Symbols of the world's religions



Meher Baba

The basic causes of the social turmoil that often precipitates into war, may be found in the individual, the social whole, the functioning of maya and in the very intent of God's will. Inasmuch as these are essentially one in the final analysis, this means no more than that war is a part of the divine pattern. Insofar as war affects the individual, however, it must be understood at all the levels within illusion from which it is precipitated.

The first is the level of the individual himself. It may readily be seen that most persons are immersed in their own egos and selfish viewpoints. This is the life of illusory values in which men are caught. If man were to face the truth he would understand that all life is one, and in this understanding, forget the limiting self.

But man does not face the truth, regarding himself as separate from and competing with the rest of mankind. This attitude often breeds a concept of personal happiness that creates lust for power, unbridled greed and unrelieved hatred.

Ignorant of the real purpose of life, many persons sink to the lowest level of culture, burying themselves in and contributing to the decay of forms lingering on from the dead past. Bound by material interest and a limited viewpoint, they forget their divine destiny. They have truly lost their way, and so they lay savagely about themselves, for their hearts are torn by fear and hate.

The second level from which wars are bred is that of the social whole. Here, economic pressures are often cited as a major cause. Also, resistance to aggression seems a reasonable cause.

It would be an illusion within illusion, however, to claim that wars arise merely to secure material adjustment. They are more often the product of uncritical identification with narrow interests which through association, finally come to be regarded as one's sole rights. To profess that humanity's problem is merely that of bread is to reduce humanity to the level of animality.

If man chooses to set himself the limited task of securing purely material adjustment, he must understand and be guided by the spiritual ramifications of this simple goal. Economic adjustment cannot be divorced from a spiritual context. Economic adjustment can be achieved only as people realize there can be no planned cooperative action in economic matters without the replacing of self-interest with self-giving love. Failing this fundamental requisite, the attainment of highest efficiency in production will only lead to a further sense of insufficiency and new conflict. A profound spirit of self-giving love must underlie all effort to solve and remove the economic pressures leading towards war.

While material adjustment can only be regarded as a part of the wider problem of spiritual adjustment, spiritual adjustment in turn requires the elimination of self. It must be removed from all those phases which affect the intellectual, emotional and cultural life of man.

It may be readily seen then that a solution to the individual and social factors underlying war rests upon the spiritual enlightenment of the individual. This need not mean that wars are inevitable as long as the ego-self of the individual continues to ride rampant in the cultural and economic areas of life, for war is only the most explosive manifestation of the combined egocentricity of mankind. But conflict of one sort or another is inevitable until the ego-self is finally tamed and eliminated.

As man faces the truth and begins to appreciate that all humanity, nay all creation, is one, the problem of wars will commence to disappear. Wars must be so clearly seen by all to be both unnecessary and unreasonable that the immediate problem will not be to stop wars, but to wage them spiritually against the attitude of mind which generated them.

In the light of the truth of the unity of all, a cooperative and harmonious life becomes inevitable. Thus the chief task for those who set out to rebuild humanity after a great war is to do their utmost to dispel the spiritual ignorance that envelopes humanity.

The disease of selfishness in mankind will need a cure that is not only universal in application, but drastic in nature. Selfishness is so deep-rooted that it can be eradicated only by being attacked from all sides. Real peace and happiness will dawn spontaneously when selfishness is purged. The peace and happiness that come from self-giving love are permanent. Even the worst sinner can become a great saint if he has the courage and sincerity to invite a drastic and complete change of heart.

The levels from which war springs have not yet been exhausted. The third is that of maya. When truly understood, all conflicts and wars are also seen to be a part of the divine game. They are thus a result of the divine will, which finds expression in the world of manifestation, through the medium of maya — the cosmic power that causes the illusory world of duality to appear as real.

The purpose served by maya is twofold: (1) it can be instrumental in trapping the mind in the duality of illusion, and (2) it can also be instrumental in freeing the mind from the grip of spiritual ignorance and bondage. Maya should not be ignored; it must be handled with detachment and understanding. Wars are the work of maya, and are either spiritually disastrous or beneficial depending on whether they are based on attachment to or detachment from the hold of maya.

The final level from which the causes of war spring is no level at all, for it is a part of the divine plan of God to give to a hungry and weary world a fresh dispensation of the eternal and only truth. During war, great forces of destruction are afoot which at times might seem to be dominant. But constructive forces for the redemption of humanity are also released through various channels. Though the working of these latter forces is largely silent, eventually they are bound to bring about the transformations that will render safe and steady the further spiritual progress of humanity.

Regardless of the political and economic factors described by the historian as he looks at war in retrospect, from the spiritual point of view this sanguine phenomenon is a cyclic divine ferment over which no earthly power has control.


LISTEN, HUMANITY, pp. 128-130, ed. Don E. Stevens
1982 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust


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