The personal and spiritual perspective on non-violence and peace

by BK Jayanti

As a basic principle, a spiritual truth is that whatever is within is reflected without. The inner state of human beings creates the outer state of the world. When there is peace within, peace in the world is not impossible. However, whilst there is aggression within then even sticks and stones can become weapons of war. So in order to establish a world of peace, it is essential to return to the state of peace within.

Given the violent conditions in each sphere of society today, the question arises, what has gone wrong? Globalization is the current reality with its pluses and minuses. In this materialistic culture, with rampant consumerism, peace has been forgotten because the inner self has been overlooked. Loss of awareness of that inner state of being and identification with the external material world has lead to loss of inner peace and the equilibrium of non-violence. Into the emptiness of the spirit comes anger and violence. Just as darkness doesn’t have a reality of its own existence but is simply the absence of light, in the same way, when peace disappears, violence comes into its own. One doesn’t need to fight the darkness, rather one just has to light a candle, and the greater the power of the candle, or the greater the number of candles, the greater the intensity of the light. So too, when we become aware of our spiritual identity and reach deep awareness of the inner being, there is peace. And this peace can grow. As people of peace gather together, the power of peace multiplies.

In fact, if we wish to improve the world and create a world of peace, gathering like this is truly the only way. A majority has never changed the world; just a handful makes the difference. A small group of committed individuals have always changed history and made a difference. We may come together as peaceful revolutionaries committed to positive change, but the transformation of the minority reaching the point of critical mass will shift the majority and create a culture of peace.

Right now, humanity is trapped in a vicious circle. There is a general lack of value for the self, leading to cycles of dependency and compensatory addictive behaviour patterns. If there is no knowledge of the inner being, an internal discontentment and a relentless search for happiness in temporary supports, people, possessions, places, position or even alcohol and drugs prevails. The emotional addictions to ego and anger also become part of this cycle of vicious behaviour patterns and lead to the unstable, violent conditions visible on every continent.

A general state of helplessness leaves many feeling disempowered. For example, multinationals exert even greater power than governments today and so naturally, people question whether the individual really has any power. The Charter of the UN begins with the declaration of ‘we the peoples’. The return to true self-awareness and self dignity reminds us of the real value of the self. Respect for the self leads to respect for human life and value for the dignity of each human being around me. Where there is violence there is usually fear born out of ignorance. When I don’t know my neighbour, and I am afraid because he or she looks different, smells different, eats differently and behaves differently, I am likely to be discriminatory in my dealings. When I take the time to know and understand my neighbour there will be respect. To know others with clarity, I need to give time to know myself first for only then will I learn about others.

Peace is closely linked to love, understanding, respect and truth. In fact, all positive values are interconnected and form the basis of civilization. Any breakdown in society visible today is a direct result of the loss of values. To return to peace, we need to return to a culture of values.