Senātus Populusque Rōmānus:
meaning the Senate and People of Rome, used in ancient Rome.
The concept war will always bring up its binary opposite, which is peace. And both begin in the mind. But our thoughts, and consequently our beliefs and attitudes, are often in contradiction with each other. It’s like we’re at war with our own mind.
Have you ever noticed how one attitude can spark off another, even one quite contradictory? Sometimes if we hold an attitude strongly about some issue there can be a residue, or trace, of its polar opposite hidden somewhere in our psyche. It has to be there, otherwise we wouldn’t have the attitude in the first place. All thought is dualistic anyway, we can’t escape this, but the conscious person is aware that if she holds a strong belief around something there are other beliefs supporting this, some of them at variance.
For example, sometimes people channel warlike impulses into ‘peace movements’. Take an illustration. Ridding the world of all nuclear weapons and making it a safe place for our children to grow up in is indeed a truly good cause. But many anti nuclear campaigners conduct their campaigns in a very aggressive manner. The war mind sometimes takes up residence in the peace camp.
Some people are anti-war because they oppose some cause, because they’re against somebody or something. When we have this other agenda which we’re often not aware of, even if we’re not touting guns we’re still at war. I am reminded here of the quotation by Mother Teresa,
“I will never attend an anti-war rally. If you have a peace rally, invite me.”
The difference is subtle, though unmistakeable. It's the difference between being 'pro-peace' or 'anti-war'.
So thirsty are we for peace that very often we pick up the sword to achieve it.
When we employ the war mind to achieve peace the result is not peace, but more war. The intention is pure but the end result is that I get more of what I am trying to get rid of.
obvious on the world stage. When nations go to war to ‘liberate’ a state they
end up leaving it in ruins (take Iraq as an example). Or the revolutionary who,
wanting a better world for the poor, for the oppressed, ends up creating
greater poverty, more oppression. This is not what people set out to do of
course, it’s how the mind works. Nor can we say such people are evil, that’s a lazy
and disingenuous label. It’s simply that they get caught in the trap of
believing struggle can bring peace.
But is it so obvious in our private world? Do we examine our thoughts enough that we’re aware of the impact they may have on global events? What takes place within will inevitably appear without.
When we look in the world to find the thing that oppresses us undoubtedly we will find it, because we will create it. Always. If instead, we look within we may find a different solution, one that doesn’t seek to polarise, to marginalise, to force us to pitch our tent in one camp or another. It allows a higher authority to decide.
At a certain level of consciousness war is inevitable. Note I said at a certain level of consciousness, not at certain times or when the occasion demands it. We are reminded here of Ecclesiastics 3:8, ‘there is a time for war and a time for peace’, usually pulled out at weddings or funerals. It’s a passage that is largely misunderstood, of course. It's really stating a fact about how things are, which reflects the level of consciousness we are at, rather than advocating we go out and declare war on the neighbours depending on the season.
When people change their consciousness they seek peace.
Today we have war on terrorism. A vague notion by any standards, concocted by current world powers to describe some nebulous ‘other’ out there wanting to spoil the party. This only serves to isolate and demonise certain marginal groups.
Fear is always the underlying factor.
What happens when we find the enemy and defeat it? Another one arises and takes its place. Again and again history has taught us this. Take all the wars down the centuries, when every threat was put down another one rose to take its place. Today it’s global terrorism, tomorrow it will be something else. But it’s really the same war we’re fighting. And it’s a war that’s taking place in our head.
But it takes a huge amount of presence to realise this. And at times it seems impossible to do nothing. The Bosnian conflict just came into my mind. Do we just stand there and do nothing if some person, or group, is in trouble and needs our help? No. Our inherent humanity shouldn’t let us do that. But as soon as we pick up a gun and go in, all Rambo like, we’re just like the oppressor. The trials in the Hague now are a higher level of consciousness than the Nuremberg trials. That’s an improvement. We still have a long way to go to Christ Consciousness.
If you see yourself as being attacked, under siege, it seems natural to want to defend yourself. This sense of ‘self under siege’ can spread to others. We see a little old lady being mugged, we want to jump in straight away and beat the crap out of her assailant. The same with oppressed nations. When I see people being oppressed in any way (and I include poverty in this), or countries inflicting gross injustice on their own citizens it makes me want to do evil to the oppressor. It takes a high degree of consciousness to stand in one’s power in the face of this. I freely admit I do not always succeed! This is the level of consciousness that makes war more possible, seem attractive even, that creates the ‘season for it’. I remind myself it’s the ‘seeing yourself attacked’ that is the real problem. Often the most peaceful people go to war, fighting with tremendous courage for what they see as just causes.
When we condemn those who perpetuate war we are using the same mindset as the people we condemn.
It is in our language that we often reveal this dichotomy in our thinking. (I speak about this in numerous places on the uss, the effect words have on our actions, in particular language and the body, relationship issues, attitude of gratitude). For example, people say, ‘if we hadn’t stood up to the Nazis they would have taken over the world’. The keyword here is ‘stood up’. Equally peace activists will rally their supporters to ‘fight for peace’, all employing the same language of war that the ‘aggressor’ uses.
These words betray the thought that we are going to be attacked. They also imply the solution, that we must be manly, stand up, be tough. That is fear consciousness. The “Nazis” is simply its external manifestation. And yes, they would have taken over the world. Fear is pretty darn strong, and we are creating a lot of it today. But when we put down that threat something arose to take its place, the Cold War, the Middle East conflict, and so on. Now it’s global terrorism. Tomorrow in may be an intergalactic threat. How do we send an army out to defeat that?
All this reminds me of ancient Rome (quoted at the top of the article) where most of our culture derives. Did you know the word civilisation comes from 'civitas' meaning city in Latin? To be 'civilised' therefore was to be versed in city ways! They too sought to 'civilise' the world, or create peace, through very warlike ways.
You see what’s happening, fear, and a mind divided against itself will just create more struggle. Yes we can have our temporary successes, but it will always resurge again. The teleological end to this thinking, that by war we can achieve peace, is for someone to argue, in the face of some horrendous impending threat that it would be better to ‘temporarily’ destroy all life on the planet and allow it to evolve again, naturally. This is a totally, totally insane argument, but I wonder will any politician someday make it?
It is impossible to think outside the dualist mind. Peace holds within its concept the threat of war, the fear that its tranquillity can be broken, cast aside. War holds the eternal hope of a new and lasting dawn. It may be this hope, aching at a deep psychological level that drives people to war. The man of peace condemns them. Perhaps his fear had something to do with their inception. The two are inextricably linked. The solution is with you. Are you warring with yourself?
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