A Peaceful Co-existence

The following post is a translated part of Acharya Shree’s book    Shanti ka prashn

If there was only one human in the world, there would have been no clashes or any struggle.But this is not the case. There exist many people. Many can refer to five arab or even ten arab people. The existence of two means duality. In the Sanskrit dictionary, duality is defined as a couple. Another definition of duality is a fight. Thus, the word “two” and the word “fight”, are synonyms. So, where there is a two, a fight will necessarily take place. Two makes an implication for two different interests, two different points of view, two different thought processes and ways of performing an action. Now, everybody is not intelligent enough to not let a difference in opinions turn into an ideology clash.

Living as two is a life of struggle and that is the biggest trouble. A solution was found: live as two or many but live together, thereby preventing all sorts of fights and clashes. A question arises: how is this possible? One solution is dharma. The one who has understood dharma, he/she can live peacefully even among a diverse set of people. Non-violence is the key practice involved here. A society created on the basis of non-violence; its working principle is living together: you also stay and I also stay. The thought of either me or you breeds violence.

The philosophy of Anekantavada has been developed on the principle of non-violence. According to the Anekant philosophy, fire and water, heat and coldness, light and darkness can co-exist together.

An example of a real situation can illustrate this better. Consider a hypothetical situation of a man sitting in a room when clouds appear and cover the broad daylight of the afternoon. Somebody suggests the man read a book. He replied that the darkness in the room won’t let him do so. At that moment, somebody handed him a glass of water, which he drank easily. So, drinking water in that limited amount of light was possible while reading small letters in the same amount of light was difficult.

So, events are a matter of relativity. Light and darkness, both can co-exist together. Thus, two seemingly opposing view points and philosophies can also co-exist. In a conflict, one has to establish some sort of adjustment.

In a family, one who cannot adapt with others, cannot live with peace. A family is a small unit and provides a small experiment for the practice of non-violence. The one who cannot practice non-violence in a family, cannot be religious in the true sense. Once, a young boy came to me and said- “my father thinks he is religious and so he performs 5-7 samayik per day and spends most of his time with saints but he is the one who fights the most in our family. If I have to learn how to fight, then why should I go to a religious place? The marketplace is quite huge.”

This is not just one story. Many people go through the same problem. Daughter in law can have a similar notion about her mother-in-law and vice a versa. Samayik and fights, both cannot go together. If they do go together, then what is the purpose of religion?

A religious or spiritual person must first learn the lessons of non-violence and Anekant. Anekant implies accommodating two different points of view. In the absence of anekant, even a small matter can turn into a big fight.

Why Does A Clash Occur?
Assume an instance when dinner is to be prepared. One person wants to eat bitter gourd and the other wants to eat something else. Such a small matter can escalate into a fight. This is the kind of clash that is based on differences in interests. A clash can also have an imaginary basis. A fight breaks in between a couple. Wife says that she will make her son a doctor while the husband says that he will make him a lawyer. A wise man interrupted – why are you fighting? At least know your son’s mind before deciding. To that, the wife replied-“the son is not born yet.”

Such baseless fights take place because of the absence of adjustment and an arrangement in place. I have seen the case of two brothers who had so much love between them that people would call them Ram-Lakshman. But when the question of money rose, the love turned into the kind of bitterness that could be compared to the bitterness between Ram and Ravan.

Where there is no system in place, a struggle will necessarily take place. In an absence of a system, there will always be chances for fights to take place. I am reminded of a real life instance. A man in Delhi regularly participated in politics. One day, he said- Maharaj, I am completely lost. I asked, what happened? He started crying and responded- we are four brothers and we had a family business. But I have been involved in politics, all this while, and my brothers worked at the shop. Today, my brothers say that you have so much debt that there is nothing left for you and that you must leave the family house now.

The man was a good man but still had to face such troubles. But such situations do take place, mainly because of an absence of a system.

Adjusting with one another and concluding a compromise is the second point. If a person cannot accept a compromise in a situation, he/she will create a grudge out of a small incident. Nothing works in this world, without a compromise. Big wars and fights, all of them are concluded with some adjustment and agreement. Common people, also hold on to their notions and ideas so tightly that they begin to think along these lines-I do not want to do this at all. Cannot listen to this only. Where there is so much attachment to one’s ideas and desires, there cannot be a state of mind that can adjust and move forward. Even a carpenter has to cut and finish pieces of wood several times before creating a perfect window frame.

The most important point is tolerance. It is the basis of non-violence and peaceful co-existence. Today, men and women cannot tolerate one another. Leave grown-ups, even a four-year-old lacks the ability to tolerate. If he has an opposing viewpoint of that of others, he would burst with anger. Without accepting and tolerating each other’s weaknesses, incapabilities, states of mind, problems and diseases, how can two people live together? Unless the ability of tolerance is not developed, peaceful co-existence cannot be even imagined.

Today, people have a wrong understanding of tolerance. It does not imply fearfulness or weakness. Instead, it implies great strength. Only a strong person can be tolerant. His holiness, Acharya Tulsi said- an Acharya needs to have a greater ability of tolerance than a muni. When a muni is in anger, an Acharya must necessarily maintain his calm. This is the way of grandiose maturity. Its underlying principle is to sprinkle water on boiling milk so that it does not fall and spoil itself. Only a mature person can have such an intellect. If the head of a family is not a tolerant person, the family will see frequent fights, gradually breaking the family.

The President of China, once, said-“Dinner of thousands of people has been prepared only because I tolerated a lot.” Imagine, the preparation involved in producing a thousand plates of food. These days we do not even see such a huge number of wedding guests. That is impossible now. I have known families where dinner of 100 people used to be prepared daily. Finding such a family, today, would be next to impossible. The reason is clear: families are not big anymore and people, now, do not know how to live together. Camps of Prekshadhyan see the preparation of lunch and dinner for hundreds of people. A camp also becomes like a family. So many people live together because the art of living together is taught. Living together is an art and the ones who do not know this art, cannot enjoy the joys that come along with living together peacefully. The underlying principle of a peaceful family life is, thus, tolerance. Practicing it is the most valuable art and science.Without the art of tolerance, a person cannot live in peace.

Jainism gives great significance to humility. Today, many think that being humble is being servile. This thought process is causing egos to become bigger. In every religious tradition and societal sect that is based in India, humility has been given utmost importance.

Therefore, it is written- vidya dadati vinyam (ie education gives humility). Seeing the trends of our current time period, we can probably say – vidya dadati avinyam.

Humility was once the essence of the Indian ethos and culture, but today, this is being forgotten. In a family, where humility is absent, there can be no peace.

Being humble towards elders is one point. The other aspect is concern and love for the young. Both go hand in hand. If one gives respect and the other does not reciprocate with care and love, the respect will automatically decline.

Thus, practicing these five principles of establishing and abiding by a system, adjustment, tolerance, humility, and concern with love, can ensure a peaceful family life.


The Question of Peace

The following post is based on Acharya Shree’s book  shanti ka prashn

Peace is not somewhere in the sky. What is found in the graveyard, that is not considered as auspicious. There is no special meaning to it. Though peace in society,in the hearts and minds of people do have a value. Peace in a community is dependent on the interpersonal behaviour of its people. Peace procession and events of this nature, have a certain value and sequence of such events keep happening.The truth is that society is always in favour of peace.The ones wanting violence, are very few. The ones seeking power, sometimes, directly or indirectly create violence because of their desire to expand.People who want to impose their opinions on others also become mediums of violence/non-peace. In fact, today, the biggest disease is broadcasting one’s opinions.

The ones who believe in democracy, their efforts go in spreading democracy while the ones who believe in communism, their efforts go into spreading their belief.This way, everybody is divided into certain isms.

The ones creating violence are few in number while peace is a need of a majority of mankind.Power is in a few hands. America, Russia, and a few countries posses atomic power, hydrogen, and nitrogen bomb. Only a few people have ownership of these weapons. The problem is, that the ones who possess power do not understand the value of peace. Look at the war in Vietnam. Here, the war was employed for establishing peace.The firm belief of people in the balance of power has led to the belief that peace cannot exist without a balance of power.Teachers of war define peace as the preparation period between two wars. Thus, today, the word, peace sees a lot of deluded beliefs which have caused many problems.The root point is that unless humanity doesn’t evolve,the point of peace becomes clouded.According to me, humanity and peace are not two.

In ancient times, the question of who is a shastra (scripture) literate person, arose.The answer to this question came out to be that the one whose mind is at peace, is a shastra literate person. Scriptures have been created for the purpose of peace. A peaceful and balanced mind has been given a lot of importance. This is the reason why yoga and spiritual practices have been given due significance in India. Till the time the mind is at unrest, it will continue to be a cause of unrest to others as well. Therefore, every person must become a yogi, and thus, possess a stable mind. The medium to achieve this stability is dharma. That which makes one’s mind and sense organs at peace is dharma while doing that which disturbs the mind and senses,  is not dharma.

Look at the situation in the world, today. The ones who are rich, their minds do not have an iota of peace. In fact, they have more of inertia and absence of awareness. What can be the reason? As far as I see, the point of view, that instills a feeling of oneness with humanity, has not been developed.

The Anuvrat movement has thought on this subject. I cannot say that a lot of effort has been put in this direction but a small effort has been put. A lot of small efforts together become a big unit of effort. The basis of anuvrat is- oneness with humanity and co-existence.A person who does not believe in human unity, coexistence and equality, that person cannot be an Anuvrati.

When the definition of Anuvrati was being decided upon, a question arose whether a person disbelieving in the existence of soul and life after death, can become an anuvrati?Acharya Shree Tulsi answered with a why not? Whether a upholder of human values, performs any worshipping rituals or not, he will be called an Anuvrati since the basis of the Anuvrat movement is a firm belief in humanity. Only he/she can be rightly called as a peace representative. People practicing colour and caste discrimination, are not believers of humanity. A particular belief system can also be a cause of violence. A rich man may think that since it is his karma, he is enjoying his riches and a poor man is suffering because of his karma. These concepts circumvent caste discrimination as well. This is the biggest root of violence and unrest. The Anuvrat movement has put in efforts to fight such discriminatory practices. This does not mean that I do not believe in karma. Karma and fate have their own place. But so has self-effort.

Where hatred disappears, the beliefs of karma and fate also shake.If foundations of such beliefs can shake like that, then they cannot exist for real.But casteism was originally based on a person’s potential and skillset.Until today, we have not been able to see sameness of people in terms of potential and skills.

There exist differences in intellects, thought processes, skills and bodies. These cannot be made same in all individuals. But can we not change external systems built by humans?

Even Tarkshastra holds this rule: whatever is a cause of karma or action can never be permanent. Only that, which is not a result of an action performed by humans, is permanent. Thus, all rituals, concepts, and beliefs are impermanent due to the fact that all of these are man-made.

Some people consider vedas as permanent.But vedas and other spiritual and religious texts can be spoken and expressed by us, then how can they be permanent?

We need a clear point of view. Clearer our point of view, clearer would be our road to peace. We face difficulties with an unclear viewpoint. For instance, we need to be clear about the fact that all sorts of discrimination among mankind, have had a basis of selfishness. It would be interesting to know that around a thousand years ago,  Acharya Jinsen in Karnataka, declared that all humanity is one. There are only differences in conduct and behaviour. If these sentiments were internalised in the people of the past century, no war could have taken place. Violence is not born in a war field. A war is its final expression.

A family which sees fights among its members on a daily basis, can such a family contribute towards peace? A similar question can be raised on a shopkeeper or a businessman who behaves with cruelty towards his employees. A person harassing others does so because of his lack of sensitivity towards them. All his energy and efforts are towards the fulfilment of his selfish motives. I think if we ponder over solutions of personal peace, then a huge contribution towards world peace can be made.

In ancient times, small fights would take place, without affecting the lifestyles of people situated in a distant place. A problem in the South did not create any disturbing effect in the North.But today, the situation is different. Today, the whole world is like a family. A war in Vietnam can have an effect in distant countries. On the external, humans have never been as close to each other as they are today. This closeness has prompted people to ponder over the need for peace. Another point is the trend of production of weapons of mass destruction.This has created a fearful environment. Such an environment has naturally created a demand for peace among people.

If the few people possessing powers of destruction become obsessed with a desire to fight and win wars, then there will be no delay for the Earth’s doomsday. Thus, nobody can ignore the question of safety in today’s world.

Peace of individuals together creates world peace. The basis of such a phenomenon is individuals feeling oneness with the whole of humanity. Development of such a feeling would be the right step towards world peace.