War and Peace

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba

War and Peace

Since time immemorial there have been wars on earth, first between tribes and then between the nations (which are really full-grown tribes). Yet the vast majority of people in the world want peace, not war. This being so, how do wars come about, and can they be prevented? The past century has proved that they cannot be prevented by such well-meaning organisations as the League of Nations and the United Nations. Something more is needed than the organisation of leaders to prevent war. Hitler’s plan was to create a master race in his human stud farms, using what he considered the Aryan stock in the German race. This master race was to become the rulers of the slave people in the rest of the world. This may have brought about world peace, but not the kind of peace that mankind would want. It would have been the peace of slaves. Human beings have been defined as divine spirits having a human experience. They want individual freedom as well as peace. The same fault lies in communist domination because communism in practice, becomes a tyranny in which the few rule the many and individual democratic freedom vanishes very quickly. So what is the root of war and can this root be removed?

Sathya Sai Baba tells us that the root of all conflict between the races or the nations lies in the individual. How do conflicts, armed or otherwise, begin in the individual breast? Can this be changed? Can this inner conflict within the heart of humanity be changed? Can the root of all wars great and small be dug out from your breast and mine?

Who is the enemy within the one who we must all defeat before peace in the world can be really established? Sathya Sai Baba tells us that it is our own egos. This is his name for what some teachers have called our lower selves. That conglomerate of selfish desires, self-centred ambitions, narrow pride, ignorant prejudice, lust for power and wealth and the other demons within, who motivate our lives. This ego fights an eternal inner war against our higher Self, which is also known as the conscience and the divine spirit of our being. It is a strange set-up. This divine centre of our Selves, also known as the Jivatma, is our true eternal identity, yet it has to fight a constant war with this horde of demonic enemies which together make up the evil force that we call the inner devil or the ego. In simple terms it is a battle between the good and the evil within us. Poet Laureate Masefield called this, “The long war beneath the stars.” Through many lifetimes we have each been the battlefield for this war within.

So if Sathya Sai Baba is right, and I’m quite sure he is, those wars that have been going on between groups of people since time immemorial are, in fact, an outward expression of this long war beneath the stars that has been going on within ourselves, since humanity began its first lessons in schoolroom earth.

While the inner war is usually being fought between the higher Self and the ego, war between God and the devil within man, between groups of people small and large is often ego versus ego. Yet the wars that always seem to have come with the advent of a Godman or Avatar on earth are definitely the Divine or God forces versus the anti-God forces. Take, for instance, Rama the first human Avatar of God on earth. While he was the embodiment of dharma, or right-living, he was essentially a warrior and his first purpose on earth seems to have been the removal of what Sathya Sai Baba calls a diseased tree within humanity. Mankind could not live the dharmic life while this diseased tree, this anti-God force, was active. The leader of the anti-God force was Ravana and his followers were the rakshasas or demons inhabiting Lanka at that time. So a long hard war had to be fought to remove this impurity from the body of mankind. Only then did a just peace on earth become possible.

There was a parallel situation when the next human Avatar, Lord Krishna, came to earth. This time the diseased tree in humanity was a caste that had forsaken its dharma and, instead of governing and protecting the people, was exploiting them for its own selfish gains. Krishna tried to bring about the reform of the caste without the necessity of war while, no doubt, knowing that this was impossible. On the battlefield just before the outbreak of the fighting, he gave that immortal teaching to mankind known as the Bhagavad Gita. It is significant that he gave it there on the eve of the terrible slaughter that was to come. It teaches us, I think, what the divine man’s attitude must be to any sacrifice of life. This is not only true of human or animal sacrifice but also of vegetable. Whether we are cutting down a tree or killing smaller vegetable life, though we need not recite the whole Bhagavad Gita, we should offer the life to God in an appropriate prayer, which may be verbal or silent.

After the evil caste had been removed and a just and dharmic peace was possible, Krishna performed his wondrous mission to mankind and created that Divine Love in the human heart that we still feel today.

The next Godman who changed the history of the world, placing it on a higher spiritual level, particularly in the Western world, was Jesus the Christ. He stated openly that he had not come to bring peace but a sword. Yet his mission to mankind, delivered in the main to the Jews in Judea, lasted only three years, a little less than three years, and though many of his disciples and other followers hoped he would take the sword and lead them against the Romans who were occupying the country, he knew that this was not practicable and was not the way to go. Jesus foresaw the hopelessness of the challenge to the Roman might. But a successful challenge to Roman power followed and helped protect the early Christian religion. The sword Jesus spoke of came after his crucifixion, after the beginnings of the new religion named The Way and later called Christianity, had been thrown out of Palestine and taken root in Britain at the place known today as Glastonbury in Avalon, in the West of England. The Roman emperor, Claudius, was fully aware that Glastonbury, where the leaders of The Way were gathering, was the base from which the new religion would be given out to the world. And, knowing that this religion was a threat to the godless power of the Roman empire, Claudius declared that it must be wiped out. To do this he sent the best legions of the Roman army with his best generals to lead them in Britain with the object of completely wiping out the roots of the new religion. However, because the coming of the Messiah had been prophesied in their own scriptures, known as the Triads, the leaders of the Celtic nations, or Britons, quickly accepted Jesus, or Jesu as he was called in their scripture and fought valiantly against the highly trained Roman legions. In a nine year long bitter and bloody war, the Roman steel never managed to pierce the ranks of Celtic warrior men and women to reach the holy land of Glastonbury. So it was that the sword of which Jesus spoke, saved the child Christianity and it was from Glastonbury that the Apostles of Christ took the message of love and peace to many parts of Europe and North Africa. So here again it was the greedy power-loving dark forces of Rome against the staunch God-loving, freedom-loving Celtic people.

Well, that great struggle between darkness and light took place some two millenia ago, but let us come to peace and war in our own time. Looking back at events of last century, we see the sprouting of seeds for a tremendous conflict between good and evil, between light and darkness in this century. On the one side we see the sudden upsurge of modern science and with it the emancipation of the human mind that led to a great crest-wave of the intellect. The asuras of the dark forces directed this wave towards the shores of materialism and atheism. Eventually men were saying and even writing, “God is dead”. What need is there of a God when all is explained by the laws of cause and effect through eons of evolution? On the other hand, against this wave of darkness, this denial of the spiritual dimension, God himself came to earth in the form of the Avatar, Sai Baba of Shirdi. Assisting in the forcefield of Light was Paramahansa Ramakrishna, Paramahansa Yogananda and the Mahatmas in the Great White Brotherhood of Adepts. The old forms of religion were weakening and seeming ready to fade away. The clash of materialistic interests between nations came to a head in 1914 with the unbelievable horror of trench warfare for four long years. Both sides claimed that God was on their side but was it anything more that the god of war glorying in “blood and iron” to use Bismark’s phrase?

Yet a deeper current was underlying this clash of material interests; the current that goes back to at least the age of Rama, the underlying struggle between Might and Right, between the Light and the Dark forces. World War I was really a forerunner of the next war involving almost the whole of the world and known as World War II. Here we see more distinctly and clearly the struggle between the Light and the Dark. The young Avatar, Sathya Sai Baba, was twenty years old when this war ended. His spiritual power had no doubt helped in the victory of the forces of Light. Another great spiritual leader of the time, Sri Aurobindo, whom Sathya Sai Baba had named an Avatar of the Individual, stated during the war that if the Axis forces of tyranny and darkness won the war, the divine plan would be set back by a thousand years. So he himself played a powerful part to ensure that victory went to the Allied forces of individual, democratic freedom.

Two diseased trees in the life of a spiritual growth of mankind were cut down in that war, one being Nazism and the other being Fascism. Yet even so, one tree remained and so the Cold War began, showing its teeth in the 1950’s and developing into a living nightmare for freedom-loving people during the 1960’s. We lived on the verge of the outbreak of World War III, facing the horror of a war with both sides using atomic and nuclear weapons, leading to the devastation of the planet and the destruction of a large part, if not all, of the human race. It was at this time, during the 1960’s, that my wife Iris and I were living in India and seeing a great deal of Sathya Sai Baba.

On one memorable occasion, when the two of us were sitting with Sai Baba alone in a room at Brindavan ashram, we asked him the vital question: “Sathya Sai Baba, will this threatening terrible World War III with nuclear weapons really break out?” We held our breath for the answer. It came quickly and in a very definite tone of voice: “There will be some small wars in the world but no atomic Third World War.” We felt relieved and sat silent for a few moments. Then Iris said, “But Sathya Sai Baba we know all people want peace, but what about the governments? They seem to be manoeuvring for war.” “Well,” said Sai Baba “the governments will have to be changed.” He spoke in a light, casual manner as if he were talking about something as easy as the changing of a building in the ashram. We looked at him in stunned silence. Was this little man before us in the red robe and the bare feet and mop of dark hair talking about himself changing the government of Russia (for that was the government we were talking about)? For the moment we were thinking of him as a man, a lovable, well-meaning friend with supernormal powers but to imply that he could change the government of Russia was something that we could not, at that moment, accept. We had forgotten that, as he had often said, he could call in all the powers of the formless God to do whatever was right. Even when we thought about the divine omnipotence that he possessed, our poor faith was not equal to the belief that he could change the government of Russia. Not long after that, our heavenly six years residence in India had to come to an end. We said a sad farewell to Sathya Sai Baba and, after lingeringly spending time in England and America, we returned to our home in Australia.

In the years that followed we made many returns to the feet of our Sadguru, Sai Baba. One of these returns took place a few days after Gorbachev had appeared on the stage in Russia and that country had begun the governmental change that brought an end to the Cold War. On the day of our arrival, Sathya Sai Baba, knowing no doubt that I had a question to ask him, called me into the interview room but he called several other men with me. Somehow I did not feel it was right to ask him this great question in front of others. So mentally I asked him very definitely if he had brought about the change of government in Russia. A mental question is as good as a verbal one to Sathya Sai Baba. His eyes gave me the affirmative answer but all his lips said was, “Gorbachev is a good man.” I knew then that he had played some wonderful, powerful tune on the akashic strings that had manoeuvred circumstance and brought about the great change. With the passage of time, I felt more sure of this stupendous fact and my heart continually gives thanks to our living God on earth for the gift of continued life to Mother Earth and the human race.

But what about the future wars using the deadly weapons that modern science has made possible? I have no doubt that the only way to prevent them is to end the inner war that has been going on for so many centuries beneath the stars. But, knowing that struggle is part of the divine plan for the development and evolution of mankind’s consciousness, I see that that struggle cannot end until, again in the words of John Masefield, “Until this case, this clogging mould, is smithied all to kingly gold.” This may not be such a long time in God’s eternity but does it not seem a very long stretch of centuries in man’s time? Yet we need not individually wait that long for bringing inner peace to ourselves. There is a line in a benediction that I often heard given in the days when I was a member of the Liberal Catholic Church. It is this: “There is peace that passeth all understanding. It abides in the hearts of those who live in the eternal.”

To live in the eternal is to live in the divine Self, our true nature. Meditation will lead us into this divine centre but, of course, we cannot actually sit in meditation during all our waking hours. Sathya Sai Baba states in his wonderful book “Sai Gita” that not only should we meditate when we go into a room to do so but while we are moving about in our daily lives. That is, while our hands and feet and lower minds are busy with the business of the world that involves our daily work, our higher minds should reach up and merge with the God, the Atman, that is our true Selves. While we manage to do this, we will certainly find peace. Furthermore, this practice brings a strong awareness of the oneness of all life and, consequently, fosters that divine Love towards all without exception. This brings us to joy and inner peace which is the father of peace in the world. In the book just mentioned, Sathya Sai Baba makes this connection very clear. He says, “If you want peace and happiness, you must live in Love. Only through Love will you find inner peace.”

Reference:: “The Lights of Home” by Howard Murphet

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