War is a purely human phenomenon. . . . Man is unique in organizing the mass murder of his own species." Those words were written by Mr. Aldous Huxley.
In considering the serious crisis which we are all in the midst of today, one cannot but feel heartsick, at times even overwhelmed. There are many causes for the madness called war — library shelves are piled high with books written on the subject and there are perhaps as many solutions to the problem as there are solvers. However, in arriving at some conclusions we shall attempt to face facts without sidestepping, without painting a picture with pretty platitudes.
It is time that we admitted that no real peace will ever be achieved alone by the disarmament conference, the gentlemen's agreement, or the treaty written on stiff parchment with handsome gold seals and red ribbons. Even Mr. Clarence Streit's very laudable plan of a union of the democracies must be accepted only provisionally because it is really putting the cart before the horse. In the last analysis, before any permanent peace can come to man, man must change. And he must change fundamentally: his sense of values, his blurred view of life, and his ideas and ideals must be altered entirely. After all, a city or a state or a nation is but the sum of its individuals, so let us start our solution of the problem with the first equation first.
It is our purpose in this article to try to outline, as simply as possible, a few of the basic teachings of Theosophy, and in so doing we shall attempt to indicate how the application of these timeless truths by each individual must necessarily be the initial step toward real peace.
One wonders what instant effect it would have upon those who seek to settle their differences by conflict were they to realize that this life is but one of many, that we come back again and again to learn and to gain experience, that we resume where we have left off in the cyclic journeyings of the soul. Knowing of reincarnation and believing it, wouldn't they see the utter stupidity of using brute force to crush the lives of others? For the barren meaninglessness of the one-life idea, the long view of existence with its opportunities and responsibilities would be substituted. It was Schopenhauer who once defined Europe as "that part of the world which is haunted by the incredible delusion that man was created out of nothing and that his present birth is his first entry into life."
Again one wonders what instant effect it would have upon those who seek to settle their differences by conflict were they to realize that what we sow, we reap — no questions asked. Wouldn't the war-makers have reason to hesitate, to "think fast, think deep"? For every misdeed, we have to pay, for every violation of nature's harmonies, we suffer — if not in this life then in the next. Ultimately the scales are balanced. We don't break the rules in themselves, we break ourselves against the rules. And if the real inciters of war only knew of this basic law of nature which Theosophy calls Karman, wouldn't they have something to replace an insane conception of justice? And wouldn't the inventors prostituting their genius to an end that may ultimately destroy a civilization have cause to hide themselves from themselves, if they could? "God is not mocked." "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you."
Now it is this teaching of Karman which focuses a blinding light on the fallacy that might makes right. The use of force is rarely, if ever, justifiable. It is a basic axiom that violence breeds nothing but violence. Let true ideals act as the only persuasive power against selfishness and greed. David Swing put it beautifully when he wrote that "In noble ideals there is something aggressive. They are not aggressive like an army with gun and spear, but aggressive like the sun which coaxes a June out of winter."
Once more one wonders what instant effect it would have upon those who seek to settle their differences by conflict were they to realize that man is far more than just a physical body, that he is really a composite entity of which the physical body is merely the carrier or vehicle for experience on earth. That man, to use the simpler division, is a synthesis of body, soul and spirit, and that the spirit in each of us, in essence, is identical. It is this that links us through and through. And it is these teachings that must finally make enemies forget their enmity, and make them realize that when one violates nature's harmonies, all are affected. Then too, don't these teachings serve to quiet the anxieties of those whose duty places them among the combatants? Loss of physical life doesn't seem so ghastly or futile when we come to see that the soul-spirit is deathless, and that true love can never be destroyed by gas or gun.
And finally one wonders what instant effect it would have upon those who seek to settle their differences by conflict were they to realize that brotherhood among beings is fact, not fiction; that their implanted hatred of their enemies is a farce foisted upon them against their higher and truer instincts. There must be many unreported friendly rendezvous among those on opposing sides. Here we see the innate feeling of brotherhood living in spite of the heel of hypnotizing propaganda. It cannot be reiterated too often that we are all portions of a grand unity. H. P. Blavatsky full well knew what she was emphasizing when she insisted in The Key to Theosophy that
universal Unity and Causation; Human Solidarity; the Law of Karma; Reincarnation . . . are the four links of the golden chain which should bind humanity into one family, one universal Brotherhood.
While the world today surely needs the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom, the world of tomorrow will be searching them out with an eagerness that comes only to those who have been burned in the fire of experience. And when this present futile outburst is a thing of the past, then more will want to listen to the age-old truths that must serve as the only basis for peace among men. Nevertheless, there is a great deal that all of us can do right now for Peace.
We might as well acknowledge the fact that we must share the blame for what is going on at present. If we had nothing to do with causing it, we should not be in the world today. War is simply the result of the lower animal nature in man getting the upper hand, magnified, of course, to enormous and horrible proportions.
Back in the fifteenth century a little book called The Imitation of Christ was written, and its author was reputed to have been the Christian mystic, Thomas à Kempis. We turn to this remarkable work to extract a sentence which is extremely significant. It is this: "All men desire peace, but few desire those things which make for peace." The final words are of extreme importance: "but few desire those things which make for peace." And what, after all, are those things? An inner harmony with its spiritual vigor, a consideration for the feelings of others in our every thought and act, a kindly word substituted for a rash one, a careful control of the temper and the emotions, and the cure of a chronic condition of "I" trouble with an eager willingness to work for others. These are the things which become manifest by living Theosophy, these are the "things which make for peace."
The Theosophical ForumTHEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE