I used to long for peace, since childhood my motto was “strive for peace”. But with age I realize that there will never be a cessation of war. So peace, it seems, is a state of mind.
As long as we have lived on earth there has been war. I was born during the Vietnam war, when the peace activist became popular. A million people marched for peace, setting an historic president. And although the eventual war weariness of the conscripted young soldiers drove them en masse to refuse to go to war for the elite, other wars took the place of Vietnam. Indeed people can stand up to the demands of their elitist elders and change the course of war and peace. The Vietnam war showed that. But still young men get old and become the elite, who then seem to demand a blood letting of their children by finding endless battlefields upon which to sacrifice their best to their God of War, which is usually their God of Money from profits derived from resources and land stolen or captured by war.
My childhood school years were spent hearing of “our boys on the border” as my countrymen, not much older than me, were conscripted to fight on our northern borders against our enemy – the enemy of Apartheid. Later I realized that we were the villain in that war, as Apartheid eventually crumbled and humanity prevailed – on paper. Before my country’s war with itself came to an end, I even had to face the jaws of military conscription myself and by wits alone – and the grace of the Gods – was able to talk my way out of being conscripted, a rare miracle. So I have felt the tension of being in a country at war. As have possibly every one of us, for the world is always at war, in one place or the other. As long as Israel exists there will be war, for example. It was a country founded by depriving the Palestinians of theirs, and so war is as inevitable as life. Having realised this, I became concerned for the suffering plight of the victims of wars, particularly what seemed to be unjust ones. But there is always going to be someone for whom a war is righteous, justified or necessary, regardless of the debate. And so I strove for peace by speaking out against the crimes of war, standing up as a peace activist, in the footsteps of my predecessors in the sixties. I wrote essays condemning war, hoping my voice would be heard as a moment of reason in the desert storms of war. And some may hear it and agree, though probably few. And even then, war will go on. As long as humans exist, there will be greed, lust and envy – all precursors to war.
For war has always existed. Even the scriptures of the world teach us of war. Bhagavad Gita, the great spiritual treatise on transcendence, was spoken on a battle field during a war 5000 years ago, where millions died. The Old Testament also teaches of a God who wanted war, whose people went to war. So what chance is there of ever having a world without war? Unlikely. Therefore I now realize that I will not find peace by waging war against war, by fighting and arguing against those who fight and argue. I will never find peace in that battle. Rather, peace is to be found by walking away. By turning my back on war, and walking to the garden of peace, where I will find peace. So let those who are at war with themselves continue to wage war. But I have chosen peace, and will be at peace. So in this way peace exists because I choose it. War may exist for those who choose it too, but that is not my war. Even though we are all connected, are all part of the same humanity and are therefore all involved in what is going on, like the war, still peace exists because I have chosen it. There is peace, it does exist. I and others are proof. And we will hold the peace while others hold war.
Peace is a state of mind. It is there for those who desire it. This is transcendence, rising above the lower modes, like lust, anger, greed, envy and war. Rising above the concept of friend or enemy. When there is no enemy, there is no war. Religions and their scriptures will continue to espouse war for their adherents, Hindu, Muslim and Christian alike, so even religion has to be abandoned eventually, as mentioned in Bhagavad Gita itself in Chapter 18:66.
Sarva dharman partiya ja mam ekam saranam braja
aham tvam sarva papebhyo moshayishyami ma sucah
“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.”
Religion is a man made construct, like peace and war, along with all other dualities. From the level of pure consciousness, or from transcendence, there is no other, there is no enemy, no us and them. There is only that which you cultivate within your own state of consciousness. So if you desire peace, then peace exists, if you meditate on peace, then peace you have. And so I have found peace and the sounds of war drift ever further away into the distance. And so it is for all of us, if we choose.
Therefore at this time of Solstice, of extremes, a turning point on the cycle of temporal existence, I wish for you the blessing of Peace. Peace be upon you as it is upon Him. Salaam, Shalom, Om Shanti. Choose Peace, chose life. It is just a breath away.