(Excerpt from "Toward World Peace: Seeing the Unity Between Us All")
Two factors that keep the world from being united is the presumption of racial superiority, and the desire to conquer and convert. The only way to breakthrough the barriers of distinction that seem to exist between us is with love. However, that love cannot be love of the body or society. It has to be better and higher than that. It has to be a spiritual love for all beings. The Dammapada (5-6) explains: "For hatred does not cease by hatred at any time: hatred ceases by love, this is an old rule. The world does not know that we must all come to an end here; but those who know it, their quarrels cease at once."
Being on this planet is similar to being on a plane going from one place to another. We are all transients sharing a flight, which is temporary. We may not have the best seats for the moment, but we will soon be landing somewhere else. So why should we engage in quarreling over temporary seats? Furthermore, those who have the best seats--fancy houses and high paying jobs--will also have to give up their seats when the flight is over, at the time of death. And where they will go after that, no one can know for sure. Therefore, those who understand the temporary nature of this world will stop fighting and help one another to get through this life on earth. We must be willing to encourage, not threaten life.
Our prejudices restrict our ability to progress individually and socially. Spiritual understanding and enlightenment, ultimately, is all that will allow us to grow beyond our prejudices and living in a world of distinctions, and bring us to a world of peace and unity.
Prejudice is more than a conflict with others, it is an internal fight, a negative activity within yourself. You carry it with you wherever you go. This is, of course, a sign of great immaturity. It is natural that as people mature, and especially if they develop spiritually, they will get tired of this fight. Only people who never grow or fully develop hold onto their immature ways, such as maintaining their own internal struggles and outward fights over their prejudices. It is a pity because they never see beyond that; never seeing the true potential, the spiritual nature, of others. Thus, this lack of maturity in their perception wears them down and stifles their ability to contribute to society and themselves. They always remain retarded in this sense and never reach their full potential. As you mature in life, as you develop spiritually, the fight over prejudicial distinctions becomes boring. It is a waste of time. It is beneath your dignity.
This is accomplished through the participation of real religion, which is to rise above the dictates of the mind and senses and to see the Divinity, the Supersoul, within everybody with Divine Love. Real religion means to develop love of God. Such love naturally includes all of the parts and parcels of God, all the spirit souls. Real religion means shedding the differences between the names and forms of the Divine, and to work together for a Universal Brotherhood.
You can look at any country where society is divided by prejudicial quarrels--racial and cultural conflict, or tribalism--and recognize how they are prevented from developing as a nation because so much energy is diverted toward the quarrels, or fighting and killing. No such country or community can call themselves civilized when they reflect this kind of animal consciousness. They will certainly not contribute much to the progress of their people or others in the world.
When you have more energy to devote to love, acceptance, peace, and harmony, you automatically have less energy to extend toward anger, hate and prejudicial fighting. Prejudicial anger arises from a person who thinks the source of his or her problems or pleasures are other human beings. However, the more you can see that your source of pleasure is actually your higher self, or your spiritual being, you naturally feel less dependent on the world and the people in it. You also feel less frustration. You then see that you are also a co-creator of your life. You have independence to decide your future and the life you wish to lead. It is up to you to change things if you wish. Then you will be more likely to receive the energies of grace, peace, forgiveness, and understanding of yourself and others, and more freedom. This can bring the end of hatred and intolerance.
One thing that should be obvious from the information that has been presented in this book is that the main cause for the increase in disease, crime, poverty, and despair in humanity, is forgetfulness of our divine nature and neglect of our spiritual purpose. When so much human energy no longer has to be exerted toward self-protection and to gratifying the desires of the mind and senses, it can be directed toward our future development and peaceful coexistence. Love, spiritual love from the Supreme Creator, makes this world beautiful. It is the selfishness and hatred in mankind that causes all the trouble.
It will be those people who have evolved in their own consciousness to the point where they have a greater unity with the oneness of everything and the Supreme who will be able to have and promote unity between us all and peace in the world. Such people will be, and are, the true peacekeepers in the world; not the politicians who are trying to divide or fashion the world in a way that is pleasing only to certain political interests. Such material changes simply give way to the need to make more changes. They never last. The world is meant for a higher, more progressive state of existence and cooperation. If we do not achieve this, then what have we accomplished? Focusing on our similarities is easier than attending to our differences. It is also a positive action. Concentrating our minds on what is positive brings positivity into the world, which also creates an uplifting future. Only through the development of our spiritual consciousness will there be the way for true peace, harmony, and unity in the world.
Published with the kind permission of Stephen Knapp
Stephen Knapp (Sri Nandanandana) is the President and Treasurer of the Vedic Friends Association (www.vedicfriends.org). He has been researching Vedic spirituality and comparative religious study for over 30 years in a variety of settings. He has directly engaged in those spiritual disciplines that have been recommended for hundreds of years. He continued his study of Vedic knowledge and practice under the guidance of a spiritual master to get the insights and realizations that are normally absent from the ordinary academic atmosphere. Through this process he has been initiated into the genuine and authorized spiritual line of the Brahma-Madhava-Gaudiya sampradaya, or disciplic succession, under the sanction of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. He has also extensively travelled throughout India to most of the major holy sights and more, and is known for his slide shows on his travels to the holy places and spiritual festivals of India (even nicknamed "the slide show acharya"), and for his lectures on the Vedic and Indian philosophy. He has written several books on the science and spiritual practice of Vedic culture and Eastern philosophy.
Visit his website, at: http://www.stephen-knapp.com.
You can email him at: Srinandan@aol.com.
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