Peace And Ahimsa In Life - New Year's Message - 2007

Published: 01.01.2007
Updated: 30.07.2015

It is a matter of great joy for me to wish for your spiritual development at the onset of the new year. I believe that a person's spiritual development is also 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 it, we must assimilate ahimsa into the heart.

The first principle of ahimsa is the purity of one's thought, purity of one's emotion and purity one's deed. 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 mankind. 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 discrimination galore on the grounds of low and high castes and of one's status in society. 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, have 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 able to get enough food to satisfy their hunger. If the social consciousness of equality had been awakened, 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 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 for others.

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 entire 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 unrest today. 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 the view that doesn't pose a threat to society.

Today I see an imminent threat to the very existence of human society. 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 vying with one another 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. It 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.

There ought to be a practical aspect of freedom i.e. freedom from the narrow outlook rooted in casteism and sectarianism. One sect should respect the beliefs of another sect. We may think differently and may follow different practices of worship and our ways of paying obeisance to gods and goddesses or to God might also be different but that diversity should not be interpreted as a synonym of antipathy or antagonism. Diversity doesn't mean antagonism. It is the beauty of our way of thinking, our vision. We like a garden where different types of flowers bloom and which has many varieties of plants and trees. If all the flowers and trees are of the same type, the beauty of the garden will also diminish. What pains me most is that we change what is beautiful into violence and antipathy. Is it not the incomplete mentality of our thinking? Let us also ponder over this question.

At the dawn of the new year, let us have self-introspection, self-criticism. We must not only think of others. On this occasion, let us review the past and look back as to how our past year was. Let us not only look back at the year gone by but should also look forward to the coming year with auspicious thoughts and pray for an auspicious future. Let us introspect and examine what we did in the past and what we are going to do in the future. The talk of peace will remain incomplete till the review of the past, the thought of the present and the vision of the future are in harmony with one another. I wish that we abandon all epithets and think of an existence devoid of epithets. Our consciousness is not devoid of any label: it is influenced by our sect, our caste and our colour. Let us put religion into practice. Let us not regard religion as a mere testimony or symbol.

Acharya Tulsi said, 'Man should set an example of morality, truth and integrity in his life.' Religion should not only be confined to places of worship, it should manifest itself in markets and offices too. The religion enshrined in scriptures and sects should make its way into the markets. If religion doesn't integrate into business and offices and we only over-emphasize its principles, I can not say to what extent it would really mean religion. We have to think of the changes that are necessary in the form of the religion that is in vogue today. If we do not think of changing the effete customary practices and insist on following dogmas, it doesn't bode well for humanity.

At the onset of the new year, let us think of something new. We must not carry the burden of old beliefs merely but we should also learn to unburden our mind. The present age lacks an environment of openness. The tension that we see today might not have existed to this extent in the past. The main cause of the tension that we see today lies in man's infatuation with wealth. Man is seized by his lust for wealth which degenerates into deep infatuation. As a result, he is ignoring morality. The economic infatuation gives rise to crimes, unethical behaviour, theft and even robbery. All these problems emanate from men's greed for wealth and from his straying away from this world of consciousness.

We are all sentient beings. Every human is a sentient being. He has knowledge but difficulty is that he doesn't associate as much with those who have a state of higher consciousness as with the material objects. Therefore, it is imperative that we talk of ahimsa for the sake of peace and think of limiting consumption and accumulation of material objects for the sake of ahimsa. If these ethical norms become a part of our life's daily routine, the dream of peace may come true. What are the causes of tension, diseases and depression? The answer to this question lies in the fact that man is drifting away from his own existence and is getting associated with material objects. Without finding out a solution for this problem the problem of stress and depression can not be solved. Mere medicines and hospitals can not help us to be rid of diseases unless we think over the causes that give rise to them.

I plead for peace and nonviolence. I myself know it well that it is not possible merely through sermons, discourses and messages. A change may occur in our thoughts and beliefs but it may turn out to be a short-lived impact. A thought that reaches the domain of our conscious mind only may not last long. Its impact on our mental attitude will be transitory till it is able to make its way into the unconscious mind. In order to transmit thoughts into the unconscious mind, we have to undergo rigorous practice. It is not possible without it. Let us therefore, think of practice and training. In the present system of education, a great emphasis is laid on students' intellectual development. They are also taught strategies for technological development but are not taught how to develop their emotional competence. Today training in ahimsa is not being imparted to students. I believe that without training and practice mere discourses in ahimsa will degenerate into the futility of verbal exercise. It will fail to bring about any change in society. If we want to transform society, we will have to change our lifestyle and our way of working. The greatest solution lies in self-restrained lifestyle. There is one main slogan of Anuvrat Movement i.e. 'self-restraint is life'.

In my opinion, the highest precept for solving the problem of the present is 'self restraint'. Today innumerable people are suffering on account of the unrestrained behaviour of some individuals. The lack of self-restraint on the part of one individual is making the lives of several individuals miserable. We should ponder over the question of self-restraint and self-control. We should not think of controlling others but should think of controlling our emotions and awakening our inner consciousness. The more a person's inner consciousness is awakened the greater will be the solution of the problem. We will not succeed if we try to find out the solution at the external level only.

A boy came and lit the lamp. The saint asked 'where has the light come from?' The boy blew the lamp off and put a counter question 'where has the light gone?' No one knows from where the light comes and where it goes. It is a problem and it is we who have to find out a solution. We shall also have to find out a solution of the problem as to where unrest is coming from and where peace is disappearing. Let us not continue to grapple with the problem and throw stones in darkness, but we should move with the light and find out a solution. The way to the solution of the problem lies in a state of consciousness, which is free from tension, fear and dogmatic insistence.

Let us enter the new year with this pious thought and celebrate it with great joy. May this joy become our permanent attribute and may we succeed in collecting such resources as may make the coming year auspicious and prosperous.

Sources
Translated into English by Dr. S.L. Gandhi Dr. S.L. Gandhi, President ANUVRAT GLOBAL ORGANIZATION (ANUVIBHA), B-19, Anita Colony, Bajaj Nagar, Jaipur - 302 015 (Raj.) INDIA, Ph.: +91-141-2707347 (M) +91-9828016989, e-mail: anuvibha@sify.com, Fax: +91-141-2710118
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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Acharya Tulsi
  3. Ahimsa
  4. Anuvibha
  5. Anuvrat
  6. Anuvrat Global Organization
  7. Anuvrat Movement
  8. Casteism
  9. Consciousness
  10. Environment
  11. Equanimity
  12. Fear
  13. Greed
  14. Jaipur
  15. Nonviolence
  16. S.L. Gandhi
  17. Tulsi
  18. Violence
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