Thursday, August 14, 2008
Thoughts on Non-violence, & other related issues
"The profession of true Christianity in its true meaning, including non-resistance to evil, frees people from all external power". - Leo Tolstoy, "The Law of Love & the Law of Violence"
I've been reading Tolstoy off-late, and am deeply influenced by the power of his arguments. The more I read him, the more I am convinced that he has a very important point to make, though I don't think he either clarified all points that had to be clarified, nor actually showed the way his profound ideas could be implemented.
That is the very, very difficult task of the future.
They all were right: Dotsoevsky, Tolstoy, & Tagore. They knew what was coming, and warned the world, but nobody paid attention.
The fears they harbored for the future then, are still applicable, and - as I see it - the only place where the solution lies, is in their writings, & in ancient, perennial wisdom.
Non-violence obviously raises far more questions than gives answers.
As I see it, non-violence is the most powerful instrument by which men can free themselves from those groups which seek to keep mankind in a state of conflict & chaos, by engineering that conflict & chaos.
It transfers the locus of control from external authority to the individual's conscience & rationality.
Thus, Non-violence is empowerment of the individual.
For centuries on end, a small - a very small - group of men have played havoc with humanity by manipulating the masses, and this has been possible only because men have accepted the law of violence.
The first thing men must get rid of, if they want to solve the problems which afflict mankind, is to totally & absolutely abandon the idea that violence can solve the problems of man.
Religion - or mysticism - or spirituality - which are synonyms for me - are exactly the passionate efforts of the greatest men of history to FREE mankind from the constant, all-pervasive, invisible, insidious manipulation of certain cliques that seek to enslave the whole world, and have been doing it for millennia, now.
They are not only the expressions of the HIGHEST truth of Man - that he is ONE with Brahman - or the Tao - or Shunyata - but also the only solutions to the age-old problem of hatred, fear, conflict, murder, conquest, plunder, colonization, , exploitation, & war.
Would all these ever exist, if men truly inculcated the value of Love?
The law of Love was also recognized in India, long, long before the emergence of Christianity in the Middle East: "By seeing the self in all beings and all beings in the self one goes to Brahman, not by any other cause." (Kaivalya Upanishad)
What is this, if not the essence of Love, the very metaphysical-spiritual root of Love?
Tolstoy correctly recognizes that Christian law annuls the State - and thus, leads to what maybe called Anarchy. (Tolstoy is sometimes associated with what's called "Christian anarchism".)
And perhaps, the anarchists are right that as long as the Individual Man shall not perfect LOVE within himself, there shall be conflict, & he shall be dependent on others for the solution of those conflicts - and hence, the entire machinary of the state.
I am also beginning to see the relevance of the age-old emphasis on poverty (actually it means simplicity & austerity), on chastity (actually means absolute self-control & self-mastery of the mind, emotions, & body), & on renunciation (actually means non-attachment: a very signficant & complex idea, to be understood best in the sense of the Upanishadic injunction: Tyaktena bhunjita: Enjoy through renunciation; and further: Always performing works one should wish to live a hundred years...).
These qualities, perfected with love, make a man INCORRUPTIBLE.
They take him straight to the heart of truth, where he finds the answer to that greatest of all questions, the answers of which constitute the totality & essence of Vedic-Vedantic thought: What is it, by knowing which, one can know all?
These values turn men's attention away from their ego-sense -- from identification with the unstable, impermanent, & undefinable ego -- from a sense of separativeness, mortality & finitude -- to a sense of unity with the universe, immortality, & inexhaustible benevolence born of fearlessness, & a vanishing lust to possess & control.
In political terms, they actually make it impossible for men to be turned into puppets, into instruments for mutual destruction, never-ending disharmony, & global chaos.
For if men refuse to arm themselves & kill each other or harm each other, the secret cults which profit from all the chaos cannot create the chaos which keeps adding to their power & wealth.
It is precisely through private property, sex, money & (frivolous) art (today replaced by showbiz) - and very importantly, through altruistic-collectivist activism, & affirmation of violence - that these groups seek to pervert human consciousness, keep it from seeing the truth, keep it imprisoned in lower states of awareness & relatedness, - and fuel conflict, terror, war.
The topic does not come to an end here. If anything, it takes up its most difficult aspect, from here. For, Hindu philosophy clearly ABOLISHES all purpose by attainment of that which is at the root of all purpose. A man who has attained Moksha or Mukti or Nirvana has nothing more to seek, nothing more to do. This is openly acknowledged.
Abolition of purpose means abolition of action.
Action, however, does not have to come to an end - and this is one of the most important points in the Bhagavad Gita.
The idea in spiritual realization is not giving up action itself, but the Karmic effects of action.
(And, as I see it, in the enjoyment of life in a state of "detachment" - i.e. fundamental non-dependence on material values, being firmly established in Unity, and fully conscious of the delights, beauties & possibilites of existence.)
The Karmic effects of action are annulled with the achievement of Brahmanirvana, since the whole idea of Karma is nothing but the progress of the soul towards attainment of Brahmanirvana.
Action must, & can - continue, but from a totally different spiritual level of being.
This, however, is not an absolute, confirmed idea, but more of an approximation: I think this is what the scriptures enjoin us to do.
From this point of view, private property, sex, & wealth may not become instruments of dividing people, & perpetrating dissension.
Christianity also clearly recognizes the great idea of Union with God, which means Union with the All: "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word: that they may all be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us..." (John 17:20-21))
Hence, their initial social structure was Communist in nature. Strictly speaking, it was a continuation of the Essenic socio-economic system (limited to the Essenic brotherhood itself).
This, however, does not seem to be a necessity.
Not in the Vedantic outlook, where men live normal lives, but in a state of union with God.
The law of Non-violence seems to count on the benevolence & rationality of men in general, & the malevolence & power-lust of the few.
Can we say that perfection of Christian love within our souls can also solve the problem of private property, generation of wealth, and enjoyment of sex?
(Christian love is nothing but the emotional & psychological aspect of God-consciousness in the context of man's relationship with society.)
This is food for thought, and there seem to be many complications & considerations.
In the ultimate, I think (though I don't know for sure) Tolstoy denounced private property, as well as sex, except for the purposes of procreation.
This is neither the right approach, nor the desired condition, as far as I can understand.
It cannot lead to the right results (i.e. God-consciousness: union with Brahman, cosmic-consciousness: union with all of existence, above all, union with all men in love) - since it shall lead to repression, supression, envy, a mounting sense of injustice etc.
Certainly not without inculcating & perfecting Love within oneself.
Nor is it necessary in the ideal itself, since the perfected man neither needs money nor sex in any fundamental way, to achieve a sense of completion - and is not going to covet, lie, cheat, manipulate, exploit or plunder anyone else for any material values.
The problem lies in finding the right balance (?) or equlibrium between infinite love of the infinite personality, & enjoyment of mental-emotional-physical life, i.e. the finite individual personality.
So: have private property, earn money, engage in creation & pursuit of material values, enjoy sex, build a family, a personal world of your own: but, underlying all these pursuits, keep growing in a sense of love for all men: keep strengthening the moral sense: I cannot hurt, I cannot cheat, I cannot lie, I cannot disrespect, I cannot cut-throat, I cannot defraud, I cannot manipulate, I can have no fundamental desire to injure or degrade --- ANYBODY.
Whether this is possible or not, is subject for many more years of thought!
The choices (points of conflict) between the two are innumerable, if not constant.
Man's growth has to be towards greater & greater detachment towards private, individual, material values.
Towards a healthy disenchantment with acquisition, accumulation, & possession - and a greater desire to create & produce, but NOT for self-aggrandizement.
(He seeks perfection of his soul through perfection of his love for God & for Man. That is the best within him: that lies beneath the power of the mind & the desire to create, as well as beneath the desire to exist.)
Towards greater & greater tender love for all mankind.
This necessiates renunciation of power & violence.
Only then he becomes more than an individual being, and becomes IMMENSE.
The most important point, however, remains unaddressed: the involvement in socio-political humanitarian activity.
Active love for mankind & a burning desire to obliterate the sufferings of men is another cause for all the misery of mankind, and Tolstoy recognizes this.
I shall take up this point later, and it involves this: trying to grasp the proper nature of the activity through which the self-realized man (of God-consciousness, or expanded consciousness), or the aspiring man, seeks to realize his love for mankind, in action.
THIS is where the principle of Non-violence & non-coercion (or non-Force) is of paramount importance.
This is a very wide subject, and perhaps the most difficult & crucial one!
Whatever I've written in this post are mere thoughts - ramblings, if not speculations.
Have I stated any unshakable convictions? No. I am quite sure I haven't.
Because, there is a lot more to read, a lot more to know, and a lot more to understand!
I shall end this now itself, since the post is long enough. Shall pick up this thread sometime later.