THE SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PRESENT WAR
War can at best be only a means to an end; it can never be an end, in itself. It is, therefore, imperatively necessary for the warlords to search their own hearts and to make sure that the ends for which they are fighting are a reflection of the divine plan, which is to lead humanity to a spiritual brotherhood, cemented by an inviolable sense of the unity of all human beings, irrespective of the distinctions based on class, color, nationality, race, religion or creed. War-effort will be justified or stand condemned not by the results which it produces, but by the ends by which it is inspired. The world has to face this war and go through its ordeal of fire, even at the cost of irreparable damage and unredeemable suffering; it is a necessary evil.
Even in itself, war is not an unmixed evil, since it calls forth and releases under the stress of imminent danger much action which is regardless of the limited self and which is inspired by the impersonal spirit of welcoming sacrifice and suffering for the safety and prosperity of fellow-beings. It is better that such unselfish action be released under the stimulus of danger than that it should not be released at all. It is better that men should forget their petty selves under the pressure of a collective calamity than that they should be permanently encased in the ignoble pursuit of personal safety and in the ruthless attempt to perpetuate separative existence and interests. War-effort generates and fosters many qualities of spiritual importance; it is, therefore, not altogether without spiritual significance, even when it is considered in itself. And when war-effort is forced upon a nation or a people for the sake of higher values and impersonal considerations of general well-being, it becomes not only spiritually defensible but inevitable.
People ought to face the incidents of war with courage and equanimity in the faith that no sacrifice or suffering is too much when the call of duty is clear and imperative. In the event of a direct and aggressive attack the clear duty of all is to resist it, even by direct participation in war, if there is no other alternative. But in offering such resistance they should make sure that they are prompted solely by the sense of duty and that they have no hatred or bitterness toward the aggressor who is acting under spiritual ignorance. Further, they should not be callous to the physical and mental suffering inflicted by air-raids or by warfare on land or sea. On the contrary, they shall render to the wounded and desolate victims of war every possible service, according to their individual ability and aptitude.
As a rule, spiritual aspirants are indifferent to purely material well-being. They are prone to be indifferent to war as well as war-effort on the grounds that most wars are actuated by purely material considerations. But it is a mistake to divorce spirituality from material considerations. Material considerations do have a spiritual aspect and importance. Even spiritual aspirants, who are wrapped up in the super-sensible realities of inner life, can ill afford to ignore war, particularly when they are directly involved in it. Spiritual aspirants take their stand upon the reality and the eternity of the Infinite Soul; it should, therefore, be easy for them to stake everything for the sake of a duty which springs from the claims of the spirit.
When truly understood, all conflicts and wars are seen to be a part of the divine game; they are thus a result of the Divine Will which finds expression in the world of manifestation, through the help of maya or the cosmic power which creates and sustains the illusory world of duality. The purpose served by maya in the divine game is twofold: First, it can be instrumental in entrapping the soul in the mazes of illusion, and second it can also be instrumental in freeing the soul from the clutches of spiritual ignorance and bondage. Maya should not be ignored; it must be handled with detachment and understanding. Wars are the working of maya; they would be spiritually disastrous or otherwise, according to whether they are inspired by attachment or detachment for the creations of maya.
From the spiritual point of view of the last and the only Truth, all souls are, in their essence, fundamentally one. War cannot create any real cleavage or division between the people who are fighting with each other. The people of the warring countries seem to be different from each other merely by virtue of having different bodies and minds; but from the point of view of their souls, all differences are not only secondary but false. The spiritual unity of all souls remains inviolable in spite of all wars; and from the point of view of ultimate reality, it remains true that no soul is really at war with any other soul. There is a war in different ideologies; and this war of ideologies extends to and involves not only the minds but also the bodies of the people; but the undivided and indivisible soul remains one in its unimpeachable and integral unity.
The spiritually advanced persons are alive to this Truth of the unity of all souls; and the role which they play in the game of God is necessarily determined by the spiritual understanding which they have. They perform their duty in co-operation with the divine will; and, being in tune with the Infinite Truth, they are, in playing their part, not only free from all thoughts of selfish gain, but also from the reactionary feelings of hate or malice or revenge.
The soul remains untouched and unscathed by the loss and the destruction of material things and possessions; and death is only a gateway to further life. Those who would play their part in the divine game shall remain unmoved by any bereavements or losses; and they shall also impart to others the spirit of cheerful resignation to the divine will. The incomprehensible sufferings of war will embitter many souls; they need to be helped in the restoration of unassailable faith and imperishable sweetness of life. Those who are initiated into the eternal values of inner life shall bear the burden of dispelling unwarranted gloom and depression and cheer up those who are in anguish.
In the hour of trial, let the thought of everyone be not for the limited self, but for others — not for the claims of the ego-life, but for the claims of the Divine Self which is equally in all. It is a mistake to ignore human suffering as merely a part of the illusory universe.
Not by ignoring human suffering, but by handling it is the gateway opened for Life Eternal; and not through callous indifference, but through active and selfless service is secured the attainment of that transcendental and illimitable Truth, which is at the heart of the illusory universe.
The last but not the least duty of those who would stand by Reason and Love is to see war as well as war-effort in the right perspective, as being only the means for the goal of peace and understanding. It is not possible to justify war apart from the end which is sought through it. War does not stand justified merely by the spiritual qualities which it generates and fosters; these qualities can also be developed in times of peace. It is time that humanity is imbibed by the spontaneous spirit of love and service, needing no stimulus of danger for the release of impersonal and unselfish action.
Although it seems difficult, humanity has to emerge out of this dreadful war with unimpaired spiritual integrity, with hearts free from the poison of malice or revenge, with minds disburdened of the blows given or received, with souls unscathed by suffering and filled with the spirit of unconditional surrenderance to the divine will which shall ensoul and inspire post-war humanity. In spite of its attendant evils, this war shall play its part in my mission of helping humanity to fulfill the Divine Plan on earth and to inherit the coming Era of Truth and Love, of Peace and Universal Brotherhood, of Spiritual Understanding and Unbounded Creativity.
Apropos of numerous inquiries from my followers, seeking guidance and instructions in the eventuality of the war directly and palpably affecting India, I have to call upon all concerned to go about their routine avocations, duties, and responsibilities, in a spirit of detachment, love, charity and hope, and to observe the following instructions meant for the category in which they are placed.
To my disciples:
1. They should be above party politics and should bear malice and ill-will toward none.
2. They should observe all the precautionary measures of war for civil population enforced by the Government of the day.
3. They should continue as usual discharging their special duties and work for my Spiritual Cause unless otherwise directed by me.
4. They should stick to their post and appointments anywhere in India, under any trying circumstances, unless ordered by the Government to evacuate under emergency regulations.
5. They may undertake humanitarian and relief work of a non-sectarian character, without identifying themselves with any party or political organization working in that direction, and strictly within the scope of time and leisure left over after the performance of spiritual duties enjoined by me.
6. They should extend spiritual solace and comfort to the people within the area of their contacts and influence with a view to counteracting the panicky state of their mind.
7. Exceptional cases and circumstances, requiring readjustment of routine lives may be communicated to me.
Meher Baba gave the following recommendations to his devotees:
A. Items No. 1, 2, 3, 6 and 7 (from above) apply in toto to this category.
B. They may adjust and arrange their family and business problems, as demanded by the urgency of the situation and local conditions.
C. They may undertake humanitarian and relief work of a non-sectarian character and may if necessary join any party or political organization working in that direction.
Regarding the war, Meher Baba's general recommendations to his devotees were:
1. They may join the A.R.P. and Home Guard Organizations of the Government and any such humanitarian activities undertaken by non-official bodies like the Red Cross Ambulance Society and the League of Mercy.
2. They may arrange their family affairs and business problems consistent with the urgency of the situation and in complete accord with the Ordinances of the Local Government.
3. They should undertake humanitarian and relief-work independently or conjointly with any sectarian or political organization of their choice.
In short, all should face the impending crisis, however painful and cruel it may turn out to be, with patience, fortitude and self-sacrifice, never for a moment forgetting the fact that the redemption of distracted humanity through divine love is very much nearer at hand than many care to believe.
LORD MEHER, online rev ed., pp. 5420-5424
1995 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust