolerable to intelligent people who rightly wish to exercise their personal initiative, to develop their creative abilities, to attain self-responsibility, to achieve economic independence, and to think for themselves. Only those who possess slave-mentalities can fail to be opposed by temperament to any totalitarian form which would compel every man to walk in standardized step with all other men, which would dictate how he should think, live, talk, work, rest, and marry, and which would reduce all society to a dead monotony of uniformity. Such a system is the kind which can suit only a people which has made materialism its religion. On the other hand, a system which would allow room for diverse forms of living, which would encourage and not stifle individual initiative, and which would lead men to liberation and not to enslavement is the kind which is based on the right comprehension of existence. Man cannot live by Marxism alone. A system which deprived its citizens of their personal initiative and individual enterprise would thereby deprive society of valuable gifts. The delight of creative self-expression and personal initiative ought to be encouraged and not chilled, as it is under Communism. It is better for a man--and consequently for the nation--that he should farm his own little piece of land in economic and individual freedom than that he should be a mere labouring "hand" under State employ on a mammoth agricultural enterprise. The notion that slavery becomes innocuous when it is slavery under a bureaucratic State instead of under a particular master is a notion to be repudiated. The worthwhile values which have been so far derived from a free system should not be sacrificed, even though the system itself may have to be brought up-to-date. It must defend itself against the hard dogmas which would destroy individuality. Nobody who loves liberty can be happy if he is numbered, regimented, dragged about, and enslaved by a cold, unfeeling, abstract entity called the State. The intellectual mistake of destroying personal freedom in order to achieve the ends, alone renders Communism unacceptable to the philosophic mind. The emotional mistake of effecting such destruction violently and brutally renders it still more unacceptable.
He who loves freedom to follow a spiritual path and values independence of mental outlook will not care to be rigorously controlled at every step of his work and for every hour of his intellectual life by any bureaucratic regime. When, for instance, writers, artists, and clergymen have to serve the State first and truth, beauty, or God afterwards, they can do so only at the cost of forfeiting the authentic inspiration which these ideals provide. They must be free or the community will get not their best but their worst work. The extinction of intellectual and spiritual liberty, the destruction of personal self-respect, and the disregard of the sacredness of individual life are definite evils. Philosophy is opposed to totalitarianism in all its forms because it believes in the necessity of preserving human dignity, human freedom, and human individuality, within proper limits. Unless there is respect for such aspirations, spiritual growth will be hampered. To a totalitarian order, things are more important than men, frontiers than the people behind them, and the State than its citizens. But to a true philosophy, men in their final essence are creatures with divine possibilities, human dignity is sacred, inviolable, and human individuality is to be sacrificed only at God's behest. This development is one of the last things that a totalitarian state can wish or permit. Therefore, the practice of true religion, mysticism, and philosophy, which leads to the development of man's spiritual individuality, could only end in collision between the seeker and such a state. Consequently, the latter could afford to sanction the existence only of a false, nationalistic, materialistic, pseudo-spiritual teaching or, in the end, prohibit it altogether. Fatalism has crept into economic thinking in the most vicious and distorted form, the form of Communism. According to this doctrine, history's course is predetermined: the capitalistic phase of society cannot avoid being followed by the chaotic phase of its own dissolution, and that, in its turn, cannot avoid being followed by the Communistic form of a rigid reorganization. This is a materialistic caricature of the doctrine of fatalism, which in its true form as karma has so far entered only into the spiritual thinking of the West. This Marxian view, that is to say, the short-sighted view, is too simple to be true. Life is more complex than that. It is true that Demos is astir and seeks at the least to better his lot and at the most a paradise on earth. When a man passes through a long period of unemployment or earns too little for adequate support of his family, he begins to feel despairingly that society has no use for him. This bitterness weakens his ethical sense and renders him liable to fall into the illusion that any social change, even a violent one, is necessarily a change for the better. If, instead of making proper efforts to remove the deficiencies and eliminate shortcomings, we merely seek for plausible pretexts to justify them, then we ought not to be astonished when disaster comes. Those who feel that economic reform is the most urgent duty facing humanity have usually opposed the mystical movement. They have done so on the grounds that it diverts attention from the real (that is, the economic) issues, that it enfeebles the urge towards social improvement and individual ambition, and that it leads to sleepy, dreamy complacency. Karl Marx's criticism of religion, that it had become a mere appendix of bourgeois thought, had some truth in it for his own times. But today many religious leaders have been aroused to the danger and are sincerely striving to bring the social order into line with religious ethics. They are no longer falsifying religious ethics by striving to bring them into line with the social order.
Yet the solution Communists offer is philosophically unsatisfactory for it is born out of crude materialism, based on venomous class hatred, and stiffened by bureaucratic tyranny. Their ultimate aim, however, is a good one only insofar as it is the elimination of capitalism's defects, such as avoidable unemployment, extreme poverty, and social injustices, but their means and methods are very bad. There is only one real capitalist--Nature--one real proprietor of the earth and all that therein is, and consequently all the children of earth are its rightful heirs. We usually forget that we have no ethical right to possess what we have not toiled for. This is overlooked by society as a whole and we, as individuals, take shelter beneath the common sin. For sin it is, albeit only one of omission. Those, however, who have cast aside the conventional view can see it for what it is. That which this earth produces is for all. Every man has his birthright in what it stores or gives forth, although not an equal birthright to every other man's. This, surely, is Nature's view, although man in his ignorance has developed other ideas upon the matter and so brought great misery upon his fellows and great nemesis upon himself. The world is for our temporary use and does not constitute our eternal property. Whoever thinks otherwise--whether it be a single individual or a community of individuals called a "nation"--and excludes all others from consideration, whoever thinks he has a full right to eat whilst others have a full right to starve, whoever cannot identify himself with the suffering people of his own or another country, will be tutored by pain and instructed by loss. We are all stewards, not proprietors, and own nothing in reality. This was pithily expressed by a highly advanced Indian mystic of well-deserved repute. He was the Jain Mahatma Shantivijaya who lived on Mount Abu until he died during the War. When one of his devotees, a rich landlord, came to him and complained of having been robbed of some jewels, the yogi observed, "Perhaps Nature regards you also as a thief. Perhaps she thinks you have no more right to appropriate such a large piece of land than you think the other man has to your jewels?" The same idea was beautifully expressed in a verse by my revered Irish friend, the late A.E.: "How would they think on, with what shame, all that fierce talk of thine and mine, if the true Master made His claim, the World He fashioned so divine. What could they answer did He say, `When did I give my world away?'"
But there is a great distance from such abstract reflections to the concrete realities of contemporary social and economic life. The whole structure of laws and rights is based on these realities. And this is as it should be, for humanity, at its present stage of evolution, can best express itself and serve itself in that way. The anarchist would ignore them because he is one-sided and the Communist would violate them because he is unscrupulous. Philosophy does not object to any effort to remold society for the common welfare, but welcomes it.
No amount of academic sophistry can justify a system which permits the few to have more food than they can eat and forces the many to have less food than they need to eat. No amount of legal enactment can justify the ownership of a hundred thousand acres of land merely because five hundred years earlier some ancestor seized it. These ancient wrongs must be redressed. Both altruistic sentiment and political strategy--no less than karmic adjustment--demand such a revision, although the attempt to do so by violent means would introduce far worse wrongs.
In this momentous task, we have to prepare a blueprint--not of the ideal State which we would like to see arise, but of the actual State which can arise under the given circumstances. This means that we must follow a middle path. Any other way will be either too realistic or too idealistic and will lead to failure. For we must find not only what is theoretically right but also what is practically possible.
We cannot and we ought not do away wildly, abruptly, and violently with our social environment. Without it we would be savages. Those vanished men of the past had to learn arduously how to live on earth, how to adapt themselves to it. Think of what it would mean to be born into a world where no houses existed, no land was cultivated, no roads had been cut, no books were available, no shops could be found, no tools had been made, no machines invented, no knowledge and no art were known! All these and infinitely more exist today and constitute our surroundings, our civilization; but they did not spring up in a single night. They are the inheritance which we owe to a long trailing line of Egyptian, Asiatic, and European ancestors living and working and dying for countless centuries. They are our own racial past. We cannot dismiss this legacy without descending anew to the most barbarous existence. There are grave defects in this environment, it is true, but the young rebel who wishes to tear everything down in order to remove these defects, will also remove treasures bought at a price which will take the toil of millions through centuries to pay again. The past efforts of man appear in our present environment. Let us use it, but use it wisely. It is here to serve us. We need not be afraid to improve and alter it. Unbalanced hot-heads who say that such improvement and such alteration is only possible through complete destruction of what is the present order so that what may be shall rise on its ruins, have misread history.
But there is a right as well as a wrong way of doing this. The only proper way is by persuasion, by the persuasion and education of social conscience and by the uplift of social morality to loftier standards. Such reforms can be brought about only in an atmosphere of goodwill and calmness, not in an atmosphere of hatred and brutality. Man must choose which God he will serve, the God of hatred or the God of love, for he cannot serve both. He must effect these changes not by brutality or by blood, but by the gentler persuasions of reason and goodwill, slower though they necessarily are. Wisdom prefers to see needed reforms and overdue changes brought in by peaceful and not violent means, by the acknowledgment of their ethical need rather than by submission to materialistic values.
Orthodox Communism is a typical nineteenth-century product. The doctrine arose out of a completely materialistic view of history. It was formulated in an age when the mechanistic conception of life had captured the thinking world. It led naturally to an ethic of hatred and violence. It excluded all consideration of the higher destiny of men. Consequently it is emotionally unbalanced and intellectually unsatisfactory. The evil lies less in the doctrine itself, which is a confused mixture of nonsense and wisdom, of justice and crime, than in its human leaders. They are men without a conscience and maniacs entrenched in the seats of power. They trade on this confusion of doctrine to suborn the masses who lack the capacity to understand the inner source of Communism and its inability to redeem its promises. They achieve for themselves positions of power because they mercilessly push aside and trample all who are hapless enough to stand in their way.
He who thinks in terms of class hatred and class murder reveals himself as being naturally neurotic or malignant. As such he is unfit to lead people into a better condition than before and can only lead them into a worse one. The average Communist is unfit to lead a people or govern a nation. He is an extraordinary compound of keen critical thinking and irrational obsessions and class prejudices; consequently his thinking is distorted and unbalanced. He lives in a private Marxist world of his own, which he stupidly imagines to be a real world. But the greatest defect in himself and the greatest danger to others is the powerful hatred which actuates him and which has made him in fact a pathological case. He has become semi-insane because he cannot escape from it.
Both the Nazi and Bolshevik revolutions failed to bring a better society, a happier healthier and more honourable world for the underdog, because they failed to recognize that the only way this could be achieved was by leaders of disinterested character and superior quality descending to the service of the lower classes. The reconstruction of the world's social and economic order cannot succeed if it comes from the mentally ungrown and ethically immature masses themselves. This has been clearly demonstrated by the melancholy history and comparative failure of the brutal Russian and German attempts. It could not be achieved by leaders of inferior character and merit rising from the ranks of the masses. The right way of social-economic progress is from the top downwards and not from the bottom upwards. The fruits of wisdom cannot come from below. But this does not mean they come from the aristocracy of blood; they can come only from aristocracy of mind and character. The masses will be best served by the man who disdains their approbation and waves aside their applause. For intellectual awakening of a people does not begin as an awakening of the masses; it begins as an awakening of the educated classes and proceeds downwards to the people. The masses must naturally follow more intelligent leaders, assimilate the ideas which are earlier embraced by their betters but which are gradually filtered down and thus rendered more acceptable. For it is not the ignorant blind toilers who can perceive the crowning principle of right reconstruction; they can perceive only their immediate needs, not their ultimate ones. Therefore the creation of a new order must not come from below but from above. It must come from the intellectual cream, the spiritual elite of society--from those who can reflect philosophically and serve selflessly and act calmly. They stand on the mountain peak, as it were, and see clearly what ought to be done whereas the masses are herded on the plains and can only run hither or thither as their emotions drive them.
The Communists cannot be regarded as sane, normal people; they are mentally in a psychopathic condition. Consequently they leave themselves open to submoral influences, and that they fully absorb these influences we may judge from the fact that they do indeed come to believe that the end justifies any means, however evil. It is a sophistry common alike to criminal gangsters and to totalitarian dictators that the sacrifice of ethical restraints and the aggressive use of brutal methods are quite justified by the achievement of success in their aims. Such callous belief, however, has a hundred times been proven worthless by history. Any totalitarian or revolutionary regime which, dead to humanitarian impulses, would brutally bring death and suffering and misery to millions now alive in order to bring prosperity and comfort and power to future and fortunate millions yet unborn, which would deny pity and peace to those in its midst in order to bestow them on those who are remote and unseen, is trying to purchase a possibility at such a tragically high present cost that it is not worth having. This is why philosophy says that the same change which, when naturally evolved tomorrow will be right and successful, may be arbitrary, premature, and disastrous today if it can be got only by violence and brutality on a vast scale.
The terrible human cost of these totalitarian and brutalitarian changes is at least equally as important as the economic cost. The resulting success or failure of these changes must be measured by broken hearts and broken bodies as much as by flaunting figures and astronomical statistics. To say that what the world needs today is only a new economic system is as fanatical and unbalanced as to say that it needs only a new dietetic outlook. It does need both these things, and needs them brought into reciprocal balance as well, but it certainly needs something else even more--a new spiritual outlook. The moment we have the understanding or courage to lift our public, economic, political, and social difficulties to the higher levels of religious, mystical, or philosophic insight and thus meet them with full consciousness, that moment they will all be solved. After all, the best laws people can obey are not the dried parchments of written statutes but the living ethical forces of justice, goodwill, truth, and service. A country which has such a real ethical foundation will get all the social economic and political reforms it needs as and when it needs them; no murderous revolution will be necessary whenever change must be made to adapt itself to new conditions. Back of the state laws there will then always be unwritten laws shaping them automatically and naturally.
The regimentation of the masses on a solely materialistic basis would enslave them in a different and, to some misguided people, more bearable form than the capitalistic order has already; but still it would enslave them. Any system which forcibly regimented the masses in order to guarantee their basic necessities could doubtless succeed in doing so. But if it would fill their stomachs it might still leave their souls empty.
When the inner life of mankind suffers from acute starvation it becomes inevitable, under the law that governs thought, that his outer life will, in time, also suffer acute starvation. There is this difference: that whereas the inner hunger, being spiritual, is unconscious, the outer hunger, being physical, is conscious. If civilization is dying it is dying because it has no vision, no ideals, no spiritual life. It is not dying because of the War; the War merely accelerated the process which started in prewar days. The storm is upon us and there is no shelter from it.
War is a leveller which spreads suffering with a wide swathe. It is also a teacher which pulls men up sharply and forces them to look at their lives and, even more important, at themselves.
War is the normal state of wild beasts. If human beings engage in it too, that is because they have not got rid of the tiger and wolf within themselves.
Although war itself is full of horrors it must not be forgotten that it has an obverse side. In some ways it acts like the old-fashioned surgical operation of blood-letting. All the moral scum in humanity's character rises to the surface, concentrated mostly amongst the totalitarian gangsters, but it rises only that it may be seen for what it is and cleared off. The sufferings of mankind have an educative value and tend to adjust the sins and excesses of mankind. It is the ultimate tendency of evil forces to destroy themselves from within as well as to suffer destruction from without through the mysterious operation of karma. Materialism reaches its final culmination in the social and personal crises generated by war. By displaying its own horrible results before humanity's very eyes, it is, by reaction, awakening many sleeping mentalities to the need of a spiritual outlook.
In a world which has the conflict of opposites as part of its inherent nature, peace is an illusory goal. Nor in reality is there even such a thing as neutrality and nonalignment.
If brute force really ruled this world then the Romans would still be ruling the Britons, and the Huns who sacked Rome would still be ruling that beautiful city. The Persian troops would still be masters of Egypt and Alexander's troops would still be the masters of Persia. But brute force is a success only in the beginning and a failure always in the end.
It is true that some wars seem to have achieved a creative result, but how much more painlessly, bloodlessly, could not the same result have been achieved by nonviolent methods. It might have required a longer time, more patience, but the cruelty and horror and loss of war would have been avoided.
We may watch the democratic nations trying to prevent open conflict with the totalitarian ones, but all they are succeeding in doing is merely to put off the inevitable clash from one year to another. They cannot succeed because it is in the nature of things that between good and evil there must be conflict. The evil ever seeks to destroy the good, and the good must defend itself ever. It could not happen otherwise.
The fears which war engenders and the deprivations which it causes are painful. Yet for those who are too attached to outward things they are often necessary teachers. Out of the fears, great heroism has been learned; out of the deprivations, great unselfishness; but those who respond to such lessons are too few, the influence of the lessons themselves too ephemeral.
When it is said that war is a purifying agent, it is not meant that our morals are purified; on the contrary, war notoriously makes them temporarily worse. By enthroning passion and displacing reason, by generating wild fears and brutal hatreds, the very smoke of war tends to smother those civilized self-disciplines which make for decent living during the normal times of peace.
This is a world of struggle. The word "peace" has only a relative meaning. The notion that a society, a civilization, or an individual can exist in a continuously inert state is an illusory one. As soon as one kind of war ends, another kind of war begins. A peace of endless stagnation is impossible. The last kind of peace is that wherein the forces which must inevitably contend against each other are properly balanced.
A great war brings humanity to an emotional crisis. Such a crisis shakes it out of complacency and indifference toward religious values.
War, with its frightful threat to life and possessions, its dreadful menace to personal relations, forces mankind to revise long-established attitudes for better or worse. If it opens one door to atheism, it also opens another door to religion and still another to mysticism.
We live in a state of perpetual war. Back and forth go the ghostly armies of construction and destruction. Sometimes one and sometimes the other holds the field in triumph.
It is easy for those who are addicted to the worship of force and violence to misread history and fall into partial or complete error. They do not understand why an individual or a nation must become and stay strong from within if victories are not to turn into whips which one day lash back at the victor.
The Roman Eagle flew high into the sky of power but in the end fell ingloriously to earth. The Indian Lotus flourished long before yet lives today still. Why? A civilization based on higher laws will always survive where one based on violence will not.
The crushing of finer moral qualities like mercy, pity, calmness, and forgiveness, which war brings about, helps to inaugurate a more materialistic period after the war.
War always brings about the brutalization of most of the men who fight in it and yet, paradoxically, the spiritualization of a minority.
The memory of slain relatives and the sight of crippled ones teaches terrible lessons. Only the fanatic or the ruthless will refuse to absorb these lessons and will see in those very sufferings a stimulant to revenge, an inducement to plot for further war.
Although war ennobles many people by providing them with larger motives and wider outlooks through the union of all individuals in a common aim, although it forces them to make personal aims secondary and subordinate to the common welfare, it still brutalizes them. It arouses bestial passions and forms evil characters. It is still an evil and destructive enterprise which takes away more than it gives, lowers more than it elevates.
The bitter lessons of war may be learned aright but they may also be soon forgotten.
If Atlantis went to its grave under the impulse of violent eruptions that rocked the world, the Atlantean use of atomic power for warlike purposes lay behind the eruptions themselves.
What man, what country can feel safe so long as thermonuclear weapons remain in existence? But if they are banned what of the lesser horrors which War Departments have developed--germs, gases, rays, and other obscene nightmarish things?
If men had better character and more intuition they would not and could not accept such horrors, even in the name of self-defense.
War disrupts customs, dissolves morality, and destroys art. It alters fate and reveals the good and the bad in human character. It is the severest test both of a man and a nation. It shocks religion, blacks out mysticism, but confirms philosophy.
When the usefulness of a tradition is at an end both men and events attack and disintegrate it. The longer the war went on, the less did it become probable that the old order of thought could be restored after it.
Causes of war
If war comes, the blame must fall not only outwardly on the men and policies which provoke it, but also inwardly on the passions and greeds and egoisms which influence leaders and led alike.
When there is more of hate than of goodwill between two nations, and for a sufficient time, it is inevitable under the law of compensation that physical war will break out between them.
War, being ultimately the expression of the mind's errors and the heart's passions, can only be stopped by getting at it in the places where it starts: in the mind and the heart themselves. Its cause being primarily internal it cannot be cured by an external remedy. This means that neither organized religion nor organized politics can save the world from the ruin that awaits it. We may wish them well in their attempts but we cannot help seeing facts which all history causes us to see. The guns and bombs, the gases and tanks of modern war are only the symbols of man's inner disorder. The reality behind them is his ignorance of spiritual laws, his blindness to the fact that all war is a consequence and not a cause. All the national days of prayer and the eminent ecclesiastics who led them have failed to stop two world wars in our time. And they failed because they were trying to escape from a consequence whilst leaving the cause untouched.
The sufferings that World War II brought to so many have deeply shocked us but the significance of those sufferings must also be examined from a fresh standpoint. In all the theories offered to a bewildered world concerning its own woes, there is much anxiety and alarm at the symptoms but little search for the causes. If people accept a deceptive world-view as the Germans did and as the Russians do, or a defective one as so many others did and do, they must also accept the troubles and disasters which go with it.
We must push the spade of enquiry deep down into the earth that surrounds the roots of this problem of wars and riots, aggressions and crimes, rather than be content with a mere surface view. The evils that menace our existence will then be found to grow out of two roots: ignorant egoism and unchecked emotion. The one is unnecessary, the other unreasonable.
Each of the world wars which afflicted mankind was the inevitable self-earned effect of causes previously set going. The unerring law of karma brings whatever good or evil recompense is deserved. The debit account of wrong done is allowed to run on until the end of the page and then it has to be totalled and the balance entered to adjust the total. The great famines, like the great wars, which afflicted and still afflict mankind, constitute part of this adjustment, part of the payment which mankind is forced to make by the higher governing law of karma. Their causes are as plural as the causes of the wars, although on the deepest level there is only the same single cause of human ignorance leading to human wrong-doing. One of them is the refusal of mankind to utilize the earth's grain harvests for its own direct use, diverting them instead to the use of animals deliberately bred for slaughter and then eating the grain indirectly in the form of those animals' corpses. Such a way of supporting life is both utterly unnecessary and utterly cruel. The life of innocent creatures cannot be taken upon such baseless grounds with impunity. Retribution has hit mankind again and again in the past, with the weapons of hunger, disease, and war, and it is hitting them again in the present. No reorganization of agricultural methods on more efficient and more productive lines, no re-arrangement of trading relations, no governmental subsidies in cash, tractors, seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, or equipment will save mankind from suffering famines and enduring starvation if it does not face the real challenge and meet it. A radical change of life is demanded from it, a repentant change of heart is the only way to win back Nature's smile. It must stop this unjustified murder of helpless living beings, murdered merely because they are lower in the scale of evolution. It must accept the perfectly sufficient diet of grains, cereals, vegetables, pulses, fruits, nuts, and dairy produce which will enable it to live with less suffering and more health, less punishment and more conscience, than a meat diet permits.
Life brings man what he needs, which is sometimes what he desires but at other times what he fears. The modern world badly needed a shake-up, and got one. However, it received only what it deserved. The war descended on it in accordance with karmic law. When nation arose against nation, it was only an end-expression of the innate selfishness which had been actuating them. We must expect such situations, for they are the natural and inevitable consequence of all that has happened before. Unless the war has brought a vivid realization of the truth of the law of compensation, it has not brought any spiritual progress. But it is too much at this time to expect the modern world to understand the cause of its tribulations. What valuable ethical and psychological significances, what striking illustrations of the inexorable law of retribution, could be drawn from the war!
The evolutionary pressure upon humanity is not to give up its fratricidal warfare, although it will eventuate in that, but to give up the aggressive selfishness in which such warfare has its roots.
If the nations cannot settle their differences peacefully it is because the ego in them is too strong, the passions too violent, and the antagonisms too blind. The differences must be faced on deeper than physical levels, and the refusal to do this on the grounds that such are idealistic and not practical results in superficial and not true considerations and results.
How hard it is to get people to draw accurate conclusions from their experience one can read from the annals of history. Again and again the people of one nation race or religion who have been subjected to persecution by a different one, have failed to behave justly and tolerantly when the turning wheel of destiny put them later into power.
Virgil, the Roman, dreamt of universal peace. Many today entertain the same dream but at the same time they are contradicted by piled-up evidences of the violence in human nature, the strife engendered by blind self-interest, the killing instinct that is a heritage from the animal.
In spite of the spiritual messages which have been given to mankind by the great prophets, the savagery of war still continues to show the strength of the animal in man.
If their compassion for helpless animals is so small that they will not give up eating flesh, by what right do they call upon God to show compassion toward them and stop war?
The world war was not only the consequence of the desecration of the Egyptian graves, of course. It was much more a consequence of the evil thoughts and feelings which exist in men's hearts and of the spiritual ignorance which exists in their minds. The desecration was itself only one of the symptoms of that ignorance.
Evil desires and unjust acts were the seed: the horrors of war were the fruit. The awful retribution which fell upon whole nations was impelled and guided by the power behind the eternal and immutable law of consequences. Up to a certain point, it could have been modified and even prevented, but beyond this point nothing could annul its appointed course.
Let us blame none but ourselves. This holocaust was needed in order to bring humanity fully to its senses, to purge its materialistic atheism of its pride, and to show it how hollow and hypocritical was its facade of civilization.
When we penetrate these social, economic, political, educational, and national problems to rock bottom we find that they are really ethical problems.
The gusts of hate or anger or greed which blow men off their mental balance, blow them eventually to war.
So long as egos come into conflict with one another, so long will nations do the same. We are to expect the brutal carnage and concentrated massacre of war until and unless we are impelled to renounce it at last as a method of removing affronts to justice.
World War II, Nazism, Fascism, Hitler
For those whose inward eyes were sufficiently open to see what was happening behind the scenes and beneath the surface of things, World War II was a war not only on the military and political planes but also against those powerful evil spirits whom the apostle Paul called "The rulers of darkness" practising "spiritual wickedness in high places." That is to say, it was also a war against a demonistic incursion into human affairs unparalleled in human history. We were not merely fighting deluded Germans. We were also fighting unseen evil powers.
When the New Year of 1919 dawned, Europe particularly and mankind almost everywhere believed that what had been lived through was the most dreadful war in all history. When, however, a score of years later a second war was spelled in letters of red fire across the frightened face of this planet, the whole world was lost in bewilderment. Governments and nations stood aghast at the spectacle of the failure of their own baffled and bewildered struggles to escape from the spider's web of terrors into which they had fallen. They gazed perplexed upon an amazing scene such as the past had never known. A period precisely like unto it was looked for in vain through all the known records of time.
A surface view of the war informs us that mankind was sacrificed on the blood-stained altar of one man's insensate ambition in Europe and of one clique's militaristic passion in Asia. A philosophic view, however, informs us that this is only partly true. There was very much more behind the war than this simplification suggests. Activating all the other factors and rising from the uncharted depths of human consciousness, there was a cruel psychic attack upon humanity itself, upon all its best hopes and finest prospects, upon everything that had raised it from kinship with the teeth-bared beasts to companionship with sacred intuitions and holy thoughts. And to bring this attack to the completest possible triumph, it was directed against both the bodies and minds of men, against their whole being. . . .[several lines were deleted here in the notebook--Ed.]
The second is the opposition which it encounters from invisible creatures who dwell in a supernatural sphere of utter darkness, who do not belong to its kingdom but who have psychic points of contact with it and ranges of influence over it. This sphere constitutes an element in Nature which is averse to man's upward movement and hostile to his higher characteristics. We do not have to go back to the great religions of antiquity for testimony to its real existence; the recorded experiences of scientific psychical researchers of modernity can provide that too.
It was more difficult for most people to understand correctly what was at stake in the war and what indeed were the forces aligned behind it when the struggle first started than after it had passed progressively through some of its earlier phases. Not till Hitler had overrun nearly all of Europe was it quite clear to everyone except the emotionally foolish or the selfishly biased that the aims which inspired him were such that humanity's whole future was at stake. Those who said World War II was a continuation of World War I were partly mistaken. It was so in a military sense only but not in any other sense. Those who chose to see this as a war between rival exploiting Imperialisms only were blinded by their own emotional complexes. All this terrible holocaust of suffering did not occur in the defense of Euro-American life and liberty alone; it also occurred in the defense of the life and liberty of generations to come throughout the five continents. All were taking part in events of the profoundest historical character.
Why did the dark forces choose our own generation for the launching of their attack? Why did they not choose the seventeenth, eighteenth, or nineteenth centuries? First, never before could such an operation be so effective in result, for never before could a single movement reach so many human souls on a planet-wide scale and at the same moment in time. Hitherto, only a limited area or a particular race could be its objective; now all areas and all races are within its scope. Second, never before was a choice of roads so fateful in its ultimate results. The directions travelled now, the turn given to the stream of events during these few momentous years, the decisions taken by mankind's leaders in this stupendous crisis, will govern the fate and shape the social, spiritual, economic, cultural, political, and personal history of the whole world for many centuries to come.
These reasons combined to make the dark forces attach supreme importance to choosing that time for their attack.
Many believed, even up to a decade ago, that humanity was ready for its next important step forward. But the Nazis showed that millions were equally ready for its next important step backward. Hence we must not overestimate the power and scope of the idealism that so fortunately proved triumphant in the end.
It was not merely the fate of this or that country which was at stake; it was the fate of all mankind. Only an inadequate comprehension of its background and an imperfect perception of its consequences could limit its significance to anything less than a universal one.
Humanity escaped from the most fearful danger, the most awful evil of its modern history. The gospel of hate failed to capture it, but only just failed.
There is really another unseen and vicious struggle beneath the visible one, a desperate aggression against the soul of humanity itself of which the war became an outward symbol.
War came with the thundering gallop of the Four Horsemen. Its deafening tumult all but drowned the whispers that came from the higher regions of man's own heart. It threatened to engulf humanity and to vanquish its soul. No earlier war has had such profound effects on human lives just as no earlier war has touched so many human lives. Millions of men and women have been forcibly dislodged from their own homes and even their own countries and have had to fit themselves in with strangers or with foreigners. Hitler has heaped sorrow after sorrow upon this unfortunate generation to so stupendous a degree that history cannot parallel the record. Yet, the end of this miserable tragedy has been a victory of the forces of light over those of darkness. Thus, we who live today have lived to see the dramatic vindication of the moral law.
They suffered and fought so bravely in the hope that evil might not dominate the world.
It was not only a war to save what is physically most precious--our lives and homes--but still more a war to save what is spiritually most precious--our ethical values. For it is true to say that no man could be a hardened Nazi with any sincerity and yet possess an ethical outlook on life.
The era of Nazism meant the crucifixion of love in the Nazis themselves.
The issue is whether they wish to take their place with the evolutionary forces or against them. The Nazis did the latter and lost.
We may frankly admit that those who opposed and fought Hitler were not entirely disinterested in their motives and that they made many mistakes out of selfishness in the past. But this must not blind us to the fact that later the commission of several of those mistakes was frankly acknowledged and an attempt made to atone for them even though under the duress of danger and loss.
Mussolini told the Italian troops whom he sent to fight in Russia: "We shall triumph because history teaches that peoples which represent the ideas of the past must give way before peoples which represent the ideas of the future." What he said of history was true but what he predicted of Fascism was false. It was false because there is no future for the glorification of brute force, elevated though it be to the pedestal of a philosophic doctrine, in a century which is getting sick and tired of war and which is growing more enlightened and more rational.
Kersten relates that at his first meeting with the Gestapo chief, he found a copy of the Koran on Himmler's night table, and that the holy book of the Moslems accompanied the dread little man on all his travels.
Hitler came into power at Berlin in the very same month and the very same year that Roosevelt came into power at Washington. The timing was both symbolic and karmic.
We have fought this war against military aggression. But we have yet to realize that it has also been fought against mental aggression. The Nazis invaded first the minds of their own people and later those of the people of the countries they occupied. The Japanese Fascists did precisely the same. For some years before the war the Japanese Government prohibited the possession of short-wave radio sets. Consequently the Japanese people were unable to listen in to foreign broadcasts, were unable to hear any expositions of the democratic standpoint and were inoculated solely with the same kind of totalitarian poisonous falsehood with which the Nazi government inoculated the Germans. This planned object of casting the mind of the entire Japanese nation into the desired mould even took the extreme measure, so curious to the occidental observer, of a "thought control" police, with its extraordinary mission of jailing anyone for thinking the wrong thoughts!
If we consider the recent history of the Far East, we shall see the same inexorable force of karma at work. It is known in certain circles that following the historic events of the l850s' when the Japanese were forced by foreign warships to open their ports to foreign commerce, a secret council of the most powerful noble families decided to revenge themselves on the Westerners as soon as they were in a position to do so. To bring this about they resolved on a twofold program. The first part was economic, the second was military. It was at this council too that the plan of sending capable young men to the West to master its industrial commercial military and naval secrets was first formulated and at once implemented. The economic part of this program eventually was completed, and an amazed world witnessed Japan's industrial and commercial triumph in successfully placing goods--which a century ago she had not even heard of--at ridiculously low prices in markets and bazaars throughout the five continents. The second part of this superlatively ambitious program which came to a climax with the war sought first to drive the whites out of their Asiatic possessions and then to place all Asia including Siberia, China, and India within a mammoth Japanese empire. The Japanese war lords bear the onus of having brilliantly conceived and patiently executed this master plan for domination of the nations. The "Tanaka Memorial," with its infamous doctrine of conquest through "blood and iron," is evidence of such a blueprint for conquest when each succeeding stage of the plan was brought to a successful conclusion. What is the inner meaning of the spirit which actuated this secret council and the successes which followed it? The obvious reply to this question is that Japan was hysterically driven by a subconscious intellectual and physical inferiority-complex to seek revenge. This is correct but it lies upon the surface of history and does not touch the depths. For still more was Japan raised up in Asia by the same karmic forces which raised up Hitler in Europe.
The history of the melancholy capitulation to German arms or to German terrorism or to German bribery of the smaller countries, one by one, during World War II is a history of the disaster of suicidal disunity. Standing shoulder to shoulder, speaking and fighting simultaneously, they could have put up a vigorous resistance--sufficient to have brought worthwhile external aid in time. Further, the tragedy of France's quick catastrophic fall before the onslaught of Hitler's legions was twofold. On the mental side it was a tragedy of shameful treachery in high places, of divided counsels and clashing leadership, of corrupt politicians and conservative generals, and finally of national inability to rise above narrow interests. Even the military defeat of France was largely a stage-managed affair. A few highly placed French Nazis as good as betrayed their country to the German Nazis. Their intentions were good but their understanding was bad. The consequences of these defects appeared in the half heartedness with which she wasted the valuable opening weeks of the war, those weeks when Hitler was attacking Poland, and in the suicidal spirit of indifference and lack of conviction which permeated the army. On the physical side it was a tragedy of out-of-date technique and inferior equipment, of inability to understand that men could no longer hold out against machines. The Old Staff, wedded to the Maginot line as they were, did not perceive how rapidly it had become antiquated strategy. For armoured motorized divisions and blitzkrieg tactics had largely destroyed the value of line and position fighting. The plane, the tank, and the parachute, massed in synchronized attack, were the symbols of modern warfare--but the significance of this symbolism was only half-understood. The fact is that France was defeated from within even before she was attacked from without. Finally, during that fateful September of 1939, there was the pathetic spectacle of Polish generals--twentieth-century men with nineteenth-century minds--honestly and sincerely attempting to oppose Nazi tank offensives with cavalry charges!
Mussolini was acquainted as a young man with the Buddhist mystical doctrines and did a little reading on them, but he flatly said in the end he did not want them because they were enervating to his ego. When Rosita Forbes, the well-known traveller, once asked Mussolini, "Do you believe in God?" he answered, "No, I do not believe in any power other than my own. If I did I should be smashed." He was interested, for the avowed object of developing his personal force, in the study and practice of Tantrika yoga. This is a system of yoga which originated in Bengal but is now prevalent chiefly in Tibet. It easily becomes an instrument to serve personal ambitions.
The evil forces working through mediums are cunning enough not to show their true ultimate aims all at once. These become clear to the observer only by successive stages, only gradually. Whoever has critically studied the ways of evil spirits will know that they first lure their mediumistic victims or gullible public along the path of self-injury or even self-destruction by winning their confidence with a series of successful predictions or favourable interventions. When this confidence has been well established, these dark forces then reveal their real intent by persuading their victims, through gigantic lies or false predictions, to commit a final act in which everything is staked on a single throw. The unhappy dupes invariably lose this last throw and are then overwhelmed by shattering disaster. This occurred in Hitler's case with his sudden attack on Russia in 1941. He then stated his belief that Moscow would be reached within six to seven weeks. But his soldiers never reached Moscow. His invisible guides had indeed betrayed him. How true are Shakespeare's words from Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 3: "But 'tis strange:/ And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,/ The instruments of darkness tell us truths,/ Win us with honest trifles, to betray us/ In deepest consequence."
Hitler was a man who had been born with a natural faith in selfishly used occultism. On the one hand, his hypnotic forces were of a superlative order whilst on the other, he had completely surrendered himself to the direction of intuitive influences; next, he was a clairvoyant visionary and dynamic worker who both saw the coming of and sought to materialize a new epoch for mankind.
We may regard the appearance of a Hitler sitting on his Bavarian peak and menacingly surveying the European scene as a phenomenon as evil as a tiger looking for prey. We do so because he appears such a strange inversion of all that is elevated in human character. Millions still regard him as a devil incarnate because he wounded their best feelings or behaved towards them in monstrous ogre-like fashion or stretched them on the rack of mental or physical torture or shattered their domestic comfort or brought horrible sufferings down upon them. He is loathed as a base and brutal megalomaniac who wielded his power by creating fear, exploiting prejudice, and falsifying facts.
It was a part of Hitler's evil mission to draw the Germans into a trap of moral self-destruction. The bait was worldly aggrandizement based on an unscientific and arrogant racial exclusiveness, narrower and crueler than any the world has ever seen. Such a bait was eagerly swallowed. All the Satanic strength of the Nazis was concentrated on its accomplishment. The result was ruin and chaos, complete and final, for the entire German people. And over the dismal scene that was the prostrate body of a once-proud nation lay the shadow of that ruthless colossus with feet of clay--Hitler!
It may be nowadays a platitude to declare that the Germans have failed to recognize any higher moral law than "Might is right," yet it is the sad truth. The first tragedy of the Germans is their failure to learn from experience. How to revive their moral faculties which have been deadened by blind obedience to evil leaders is another problem. The Nazis with their savage mentality and terrible might, have lost their high priest, Hitler. But they have lost neither their vindictiveness nor their arrogance. They are unteachable. Every thoughtful person must feel uneasy about mankind's future. He will remember that late in 1944, when the Russian army had already invaded German soil, Hitler's Chief of Staff, General Guderian, told a gathering of cheering adolescent youths, "We shall wage war again even if we are defeated." He will remember too that when Rudolf Hess told his British captors, "If we are beaten this time, we shall fight a third war and win," he was not only speaking for himself but also for millions of young Nazis.
Nazism, for all its humbug, pretense, and imposture, was essentially the dangerous incarnation of a totally evil force, dedicated to serve the criminal instincts and lustful appetites of its adherents. It was an attempt to lead the masses into spiritual perdition. Its massed power found a perfect focal point in the mediumship of Hitler and his traffic with unclean spirits. There is no doubt he had given his active consent in full consciousness at every stage of his career to the evil forces which were swaying him. He could not be held irresponsible for them to any degree whatsoever. The terrible forces of malevolent design and fierce hatred operated through him and all his Nazi plotters. Hitler's insane lust to degrade the human mind and destroy its ideals was, to those who were clairvoyant enough to pierce the psychic veil, nothing less than the outcome on the physical plane of these violent attempts by diabolic forces to possess us for their own evil purposes. The dark forces which ensouled the Nazi leaders strove to promote animosity, bitterness, jealousy, and greed, and to inflame the most bestial elements of mankind. Attacking the human soul from another angle, Nazi theory and practice drastically curtailed or totally denied the free exercise of the human entity's highest rights--to think, to speak, to choose between right and wrong, and to worship God. The spiritual dangers to mankind which resided in a Nazi victory are awful to contemplate. Never before had its inner life been so satanically invaded. From the very first, the guiding hands of the Powers of Darkness were in evidence when the use of ruthless force became the Nazi rule, because the way of brutal compulsion belongs to the unseen destroyers, the adverse element in creation.
But the long battle between the instruments of Light and Darkness is not at an end. The dark powers have sought to prevent the emergence of a more enlightened era. They have tried to do this through the virulent and violent German Nazis but failed. They will try to do it again. The re-alignment of the Nazi-minded and their antagonists will now take place in a lesser form inside many countries. The forces of evil did not sound their retreat with the downfall of Hitler. The anti-Nazi powers are gathering great strength but they will have to face a fresh alignment of these opponents. The struggle will next be so fundamental and against such irredeemable vicious enemies then as it was during the war itself.
Hitler talked of setting up a United States of Europe, an idea which he borrowed from Napoleon. But whereas Napoleon wanted to unite Europe in peace, prosperity, and intellectual progress, Hitler wanted to unite it in misery, enslavement, and intellectual retrogression. Napoleon sought out the intelligentsia wherever his armies went but Hitler imprisoned, tortured, or killed them wherever his Gestapo could catch them. Napoleon in his heart fought for the extension of democracy whereas Hitler in his materialism fought for the extension of Germany's boundaries. Napoleon's troops marched to the tune of an international ideal of freedom from medieval fetters whereas Hitler marched to the tune of national greed. He spread his brown horror of carnage and corruption all over Europe, whilst Liberty lay dying in a dungeon. He saw truth indeed but only to distort and pervert it. He talked like a sage of "the nothingness and insignificance of the individual human being," but whereas the sage uses this truth to point the way to individual liberation, Hitler used it to point the way to individual enslavement. His self-proclaimed inspiration was spurious, his sociological insight was chimerical, and only he himself knew how much his reiterated pacifism was a fraudulent camouflage. It is true that he first animated the German people into a feverish activity, but instead of directing their prodigious efforts toward worthy ends which could have made millions happier, he directed them toward ignoble ones and made more millions more wretched than any other dominant group had ever done in history. Hitler's talk of a new order meant in his own mind an order under which Germany enslaved feudalistically but exploited modernistically every other nation.
Hitler's private conversations, even more than his public declarations, amply reveal that he clearly realized that. He not only saw much of this but, in his brutal and ignorant way, tried to construct this new order by deliberate planned effort. He set waves in motion. "The Nazi movement has finally closed the Feudal Age forever," he once declared privately. "All these tremendous changes are inevitable and it is National Socialism alone which understands their significance and works actively for a new era. Our task is to remake the world on modern and unprecedented lines. We alone possess the vast imagination and creative willpower to get out of the common somnolence of living in the antiquated past and attempt it successfully." Amid all his obvious charlatanry, Hitler was something of a clairvoyant. But his mental eyes being diseased, he could see only distorted visions. Consequently, he not only caricatured, degraded, and falsified ideas which were originally sound, but instead of understanding that the greatly needed historical upheaval was to be brought about for the universal benefit of all mankind, he could understand only that it was to be brought about for the exclusive benefit of the Germans. Hence his evil visions led in the end to miserable failure where they might have led to the success that attends the perception of dynamic historical inner necessity, and his idealism became so grossly limited and distorted that its artificial achievements constituted a curse and not a blessing for mankind. What, at a time when contemporary history was so drastically at work, could have become a movement for ending world enslavement, what the time-spirit demanded for the uplift of all men, Hitler was willing to concede only for the selfish aggrandizement of a particular group of men. This is why he achieved the gigantic success that he did and why it was followed later by equally gigantic failure. He could have rendered an incomparable service to the world but instead rendered an incomparable disservice to it. For the new age he tried to usher in was immeasurably worse than the old one. Nazi victory would have spiritually put the evolutionary clock back for centuries. It would have meant a spiritual defeat, a moral degeneration, and an intellectual black-out.
Childhood, adolescence, and the threshold of adulthood represent the most impressionable periods of the human being's life. The possibilities of uplifting moral character, improving thinking power, and unfolding mystical intuition during such periods are much more than most people believe. Hitler fully realized this truth and turned it to suit his own devilish purposes with such startling success as to vindicate its immense importance. He falsified science and mutilated history, but his greatest harm was to poison the minds of the younger generation with that most dangerous of all infections--hatred. He cunningly taught millions of young boys and girls to think daily and solely of the righteousness of his cause until they came to believe in it with the strong faith that an earlier generation gave to God.
There is a historical connection between the Jews, Egypt, India, and ultimately Atlantis which carries a story that curiously repeats itself. What Hitler did to the Jews was done under purely psychic guidance, for he was an excellent spiritistic medium and knew it. He almost daily took a half hour or so to go into semi-trance and get his guidance, inspiration, and spirit-communications.
The Director General of Archeology of India visited Germany shortly before the war. He told me there were twenty-seven university chairs of Sanskrit in Germany prior to the Nazi regime. Under Hitler they did next to nothing for there were hardly any students to use them!
The growth of totalitarian beliefs before that fateful September day in 1939 when the first bombs broke upon Europe again, however much and however rightly it is to be deplored, is not to be dismissed as an historical accident. Powerful causes must have lain behind it. The philosophically minded have to probe beneath the surface and find why totalitarianism succeeded in having for a time the fatal appeal which it did. And--leaving aside such success as it gained through wielding the bloody clubs of brutal violence and barbarian terror, as well as its offering of a speedy solution of harassing economic difficulties--among these reasons we shall find that it represented a half-formed substitute in the popular mind for the religion which it had lost. We shall never understand the meaning of totalitarianism's appeal unless we begin to understand that it was not only the outcome of a few evil men's crooked personal ambitions, but also the outcome of a falsely directed religious instinct.
At the very outset a contemplation of Hitler's significance is faced by an intricate interweaving of separate questions such as the psychological character and philosophic place of his personality, the function of war, the play of historic, economic, and political forces, and so on. He stood in such an intimate relation with his age that valuable lessons may be drawn from its study.
What was Hitler? We all know about the rapid and remarkable progress of this ex-corporal in a Bavarian regiment to the citadel of continental power, but what was his psychological and philosophical significance? It would be a mistake to regard him as an arrogant if ignorant man who, by starting the Nazi party at Munich, merely sought to complete the logical chain and conclude the chauvinistic work initiated by his predecessors and contemplated by the unteachable Army High Command. He sought to achieve something tremendously larger, something of which the mere expansion of Germany was but a part, although a most important part.
Instrumental puppets of Destiny like him are pushed forward at the appointed time on the stage of historical events, allowed to play their parts, and then are doomed to disappear. Hence although Hitler gained the temporary empire that he sought, spread from the Arctic to the Aegean seas as it was, it fell rapidly from his grasp when the inevitable karmic reaction came into play. When the tides of karma turned against him, he met first with frustration and then with failure. And the destruction of effete forms does not take so long a time as the construction of new ones. Therefore we could confidently have looked forward to an early end of that chaotic period. The doom of the terror-filled Nazi regime was preordained. The other agencies that were to complete this historical drama were being groomed for the dramatic epilogue.
Because the thoughts of millions of people were concentrated against him; because thought is a potent power which tends sooner or later to objectify itself; because all these millions were thinking destructively and antagonistically against him; because such a tremendous volume of intensely one-pointed thought has never before been known in world history; because all this power, which clutched him and his people like an octopus, was bound to materialize eventually; a complete defeat for Hitler's military and civilian armies and a complete collapse of Hitler himself were inevitable, even though his crooked cross had been bombastically carried right through the entire continent of Europe. Those who knew the occult powers of thought and the inner workings of karma knew also that nothing was surer than the nemesis which would fall inexorably upon this barbarous man and his gang, for their vast violation of moral laws. He sowed and therefore unfailingly reaped the worst destiny which any man of the twentieth century has yet made. Even during his lifetime his own arrogance turned eventually to anxiety and that again to despair. And when his pilgrimage to perdition was at an end with his career, he had to undergo a preliminary purgation in the only hell that there is, the hell of the awful dream of forcibly receiving the suppressed hatreds of his victims, the terrible post-death nightmare of re-witnessing their agonized experiences from their standpoint. It were a dozen times better for Hitler and his misguided helpmates to have died early than to have lived long. For the evil destiny they made for themselves during those extra years of life will be nothing more than so much extra suffering they will have to endure.
Hitler sat upon his Bavarian peak and cunningly meditated in his diseased vanity how to sit upon all Europe itself and gain the chauvinistic glory he thirsted for. He finally translated his dream into visibility, but only to find in the end that he had sat upon a volcano in which all the peoples of Europe burst forth in the mightiest revenge-seeking upheaval history has ever known.
Many people became so depressed by Hitler's early and easy recurring victories as to believe that he would win the war, and they became so deceived by his High Command's facade of ruthless efficiency as to believe that he was utterly invincible. Apart from other factors of internal weakness, they often overlooked one which was of immense importance: the mental one. They did not notice the invisible deterioration of the nerve of the German people, the hidden breaking of morale, and the spread of social neurosis. Underneath even the egoistic bombast of the Nazi Party members themselves, there gradually grew up a psychosis of fear, a malady of jittery nerves, and a palsy of flagging will. The German mind generally became more and more filled with confusions and anxieties, with inability to defeat growing doubts. The passage from these concealed cracks to a sudden and open national nervous breakdown, as the realization of useless suffering and needless loss became clearer, was therefore only a matter of time.
Hitler successfully dealt out iconoclastic blows not only at the conventional political religions and military ideology of his time but also at the conventional theories of economics of his time. A Germany ruined first by defeat and then by inflation, a Germany filled with the misery of six million registered unemployed and their families was turned by him into a Germany everywhere busily at work, filled with new activity, throbbing with new enterprise. What though this was done as a preparation for war? It could have been done--just as easily--if Hitler had been less evil-minded, as a preparation for peace, and the factories which made guns and tanks could have made harmless useful goods instead. But the fact is that the factories ceased to remain empty, the workers ceased to remain idle, and the wheels of industry began to go round again. Aside from what he stole from the Jews, this was done without importing fresh capital from abroad. But greatly to increase the productive capacity of the country without first greatly increasing the capital of the country was an impossible feat according to the orthodox doctrines of economics. This historic accomplishment exposed the foolishness of those stupid and selfish doctrines which had made money, the physical token of exchange, into the one and only symbol of wealth, which had tried to perpetuate the antiquities and heartlessness of capitalism. Our social and economic ills must be healed. Yet they cannot be healed by the old medicines any more than by the new poisons of Hitler.
The war was a test which showed humanity (and those who observe it) just where it stood. It showed up the hidden evil as well as the hidden good, revealed the lurking weakness and the unused strength. If true religion had prevailed in Germany, the Nazis with their selfishness, aggressiveness, and trickery could not have prevailed also. But this test was an extreme one. We need not fear that fresh Hitlers, more Mussolinis, are always going to arise. They will not. Dictators and their dictations are but transient instruments of the world-changes which mark the last years of a dying age. The world did not encourage the initial monstrous acts of Hitler, but neither did it oppose them. This was evidence of its own inner weakness. It is true, Hitler led his people finally to humiliation and ruin but that does not absolve the world of having contributed to the possibility of the Hitleristic regime. He was our tutor, raised to cause suffering to himself, his people, and ourselves, that the world might learn the futility of materialism, greed, envy, and selfishness.
Hitler confused statecraft with stagecraft. Hence, his love of taking the limelight with a new sensation every now and then before the war! But with the turn of the tide of events in his enemies' favour, Hitler was singularly silent. His speeches became rare and even then were filled with feeble evasions of the true and terrible situation into which he had led those who so blindly followed him. For nothing was so formidable as its facts. He twisted arguments and tortured words--but there were its facts staring everybody in the face. His judgements became faulty, his new ventures ill-fated, even his fresh conquest of territory proved in the end to be a fresh burden he had to bear. Hitler's procrastination in attacking England immediately after Dunkirk was the beginning of that series of colossal mistakes which he was led to commit and which themselves led first to a process of crumbling and then to his downfall. Like all his lesser prototypes, he was ruined by his own ambitions. Thus Hitler, the arch-destroyer, has himself been destroyed.
In becoming the unparalleled monster which he did become, Hitler was a traitor to the human race. For he sank back to the cruelty, passion, and rage of the wild-animal kingdom but added to them the mental profits of his sojourn in the human kingdom, all its perverted thinking power, without however showing those finer qualities which even animals possess. Those who talked with him were often appalled by the hatred and vindictiveness which punctuated his coarse criticisms. Such swift and strong passions had to find an outlet and this was provided by the cruel, aggressive, and brutal acts which marked his rule. He was a votary of violence. In the field of international diplomacy, his brutality was marked by crafty artfulness. It took some time before the contrast between his suave, disarming speeches and his violent, ferocious deeds became evident. He dwelt in an atmosphere of pure evil, and hatred was the natural air he breathed. When it came to expressing it, he wielded a really wicked tongue. He not only flayed the skin off those who stood in his path but thereafter proceeded to disembowel them. The hate-poisoned atmosphere which he created throughout Europe, both amongst his sympathizers and his victims, was his worst legacy.
Why did the Nazis quickly proceed to clamp down all freedom of speech and to shoot or shut up in concentration prisons all the intelligentsia? It is simply because truth can afford to encourage criticism, whereas falsehood fears it. Nazi Germany proved the irony of human suggestibility, that there, where truth was most absent, the people were led to believe it was most present. The Nazis invented pretexts for invasion as they invented history for propaganda. They did this because it was useful to them. Their followers, however, honestly believed both pretexts and history because the hypnotic power of suggestion had influenced them. If we remember the mentally dark and morally savage state of Europe during the long stretch of centuries between the time of Justinian and the twelfth century, that period which has been well named the Dark Ages, we can picture something of the New Order which Hitler wanted to inaugurate. Had he triumphed there would have been no further philosophy for a generation. From national falsehoods to international deceptions, his work of instilling darkness into men's minds went on unimpeded. The ideal of a government with clean hands and clear conscience was not only utterly alien to him, but also utterly despised by him. He raised brigandage to the status of statesmanship! His faithful satellites and partners in treachery busied themselves feverishly to explain away the deceptions and duplicities which lurked behind Hitler's words. First the German nation believed his fabrications, then large numbers in other nations believed them. It illustrated how those who begin by disdaining reason, end by accepting absurdity. Most people have only dimmed spiritual lights but here we have the awful case of men with wholly extinguished lights, without retaining the slightest trace of reverence for spiritual values.
Impulsive immature youth could not fail to see that farcical outworn ideas were still being imposed on the people. It was natural that in countries where the economic structure was quickly disintegrating and where emotions are always strong they should fall victim to the impassioned voice of iconoclastic demagogues like Hitler. He disregarded the old idols which had lost their charm and began to construct new but not better ones, for their hollowness was hidden behind cheap gaudy tinsel. He invested these materialistic and militaristic gods with the glamour of messianic religiosity and thus satisfied both the political and inner yearnings of the young at a single stroke. Today's call is for inspired leaders and inspired teachers; today's need is of institutions that will serve rather than exploit, and concepts that will ennoble rather than degrade. The new currents of life need new molds in which to flow, new institutions through which to reveal themselves. The task ahead of them is vitally important and extremely difficult but also tremendously inspiring.
Hitler is to be seen not as he was first hailed, that is, as the re-creator of his country, but as the unconscious instrument of Nemesis, as a vulgar channel for inescapable historic forces. Above all human dictators rises the unnoticed figure of their dictator--karma! Even this vile unspeakable Hitler was a punitive instrument in the hands of mankind's karma, a sadistic agent of planetary self-earned fate.
Did Hitler, as some assert, sit in communion with spirit-forces before he gave those electrifying speeches in the stadium at Nuremburg? And was the building erected for this purpose a copy of the Temple of the Sphinx? What is the evidence for these assertions? That Hitler was a medium and that he did sit for periods in this kind of trance is known.
Since ancient times the swastika, turning clockwise, symbolizes universal creation, but turning anti-clockwise, it symbolizes universal destruction.
After Hitler rose from being the Madman of Munich to a dizzier success as the Barbarian of Berlin, he did not fail frequently to refer to himself in his public speeches as being the instrument of a God-ordained mission, the holy co-worker with Divine Providence. "I can only thank God Almighty for giving me the strength and knowledge to do what had to be done," he told the Reichstag in the midst of the war. He spoke of the mission which Providence had entrusted to him. But in the end his mission turned out to be nothing more than an insane desire to exploit the bodies of all non-Germans and enslave the minds of all Germans. He talked in public of relying on the Almighty God but actually in private relied on the Almighty Gestapo. He spoke, too, of the New Order he was creating which would unify Europe. But in the last scenes it turned out to be merely the old tyranny in new disguise. In his book Mein Kampf Hitler preened himself on being an astute psychologist. So far as the appeal to all that is basest and worst in men was concerned this is undoubtedly true. But so far as the understanding of all that makes up the pattern of human existence was concerned it is undoubtedly false. In the end he showed himself to be the worst psychologist history has yet known. He was astute enough to hit on the urgent need of mankind for dynamic leadership, its acute yearning for a Moses to bring it out of the confusion in which it found itself. But being himself mentally unbalanced he could and did lead it into only more and not less mental confusion, more and not less physical misery.
Effects of World War II
Even amid the wartime turmoil there were some who found their way--however intermittently and fragmentarily--to the deep peace of the spiritual life. To have achieved this during such a period is a good augury, for consider what these individuals will be able to achieve in the somewhat more leisurely and quieter postwar period. Within the atmosphere of inner peace, they will be able to continue their progress into the knowledge of the profounder realities of life.
Although the war aroused a number of people to mystical seeking, it was unfavourable to mystical practice. It broke into the privacy of the individual's life, introduced the communal pattern of living, and in many cases destroyed one's chance for a long period of getting any solitude at all, and--even much more--of that precious creative silence which is indispensable for the mystical life.
It was hard to study metaphysics during the era of bursting bombs, almost impossible to practise meditation during the din of a six-year war. The call then was to action in the service of menaced humanity, to prayer in the deepening of personal faith, and to endurance of ideals amid a planet's trembling and rocking.
The war, with its abnormal excitement, physical hardship, and enormous suffering--and especially its loss of privacy--made meditation difficult, unattractive, and, to most people, even impossible. It can be said therefore that the art of meditation was one of the inevitable casualties of the war. Although the tumult, violence, and extroversion of the time made it more needed than ever before, unfortunately the opportunities and conditions for its practice became more difficult than ever before. The general shake-up of wartime broke the even lives of many aspirants. Many, if not most, were forced into entirely new and often uncongenial environments with apparently uncongenial companions. They may have deplored the inability to make any spiritual progress under such conditions, but they were wrong. Progress is not solely a matter of having the time and solitude, the freedom and quietude for study and meditation. Nor is it dependent solely on forming contacts with like-minded people. Other factors are also concerned. Indeed, insofar as it showed them how the unfamiliar so-called materialistic half of the world lived, insofar as it drew them out of complacent attitudes and smug intellectual ruts, insofar as it shattered ignorance of realities--however hard or ugly--that form important parts of human experience but which had previously been fled from, the change was not a useless one.
Throughout the stress of the war period the human mind was tuned to a pitch of constant anxiety and the human body was often subject to pain or hardship. Nerves need to be healed. External peace must be matched by internal peace. The time for a wide-scale establishing of meditation, whose liberating practice brings peace and whose right pursuit weaves a necklace of noble thoughts around the neck, is at hand.
Only a small percentage of the mystically minded could escape the influence of the war. Most could not adopt the ivory tower attitude but had to look problems straight in the face.
Only after the guns of war are silenced do most men and women have the leisure in which to receive the instruction and appraise the worth of philosophy.
Many people found no compensating good at all in the tragedy of World War II. Most Europeans lost more or less of their possessions, such as money, property, relatives, home, security, even life itself. What was this but a compulsory self-mortification, a forced renunciation of the world, an involuntary detachment from earthly things? The ascetics, would-be saints, and God-seekers of all lands and times have practised a precisely similar renunciation but they did it voluntarily. They gave up the external life in the hope of finding a better one internally. Millions of people during the war who tried to cling to their earthly things and life, as well as the few who did not, were forcibly detached from both. This created the feeling of being tired of living, of the hopelessness of seeking satisfaction in transitory existence, and of the instability of all external situations. Such a drastic experience forced them to think, to wonder at the meaning of it all, and thus, to a microscopic extent, to seek after Truth. And what is one here on this planet for if not for this same purpose? It is humanity's school.
Let us not submit to the feeling of utter despair which would paralyse all efforts at self-improvement or at world-improvement. The recent wars have given birth to much pondering by many persons about the meaning of life, although most of it is as yet inarticulate. If they could see the meaning of the events which have crashed into life during recent years, they would see that the evolutionary trend is carrying them away from crass materialism and unbalanced externality.
The war was a cause of bringing people to the quest of the Overself and its serene blessedness. The aftermath of uncertain peace is bringing more. For they find so much present insecurity of life and possessions, so much uncertainty of future, that they turn to the Quest for peace.
Where they will not make a beginning to go out of their negative side, out of their lower nature, life itself is forcing them out of it. Where they will not let others educate them into a larger understanding, the violence of events is starting to teach it.
The metaphysical basis of altruistic proposals is, in part, sound enough. It teaches that we must clearly negate the illusions of individual existence if we would arrive at the truth of individual existence. The greatest of those illusions is that, in the external world, an individual stands separate, apart and alone. He does not. He cannot. Hence when the war compelled entire nations and entire classes within a nation to co-operate in many different ways in order to win it, this dire necessity showed them the virtue and value of co-operation. It made every individual realize that he was not merely a separate individual alone but also a member of an interdependent community. That is to say, the individual began to work for the common welfare because it was essential to his own welfare, too. At first he did it involuntarily and unavoidably, but he did it. And through the actual experience of doing so, a few individuals began to appreciate the ideal itself. But they were only the few: for the many, when the war ended, the outer stimulus to such an attitude also ended. So the altruistic ideal quickly sank below the horizon again.
We are not suggesting that anyone should embrace the fatalism so characteristic of the Orient; we are suggesting only that one should arrive at a more balanced view of life. The lack of it forced soldiers and civilians alike to learn through the sufferings of experiences what they could have learned through the calmness of reflection. The perilous situations of wartime brought about a vein of fatalism in many minds to whom it was hitherto unknown. It made them realize for the first time how small is the circle of freedom in which the human will operates. Those who so arrogantly defended the extreme freedom of the human will in the past are losing their following, as the opposite idea of extreme fatalism creeps into the Western hemisphere from Asia.
This belief in an inevitable destiny had largely gone from the modern mind, until the activities of Hitler and the atomic menace began to put it back there.
It is as misleading an oversimplification to assert that the war has made men more spiritual as it is to assert that it has made them more materialistic.
Those who hold the thought that the postwar world can continue to hold the materialistic outlook of the prewar one without destroying itself hold an illusion. It would be pleasant for many to be able to do so comfortably, but that assuredly is not happening and those who look forward to it are merely cultivating self-deception.
After the shattering of great cities and the uprooting of agonized millions, smug unthought-out ideas began to disappear along with smug unthought-out lives. Disillusionment crept into the air. With the hoarse tumultuous roar of ack-ack guns, the need of a new conception of human existence sounded in human consciousness.
The war and preparations for it aroused everyone to the need of re-adjustment to the new problems which it raised. Such a re-adjustment cannot be effected by escapist meditation alone nor by blind action alone nor by merely intellectual reasoning alone. What is needed to meet these problems successfully is a combination of all the three. This is one of the foremost lessons of the war.
Such a historical crisis gave millions of people the chance to make a fresh start in moral life.
The coming of peace will affect different sections and divergent groups variously. Some will turn more than ever towards scepticism in thought and sensualism in conduct. Others will take the greatest interest in political reforms and economic changes and regard these as all-important for society and the individual. A third section will become aware of their spiritual poverty, feeling an inner void which, do what they will, cannot be evaded and which they will have to fill by religious revival or mystical practices.
The stupendous trials of this war and the perplexing chaos of this period have demonstrated the need of inner support as the placid relaxations of peace had never done. Those who have found such support for the first time, who have wrested such profit from their misfortunes, who have alleviated their earthly grief by newly learned lessons of religious, mystical, or philosophical import, represent those who have responded to the new evolutionary influence of our transitional age.
Although these widespread wartime changes are leading to greater individualization, this is not an affirmation that the break-up of family life is at all desirable. The moral dangers which such a dislocation would lead to have already been revealed in the war's effect on many young people. Family life is an indispensable social safeguard, the most valuable medium for promoting right moral attitudes amongst those who are passing through the stages of childhood and adolescence. A true individualization of the human entity will not destroy but rather conserve all that is best in the family spirit.
More and more people are striving to realize the divine presence within themselves. But although markedly larger than was the case before the war, their number is still all too few.
Thus, out of the pain and death of war, one section of humanity has learnt to cherish the finer values of life and to nurture those attributes which distinguish them from the animals, whereas another section has become more selfish, more destructive, and more sensual. The limited degree of free will which both possess has been used for advancement by the one and for debasement by the other.
Those who thought that the gamble with death which war brought to almost the entire younger generation, called them to snatch hastily at brief, trivial frivolities, or even entitled them to cast moral restraints impatiently aside, naturally outnumbered those who were brought by the same tragic gamble to a more serious and spiritual outlook and a more disciplined and elevated conduct. It is the easier way to forget danger in feverish but transient pleasure, the harder one to remember it in stern, ennobling self-dedication.
If it will lead to anything it will lead to a greatly altered world. The religious and cultural problems which follow in its wake cannot be dealt with in the old way. Men feel the need and utter the demand for a rational realistic revision of religion and a broadening of science and outlook which will be iconoclastic in scope.
The war has passed over our heads and left us with three groups of religious attitudes: people who believe in the reign of higher laws, people who disbelieve in it, and (the largest group) people who half-believe in it.
The evolutionary forces are against those who would cling to the comfortable prewar egotisms and materialisms. Inability to draw correct lessons from recent experience still being widespread, they may try their utmost to do so but will only gather fresh miseries for their trouble. They must either move their thinking with the new times and their morality with the new ideals or endure the consequences.
The war produced two different reactions among people. Either it uplifted them or it degraded them.
The terrific shocks which nations and individuals received during the war aroused them to the imperative need of finding new ways of life. The breakdown of old supports was most marked. What people would not do voluntarily was expedited by the painful hammer-blows of calamitous karma into urgent birth.
A large class has emerged from the war which has had its lower nature strengthened by the grim experience. It does not care for serious truths or noble ideals.
Some men have begun to think about life. They want to know its meaning and to trace out its purpose. The world upheaval, war, and crisis have forced them into situations which showed up their ignorance of both.
The world wars have hardened hearts, brutalized natures, and externalized interests. That is, they have made people more materialistic. But on the other hand they have also brought Orient and Occident into closer touch, so that the cultures of both have widened. Our spiritual knowledge has been enlarged and aesthetic life has been refined.
The prewar structure of society, being built on the sands of a merely external and materialist view of life, was unable to withstand the storms of war and began to come down with a crash.
Spiritual beliefs which were merely the result of wishful thinking, which were not based on impersonal and factual analysis of the human situation, were sharply challenged by the war and its aftermath. Those who held them had either to let them go and reconcile themselves to the real perspective or suffer vainly and uselessly for them. They had indeed to face the stark reality without any comfortable illusions. The medieval sleep which kept the eyelids of certain people conveniently half-closed to what was happening all around them was painfully ended. The era of destructive violence and brutal terrorism through which they have been passing marks the failure of orthodox religions and the futility of clinging to materialist ways of living in this twentieth century of light. The old ways are being left behind but the new way has not yet been found. There are those who have been looking for a new hope for mankind to arise out of the universal carnage and in contrast to its terrible background. The hope itself has varied with the temperament which entertained it. With some it is a new economic order, with others it is a religious revival, and so on. Meanwhile, the work of destruction continues apace. Although the world's tempo has been immensely quickened, the crisis in human thought and the distress in human life did not come upon us suddenly. There were forebodings, warnings, precursors, and indications.
The potentialities for moral evil which lay until lately within the world crisis would, if realized, have maleficently determined the worldly and spiritual fate of humanity for generations to come. This terrible possibility has only partially been averted by the defeat of the demon-obsessed Nazi leaders. The victory which came to the Allies was a physical one. It must also be completed by a mental one. For the seeds of greed, hatred, falsehood, and envy which the Nazis spread through the five continents are being further spread by the Communists. Violence and hatred have flared up anew and thus given the evil forces a fresh chance to destroy mankind.
So many men and women were forced to ask themselves why they had fallen into such a horrible situation. Such self-questioning, if done coolly and impartially, might have prepared the way for a better reception of philosophical views. One of its results would be that they were painfully aroused to their spiritual impoverishment. For the mere coming of war revealed the failure of the old order of thought.
Only when the war forcibly parted many of them from most of their possessions, both animate and inanimate, did they even begin to become aware of the tragic instability and transiency of earthly life.
The shattering events of war and its aftermath smashed some of religion's supports and weakened taste for metaphysical ideas. Values which were necessary to ethics were lost.
The sufferings of war did not have a morally purifying effect on all people but only on some people. On others they had a morally degenerating effect--on profiteers, for instance, and on those who sought relief in a lower sensualism than they had hitherto known. Again, if the war ennobled some soldiers with sacrificial ideals it brutalized others with violent instincts. Consequently, there are now two general groups, one which has advanced spiritually and one which has worsened spiritually. If the first is readier to accept such ideas, the second is readier to reject them. The position with which we are thus faced at the opening of peace is somewhat confused.
Since World War II the Orient as a whole has been moving away from its spiritual traditions and sources at a speed far more accelerated than the prewar one.
The realism of the terrible war conditions cannot therefore be without effect upon the character of the present writings. At least these conditions have moved us to bring down to earth the loftiest flights of thought, they have compelled us to insist upon all reflection having a practical bearing upon life, and they have made us recognize the duty of improving the physical surroundings of men no less than the more important duty of improving their minds.
The so-called peace is full of tensions: it is an armed truce.
The glamour of war-born idealism has gone. The apathy of peace-born realism has replaced it. Humanity has not generated a new incentive nor worked consciously for its own betterment.
During the war many men and women found stimulus to self-sacrifice and contact with an ideal but after the war they lost both.
Those who learned the spiritual lessons of this war by the time peace arrived were able to profit by mystical presences which manifest themselves. But those who missed these lessons have to share the responsibility for the further troubles which are occurring to themselves individually and to humanity collectively.
World War II has forced the speed and strengthened the thoroughness with which inevitable changes in our personal lives must be carried through. This terrible, ghastly fact of World War II towers above everything. It is teaching us all better than any book. But alas, its lessons are negative. It cannot teach us what really IS. How petty are so many aims amid the unfolding of this gigantic world-drama.
Fear and suspicion are filling the minds of whole nations in this postwar world, robbing the individual of whatever little peace of mind he had left.
If the war has not matured their attitudes towards life, its agony has not been productive.
The separation of the human ego from its divine principle has reached its utmost depth in our time. Hence we have witnessed, both in Nazi propaganda and in Nazi atrocities, an evil never before known. But the evolutionary working is causing an abrupt about-turn. The moment is ripe for the beginning of a new trend towards the attainment of the Overself consciousness.
The problem of how to keep moral integrity in a morally corrupting world has grown harder after the war, and not easier.
The fortunes of religious faith will not be geographically equal. In the democratic countries which fought for moral ideals and emerged victorious from the struggle, such faith will grow strongly and widely, whereas in the Axis countries which met with defeat, it will grow weakly and sparsely.
If some people have become more spiritual and others more sensual because of their wartime experiences, there are still others who have become more selfish. The war has lowered their ethical standard and increased their envy, greed, and malice.
Their faith has been unsettled but it has not found anything new to rest on.
How few people are really teachable? What has a decade of suffering taught humanity? The war is now a memory but millions of men and women are exchanging fresh illusions for old ones, millions of others are sharing bitter disillusions without any deep understanding of them.
There is one group which, tutored by horrible sin, has found that life is not what sentimentality-based religion led it to suppose, and another group which, tutored by horrible suffering, has found that it is not what progress-worshipping materialism led it to suppose.
The "peace" has become a breeding ground of moral despair and emotional resentment, of political chaos and spiritual degeneration.
We have only to take note of the ill-will and ill-feeling everywhere present to discover how greatly the past war and the present crisis have lowered the moral temperament of humanity.
In the war period, when millions were overborne by sorrow and loss and fear, the quest's practical worth in conferring inner serenity and outer courage justified it.
War tests character and reveals how far it has grown or how far it has degenerated. If the crisis smashed illusions and uncovered weaknesses, it also showed up surprising goodwill and revealed unsuspected latent strength. Even the horror and tragedy of this period left a train of effects not altogether bad. The comfortable inertia and prewar halfheartedness of the people Hitler disturbed, joined with the stimulus of opposition to him, roused some of their own latent forces into fresh activity and shocked them into the striving for their ideals. As the war proceeded they came to see that they must change their approach to many other problems too. They became conscious of other sins of omission--such as the economic and social. They began to think and talk of a better world which must be built after the war. Their triumph will consist not only in this but also in preserving the ethical values which the Nazis lost. If war came as the world's karma, its bloodshed suffering and destruction brought some mental illumination to those who responded to it rightly. Through such tribulations properly endured, the character of mankind begins to be purged and merely selfish motives to desert them. The new ideals which have passed through such pains of travail are themselves the heralds of a brighter, happier, and wiser new age of world history that will manifest itself in the not-too-distant future.
The close of war also closed Europe's lordship over the rest of the world. Her grand cycle has ended. The future is not with her. She has been exhausted by the effort of war and distracted by its aftermath of internal conflict. The political, economic, mechanical, and cultural initiatives of modern civilization are already falling from her faltering old hands and being picked up by young and vigorous hands. This is due, in part, to much of the best character and capacity from Europe being drawn off and collected in America.
The disappointments of this postwar era, which was expected to bring an era of peace but has brought only more threats of war, have turned more and more Europeans to seek comfort or guidance in religion, mysticism, or philosophy. This is noticeable in several countries but especially in England, France, Germany, Denmark, and Holland.
That the observance of religious practices largely declined before the war was a notorious fact. Their revival during the war should not have its real character mistaken. Suffering men and women felt the urgent need of religious support during the war's tensions. In many cases it has led to a durable conversion. But with the tensions relaxed, they feel the need of a more discriminating conversion. If they are to enter a period of spiritual seeking, this will be all the more reason for being somewhat wary of the spiritual offerings that will make their appearance. The new era is bringing new religious ideas, new spiritual attitudes. Many of them are valuable and constructive but others are wildly false and useless. Therefore critical judgement and not indiscriminate acceptance is needed here. Religio-mystic cults will have their vogue but will help us only to the extent that they are sound and balanced.
How much faith will remain in the sequence, after war and postwar upheaval, is yet to be seen. But of this we may be sure: that through this titillating process and its own wartime sufferings, postwar religion will become purer, truer, and more accommodating to modern needs. The toiling masses usually have little time for prayer and devotion, and still less time for mystical meditation and metaphysical study, so organized religion is a necessary way of taking care of their spiritual needs. In the fellowship of occasional public worship and through the sacramental means of grace, their emotions are uplifted, their hearts consoled.
The same churches which were filled during the nerve-shattering tensions of war, are being emptied by the softer relaxations of peace; the entangled superstitions, illusions, and exploitations which the converts had to accept hastily along with their reborn trust in God are beginning to dissolve, partly as an aftermath of the dissolution of wartime dangers or urgencies and partly as a consequence of the resurgence of a cooler, more discriminating judgement. The great spiritual revival which so many expected as the result of this latest war has not materialized. It is saddening to observe that so vast a flood of wartime misery and suffering flowed over humanity only to leave so little a mark of spiritual arousal behind it.
An important consequence of the inner significance of the war is that the external onset of peace marked the beginning of a new struggle. The unseen forces of darkness and enlightenment naturally re-arrayed themselves and re-aligned their supporters again inside all countries soon after peace had removed the former dangers which threatened them. The military victory has not concluded the war but only brought about a change in the external character of the conflict. The planet once more became a battleground between two rival attitudes, the stubbornly materialistic and the spiritually decent. The first will fight hard for domination, the second will enter the last trench and will defend itself and its future. At first it is assuming in most countries the aspect of nothing worse than a bloodless political strife. Yet it will be none the less bitter for all that, its later developments none the less bloodier. For all those who through selfish desire or materialistic miscomprehension wish to cling to the dying age and to resist the coming age of new ideas and a better life for mankind, the war's lessons will again have been of little avail. They will consequently have to bear the bitter karma which such resistance must necessarily generate.
What happened in the two years following the war's end decisively influenced what would happen in the next twenty years.
The outbreak of war, as well as the course which it took, led humanity into self-revelation, both individually and collectively. It forced millions, who were formerly satisfied with the pleasanter mere frivolities of life, to confront the grimmer and uglier realities of life. Problems which, through inertia or selfishness, individuals and nations did not want to face, were brought forcibly to the surface. The war widened men's outlooks, liberated them from narrow prejudice, offered the chance to expand their limited experience, correct their imperfect judgements and teach them what peace-time had never taught them. It could have awakened many out of their narrowness and widened their horizons and stretched their attitudes, but the chance was not taken. This terrible ordeal, by breaking up crystallized forms and weakening selfish organizations, gave a greater freedom to human intelligence to exercise itself and to new ideals to express themselves. But was this freedom properly used?
All this war and crisis offers a moral challenge to humanity, a last chance to choose the right road. Yet many have failed to perceive this and have "escaped" into sensualism and materialism. But it is only a false escape. Those to whom that great struggle was but a temporary inconvenience, who looked forward to a return backward to so-called normal times, are deaf to the twentieth century's voice, and blind to its significance. They may be too stubborn to learn its moral lessons, as they were too stupid to learn the lessons of the previous peace. They may try to resist them, but they will needlessly suffer.
The war mentality arising out of the killing instinct did not disappear with the proclamation of peace. The immense spiritual danger with which it menaced humanity did not end with the ending of war.
The evil forces which have inspired Nazism have been defeated. But the defeat is not irretrievable. The military victory was essential but the mental victory will now be no less essential.
As in those momentous days that preceded the declaration of the war which it was a moral duty to wage against Nazi wickedness, so in these fateful days which have followed the declarations of peace, the situation in which humanity finds itself driven by the course of events offers it a choice of two alternatives. Two roads open up before it and each leads in a very different direction. Upon which of these diverging ways it is now taking depends whether it is going to rise or fall spiritually, no less than whether it is going to experience more prosperity or more poverty, ultimate war or peace. When war and crisis have so crushed humanity that its hopes have almost completely vanished and its outlook almost wholly blackened, it seeks sordid forgetfulness in drink and sensuality or noble relief in religion and mysticism. Thus the future of one large section is moral collapse and of another section, moral uplift. The confused postwar generation is being divided into two groups. The first comprises those people who are going down and becoming worse. This group, being more sensual and material, are becoming more brutalized, more addicted to violence. The second comprises those people who are going up and becoming better. Those who are only just entering it look for a guiding faith, an inspiring leadership, to enable them to rid themselves of uncertainties and futilities. Time will henceforth increasingly develop their character and aspirations. The world-crisis has brought about the first stirrings of spirituality in the hearts of these people. But to clarify and intensify these feelings, some time will be needed.
World War III
It is questionable whether humanity has learned enough from its ordeal in the last war and the present crisis. Since its return to a more spiritual outlook is foreordained, it may have to be accomplished at the price of a third world war.
The Mind back of things has not allowed the discovery of the atom bomb to be made just at this particular time without sufficient reason for doing so. Humanity is being prepared for the next fated move in its inner life. And that is a lessening of selfish materialism, an increasing of spiritual co-operation. The instrument used is a physical one though the net result will include a psychological one. Only if the fear generated by the unprecedented danger of this discovery attains such a tremendous magnitude that it overwhelms all other base emotions, is it likely to lead to the unshakeable determination to make the fresh moral start that is needed. The method of persuasion has changed radically. Where the spiritual teachers have failed to bring home their lessons to humanity, the atomic bomb may do so. It has forced these alternatives upon us: either the nations of the world must change their moral attitude towards each other or they must annihilate each other.
The atom bomb leaves no alternatives between self-reform and self-annihilation. Humanity's situation is critical urgent and grave. For human attitudes must be changed, and changed quickly. Yet human feelings are unprepared unwilling and unready to make this change.
Where the inner attitude of goodwill is lacking, there no real success can be achieved in the estrangement of war.
We were told the possession of nuclear bombs would act as a deterrent against aggression. But it could only be a temporary one. For arms races usually end in collisions, which themselves end in war.
Where are the purified characters, the ennobled minds, which have come out of the past two world wars? They exist, of course, but only as individuals. In the mass, more people were brutalized, more lost their faith in ideals and ethics than kept it. A third world war could produce only a still greater and graver deterioration. This is why the cause of peace must be helped--now, while there is yet time.
No nuclear war can be a righteous war. Its support can only be contrary to Christian ethics and its consequence to human welfare. It is evil, and nothing, no cause and no situation, can make it good.
They must recognize the fact that the only way to stop wars is the change of heart and mind from the state which breeds them.
It will be a war not merely for the triumph of one empire against another, but in reality a desperate struggle for the survival of true civilization, which would necessarily include the survival after the war.
It is astonishing that the terrifying peril into which the manufacture of atomic bombs has plunged the fate of mankind, brings from most people little more response than apathy.
If a nuclear war--so far unknown--should happen in our time and leave as its aftermath most of mankind dead and much of the planet devastated, nobody should complain about such a result. Everybody had years of warning but its deterrent effect was too small against immense stupidity, indifference, cruelty, short-sightedness, and wishful thinking. Neither the memory of past agonies (in two world wars) nor the imaginary picture of coming ones would then have been strong enough to teach us the dreadful lesson.
There is always a formula less costly than war if men of goodwill try to find it.
The striking way in which the modern world is moving toward its doom is not accidental but predetermined. Yet this terrible inevitability is not imposed from without by arbitrary power. It arises from within, from the world's own characteristics.
World war is not at any time a rigid preordained fatal inevitability, but only a probability.
During the First World War, a sex-ridden civilization which had sought intense pleasures found intense pain. Did it learn the implicit lesson? No! It plunged more wildly than ever in the quest of sexual joy, only to find still worse agony in the Second World War. The more it has wasted the gift of life, semen, the more it has lost the essence of life, blood. Semen is white blood. Nature has punished man's careless dissipation of the one with a forced loss of the other. The time has come to teach the lesson of sexual responsibility in clear words. If humanity refuses to learn and obey spiritual laws, the horror of a third world war, compared with which the second will be mere child's play, cannot be escaped.
It would be agreeable and pleasant to share such optimism about the non-inevitableness of war, but it would also be self-deceptive.
The year-and-a-half after Hitler disappeared brought the chance to make a new world or else the probability of having to prepare for a new world war.
When the terrors and horrors of one war fail to have the effect of arousing people to thinking for themselves instead of in a mass, that is to say, of seeking truth individually, then the war will repeat itself again and again.
If the war comes, it will have been brought by the erring nations upon themselves. If the war is not to come, they must change their ideas and their actions now.
Some believe that war might come in a few years' time; it might also come in only one year's time; but it would be folly to deny that it might not even come at all.
If no efforts at all had been made on both the physical and mystical planes to counteract the threatened conflict, it could have broken out in the Cuban crisis year. The situation is still an anxious one but it is not a hopeless one. Piety alone will not suffice to meet it, just as politics alone has already failed to do so. But the mystical efforts are being kept up. War is not inevitable. No one knows the outcome of the tremendous struggle going on between the atheistic hate forces and the constructive love forces on the mental level. The intercessory and contributory meditations of a few knowledgeable sages afford whatever real hope exists today. If the peoples and leaders fail to respond to those contributions, they will then have to carry the responsibility for its destruction.
It is folly not to see that war is inevitable, folly to blind oneself deliberately to what is coming merely because one dreads it.
While our human interest and nature shudder at the thought of such war, our human wisdom and insight have no doubt it will take place.
The danger is not only that a third world war will come, but that it will come during the old age even of those who reached manhood in the first world war.
None of the wars which mankind have hitherto suffered was Armageddon, for the last war was fought out fully and extended its devastations only in three continents and partly on the fourth, but the fifth was not affected in the same way. When Armageddon comes, it will devastate all five continents.
The mass of people does not take to truly spiritual concepts. Extroversion, egoism, and preoccupation with personal or worldly affairs keep out any interest or attention in such concepts. Only the crushing shock of atomic war will provide an impulsion toward them from without.
Even the new polarization of attitudes which is emerging as a consequence of the war, is confused rather than clear-cut. The ghastly tragedy of this confusion would show itself at its very worst in Armageddon. In the Second World War the issues between good and evil were clear-cut and easily discernible. But in the third world war they would be confused, chaotic, and mixed.
It does not require much perceptiveness to perceive the inevitability of Armageddon. This fear haunts millions today and is one of the impulsions to the search for spiritual comfort, in one group, and the search for forgetfulness in pleasures, with the larger group.
We may face the tragic inevitability of a third world war with fear and gloom or with calm and resignation.
Constructive alternatives: collective
Politicians do not seek, and do not find, the real issues behind the apparent ones: this is one of the reasons why their very remedies merely cover up the causes, and repress only the symptoms. The time comes when what is evaded comes also to the surface and must be faced, when the illusions can no longer be hidden, when the chronic accumulated toxins break out all over the body politic, bringing severe troubles, maladies, and sickness.
So long as those who lead nations or rule peoples have wholly or partially inadequate understanding of the profounder significance of human existence, so long will those nations and peoples be led from one painful blunder to another.
This postwar world is hard to live in. We are paying the price for the visionless selfishness, the voracious greeds, and the stupid materialism of the past decades. It was for us to become aware of the new undercurrents of thought and feeling and to become conscious of their import. If we failed to do so it was because our intuition needed improvement. The distressing record during the past two decades of a leadership which lacked both realism and idealism partly explains the inevitability of this war. The blind incompetent and materialistic men who helped to write this record hugged their errors and deluded themselves into looking for the foe everywhere but in their own minds. The world is in such grim chaos because it has had materialistic leaders and no spiritual leadership.
Mankind cannot be fashioned in actuality into goodness or wisdom overnight--let alone the godlike exemplary image of which scripture speaks. Not even the most powerful adept can do that. Much of the preaching, most of the idealistic teaching, is hardly relevant to the human situation as we find it in the world today. Only clear thinking, and even clearer non-thinking intuition, can see the picture, not only as it is, but also in its wholeness. Without some knowledge of the World-Idea, those who hold public office, those who lead their countries, merely grope their way under the delusion that they see it. This does not mean that knowledge of this truth provides all the needed and perfect solutions of the problems. The egoistic attitudes and blindnesses, the narrownesses, the greeds, hates, prejudices, animosities, passions, and violent emotions of the people would still continue to block the way and obstinately obstruct the wisest and best of leaders, creating a karma that will have to operate, a destiny that brings back what is put forth. This is not to say that a fine leader's presence and power are as nothing; they mitigate the bad effects of mankind's own past making, and they initiate new constructive efforts which will penetrate the future.
The few statesmen, rulers, or politicians by whose decisions history itself is now being made, who control tremendous power, are the ones who need guidance and wisdom, prophetic warning and personal awakening if they are not to lead their nations--and with them all mankind--into the abyss of colossal catastrophe. If anything is to be done to save the world, it must be done through them--the masses of men will be more likely to follow where they go. If you say that the problem is too big for anyone to solve, you imply that nothing ought to be done to help these leaders find right direction. If you say, with Aldous Huxley's Grey Eminence, that "mystics who interfere in politics only make matters worse," I reply that unpractical visionaries, unbalanced fanatics, narrow sectarians, and inexperienced meddlers certainly do so, but practical, balanced, and mature mystics do not. History proves this point. Philosophy rejects both objections. Even where there is only a small hope of avoiding the tragic outcome of present conditions, it must take the chance offered.
When monsters devoid of human pity, inspired by terrifying hate, become leaders of a people, and are followed by them, the presence of the dark opposing principle in nature becomes very evident.
The fact is that a situation has arisen for which the military leaders are totally unprepared, one which was never foreseen in all their courses in strategy and tactics, and before which the political leaders also are bewildered.
In former times, compromise was a prudent and practical proposition. But in our time it will not succeed. The leaders of humanity must either adjust themselves to truth or find themselves, and their nations, smitten with disaster or catastrophe.
The makers of war cannot alter themselves suddenly into the makers of peace. It is useless to look to politics for the cessation of strife when it is itself based on strife. It is wiser and more logical to look to those who have found their own inner peace.
The need of a twentieth-century sage to guide twentieth-century people is plain. For people are seeking truth and yearn for happiness where it never has been and never can be found--that is, in materialistic thinking and selfish living.
The extent to which any single man is able to force world events today is small. Unseen forces of universal law are, on the contrary, using gifted individuals to control, influence, and fulfil the destiny of mankind.
No leader will appear to set the whole world in order for no man has any other answer that will be more effective than the Golden Rule, which mankind has known since before Jesus' days but failed to apply. If such a man is to be more successful he will have to demonstrate more spiritual Power.
The people who compose a community and the leaders whom they follow make its character as good or as bad as they themselves are. Only wild fanatics can expect to build a perfect society out of imperfect materials.
When the name of democracy is used as a shield to destroy democracy--while claiming its freedom--it is ridiculous to play the simpleton and ignore the reality of what is actually happening.
By using wrong methods, or even by using right methods at the improper time, the leaders of a nation attain the very opposite of what they strive for. It is for this reason that today the search after peace is bringing them farther from it. A very old Far Eastern text, the Book of Changes, declares, "If the military defense of a state is carried to such extreme that it provokes wars which annihilate the state, there is failure."
If the rulers do not respond to this last chance which has been offered them, they will not be given another. For there is a limit to the length of karmic rope which keeps the nations in an uneasy peace. But if they do respond to the warning uttered and accept the counsel offered, help will come--miraculous and abundant help. For if there is no tragedy graver than the tragedy of such rejected Grace, there is equally no blessing happier than the blessing of accepted Grace.
Too many of history's great leaders were at the same time mankind's great misleaders. For they took too many people down the easy but evil path of violence, which revealed destruction and dealt out death at its end.
A few months before he was murdered, at the end of that terrible period of Hindu-Muhammedan riotings, anarchy, and massacre, Gandhi exclaimed: "I do not want to live in darkness and madness; I cannot go on."
The dictator, the politician, and the journalist must take part of the responsibility for leading the masses to this lugubrious situation.
It would be a mistake to believe that salvation in any crisis depends on a quantitative element. Humanity could be helped by only a handful of men who found and lived in the higher consciousness, provided it were willing to follow the guidance and respect the enlightenment of these men.
If it were not for the presence of a few human lights in our world, and for their mostly silent but sometimes open activity, that world would have deteriorated spiritually, morally, to an extent far below what it has done.
Mankind has entered a new cycle, one wherein each man must learn something of the truth for himself. In former cycles he did not need to bear this responsibility. In the present one, he must accept it.
A time like the present should not be used as an excuse to escape into the past but as an inspiration to bring in the future.
The economic and political reconstruction of the world is a vitally important task, but its ethical reconstruction is immeasurably more important. The former touches the surface of life only, the latter touches its very core.
While our mental attitude remains what it is, no solution is possible. We meet hatred with hatred, suspicion with suspicion, fear with fear. Even nuclear disarmament would only ease the world's crisis and not end it, would only put off the urgency and acuteness and still leave the problem of enmity where it is. Among the ancients, Indian Buddha, Chinese Lao Tzu, and Syrian Jesus gave their solution. Buddha explained the operation of a higher law when he pointed out, "Hatred ceases not by hatred but by love." And the Western world has heard often enough (but does not practise) what Jesus taught on this matter.
The philosopher must look very far into human history and very deep into human nature when seeking the ultimate sources of human error and human wrong-doing. He must look farther than their social, economic, and political courses. This done, he will trace them to the animalistic instincts inherited from pre-human and primitive human incarnations. As long as these instincts remain undisciplined, and as long as the higher nature is not more eagerly cultivated, so long must we expect to witness the strife which produces war--whether between nations or inside them. It is quite proper to make the necessary remedial efforts through social, political, educational, organizational, and other means, but their benefits will disappear in the end if they are not made side by side with the effort to teach the necessity of liberation from these instincts by the appropriate mental and spiritual techniques. The more numerous the individuals who can find peace and joy inside their own hearts, the more will the dangers and horrors which threaten mankind be curbed.
There is no perpetual peace anywhere on this planet, only perpetual strife. But it is open to man to take the violence, the murder, and the war out of this strife. He may purge it of its savage beast qualities.
The greatest spiritual needs of the modern world are more depth and more width. It needs to deepen its field of consciousness so as to include the true spiritual self and the divine laws governing life. It needs to widen out into loving thoughts and compassionate deeds. With right ethical ideals and sound nonmaterialistic ideas the external activities which will fill the postwar stage would then bring true progress to mankind. But with unworthy ideals and false ideas humanity would only fall into greater disaster and eventual destruction.
Without knowing the real and hidden causes of the malady of war, we cannot find the real and lasting cure of war.
The great Cuban crisis of 1962 resulted in a situation which brought about a postponement of the menace of World War III, but did not, fully and finally, avert it. All efforts to obtain peace may succeed or not succeed--the results are variable--but any effort to establish peace permanently cannot possibly do so fully and finally until the human race comes into a larger obedience to the higher spiritual laws.
If philosophy can do nothing for the peace of the world, then it is worth nothing. But it can do something. Indeed, if the politicians and militarists would recognize its inner worth, its private firsthand knowledge of the higher laws, it could redeem civilization from the evils and horrors of war.
We may find any number of excellent arguments against war. We may demonstrate conclusively that war as a process for achieving national aggrandizement is now entirely unnecessary, because applied science has opened the way for every nation to increase its wealth many times. But if arguments alone were sufficient to convince rulers, then war would have disappeared when the first flood of League propaganda was sluiced out on the world. The fact is that something more than the appeal to reason is required, for man contains passions, prejudices, greeds, and fears also.
You must batter down the barriers which wall in your view of life. You must stop thinking in terms of your own country alone. You must learn that the frontiers of England, of America, of India, lie far beyond England, beyond America, and beyond India. You must open out your philosophical horizon and bring your thinking up to date. Know that this century demands that the Indian peasant learn that his fate is inextricably bound up with the fate of the British factory worker, and both with that of the American trader.
When chaos and disorder, violence and materialism become widespread, the spiritual forces reassert themselves, restate the truth, and inspire a renewal of faith, religion, and mysticism.
A society which is based on a hierarchy of wealth, position, appearance, and worldly skill is unbalanced and cannot function properly or healthily or fully. It must look deeper and add inner spiritual correspondences to these things.
The political conferences to prevent or end war appear ridiculous; they are foredoomed from the start: selfishness and insincerity render them futile.
The hope for a lasting peace--so often unrealized--can become satisfied but only by looking for it in a new direction--within.
The world situation is very unpromising. Humanity has not learned as much as it ought to have learned from its terrible sufferings of recent years. Or, as in certain countries, it has even learned the wrong lessons and become more selfish, more brutal and violent, and more unco-operative. There is no escape, no new shortcut through political or economic change out of the chaos in which the nations find themselves, other than the oldest one in history--which is to avoid evil, to do good, to believe in God and the moral laws.
The deplorable state of the world today testifies silently to the widespread spiritual ignorance which is at the root of the trouble. Class hates class, group strives against group, selfishness is prevalent everywhere--this situation could only arise amongst creatures ignorant of the higher purpose on this earth. Consequently, to help make available knowledge of the truth and to elevate moral character constitute the noblest task to which any man could devote himself.
The way of arbitration--like the way of contractual treaties--for the purpose of avoiding war presupposes a loyal respect for promises and a level of simple honesty, an expression of obligations in deeds rather than oratory which, we know now from painful experience, does not exist in imperfect humanity. It is merely wishful dreaming to propose it as the practical alternative to war. The brutal realities of our situation have to be squarely seen without illusion. Nor is the bringing of the system of military naval and air defense to ever-increasing magnitude an effectual alternative. The same procedure is sure to be followed in the opposite camp. The result one day in some moment of emotional reaction to tragedy or of national cupidity will be an explosion of all these massed and concentrated engines of violence.
Sloppy sentiments about human brotherhood are not at all needed to pad out the plain fact that all of us ought to work with goodwill for the general good.
The dark possibility that destroys our future can give place to a brighter one only when enough philosophically illumined people are to be found in each country. Nor need they be many--a few in each city would throw out enough influence to bring about this change. It is the tragedy of our age that philosophical thoughts should be classed with idle dreams when they are the most practical of all today.
The present situation shows the utter failure of religion to control men; it will never be more than a temporary palliative; TRUTH alone can solve all national and international problems as much as it solves the personal ones. But truth is based on intelligence and mankind's intelligence still lags remarkably behind. So the adepts contribute their little bit towards enlightening others and wait with the terrible patience of those who think in terms of aeons, not years alone. The growth of intelligence will come through evolution, and then man will learn his personal responsibility for all deeds under the laws of re-embodiment and compensation; later he will learn that he cannot separate himself from the ALL, that the same Mind runs through us all, and that humanity is just a big family wherein the older members are responsible for the welfare of the younger ones, the rich for the poorer, and so on. Universal compassion will then be the only right outlook for a properly educated man. Where would Hitler's crude racial separatism or Russia's equally crude hatred of the bourgeoisie be then?
This divine consciousness dissolves inveterate prejudice and removes embittered passion. But no human will can manufacture it. The world must acknowledge a higher authority than fleshly desire and evolve by self-striving beyond its present materiality before the Overself's grace will confer such an exalted state.
We have to accept the solid fact that men do not change overnight, that starting new institutions and necessarily filling them with the same old faces that we already know, will not and cannot bring about a new world. Until we begin to recognize this and start working for new hearts and new minds even more than for institutions, we shall not come near to solving our problems.
Without trying to indulge in overoptimistic claptrap, it may nevertheless be predicted that, as the twenty-first century advances, human life will change both physically and culturally in an astounding way.
It is true that no particular war can possibly end all war. It is the untamed animal in man which causes all his personal fights, tribal aggressions, and national wars. It is the spiritual nature of man which urges him to live peaceably and harmoniously with his fellows. That man can rid himself of external bloodshed without troubling to rid himself of its internal causes within himself, is one of his intellect-born illusions. It may be kept at a distance for a longer time than before but it cannot be kept there permanently while the passions of hatred, anger, and greed thrive in his heart. But it is also true that his instruments of collective violence have now become so destructive, so terrible, and so cruel that their very results are forcing him to contemplate abandoning such violence altogether, and to turn towards peaceful discussion for the settlement of his disputes. Human conflict has reached its most violent expression in this war [WWII] of staggering planetary dimensions and unheard-of scientific destructiveness. But it helped to quicken the dawn of a day when the soldier's sword and the airman's bomb will be found only in such places as the "Chamber of Horrors" at Madam Tussaud's Museum in London. Such extreme violence was an evolutionary necessity to convince him that he must cease to tolerate war, that he must find a more refined--that is, more mental--method of carrying on his struggles, that he must come into the consciousness of world citizenship, and that he must create international institutions commensurate with such a broader consciousness.
Such thoughts have begun to circulate within his consciousness, but they will circulate forcibly only whilst the horrors of the last war are still easily remembered. It would be wiser and prudent to realize that a long night must precede this full dawn. A fresh generation or two will not feel the force of this remembrance, and then passions which breed war may overcome it and prove stronger than whatever mechanical organization to preserve itself society may have brought into being for its self-protection. This is so because sustained thought is creative and returns to us, in part, in the events which meet us as we travel through life. Nevertheless, we have indeed started to move onward and upward to that degree of ethical maturity which shall surely come when we shall have controlled these passions sufficiently to fight our quarrels around a conference table and not on a battlefield and which shall transform history from a record of national warfare into a record of international welfare.
Is it really a paradox that the first practical step in forging an armour for such self-protection against war must necessarily be a moral and not a physical one? There must be deep unflinching sincerity behind the will for peace. We yearn for a war-proof world; but when we come to consider the practical means of protecting mankind from further wars, we shall discover that insofar as they are not counterweighted with ethical principles and psychological understanding also, they may become as dangerous to us through creating a false sense of safety as the old League of Nations became for a similar reason. One of the half-conscious tasks which destiny placed in the war's hands was to show the world's face to itself. In the result it unmasked a gargoyle before an affrighted audience. For instance, when Hitler denounced the League of Nations as a humbug, we turned our ears away. Yet he was not wrong as he was not quite right. For those who know what really went on behind its public conferences and pleasant speeches, know also that too much unscrupulous intrigue, political greed, and ethical insincerity were covered by its fine verbal facade of idealism and morality. The closure of Suez and its withdrawal of oil would have brought Mussolini's Ethiopian adventure, for instance, to an abrupt close. But this needed a sincerity which was lacking. The betrayals of Manchuria to Japan, of Ethiopia to Italy, and of Czechoslovakia to Germany were lapses in international morality whose consequences ruined the League. Its ethical failure was inevitably followed by its physical failure.
Not that the basic conception of a League of Nations was a bad one; on the contrary, it was magnificent! But it was one thing to invent machinery to check the outbreak of war and quite another to find the mental outlook large enough to work such machinery. For the new institution itself did not change their old outlook. Geneva witnessed both the birth of a great idea and the death of a grand hope. The League perished because it put heads together but not hearts. It was to be expected that a machine of the character of the League of Nations would work badly at first, but it was not expected that it would ignominiously fail to work at all. Only a few anticipated this failure. They were the few who comprehended that the mental reality behind a thing is more formidable and important than its material appearance, that the inevitable karma of so much past aggression, exploitation, cruelty, and selfishness could not be easily circumvented without a real change of heart.
The League of Nations was only an idea. It never came to life because it was never given the chance to do so. And it was never given the chance because each of its members thought of its own country first and the League second, because each brought its nationalistic interests right into the League chambers and kept them there as the foremost purpose of its presence, because none had the consciousness of really being what all pretended to be--a united commonwealth. We, however, have the splendid chance to make it something more than an idea. For most statesmen now realize that some kind of arrangement which will honestly carry out its task of preventing aggressive war and not merely talk about doing so, which will comprehend that the duty of stronger nations is to protect the weaker ones and not to exploit them, must paradoxically be one of the products of this terrible time. Thus Nazism, which was fundamentally opposed to the idea of a just peace, unwittingly and unwillingly contributed to its stabilization.
We must begin a new effort by realizing that the guns may stop shooting but this is not enough to make a peace. We need something more. We need a reconstructed society where the moral and physical causes which may ultimately set guns shooting again will themselves be liquidated. We must proceed by understanding that the historical and geographical accidents which divide one people from another, one class from another, one nation from another, have fostered dislike, suspicion, and even hatred in the past. The limited nationalistic outlook can no longer be accepted uncritically. The developments of modern scientific civilization have filled it with contradictions and imperfections, with dangers and inadequacies. In its prewar form it has become antiquated. It must now be revised and brought into line with postwar needs. Every major situation today is not only a national one but also an international one. Nations will have to broaden their outlook and give up some fraction of their nationalistic fervour not merely for the benefit of all but more so for their own individual benefit. And they will have to do this not only because the war's practical lessons have left them no alternative, but also because their moral evolution has left them no alternative. The necessity of curbing the power and authority of competitive nationality in the interests of international welfare is plain. Nazism and Fascism represented indeed in one aspect the last furious struggle of nationalism become aggressive and bellicose in an endeavour to save itself from impending and enforced limitation.
The animosities and prejudices, the rivalries and hatreds, of the old-fashioned nationalistic outlook must be replaced by the co-operative outlook of a new internationalism. Whether we like it or not, we are in the process of swiftly becoming a world community. The quicker we cut out the time-lag between the dissolution of our prejudices and the realization of our evolutionary needs, the less painful will it be. The sympathetic interest in foreign peoples, the feeling of connection with the wider human race, is something new in history but it is something which has come to stay. No continent can now afford to forget--as it has so often in the past--that it is a part of the same planet as the others. The great globe whose monstrous size frightened medieval minds has shrunk to a little ball which man now plays with. The war has taught more people more geography than any school ever did. This is not merely something to make us smile but also something to make us think. For it has forcibly brought home to them the fact that life today is an international affair, that they are being brought into ever-closer relations. We have to realize that we are approaching the middle of the twentieth century and not the middle of the eighteenth. Wireless, cable, telephone, steamer, railway, and printing press have made a new international relationship both necessary and possible but they have not yet made it actual.
The technological and commercial developments which have dissolved so many of the physical divisions in the present may be used, if we wish, to foster friendship, understanding, and goodwill in the future. The problems which have to be settled are now too large to be settled successfully on a prewar basis. A new international order must be instituted as being the only effective way to deal with them. Henceforth, the major events in every country must be looked upon as an integral and inseparable part of the planetary situation. The separate peoples are today too interdependent to carry on successfully with anything short of such an order. Every people is a part of a social organism and must share the general fate of that organism. If such a federation is still far off, it is near enough that a third world war will precipitate it overnight. For the difficulties of achieving it are really less than the difficulties into which another great war will plunge everybody. One must take a realistic view of the situation, yes, but one need not throw all one's idealism overboard to do it.
We have in the past enlarged the meaning of the word "patriotism" from a merely local to a tribal significance and then from a tribal to a national one. We must in the present enlarge it once again. It is no longer enough to be only Fiji Islanders or Frenchmen. We must also, and alongside of that, be world patriots. The political frontiers which separate one country from another separate them also from prosperity, peace, and advancement. The time will surely come one day to pull them down, when the United States of the World will come to birth as a single entity. The ultimate evolution will certainly be towards a universal humanity.
The immediate evolution is towards a consciousness that we are all human beings just as much as we are tribesmen or race members. This need not mean the total destruction of national sentiments and the total wounding of national vanities. It need not necessarily exclude an enlightened patriotism or a balanced devotion to a particular national or racial group. It would exclude, however, the hatreds, the prejudices, the dislikes, and the intolerant fanaticisms bred by false patriotism and narrow insularity. Just as a larger circle does not exclude the smaller concentric one contained within it, so loyalty to mankind as a whole need not exclude the lesser loyalties to race, creed, and class. What it does is to subordinate them. Each people could carry on its own autonomous existence and independent activities within the framework of an international association. The rights of freedom and self-rule need not be menaced by the broader rights of such an association. When the forms, interests, and arrangements of mankind become internationalized, the benefit will be moral as well as material. For group selfishness, false national pride, and racial prejudices will be forced down into second place behind human fellowship and common welfare. The administrative essentials of a fully developed new international order must consist of a world legislature, a world executive, and a world tribunal.
Most people are now much more ready for the widening in loyalties which world-order schemes would involve, but they are not at all as ready as they should be. Thus, they unnecessarily deprive themselves of the clear advantages of such an order and go on foolishly enduring the troubles of the old order. That we are moving toward some kind of single World Commonwealth is certain. That we are not emotionally ready for it is also certain. For the events and inventions which are pushing us forward are ahead of our ideas and ideals. The tragic needs of our time do not find a commensurate mentality to meet them. The Europeans, for example, cannot be persuaded to renounce their state sovereignties, cannot be made into common citizens of a frontierless continent against their will. How much more will this be the case with a world-citizenship scheme? But in the end humanity will find itself unable to keep the peace between its diversified groups without creating a separate paramount international association--be it central, federal, or league. A world organization which can legally settle international disputes and which possesses the armed power to enforce its decisions or to resist aggressions cannot ultimately be avoided. Men, in their present stage of moral evolution, cannot be effectively governed without the use of some kind of physical coercion nor can their national disputes be settled without some means of physically enforcing decisions. The peoples are being evolved from within and driven from without to the point where only a world association will fit their political needs.
Such an authority would possess the usual administrative powers. First, it would be a legislature whose jurisdiction would extend over the whole field of international matters and regulate by agreed laws the political, commercial, and cultural relations between the States. Second, it would be a tribunal where final judgement would be pronounced upon disputes, aggressions, and alterations of frontiers. Third, it would be an executive equipped to maintain order and enforce laws actually worked out to preserve peace. But besides the necessity of preventing possible internecine wars the practical advantages of such a common authority are so obvious that the administrations of the otherwise independent units will sooner or later be forced by developments to accept it. Such advantages would include a customs union, a common currency, a common transport system, and probably a common armed force. But the danger here is that a paramount supranational power may develop into a tyrannous suprastate. It may be that adequate checks and safeguards can be devised by statesmen against it, but in the end it can be overcome only by overcoming the moral and mental defects in men which could cause it.
If men are not evolved enough to support such an ideal institution as a world family of democratic nations, they are not so low that they cannot support the beginnings of such an institution. If a nation is unwilling to be its neighbour's keeper, it ought at least be willing to be its neighbour's helper. It is inevitable that as men become more truly spiritually minded they will become more internationally minded. And this is certain to reflect itself in turn in their political systems. The end of such a process can only be the formation of an international commonwealth. Hence, every political measure which promotes this end is a right one and every measure which obstructs it is a wrong one. But it must be also well-timed or it will defeat its own end. The League was ill-timed. The right time for a solely regional scheme was after World War I. Instead, too much was attempted by way of the League, which inevitably failed. But after World War II a regional scheme alone would likewise fail. The present suggestion adapts itself to this factor of proper timing.
It was predicted in The Wisdom of the Overself that the principle of co-operation would be the only principle to emerge from all the postwar conferences as being effective enough to solve their thorny problems. It will have many possible spheres of application but the first and major one will be in the direction of peace. So we venture to predict again that failure of international co-operative action to create and sincerely to sustain some kind of an assembly of representatives drawn from the different nations, will lead directly to the catastrophe of a third armed conflict more terrible than this planet has yet known. It could lead to this in one and a half to two decades. Metropolitan cities would not be able to escape heavy bombing and wide destruction. Such an honest and determined assembly of nations would be better protection for every country than any army, navy, or air force.
The ultimate evolution of the twenty-first century will be toward a democratic world association, acting through an international parliament, an international tribunal, and an international executive, which would impartially regulate, coordinate, and boldly envelop the entire economic resources of the planet as a whole. When all nations can thus share equitably in the common wealth and productivity, one of the prime causes of war between them would completely vanish. Past events have tragically proved the truth of these statements. Many of the calamities such as monetary collapse, trade depression, and labour strikes which descended on classes, masses, and nations were caused by their failure to recognize the immense power of the principle of mutual help and by their inability to meet the events of this historic turning-point with the understanding they demand. The first nation to recognize the one and to meet the other will do much, not only for herself, but also for all other nations. Both moral development and practical exigencies will require us in the end to subscribe to the fundamental truth that prosperity, no less than peace, is one and indivisible. But, unfortunately, we are not yet emotionally ready to climb such a height. We must expect, therefore, that different kinds of troubles will plague us from time to time as the penalty of our˙unreadiness.
Today, the mission of philosophy is a planetary one, for truth is needed everywhere, and for the first time can be transmitted everywhere. We speak here in terms of geographical fact, for vested religious interests and totalitarian political despotisms still continue to serve their masters, the darker forces of evil, by obstructing the contemporary planetary enlightenment.
Unless humanity recognizes that demonic powers are loose in its midst, are inspiring hatred violence suspicion and greed, it will not go down on its knees to ask help from a power greater than and beyond itself.
Unless we look behind the world's problems into the real and spiritual problems which they reflect, we cannot properly understand them or solve them.
The human situation which has emerged from the cataclysms and anguish of war and crisis, still shows insufficient spiritual awakening. And yet this awakening--and this alone--is the only instrument of our salvation that is worth looking for because it is the only one which is not doomed to be destroyed. All other instruments may be effective in ordinary times, but we are living in exceptional times. Today they can offer only the illusion of success or happiness with the actuality of failure or misery.
But so few people are fortunate enough to have the time, leisure, energy, and opportunity for spiritual culture, that the awakening from social lethargy is often the first sign of any awakening at all. The social awakening may nowadays be a troubled upheaval rather than a smooth progress. But human egoism and passion being what they are at the present evolutionary stage, this is inevitable. However, the awakening must be understood as the first part of a deeper awakening from spiritual slumber which is yet to come. We must see in all this social renovation a necessary preliminary and unavoidable preparation for the subsequent spiritual one. When the political, scientific, and economic reorganization of the world which is going on before our eyes culminates, when more settled conditions begin to prevail again, men will realize that materialism has brought them its best and worst. And realizing, they will turn to discovery of their inner needs. Therefore we may expect no general spiritual awakening in our own lifetime whilst this external new era is being established, but after that such an awakening will surely come because it is evolutionarily due. Thus there is room for both an optimistic and a pessimistic outlook; neither alone is quite true. If we look only at the next few years, there is gloom all around; but if we look through them to some decades farther ahead, there is light.
Those who believe in a sudden religio-mystical revival to change mankind almost overnight, are far from philosophy. But still they are only being foolish. Those however who not only believe this, but also believe that it is they or their particular religious organization that will help to bring about the revival, are also being self-conceited.
Just as the Germans were presented with the choice between Hitlerian revolution and democratic evolution as well as the chance of escaping a misery so much worse than the one Hitler offered to save them from, so humanity today has both choice and chance. The real decision is between obedience to a spiritual leading or denial of it.
With all too many people, both among the vanquished and the victors, everything within themselves remains as before the war. If anything, they are even spiritually emptier than before, because the negative feelings of bitterness, resentment, selfishness, suspicion, or violence have now taken hold of their hearts.
If we look the situation of contemporary humanity fully in the face, putting aside suggestion and propaganda, we shall have to confess that its salvation will never be brought about by the little mystical groups and large religious sects.
The "Kingdom of God on earth" is not a political concept but a personal one. Its realization will never be found outside but only inside the individual mind and heart.
The descent into materialism will be intellectually checked by science reversing its own nineteenth-century conclusions; the lapse into immorality by the vivid demonstration of its tragic results in recent national and individual history; the fall into irreligion by the uprise of a more personal and more mystical faith.
The first social goal which philosophy sets before its votary is the dropping of class race and creed prejudices--not, be it remembered, of their actualities. Although racial differences must be taken into account, cultural variations must be recognized and the contrasts of living standards must be noted; although the oneness of mankind is a metaphysical and not a physical fact and although its mystical unity is not its practical uniformity, all this is no excuse for racial prejudices and hatreds or for unfair partialities and discriminations. In the case of the colour bar, this has been particularly cruel in the past and will be dangerous in the future. He must be too wise, too tolerant, and too decent to be caught up by the fanatic nationalisms, the unashamed savageries, the battling brutalities, the social hostilities, the racial animosities and religious intolerances of unenlightened men. Whoever breathes the rarefied atmosphere of truth can only regard with sorrow those who insist on breathing the murky fogs of overweening race nationality sect or colour discriminations. Whoever practises the philosophic discipline is walking the path to the consciousness of being a world citizen. He cannot help but be a confirmed internationalist. This is a logical and practical result of his knowledge and attitude. He sees clearly that we are all children of the same supreme Father, all rooted in the same infinite Mind, all brought together on this planet to carry out the same noble tasks of self-regeneration and self-realization. Consequently he is friendly to men of all nationalities, all races, all countries. They are not disliked suspected or hated, ignored neglected or ill-treated because in the flesh they happen to be foreigners. He sees that the truth is there are no Englishmen, Frenchmen, or Germans but only human beings harbouring stuffy mental complexes that they are English French or German. Nevertheless the man who has liberated himself from this fleshly materialism need not cease thinking of himself as a citizen of his particular country. But he will alongside of that think of himself as a citizen of the world.
In devoting time to spiritual reform, we go to the root of all other reforms. If men get rid of their spiritual ignorance it is inevitable that they will more quickly get rid of undesirable conditions in every other department of their life. Nowadays we must especially guard ourselves against the one-sided unbalanced doctrines, the selfish degrading ethos, and the false materialistic ideas which have so widely permeated the political, cultural, commercial, and religious terrain of our time. No Marxian magic and no financial wizardry can turn a planet peopled by men and women still dominated by hates, greeds, selfishnesses, and lusts into a physical utopia. Ultimately the experience of all history, both individual and national, teaches the lesson that physical well-being alone is not enough. It contributes towards the true happiness of man on earth but does not complete it. The welfare of the body is not an end in itself but only a means to a higher end. Hence philosophy, in its consideration of the methods to be used to achieve such an end, says that external re-arrangement of social forms will not of itself bring about fully satisfactory results. A re-arrangement from within is equally if not much more necessary.
Only those who refuse the lessons of mankind's historic past can suppose that peace, which it has never had for more than short periods, will suddenly bloom all over the earth and remain here continuously, in defiance of the violent and destructive instincts which still lurk in mankind.
The opportunities to wage war can be brought under international control by external means, and within our time they will be so brought when mankind is driven by necessity to take such a measure for the sake of the race's own survival. But the psychological causes that urge men to wage war--these remnants of the animal left in man--can only be dealt with by internal means.
This drawing-together of the different peoples out of their earlier isolation, which modern civilization has brought about, has not only increased their knowledge of each other but also increased their effect upon the lives and fortunes of one another. Out of this has grown the complexity of contemporary political, economic, and racial problems. What one nation does is liable to affect not only its neighbours but also far-away nations to the point of actual war. Therefore, there is much greater need of learning for what purpose all the human race has been placed on this earth than there was in earlier and more isolated times.
Not any military, political, or economic preparation--whether defensive or aggressive--has any hope for mankind's true protection, if it does not include learning and obeying these higher laws. There are healing, restorative, guiding, and protective forces amid us even today, trying to reach the human race and to penetrate the dense, dark conditions surrounding it. If they are recognized and received in time, it will be saved from a frightfully destructive event. But if human blindness and inertia prevent this from happening, the penalty will have to be paid.
In the heart's deepest place, where the burden of ego is dropped and the mystery of soul is penetrated, a man finds the consciousness there not different in any way from what all other men may find. The mutuality of the human race is thus revealed as existing only on a plane where its humanness is transcended. This is why all attempts to express it in political and economic terms, no less than the theosophic attempts to form a universal brotherhood, being premature, must be also artificial. This is why they failed.
None of the Powers, great or small, has been able to resolve the world crisis. It drags on through the years, getting aggravated with each year. This is because all the Powers try to resolve it against the wrong background, using ideas and methods which may have formerly been right but now are obsolete and inapplicable. This is the Nuclear Age. It requires a totally new approach.
Men who have lost the sense of life's spiritual significance, and who do not even have any insistent questions about it, will not respond to such events in the correct way.
If God's in his heaven and all's well with the world, are we in error to attempt reforms where they are obviously needed or to right wrongs where they are heavily oppressive? No--this is no error, for the attempt itself will then be induced by the divine presence.
Hitherto religion has provided the ordinary man with the truth in a form he was capable of comprehending. But owing to the wider spread and quickened evolution which he has undergone in recent centuries, he has become capable of comprehending more deeply that which was formerly kept apart from popular religion and reserved for mysticism, the next higher form. Consequently it is no longer enough to limit him to merely religious dogmas and practices; these must now be intermixed with mystical doctrines and practices also. It is a fact that war and crisis have multiplied by many times the number of mystical seekers. But the new group is still, relative to the total population, extremely small, insignificant and uninfluential. Yet the benefits of mysticism could be of untold help to countless others. The temporary forgetfulness from current turmoils and personal burdens which mental quietism offers its votaries should prove attractive to quite a number of persons in these times. For the need of personal, firsthand experience of the soul is greater today than ever before. Therefore the importance of this work is unquestionable.
So many are discussing the new economic world which they hope, expect, or demand to emerge during the postwar period, and so few the new spiritual world without which it can only be a failure. The truth is that both are needed, that one without the other will be an imperfect incomplete thing.
Because we live in an era of flux, we need a better-exercised intelligence and intuition to negotiate it aright.
The real war today is within the human mind. The real choice is between allegiances being made there. As individuals give themselves up to, or cleanse themselves from, the base emotions, they carry on this inner war.
It is an inexorable fact, which no politician can controvert by other facts but only by windy oratory and glib promises, that the causes of international tension friction and war will never be removed except by removing the egotisms, the greeds, the wraths, and other negatives from man's nature. Until then, we shall get rid of one old cause only to find a new one springing up in its train.
The interminable quarrels over ownership of countries will always produce recurring wars. So long as Nature's proprietorship is ignored and unacknowledged, so long will men and nations stake out their selfish claims to perpetual possession.
Until they inwardly recognize and publicly realize the overriding importance of thought and feeling in these matters, their remedies will be illusory, their hopes denied, and their forebodings fulfilled by the course of events.
Those who are led by religious enthusiasts to expect a miraculous conversion of mankind to goodwill peace and wisdom overnight, expect the impossible and are preparing themselves for bitter disappointment. Human character grows gradually; it does not improve by magical transformation. It is better to be realistic, to face the unpalatable truth, than to surrender ourselves to wishful thinking and be deceived thereby. For emotion and passion are still the real rulers of mankind, say what you will.
Human society has always had its problems and even more so in our times. But the larger the number of problems the larger the number of agencies seeking to solve them grows. Why do we have to solve every problem with which the world is confronted? Why can't we leave them alone, indifferent, and attend solely to our own problems? Why must we meddle in affairs we ill understand? The answer is that we fail to see that the world is itself the great problem for which there is no solution.
There can be no perfect solution to the world's troubles because there can be no permanent one. All changes, all is transient.
There would be more peace in countries and between nations, in families and between neighbours, if people stopped meddling in other people's affairs or interfering in each other's lives or fanatically forcing their doctrinaire ideas and beliefs where these are repugnant.
Lao Tzu wrote this parting advice to the civilization he forsook:
Love is victorious in attack And
invulnerable in defense; Heaven arms with love Those it would
not see destroyed.
Most eloquent of all is Emerson: "Love is the one remedy for all ills. We must be lovers and at once the impossible becomes possible. Our history for these 1000 years has not been the history of kindness but of selfishness. Love would put a new face on this weary old world, in which we dwell as enemies too long. Love will accomplish that which force could never achieve. Once or twice in history, kindness has been tried in illustrious instances, with signal success."
Censorious minds have doubtless much to pick on which is wrong or rotten in our society, but until they have something better to replace it with, some really worthwhile alternative, of what use is the destruction and liquidation of that which has been built up?
The spiritual progress of man winds upward by devious routes, by slow wanderings, and by periodic lapses. But its ultimate character as progress remains assured. Slowly, out of all these wartime reflections and peacetime crises, these dangers, agonies, and calamities, the world is becoming aware that it must find for its day-to-day activities a strong support, a better faith, and a truer ideology.
Many leaders such as Churchill, and even the Pope, have talked of a new world to be built. Their aims are excellent but it will not suffice to change things externally alone; people must be educated aright, which means they must be educated in truth. The time to sit in seclusion or to enjoy one's inner peace all alone will then have gone. Service and Action will be the keynote. The justification of the higher philosophy is what it can do ultimately, not merely what it can think. It alone has a sane view because it alone knows the need of a sound foundation in correct thinking plus an active effort afterwards, erected on such a foundation. How hard this ultimate teaching is as a way of life until one becomes habituated to it! For he has to feel that all the world is but a dream, even horrid wars, and yet he will have to know it as actual and act as though it were real. For ultimately it is real. Just as all the events, people, and objects of a dream are after all nothing but Mind, in essence, because they are ideas and Mind is their reality, so in this world we have to understand that that which is regarded as Mind, unified, all around us is the real. It is because ignorant people concentrate only on their material beliefs, taking body and environment as matter, and regarding everything as individual and separate, that they can never get at this higher realization. If he remembers that all golden rings, watches, tie pins, and so on, are in essence only one substance--gold--so he may remember that all bodies, things, and events are in essence also one substance--Mind. The sage is the person who holds firmly to this double "vision" or rather understanding and has made it his or her own by unremitting effort.
So much progress that men hope for from a science-based, politically guided civilization turns out to be a chimera. There is no good that science gave them without its costly price, no promise held out by political shifts without its revelation of the evil in man. Real peace, true progress, genuine prosperity can come only by a different road.
Those utopians who look for a quick abatement of human selfishness--and a consequent quick abatement of all the ghastly evils, sins, and crimes which come out of it--look in vain. But what cannot come quickly on a mass scale can, and will, come from scattered individuals.
First the killing instinct will have to go, then the fighting instinct will have to follow.
To eliminate the frictions in the world it would be necessary to eliminate those between human beings.
Those who do not know that human evolution moves through double rhythms of ascension and declension, talk cheerfully of an increasing spiritual revival moving triumphantly to the complete change of our species. But the fact is that what we see are vestiges of medieval faith rather than a rising spirituality.
Even if the world crashed in a nightmare of hate, evil, and ruin all around us, those who gave their allegiance to Goodness and Wisdom were not wrong nor their efforts a total failure.
The nations can use nuclear energy to explode bombs or they can use it to power engines: they must choose between these two alternatives. If they try to evade the choice and to have both, they will end by losing both in the annihilation of nuclear war.
An age which has found a surer and swifter way to destroy the human species has done so because it gave so much enquiry, so much thought, to the nature of the atom. Why cannot it give a fraction of that enquiry and that thought to the nature of mind, when the consequences would be so much more useful?
Is there, can there be, such a thing on earth as a paradise without sin? The answer is that it does not now exist and that it can exist in the future only if it is also a paradise without any people!
It was the Stoics who wrote that the wise man will not waste his energy and years in futile political endeavours if he finds his environment too corrupt.
One need not be a materialist to reach the conclusion that perfect solutions of social, economic, or religious problems simply do not exist; there are only palliatives, not panaceas.
The quietude on this planet grows less and less; the noise and turmoil more and more. The need of this inner life becomes greater but the possibility of realizing it becomes smaller. Yet the problem is not a new one; only a recurring one. Two thousand five hundred years ago the gentle old dreamer Lao Tzu wrote of it.
The course of nihilism, as travelled by the intelligent classes of our time, ends either in bitter communistic materialism or unprincipled anarchic amoralism or retrogressive Catholic or Hindu mysticism. But do any of these neurasthenic terminals offer an adequate solution of the modern man's problems, a comfortable home for the modern consciousness? Whoever is fully alive to twentieth-century needs and trends, cannot say that they do.
What can we gain by moving back in time? The crossroads at which we stand must be faced, not run away from. The attempt to renounce our times and leave our century will be severely defeated by the grim facts of these times, the harsh events of this century. There is no sanctuary in medievalism.
Neither reason nor goodwill were able to force Europe to adopt a wiser and purer form of religion, so utter impoverishment and bloody war had to force her to think. Only an overwhelming realization that such a change is supremely urgent, supremely essential, and supremely fundamental, if civilized society is not to break down completely, will compel this reconstruction. And the situation created by entry into the postwar period provides this required but dearly bought realization. And what is true of Europe, which suffered most during the war, will be true in a lesser degree of other parts of the world.
A highly exaggerated mystically sponsored Golden Age of the remote past is as supposititious as a materialistically sponsored one of the near future is unrealizable.
It is a silly mistake which some mystically minded enthusiasts fall into, that everybody is soon going to follow mysticism! The only basis they have for this assertion would appear to be that they move within a tiny circle where everybody is following mysticism and that they are judging the larger world outside by what is happening inside the circle.
The pathway of greedy acquisition upon which humanity now stands must be left for wise co-operation. The old motives will not work today.
Destiny is at work and all the multitude of prayers to God are not going to save humanity from what it creates for itself. Nothing could have been more ironic than the bombs falling on Warsaw Cathedral when more than a thousand worshippers were inside praying for God's protection on Poland.
To outgrow the instinctive cravings of the primitive animal-man and to supplant them by the noble aspirations of the well-advanced truly human being, is the only way to guarantee peace on earth.
Because humanity must find the solution to their troubles within themselves, all the so-called solutions offered from without have proved disappointing. And because the attempt to find scapegoats in other men, other political parties, other doctrines of belief, and other nations is really an attempt to relieve themselves of this personal responsibility, they have so far failed to find an end to their troubles.
Those inspirers of evil-doing and racial animosity who fondly believe that they can protect themselves against the forces of spiritual evolution which are stirring within the consciousness of mankind, are dwelling in an atmosphere of futile make-believe.
The war period has shown how uncertain are all materialistic standards, how much they are at the mercy of military political and economic shifts. It must therefore articulate in thoughtful minds a quest of higher standards which shall transcend such uncertainties and shifts.
We shall have to renounce this fetish of achieving absolute agreement and full unity among those who differ from each other in fundamentals. Human nature and human mentality being in the present unregenerate and diverse condition as they are, it is futile to pursue an unrealizable ideal.
The attempts to prevent war and unify the nations can meet with no success while we make no attempt to discipline the violent impulses and greedy calculations which cause war. Only when human evolution has gone farther, and the brute's instincts have been sufficiently disciplined in us, shall we drop war. But the clash of egoisms will still remain. Our frictions and battles will continue; their outer form will, however, change for the better and be lifted to a plane more truly human and beyond the merely animal.
If present-day world misery demonstrates anything at all, it demonstrates the failure of the materialistic outlook, the futility of expecting peace and prosperity from purely material sources, the danger of ignoring the stubborn fact that personal character counts most in the making of a people's happiness. The old way of sheer materialism has been tried and found to end in a dangerous morass. The new way of a nobler life and deeper faith does not look so tempting. Yet other way there is not except to sink in a still deeper morass.
Communism could be defeated and Socialism avoided if the appeal they make to the discontented could be eliminated. This in turn requires the cause of discontentment be itself eliminated. That cause is the too unequal distribution of (a) profits (b) income and (c) capital. The remedy for (a) is to make labour an equal partner with capital in the sharing of profits by a system of co-partnership. The remedy for (b) is to fix maximum and minimum incomes. The remedy for (c) is inheritance reform.
Whatever benefit has come from politics physically has had to be paid for spiritually, for it has poisoned human relationships.
In the end society is only a society of separate persons; in the end we come back to the individual human problem.
There is much demand today for various rights in their totality. Can the right to freedom be fully given to maniacs and murderers? Can the right to free expression in speech and writing be given at those who spread hatred or immorality? Can the right to education be given at a level beyond the capacities of those who make it? If life is to be orderly, if crime is to be contained, then there must be limits as well as rights.
There is no other way left for us today than the way of looking right through the facts of the contemporary situation, to their underlying significance, their foundational cause, if we are to understand it aright. We must have the courage to acknowledge them for what they are. We must have the strength to be pessimistic if pessimism is required by truth. We must have the humility to confess our errors.
When we understand the forces which work behind the curtain of history, we stop groping.
Crime and punishment
The punishment of crime should be of such a nature as to be materially useful to society and morally useful to the criminal.
Crime and Punishment (Essay)
When men misuse their liberty to commit crime, we withdraw it and put them in prison. But legal punishment has two grave defects: it makes no provision for moral re-education alongside of the physical punishment, and it makes no difference between the repentant sinner and the nonrepentant one. The criminal is simply a man who has misinterpreted life, failed in self-discipline, accepted the suggestions of an evil environment, or been hurt by a hard social system. It is not enough to enforce retribution. Society must help him straighten his life-pattern, improve himself, and re-establish his ethical sense. Prisons should be not merely penal institutions but also educative ones. Every prisoner should be brought under some system of instruction that would elevate his character--instead, as often happens, of debasing it still further.
It is far easier to degrade oneself than to uplift oneself. Every criminal knows that. The process of manufacturing a criminal is simple and easy. He commits his first crime and then, in order to save himself from its effects, he has to commit a second one. Once again he has to save himself from the effects of this one in turn and so commits a third crime. In the end he slides down a long slippery slope and becomes a hardened criminal! Only forethought for others or fear of the consequences for himself will save a man from taking the first ominous step. It is because men have insufficient forethought or insufficient knowledge of the consequences that they become criminals.
Or else, after the first punishment, instead of trying to understand the lessons of their sufferings, they nurse under-surface resentments which later explode and injure their whole life. It seems to offer an easier way out than the sterner path of moral repentance and honest endeavour. But they fail to foresee that it is no way out at all, that the selfish new crimes merely revive and worsen the hateful old tribulations. With every wrong step they take, they walk nearer and nearer to that calamity. What their befooled minds do not know is that even if they pass from successful crime to successful crime, nevertheless--under karmic and evolutionary law--they will later pass from painful retribution to painful retribution.
All this can be as true of nations as of an individual. Instead of meditating on the defeat that overtook them, they actually meditate on the victory that they themselves nearly overtook. Even when punishment is catastrophic and overwhelming, the very immensity of it creates a strong egoistic passion for self-justification, leaving room for only few and faint signs of any real change of heart. Such moral declension is as low and saddening as it is too often repeated by history. Every criminal nation which is at all curable must be brought to understand the moral degradation into which it fell when it blindly followed a path of pillage or violence. They learn little, understand little, and take to themselves few lessons from experience. They suffer, but their suffering is misread and misinterpreted. Here, for those who still doubt the truth of reincarnation, is one more argument in its favour. No single lifetime is enough to provide the necessary range of varied experience and to bring human development to an optimum of moral perfection--not even twenty lifetimes would be enough.
All aggressive persons and antisocial criminals reveal by their attitudes that they are still children in the understanding of life. There are two schools of thought as to their treatment. They have done wrong and must be punished. They have done wrong but must be forgiven. To state the problem in either of these drastic ways alone and let it go at that is dangerously to oversimplify its complications and difficulties, nay, is indeed misleading. For both these statements are true yet are so only in their own places. The first, presented by the cynics, advocates rigorous punishment. The second, presented mostly by the religious idealists, advocates a complete forgive-and-forget policy. The first is sadistic, the second sentimental. Both are unwise. Philosophy avoids such extremes and finds a sensible middle way between them. It says we must not push the criminal farther down the road of wrong-doing by evoking his spirit of revenge through unduly harsh treatment. Yet we must not let him walk down it of his own accord by letting him believe that wrong-doing brings no retribution at all.
A merely sentimental view of this problem will not really help us or them. A thoroughly psychological view will not only save us from further depredations but also save them from falling again into their own worst self. A misplaced adherence to emotional upsurges will, however, prevent us from correctly perceiving the true facts of this complex problem. It is the dictate of wisdom that we shall not forget, but it is also the dictate of compassion that we shall forgive. Little sectarian minds can only oppose these two as antitheses, whereas large philosophic minds can hold them harmoniously together. There is some confused thinking in the minds of pious people about the question of forgiveness. Criminal aggressors--whether they be single individuals or whole nations--need to be punished as much for their own moral benefit as for the physical protection of society. If through sentimental emotion they are left unpunished, then we render them a disservice. For they will fail to learn the age-old lesson that crime does not pay. Not that they will really escape from the inevitable come-back of karma, but when perpetration of crime is swiftly followed by proportionate punishment, the moral lesson involved is brought home to the wakeful consciousness much more effectively than when the same lesson is brought home to the subconscious at a later period or in another birth. There are times when a naughty child asks for and deserves spanking. Just as we do not hate a child even when performing such punitive operation, we ought not to hate the erring criminals who have put their energies into wrong channels even when we are restraining or punishing them. It should be done in the spirit of education, impersonally, calmly, without hatred, but with firm inflexible determination to teach them the lesson of their own experiences--the truth that barbarity does not pay.
There are brutes in human shape. That all the links between the baboon and men have not been lost is plainly proved by the very existence of these creatures. They will respond only to a language which they can understand: disciplinary punishment, firm repression. Their twisted minds must be surgically operated on, which means that they must be made to feel something of the pain which they made others suffer. Therefore those who through false sentimentality or wrong religion would here use kindness make a profound mistake.
But, object some religious and most mystical persons, ought we not to show mercy? Ought we not to forgive a sinner? Yes, we ought to forgive because we should comprehend that he sins through ignorance of life's unwritten laws. But the scriptural injunction to forgive enemies is often misconstrued. We ought to show mercy and forgive sinners but we should do the one at the right time and the other to the right person. Otherwise, we merely misplace these virtues and thus convert them into vices. It is our duty to practise compassion but it is not our duty to misplace it. We should show mercy only when there are signs of real repentance for having perpetrated the crime and in proportion to the actual degree of such repentance. For example, those who commit murder commit the greatest of crimes. They must make the greatest of repentances. They must turn themselves into penitents, sincerely disavowing their past evil and convincingly demonstrating their change of heart by tangible proofs.
When we witness the return to life of a criminal's sleeping conscience, the remorseful recognition of wrong-doing, and the honest admission of guilt, when he expresses genuine sorrow over his crimes and shows forth sincere repentance, it will be right and proper to treat him mercifully and forgivingly. In the moment when he truly repents, to our joy and his profit, in that same moment we must extend forgiveness and help him start a fresh and better life. But those other individuals who do not do any of these things, who merely smart with resentment and thirst for revenge, their treatment must be stern and punitive. Unless and until they do repent thoroughly, wise justice has no option but to treat them firmly. This treatment is helpful to their purification. A sentimental neglect to administer this tart medicine will only morally harm them in the end, let alone expose the world to a repetition of their crime.
The guilty must learn that everything has to be paid for. But the dearness or cheapness of the price they must pay should depend partly upon the measure of spontaneous repentance and amendment which they themselves bring forth. For there is always the divine message which, if they will tardily heed and obey it, can mitigate their unhappy lot. And that message says, "Repent, and be redeemed!" But repentance must run deep, into open deeds and secret thoughts, if it is to be karmically effective. Its reality must be proved by abundant evidence. The criminals have to pay today for what they have done yesterday. But if they have acknowledged their error, if they are genuinely remorseful, repentant in heart and mind and deed, if they strive spontaneously to make what amendment for the past it is still possible to make, then in that case new karma will manifest itself side by side with the old and thus modify their miseries. For although it is true that part of their future already exists even now, owing to karmic causes which they themselves set going, it is equally true that until the events of that future crystallize into the space-time world they are always liable to be modified by any fresh karmic causes which are introduced into their own domain.
How many can take this essential step of a moral about-turn? Can we awaken a criminal in jail to a sense of his personal failure and moral shame? Because he has suffered the humiliation of retribution, there is always the probability of comprehending that there is a better way. And because he is a human being, there is always the possibility of ethical recovery and moral improvement. Those who believe that they can solve such a problem as criminality on a merely practical basis alone are wrong. Experience will teach them that it is inseparable from a moral one, too. For if the criminal really repents, then our duty is to forgive him. A moral shift on his part should lead to a practical shift on ours.
We may forgive criminals and yet punish them for wrong-doing, if that be our duty, or place them under such external limitations as will prevent their further wrong-doing, if that also be our duty. The two are not contradictory. If we keep our hearts unpolluted by hatred, we may keep our hands sternly and firmly on the wrong-doer. This is included in what the Bhagavad Gita means when it defines the higher yoga as being "the skilful performance of action." The skilfulness here meant is obviously not the technical kind but rather the mystical power to remain inwardly detached whilst doing worldly duty. During the war, it became necessary for philosophic students to learn how to fight a cruel aggressor in the right spirit; they had paradoxically to learn how to deliver without anger or hate hard blows against him whilst feeling profound pity for his moral darkness.
But philosophic students are few. It is useless to ask humanity in its present state of evolution to behave on this high plane. A sage (and perhaps those who try to follow him) would not find it difficult to extend his compassionate goodwill to all criminals--indeed he would find it difficult not to--but it would be too much to expect that everybody else is capable of extending it.
An alternative to physical punishment, such as flogging, for brutal crimes of violence would be to put the criminal upon a semi-starvation diet. His bodily weakness would then affect his mental aggressiveness, would reduce and counter it.
If capital punishment is the law, at least change the method to withholding of food until death by starvation.
Pacifism: general, non-nuclear ethic
A prominent American pacifist stated that "someone somewhere must make a start to end war." This is true and laudable and certainly a needed reminder to mankind of its higher goal, but the problem involved in the current world crisis is not solved as simply as that. Just as in philosophic practice the ultimate view has to be coupled with the immediate one, so here with human nature in its present stage of evolvement, the recognition of the basic difference between a just and an unjust war must be given.
A philosopher is a pacifist in the sense that he does not practise violence against other living creatures. But he is not an uncompromising pacifist. He does not consider the use of arms wrong in all circumstances. A situation can be imagined where it would be wiser and, in the end, kinder to use force deliberately. Yet the general fact remains that the history of warfare is a history of the manifestation of man's lower nature, his bestial nature, and his evil nature. As he grows spiritually he will organize more and more for peace, less and less for war.
He allows other creatures the right to live, even to the point of eating no meat, but if they encroach on his own right, and endanger his own survival, then he will defend himself as resolutely as other men. Nor is the situation changed if these creatures are not animal but human. Pacifism is useful as a protest against human proneness to resort to violence, so he sympathizes with it in specific cases. But its usefulness ends when unscrupulous aggression seeks to triumph and needs the education of defeat.
The pacifist movements naturally attract intellectuals and artists, ministers of religion and humanitarians. But they also attract the sinister and subversive elements who try to direct, guide, or secretly control them, to make them serve their own antisocial destructive purposes. The presence and prominence of genuine idealists along with these pretended ones create confusion in the public mind. How can a movement be bad which is supported by such good men? That they are being used as a cover for the activities of bad men who spread falsehood and preach hatred is not so easily seen.
The classic objection which was so often thrown at Gandhi, is still a sound one. "Would you stand by, in your adherence to the ethic of nonviolence, and allow your wife, mother, or sister to be raped without lifting an arm to protect her?" The man who pushes the nonviolent attitude so far that he will not even help save the victim of such an attack, is a doctrinaire, the victim of his own misapplied fanaticism. Nature (God) can be very violent at times: it is not always peaceful.
On the mystical level, all war is evil and all pacifism is good. On the philosophical level, the universality of this rule vanishes. We there rise from a judgement based on pure feeling to a judgement based on its integration by intuition with pure reason, the result of which is intelligence.
If pacifism is to mean the acceptance of evil then it cannot be enough.
Gandhi's advice to the young man that he should still practise absolute non-violence if someone attacked his sister, is not perfect. He would better have advised the use of force unless the young man were so developed that he could successfully defend her without it and unless the assailant were so sensitive that non-violence would bring out a response in him. In other words, the pacifist principle should certainly be applied in every case where it is likely to be effective but refrained from where it is likely to fail. It is not a principle of universal applicability.
Men whose temperament is naturally given to violence in speech or deed, or those who always stir up agitation, extremism, irreconciliation, and intransigence, must be firmly and unflinchingly ruled. Weakness would be folly.
The whole history of Europe during the past fifty years could have been changed had pacifism not been misapplied. After Lenin seized power in Russia the leader of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, which not only had a majority in the Constituent Assembly but controlled more regiments than the Bolsheviks, refused to put up any resistance. He said, "Russian blood must not be shed." If strong action had been taken then Lenin could have been thrown out and the loss of freedom in so many countries--half the world--prevented from happening.
It may be asked why the counsel to practise nonviolence was ever given at all by saints and prophets. Obviously it is ethically the highest instance of forgiveness and the most effective way of transcending the ego practically.
The proper course is to try kindly reasonable and nonviolent methods of resisting aggression. If they fail then forceful ones become the only alternative. But they should not blur the goodwill which must be felt towards all men, including enemies.
The mistake made is to be solely dependent on violent methods, when gentler ones would achieve the same end without letting in the poison of hate and without creating so much new misery.
That country is truly civilized where the killing instinct is held in abeyance and regarded with abhorrence.
Pacifism in light of nuclear threat
With the world as it is and in mankind's present evolutionary condition, it would be imprudent to reject violence at all times and during all events. But to reject the violence of nuclear weapons would be the highest prudence.
In earlier eras the duty of armed resistance to armed aggression was both a practical and moral one. In the present era changed conditions require a revision of this duty.
The evil passions of men produce wars which, in this nuclear age, can end only in destroying both sides alike. Therefore for rulers even to talk of the possibility of taking part in such war today is sheer madness.
The threat of nuclear bombing has created a situation so entirely new that the old ideas about defense have to be scrapped. Formerly it was logical and morally right to meet violence with violence, but now it is suicidal and morally wrong to do so.
In the past, international aggression accompanied by force had to be met by national defense accompanied by force. The resultant war was, unhappily, inescapable. It was bad, but it was better than surrendering to evil. In the present, this is no longer true. The use of nuclear forces in war is a completely immoral act. It is so not only because the scale on which it annihilates men, women, and children alike is unheard of, but also because the aftermath which succeeds it will be so savage as to be worse than the communism or capitalism such a war sets out to destroy. The means used being wrong, the end result will be equally wrong, besides being unwanted and perhaps unexpected.
What the Bomb has done is to show up war for the evil thing that it is. Are its warnings to pass unheeded simply because we do not wish to be troubled by such sombre morbid thoughts?
The greatest value of the atomic bomb, after its compulsory prevention of war, is its compulsory abolition of frontiers. It renders them meaningless. It makes a world authority inevitable. It renders a merely international league insufficient. Only a world federation and world authority will suffice to meet it. With this change in media, all military manuals became obsolete overnight. What gunpowder did to the bow and arrow, atomic bombs have done to gunpowder. The political struggle to secure strategic frontiers has now lost all meaning. For there are none.
We are told that adequate means of defense must be maintained, else the evil powers arraigned against us will overwhelm the liberties, the justice, the religion, the decencies we hold dear. We are told further that the policy of unilateral nuclear renunciation is a policy of surrender to those powers. The answer is that those who support the traditional way of defending those liberties--the military way--are today the real enemies, since the traditional way will lead inescapably to war, which in turn will lead to their total destruction, and our partial destruction. Those who claim that the next war will not necessarily be a nuclear one, talk like fools. When such power is within the reach of men, they will act like human beings, with all the weakness of human beings to resist great temptation, to grasp it. If it is not rejected now, in the calmer atmosphere of peace, it will certainly not be rejected later in the tenser atmosphere of war. If the unilateral policy is not accepted now, the penalty will inevitably follow.
War is no longer the same. The revolution which has taken place in it is so absolute that it has not merely destroyed an old form of war, but war itself. That which will take its place is the murder of half of mankind and the suicide of the murderers.
The weapons of physical warfare are also the symbols of man's hates or greeds, suspicions or fears. So far as the first of these negative emotions is concerned, Buddha neatly put the point: "Hatred ceaseth not by hatred; it ceaseth only by love." This lesson of two world wars must be extracted, and extracted quickly, if a third world war is to be avoided. And in the face of atomic extinction, the practice of nonviolent pacifism, which is the outer expression of love, is not mere sentimentality but the highest rationality and practicality.
The nonviolent way to bring peace to the world is today the only way even though in the pre-atomic age it may not have been. For under this menace of nuclear weapons war cannot be prevented, nor peace attained and maintained, by the traditional arms race.
Is it practical and realistic to turn this earth into a gigantic incinerator? Yet that is just what those leaders who insist on making and piling up atom bombs are doing. Nothing could be more practical than throwing all those satanic bombs away--if in the meaning of practicality we are to include actions which promote our survival.
The practice of nonviolent pacifism at this juncture of history where the menace of atomic warfare is so unprecedented, is not mere surrender. It is a new way of fighting which uses spiritual weapons instead of physical ones. But whereas atomic warfare would destroy both antagonists and bring barbarism, this new way will save both. It will save their lives and their civilizations. More, it will give a tremendous spiritual boost to the side which tries it first and ultimately give some uplift to the other side too.
In renouncing war for such reasons we do not necessarily renounce evil for good. We simply choose between evils and abandon what has now become the greater evil for a lesser.
So long as this enormous distrust of each other remains, so long will the desire for disarmament on both sides fail of realization. There is no likelihood that it will not continue to remain. Therefore if this failure is ever to be brought to an end, what cannot be reached by both sides agreeing together must be reached by one side acting alone. That is, the goal of full disarmament can only be reached by stages, and this is the first stage. It has some unsatisfactory and disconcerting features, it raises new doubts and fears, but all that is outweighed by the enormous gain of preventing a nuclear war.
We are confronted by the power of evil in formidable array and menacing guise. We cannot ignore it for it forces itself aggressively into our lives. We may not, without being untrue to our ideals, respond to its crude and cruel emotional and intellectual attacks with the same weapons, with hatred, greed, contention, with the rejection of God, morality, and truth. This we admit. But to its threats of physical attack we consider ourselves entitled to use the same physical weapons. We refuse to let ourselves be dragged down to evil's own low plane inwardly but we are willing to let ourselves be dragged down outwardly. Why this difference? If the one is wrong, the other is also wrong. A sharp logic requires us to hold firm heroically in nonviolence, and not to copy the ways and weapons of our antagonists.
If the course suggested here offers great risks, as it does, it is justified by the incontestable fact that to hold inflexibly to the old one offers immeasurably greater risks of spilling death upon us all. The pattern of fighting in war has been followed since history began. It is a familiar one and was safe enough to follow in the past, for both antagonists survived. But now in this nuclear age, it has lost its safety, for both know that they are unlikely to survive a nuclear war. A new and unfamiliar pattern is needed and must be created, and that quickly. Time is running out.
The alternative choices are both evil, but not equally evil. Either we disarm and seek peace on the best obtainable terms--no matter how crushing they may be--or we continue the nuclear armaments race until it eventually and inevitably ends in nuclear war. Under the first choice we may find ourselves--if the worst happens--in a situation hardly short of virtual surrender. Its consequences may include atheistic education for the young and the disappearance of all that is fine in our civilization. But it would continue to survive and after some time reciprocal influences would begin to appear. Under the second choice, in fighting to defend our way of life by atomic weapons, we would be using an evil means to attain a good end.
There will be risks either way, so why not take the risk of peace rather than of war?
History will continue to repeat itself so long as men believe that force and violence are the only ways of achieving security, so long as no nation has the moral courage to apply spiritual truth.
In one sense our time is a challenge to change old ways of thinking about war. It is a time to draw on spiritual resources until we see it in a new light, a spiritual light, which should induce us to banish it once and for all. It is a chance to avert calamity and create opportunity. There is no escape. If we do not rise to the new requirement, much of our civilization will be eclipsed and most of us will vanish from the scene.
Since war can no longer serve as a useful instrument of either attack or defense, it should be dropped from all thinking and planning for the future, regardless of what other nations do.
Is mankind to be condemned forever to murder on a national scale, is war to become an eternal state of affairs? Or will some nation be heroic enough, wise enough, to break the vicious circle?
The saying, "War is not so burdensome as slavery," was correct but only pertinent to all eras prior to the present one.
The first nation which will dare to apply this truth to its own affairs and relationships will draw a dividing line through the world's history. It may have to suffer although not in the same way, nor to the same extreme extent, as did Telemachus, who was stoned to death in Rome's Arena but accomplished his mission of putting an end forever to combats between man and beast. But this nation will prove that the vicious circle of war unending can be broken, that bloody combat of people against people can end.
If pacific and nonviolent methods will fail to produce, in most circumstances, any immediate successful result, they cannot fail in the long run, if patiently practised, to impress the adversary by their example--hitherto unknown to and unconceived by him.
Nuclear war is immoral. This alone is sufficient for one side to refuse to engage in it, whether or not the other side takes advantage of such refusal.
In the absence of an impartial and effectual world-authority, the only alternative to war as a means of settling disputes is renunciation of the right to kill.
Man has been forced against a wall built from the results of his own actions, that is, karma, and made to face two alternatives: either he goes on preparing defensively or aggressively for war or starts the new course of preparing for peace.
The remedy is simple to formulate, although political and military leaders who find it unpalatable will assert that its result would be worse than war. It is this: cease manufacturing both atomic bombs and other atomic weapons; cease using the atom for military purposes in any way. This may seem startlingly unrealistic but it is the only way to escape an otherwise inevitable fate, too terrible to describe even in outline.
What Napoleon, Tamerlane, Genghis Khan, the Caesars, and all the aggressive warrior-rulers known to history combined could not kill during their entire lifetimes, can be killed in less than a minute by the weapons of twentieth-century man.
The only way to put an end to any possibility of atomic conflict is to put an end to atomic weapons. It is as simple as that.
The way of disarmament may fail to be accepted but it is the only way open to us that could avert war, within the very limited time available.
What is the opposing quality to the violence of today? Not merely nonviolence--a negative one--but gentleness--a positive one.
Is the true patriot only the man who puts his faith in brute force, harsh violence, and tragic destruction? Is there no love of country in gentler ways? I venture the claim that the man who keeps himself above war passions, who seeks and finds the Overself's inner peace and then distributes it in his country's mental atmosphere, is worth more to the State than the man who places his reliance on murderous weapons.
What Gandhi did for India we need someone to do for the whole world. The freedom from colonial status which he achieved by nonviolent means is a small thing compared with the freedom from the menace of atomic warfare which must be achieved if civilization is to continue.
The problem of our proper reaction to war is a difficult one. The duty of defending ourselves against, or rescuing the victims of, a murderous assault seems to be a moral one and just as applicable to an international scale as to an individual one. It seems right and reasonable to believe that open aggression should be resisted and even, to a certain extent, punished.
But with the advent of the atomic and hydrogen bombs the method of fighting for any cause, even a righteous one, has become the greater of two evils where formerly it was the lesser. Where self-defense may lead to certain and suicidal self-destruction, we begin to pause, to consider, and to hesitate.
Any investigation of the destiny of nations from a philosophic point of view shows that the appearance of an aggressive invader on a people's borders must have some underlying karmic cause deeper than the obvious political or economic one. Just as the appearance of a certain unpleasant event in an individual's life is often due to corresponding faults or weaknesses in him which need to be remedied, so the invader's appearance points to deficiencies or errors in the invaded nation's inner life. They too need correction. There is no escape from this inner duty, and so long as the weaknesses remain so long will troubles appear or assaults threaten.
Until the nations achieve this moral development, they can hope only to restrict the violence and area of war, not to eradicate it. Such a restriction can be brought about by external means only by an international policing army, just as society's crime is restricted by local police. This single army to replace the many armies implies some kind of a world government. Yet national feelings are everywhere still unwilling to sacrifice themselves to a supernational government, and there is some ground for the refusal. There is no other prospect of its arrival than through a third world war, whose aftermath would unquestionably be the birth of a world government to control international relations, leaving the separate peoples free to pursue their own policies in regard to internal ones. This is the only alternative path to peace, terrible though it be.
Meanwhile what is the duty of the spiritually awakened individual, as apart from the unawakened nations? Has the time come for him to practise a new approach? Does the old one of meeting violence with violence belong to the animal world? Then what is the new one which belongs to the human world? Must he cease to take life, withdraw from this course of endless slaughter, and seek protection from the higher powers by offering up even the will to live itself if needs be? The individual alone can test the truth and worth of this newer moral concept. For support of it offers no early likelihood of attaining sufficient strength as a political power. Philosophy can give no lead in the matter. The decision is a personal one. Each must decide for himself.
Constructive alternatives: individual
There are positive and negative forces in the world and therefore in human beings. If a person cannot eliminate his negative qualities (and most people find it almost impossible), he can, however, bring them into a neutral point and thus establish a state of equilibrium or balance.
Living in a society where there is so much folly and ignorance, evil and unbalance, he must protect himself mentally, emotionally, physically, and even psychically.
In a world seething with negative thoughts, murky in several areas with suspicion and even hatred, inflamed with violent feelings, he who knows the truth must hold all the more to inner and outer calm, to goodwill and faith in the Overself's presence.
Evil is strong in the world and sometimes people who aspire to the good become discouraged and depressed. It is at such moments that they need to recall whatever glimpses of the Real they have had and to remember that all things pass away, including the evil.
We live in apocalyptic times, as history is already revealing. The call today is a penitential one, a solemn recall from earthliness to holiness, from frivolousness, grossness, and madness to remembrance of life's higher purpose. Those who feel in their own hearts some sort of a response, however feeble, should cling to this precious intuition and let it guide them until they are saved.
The failure to persuade either the masses or their leaders to change their way of life and thought is not a reason for abandoning either the inner or outer work as useless. Even though any marked and visible result may not now appear, it may yet do so at a later date. We must have a moral concern which instigates acts aiming at conversion or makes proposals even if they will obviously fail.
Questions about man's future and civilization's prospects trouble us. More pessimistic answers are gloomily given than optimistic ones. It is not easy to do otherwise, when the facts are so tragically plain and when they lie so plentifully all around us. Philosophy least of all can afford wishful thinking. It too sees the night falling but whilst counselling stoic resignation it does not discourage constructive resistance. And it reminds the individual that society's catastrophes should urge him all the more to seek and find the one necessary refuge--his own sacredness.
If anyone wants to see a better world he must make his contribution toward it. And this demands inexorably that he begin with himself and make his character and conduct better.
The prudent man learns by observation or by experience, or more often by both, that there is spiritual ignorance in the world and in man: he must often conceal the greater portion of his wisdom and his power. This is necessary for his own protection and security. It was a similar caution and desire for personal safety which induced the writers of ancient Hindu texts and medieval Italian ones to advise those who lived under a brutal tyranny to emigrate. This did not mean going to a new country but to a new district.
There is not much that an individual can do in time of great general catastrophe, such as the mass horror of war. But even then, the hope and faith of an existence higher than the present one is not without its value. At such times one must lean back, draw a deep breath, and remark as Abraham Lincoln did during the blackest hours of the U.S. Civil War: "This too will pass."
The coming of war brings its own anxieties. This is when he has to draw upon his spiritual knowledge to get the strength and courage to endure bravely special trials and tribulations. It is only at such times of crisis that all higher interests get the chance to prove their solid worth, for without their inner support and some kind of understanding of what it all means, life becomes most inhumanly alarming. He may have found glimpses of inner peace from time to time and now he has to insert these into his external life and try to stretch them out through constant remembrance of the Real. Such frequent communion and intelligent remembrance can give him the strength to go on, the peace to put up with frustrations, doubts, and fears, and faith in what is still beyond his conscious knowledge, the satisfaction that the years are not being wasted. All other duties become better fulfilled when he fulfils this supreme duty of realizing the ever-present reality within the heart. Indeed they cannot be separated from it for through them Reality can express itself.
It is not palatable to hold the thought that humanity is so bad, or else its rulers so misguided, that little or nothing can be done to save it. Yet if it happens to be a true thought, we ought to be strong enough to accept it and acknowledge that there are times when such a defeatist outlook is justified and necessary.
It does not usually pay to be pessimistic but that need not prevent our facing unpalatable facts.
The evil he has no opportunity to fight in the larger world outside, he has every opportunity to fight in the smaller world inside his own person.
With destruction awaiting modern civilization, it is useless to look for a safer refuge than in finding the peace and strength of the Overself. For if we do that, we shall also be led by it to do what may be physically needful too.
If greater knowledge brings greater power, it also brings greater responsibility. The more he receives from the Overself's grace, the more should he give to humanity's need.
With so many people in the world today whose outlook is negative, whose emotions are twisted and thinking is warped, it is more needful to stand firm in one's own spot of positive thinking than ever.
Whoever doubts the truth of this message, thereby deprives himself of its benefits. But this is equally true of the believer who fears its truth. If the future holds distress and suffering, blows and disasters, it is to be met with courage sought and asked from the higher self. According to our faith, it will be given us.
It is not a question of what we like or prefer or believe. It is a question of accepting quietly, or else defying vainly, the course of events and the trend of destiny.
If catastrophe and obliteration threaten humanity and if the individual is hopeless when confronted by them, it is logical to conclude that although humanity might not be able to save itself, the individual can save himself from these disasters if he believes that inner salvation is at least a possibility where outer salvation is not. Yes, you and I can save ourselves from within even when we cannot save ourselves from without. That at least is a better lot than the one of the man who can save himself neither from within nor from without and puts his faith in political action alone. For politics is merely a system of human bargaining actuated by self-seeking. It can invoke the aid of no higher power because it does not rise higher than this self-seeking interest itself. But the individual is free to lift himself above this sordid plane and therefore he is in a position to invite the attention and aid of higher powers.
He who consciously inhabits reality will live independent of the mutations of fate, the catastrophes of history, and the crises of an epoch in dissolution. Even in crisis of war, where danger or even death is lurking, philosophy reveals its immense practicability. For the philosopher can meet them with the utter calmness, effective capacity, and resolute heroism with which his studies, reflections, disciplines, and ideals have formed his character. Amid the surging tides of postwar chaos he sets the example and shows the value of philosophic discipline and the power of philosophic principles by standing firm as a rock. Just as he kept cool in the very midst of global conflagration, so he now keeps clear-sighted amid the gloom of its dusty aftermath. In the very midst of world confusion, he becomes a little oasis of strength and peace, wisdom and certitude, calm and holiness. If he has to live in a chaotic disordered environment, the sad heritage of war, he still lives his own constructive ordered pattern of existence. The very example of such a man keeping steady and balanced thus silently helps some others who are bewildered or aimless.