The Karma of War

War is a symbol of the negative aspects of human character, a symbol of the pain and sorrow that comes from the abuse of power, from the misuse of leadership.

The dogs of war have been let loose upon the earth, cruelties and abominations are taking place on many parts of the earth. Over it all hangs the supreme symbol of self destruction, nuclear weapons.

How does it come about that aggressive leaders, dictators and tyrants are able to lead there people to self destruction.

The only answer is that people do not understand, do not know, and do not have the courage or the position and power to prevent these catastrophes.

In the great Hindu epic of the Mahabharata, there is a poem called The Bhagavad-Gita.

There is a prince seated in his war chariot on the battlefield. He is faced by an army drawn up against his army. As he looks across he sees his own kinsmen; he sees relatives and friends of many years standing waiting to die in battle.

The prince is desolated by this situation. He is required by the people of his own group to defend them. He does not want to go out and kill anybody. He wants a peaceful solution to everything. Either he must surrender his country, destroy his culture and enslave his people, or else he has to go forth and fight on the battlefield.

Before he gives his war orders he sits in prayer and deep meditation on his war chariot. A great light suddenly surrounds the chariot. In this light the God Krishna appears and takes the place of the charioteer. Now sitting in the chariot with the prince he recites to him the story of the Bhagavad-Gita.

He tells the young prince not to grieve, not to fear and not to worry for there is a greatness, wholeness and goodness that encircles everything no matter how terrible it may appear. He says do not fear, because you cannot kill anyone, no one can kill anyone, no one can prevent death but no one fails to survive it.

 On this occasion there is a great conflict, a great struggle but always remember that certain is death for the living and certain is birth for the dead.

Out of all this comes the recognition of one of the great laws of Indian thinking, and that is the law of reincarnation.

We must realize that we live in a universe that everything is alive forever. The individual who comes into this world was not new when he came. The one who leaves here does not vanish forever and disappear simply because he drops a body that is too old and tired.

As a man cast out garments and take others that are new, so the spirit cast out worn out bodies and takes others that are new. Never the spirit was born, the spirit shall cease to be never, birth and death they are dreams, and life is forever. (This is the song of the Bhagavad-Gita)

Consider the present situation; we are all today gravely anxious with what’s going on in the world. We know a nuclear holocaust would end all of the dreams of the ages; we know all these things well and want to prevent these things from happening.

One of these days we shall become tired of killing ourselves and each other; the light will dawn and there will come into our lives and into our consciousness the realization of the dignity of life, the reality of it, the importance of it, and that we are here to protect it and advance it in every way and not to destroy it.

Body’s may come and go, but life is eternal. The individual, who really understands life, is indestructible. Only if within ourselves we have come to this realization.

The concept of heaven and hell in theological thinking is no longer very rational; it does nothing to strengthen the individual here.

One does not become good because he fears evil, he is good because he performs as well as he can. So the theory of going on to heaven or hell is not particularly acceptable anymore, it doesn’t really solve a problem.

Plato said we don’t go to hell when we die we go to hell when we are born. This is purgatory; this is the place where individuals must grow, must stand strong and firm and must pass the test of mortal life to ensure they are fulfilling the evolutionary processes of the system of cosmic worlds to which we belong.

One thing that is important is the concept of rebirth. It seems to be the only answer that does not in some way force an unfortunate or unreasonable condition.

If we accept the doctrine of reincarnation, then we realize why we are here. We are in school; we are in school to learn lessons. It’s a school in which various things happen, in various spans between birth and death. Every good deed lives and every bad deed fades away. The amazing thing is good works with good wherever you find it and evil fights evil wherever it appears.

We must outgrow the problems that now plague us we can’t walk out on them. Peace cannot be legislated while envy and stupidity are in the heart and conduct of every human. There is no way we can solve the problem of the world dilemma unless we solve in ourselves the weaknesses which cause us to compromise principle. We must not only correct our own mistakes, we have to face them.

Everything that goes wrong has got to be straightened out by those who cause it; and as no individual is probably willing to make an effort so quickly. It may take several lifetimes for the individual to get along working with himself until he solves his own need. It may even take fifty lives for an individual to reach a point where he knows what is wrong with war and he knows his part in causing it. When that happens, peace comes.

 Nature is different, it does not humor. Nature strengthens by forcing resolutions, nature makes us grow and if we could figure out a way of avoiding it, we would.

We’ve been trying to evade realities since the beginning of history, but we’ve never avoided one of them yet. They come back again and again until the individual outgrows his own weakness. When this happens civilization outgrows war.

There is the story of the great general, who has converted to Buddhism, one day the great general asks Buddha a question, the general says “I’ve sworn to support the ruler, and protect the land. If there is a call to war, what shall I do? You tell me war is wrong, there should be no war, yet I’m sworn to protect my country if an enemy invades it. What shall I do?”

Buddha says very quietly, “defend your country.” The general says, “This is very different from what you said.” Buddha says, “No it isn’t, you haven’t asked me what it’s going to cost you to keep your word. If you are prepared as a true patriot to defend your country and your country is therefore led by you into war, don’t forget that you share the karma of war.”

“You are going to have to pay not only in the material world, but else ware for the karma of killing; but if it is in a cause which you consider greater than yourself it is no worse than dyeing on a battle field for the same reason.”

“You are going to have to experience and except the punishment for having to do wrong. You had voluntarily said you would do it; regardless of anything you are the leader. All those who perish under your leadership have their own destiny to fulfill, but there is not one of them that carry the destiny that you do.”

The person who leads the army or the nation to war caries the heavier burden of it and they must pay that debt. The person who dies for his principles has good karma. The hero who serves, loves, and gives every last moment of life and devotion does not go down to silence, darkness, or death.

 Each individual is responsible for the morality of his own action, unselfishness has a great and glorious reward, we can’t see it but the person who has it knows it.

Through all these experiences we are learning the lessons to final peace. We are learning however that peace begins not with the generals of the armies, but within our own families. We have to heal the wounds of strife within our own family. We have to gradually take on the mature responsibility of leadership and integrity.

Today we are in the presence of the greatest test we have ever faced concerning survival. A survival which depends on accepting the challenge of this great nuclear enemy that hangs over us.

We have to realize that through all these thousands of years we are temporized with problems, we have tried to do what we wanted to do at the expense not only of each other but in violation of universal law. Today the world is largely made up of transgressors of one size or another.

We must take a new position inside ourselves as to what is value and try to live according to a better standard of life.

How can we be a great civilized people and be morally ignorant? How can we claim to be an educated people when we cannot control our own lives? How does it happen that we think of success in the terms of income and pay no attention to the tragedy that this success is causing? We are faced with a greater and greater stress.

 We have carefully ignored the wisdom we have inherited from the past. We have ignored the words and thoughts of the great world teachers, we quote them but we do not live them. We quote Plato when he says “any form of government is good if the governor is good, and no form of government is good if the governor is bad.” There is no way of compromising this, but we don’t pay much attention to it.

Each one of us has within ourselves a teacher, there is something we call the soul, there is guidance from within, a guidance that seems to have come to us from that spark of divine life by which we are able to live and the spark of life in us (the god in us) is also the great teacher. We must finally try to put the soul and spirit of truth into our affairs. The soul must control and direct the works we are doing every day. There has to be beauty, love, and faith. We cannot continually pollute our world.

The voice of the people is the voice of god, and if the individual stands for their principles, tyranny cannot survive.

We are all here to learn for as long as we live, and learning means to learn how to live and not merely learn how to pay bills, but to learn how to have a real life by learning every day values that help us become better people and help other people unfold their potentials.

We are like a great wave of life moving through space, moving in and out of material existence. On the one hand coming in to face the unknown and on the other hand going out to face the unknown. Here for a little while, but living conscious beings forever. Over time we will transform this material world into an enlightened system of education.

Religion must come of age; faiths have to realize that while there are seventy two names for god, there is only one God. All this fighting over deities stems from an ulterior motive. Religion is being used as a means of assisting dictators to control ignorant people.

Let’s think about the Muslim situation. In the Koran Mohamed said, “no one who does not believe Jesus of Nazareth was a true profit of the lord can go to heaven,” but that’s not what we hear now.

The power of the human being is unlimited, if he knows how to use it. That power was given for one purpose only; it was not that he might become a conqueror of others, but that he might stand with others to conqueror the ignorance that stands between us all and the better world we want to live in.

Every person who does a little better every day is contributing to the survival of human society the individual who doesn’t care and makes a new mistake everyday is gradually destroying our natural resources and destroying himself.

We are all part of one little pattern of life going to school on a little planet in space. We were not created to become masters of each other; we were created to become friends.

When the time comes we must stand together for things that are right and in standing together for these things, we can be true to the millions who died to give us hope.