PEACE AND PROSPERITY

17 Nov

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The definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and getting the same result, but expecting a Different One. Albert Einstein

Watching the Armistice Day ceremonies this year I was reminded of the famous H.G. Wells comment about World War I being ‘the war to end all wars.’ One understanding of Wells’comment is that especially Europe but also the whole world was so devastated both in terms of the killing of sentient beings and destruction of habitats, humanity would never again allow themselves to engage in such suicidal and destructive behavior. Even after the war, the League of Nations was developed to resolve conflicts between nations in a rational and fair manner rather than through conflict. However, as we now know only 20 years later the whole world launched itself into an even greater and more destructive conflict of war and mass destruction and annihilation.

In a longer review of human history, this horror of war has been written about and discussed since time immemorial. For example, 16th-century Protestant theologian Martin Luther wrote, “War is the greatest plague that can afflict humanity; it destroys religion, it destroys states, it destroys families. Any scourge is preferable to it.” The grief and destruction of life and property of all national conflicts have raised innumerous voices to the heavens with prayers and pleading to the favored gods to stop the enemy from proceeding in the annihilation of the population and destruction of the Homeland. These pleads for divine intervention to halt the carnage have been put forth by all people of the different religious points of view but to the avail of none. Even the gods were pleaded to provide victory over the enemy in what was thought to be a just cause for the participation or even beginning of the war. Again victory was not given, nor suffering alleviated by divine powers.

All the realities of these wars have been created in the mind and emotions of Humans. They are conflicts of ideas, identities, and cultures. All the past and present world-wide pain and weariness, fear and anxieties, the bloodshed and destruction, the misery of millions of human beings, the waste of mankind, are but the consequences of false philosophies and foolish thinking. The needed radical reformation is not to destroy things or people, but the group of dysfunctional and wrong ideas that have continually created this suffering. The record suggests that no matter how atrocious war becomes, humanity will never say, “Enough is enough.” Even the atrociousness of World Wars I and II, with the use of the ultimate horror of nuclear bombs, did not convince humankind to put away war.

 Indeed, the lesson of history continues to be so poignantly clear in the Armistice memorials that a different approach must be incorporated in the human project of existence. A different approach not based on merely good intention and hoped for cooperation among different political, religious, and ethnic groups. Nor can the prayers for divine intervention be considered any more effective and just in the controlling of humankind’s immaturity, ignorance, greed, anger and foolishness. It is clear that a radically new perspective must be promoted and implemented in the education of not only ethics but the comprehension of the reality of this world and the human construction of their world. As Wells came to see, it will require a complete change of human nature and a defeat of all ideas that lead to violence and war.

In that case, what would be the foundation of such a grand perspective? I propose that this perspective has already been clearly enunciated as well as established in human thoughts and condition. It is a perspective based on human insight into the conditions and workings of the human mind and emotions. And while this is an ancient wisdom, it is also modern and is verified through contemporary science and the social sciences. One innovator and teacher of this perspective which I describe as Transcendental Idealism was the Buddha. However, since the Buddha taught observable truths and empirical observations, he is not the only human in the past or in the present who has gained the insights and understanding of this perspective. I would also add that basically since the Buddha refused to attribute any divine intervention in human affairs, this perspective can be best understood and appreciated as a holistic Transcendent Psychology. Therefore, the total responsibility, as well as the possibility of the course in human affairs on all levels, is based on human knowledge, intent, and morality. Indeed, the path of human existence is solely in the hands of humans. This is a path that requires a training, a discipline, a giving up of selfish immaturity and foolish living to achieve a human existence of well-being, happiness, and wisdom.

While this project of the human construction of peaceful coexistence and dignity and prosperity for all sentient beings might at first glance seem if not impossible, very difficult. However, that is a pessimism based on a misunderstanding. A misunderstanding of what the principles of a life based on Transcendental Idealism and a course based in Transcendent Psychology requires. Recognizing it is a very different even radical approach how to live our lives as successful and prosperous human beings, but, as history has shown us and human behavior even today continues to destroy and murder and annihilate and create massive suffering not only for all sentient beings but even the earth upon which we live- it is absolutely necessary. The course is clear and the guidelines are well situated and proven. What is needed as in any important human endeavor is not only the desire, in this case for peace, prosperity, happiness, and well-being of all sentient beings on this earth but also the correct effort and knowledge for success. The simile which expresses well what is needed to reach this new phase of harmonious human existence on earth is that of the butterfly. To actualize its beauty and freedom it must emerge from the darkness of a cocoon. However, through the natural process of giving a birth to itself, with the correct effort and intention, the butterfly slowly emerges from the cocoon into the mature and capable butterfly. To reach the ability of peace, prosperity, happiness, and well-being for all, humanity now needs to follow the path away from immature greed, anger, and ignorance into the light of the day and out of the darkness of the cocoon. What ultimately needs to be changed is the way we understand and think about existence — certain ideas and beliefs have to be renounced, which will change our human character and end further wars.

This opportunity of living in a world without the horrendous suffering and destruction of war and conflict created through ignorance has long been recognized by visionaries as a possibility because it is solely in the hands of human beings to do this. It is only through the taking of responsibility for our actions and thoughts and emotions and living in a way that we create not only our own peace, prosperity, happiness, and well-being but to see that by not including others in this vision we are still living in the cocoon, in ignorance, selfishness, and in anger which is based on our own mindset rooted in suffering and unhappiness. The lesson is that our deep happiness depends on our mental/emotional state as well as living conditions. And in both cases, we have the possibility of creating positive, realistic and pragmatic mental states as well as living conditions that promote, foster and sustain our well-being as well as that of others. This project only depends on our doing it, there is no other force in the universe to helps us. And this is the tragedy as well as sadness and frustration that many have written about in the past, that our suffering is created by ourselves and, therefore, the ending of our suffering is also possible by ourselves together.

We must look to each other to remove the ignorance and hindrances to our vision of a life on earth without the suffering created through wars, greed, hatred, ignorance, and injustice. As Wells’ wrote during WWI: ‘This monstrous conflict in Europe, the slaughtering, the famine, the confusion, the panic and hatred, and lying pride, it is all of it really only in the darkness of the mind. At the coming of understanding, it will vanish as dreams vanish at awakening. But never will it vanish until understanding has come.’ For the mind enmeshed in ignorance, greed, and anger feeds on itself and, therefore, has difficulty letting go and rising above the quagmire in which it remains. This difficulty needs an empathetic and compassionate approach to assist in showing how it is possible to live in a world without the pain and distrust and suffering created through the ignorance. And the path can be clear and successful without much difficulty. What is difficult is allowing oneself to give up the hatred, the anger, the greed, the points of view of egoism and selfishness – like those of a child. The process is away from that, and instead, the whole movement is a development of maturity of perspective and therefore action with wisdom.

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