It is a matter of great joy for me to wish all of
you increasing spiritual development at the onset of the new year. I
believe that a person’s spiritual development is absolutely necessary
along with his material development. Let us all resolutely assert that
peace is impossible without spirituality. The first lesson of peace is
the development of spiritual awareness and its practical form is
ahimsa. We can find a cause-effect relationship between ahimsa and
peace. Ahimsa is the cause and peace is its effect, its result. Let us
not talk merely of peace, but before doing so we must assimilate ahimsa
into our hearts.
The first principle of ahimsa is the purity of one’s thought, purity of
one’s emotion and purity one’s deeds. We can practise it only by
experiencing it in the totality of these conditions. If we do not have
a feeling of equality towards all living beings, our dream of peace
will just remain a daydream. It will never become a reality. In order
to change it into reality, what is needed is the inculcation of a
feeling of equality towards all creatures and the practical form that
emerges from it is the human solidarity. Besides the legacy of anuvrat
(a campaign exhorting people to commit themselves to some basic ethical
norms), Acharya Tulsi also gave us an aphorism - let us have faith in
the unity of humankind. It means an attitude of equanimity, a feeling
of equality towards all, considering all human beings equal. No one is
small or big, no one is low or high, no one is inferior or superior.
After all a human being is just a human being.
The problem of the present age is that there is rampant discrimination
on the grounds of caste and social status. It is this state of
inequality today that is causing peacelessness or unrest in the world.
If we really want peace, we must first of all develop a feeling of
equanimity towards all.
Peace will prevail automatically when our thought of equanimity becomes
stronger. The problem today is that the behaviour of man towards man is
not as humane as is expected of him. In the present age, some people
are living in a state of luxury, while there are others who are not
even able to get enough food to satisfy their hunger. If the social
consciousness of equality had been awakened earlier, the problems of
hunger, poverty and persecution that we see today would not have
arisen. Today the slogan of ‘human unity’ is reduced to a mere
theoretical jargon. It is not being put into practice. Let us try to
understand ahimsa and peace at an empirical level. If our behaviour is
really associated with a feeling of unity, the world can be wholly
transformed. It can even be completely rejuvenated.
Man’s attitude is not relativist. That is why big people do not expect
much from small people and remain indifferent to their deplorable
plight. Even in the socialistic ideology, we find that the
individualistic mentality is rapidly growing. An individual himself is
consuming resources excessively and is cutting off the line of supply
The second principle of ahimsa is – ‘exercise restraint in the use of
material resources’. Do not use the resources of the planet more than
you need. You should bear in mind that these material resources are not
for you alone, but are meant for the whole society, for the whole of
humanity. If we go a little further, we can say that they are meant for
all the living beings that inhabit this planet. Some people have
grabbed these material resources and are using a major share of them
for their own comforts. As a result we see an enormous gap between the
rich and the poor. This disparity is the major cause of the current
unrest. Let us think of bringing about reconciliation among different
systems of thinking. Man’s mind is independent. It is not possible that
all persons have a similar pattern of thinking. When we begin to regard
this freedom of thought as something opposed to us, it creates a big
problem. Let us learn to respect the freedom of thought. We should,
rather, welcome a diversity of opinion. Man is not a machine which can
be cast in a mould. Every man has his own mind, his own views. We
should respect a view that doesn’t pose a threat to society.
Today I see an imminent threat to the very existence of humanity. Alarm
bells are ringing. Fear and hegemony are predominant. It means that the
tendency to impose one’s authority or sovereignty on others is getting
stronger. That is why arms are being piled up. There is a race even for
destructive nuclear weapons.
Nations are competing to build their arsenals and acquire the highest
power of destruction. On the one hand we see nuclear arsenals and on
the other hand there are piles of weapons of mass destruction. No one
is paying heed to the talk of peace. We do not see harmony anywhere. We
are sowing the seeds of unrest and are hoping for the fruit of peace.
This will never be possible. The fruit comes from what we sow. It is an
irony that we sow the seeds of the weapons of mass destruction and
expect a crop of peace.