Ch:1 - Our Life style and
arises as to how violence was born in man. His forbears-the primates-had
already learnt the art of living together. Some other mammals had learnt
it earlier. Then when and how did man become violent? This is an unanswered
Man too is a social animal. He lives in society
together with other fellow beings. But social life by its very definition
implies a life of inter-relatedness. These relations have multiple bases.
To satisfy his sex instinct man built the institution of the family and
new relations came into being. He made friends to indulge his feeling of
affection. His ego gave him a feeling of exclusiveness. More new relationships
were born. But all of them were based on the utility principle. By themselves
they have produced what might be called practical non-violence. Members
of the family and friends do not normally fight with or torment one another.
But is it true non-violence ? It certainly is not, for even the slightest
case involving selfish interests explodes the relationship. This is true
of husband-wife, brother-brother and all such relationships. Examples are
not lacking where one has even murdered the other. Thus we must distinguish
between what we have called practical non-violence and true spiritual non-violence,
since the former is based on selfishness. It works through our behaviour
only so long as our selfish interests are not threatened. Thus it is clear
that merely because man is a social animal, he cannot be regarded as a supporter
of a non-violent society.
The question- 'How was violence born in man?'
if seen in the above light turns out to be basically faulty. It (the question)
is the result of a wrong understanding. When our as well as society's entire
life style is based on practical non-violence, on the slightest pretext
violence can flare up anywhere in the family, between communities, castes
and sects. Those researching into non-violence have, I am afraid, not fully
grasped this truth. That is why they keep asking the questing: 'How was
violence born in man?' For a proper understanding of the whole matter, they
have to first understand the concept of spiritual non-violence. Merely living
together on the basis of practical non-violence is no guarantee of true
and lasting non-violence.
There are many factors responsible for violence.
We will go into them a little later. The point to be noted here is that
the violence prevalent in society cannot be put an end to without developing
spiritual non-violence and basing our life style on it. Let us then discuss
what is meant by spiritual non-violence. It is based on the unity and equality
of all souls - souls of all sentients. Once we know that every living being
is subject to pain and pleasure in the same manner as we and that therefore
we must never inflict any pain on them, never oppress and exploit them,
never rob them of their rights, we are on our way to realizing the meaning
of spiritual non-violence. And it is only this non-violence that can prevent
the arson, loot, rioting and killings going on in society.
Everyone is familiar with Tamerlane, the
cruel despot. He thought he could change the people using savage force and
punishment, little realizing that it is only change of heart that can do
so. Once three men were brought to him, of whom the first two were put to
death. The third turned out to be the poet Ahmed. He asked the poet to evaluate
the price of the two men who had been killed. Ahmed said they were each
worth 500 sovereigns. 'How about me?' asked Tamerlane. The poet said that
he was worth only 2 sovereigns. This infuriated the tyrant. He said that
this costume alone was worth the money quoted. Ahmed replied that was exactly
what he had evaluated, for as far as Tamerlane was concerned he was worth
nothing, he being a man without any sympathy, kindness and feeling for justice.
The story has a lesson to teach. For evaluating
somebody's or something's true worth the behavioural angle is utterly misleading,
because it can evaluate only external things and attributes. Inner worth
is best assessed spiritually. As far as non-violence is concerned, we talk
profusely but think very little about it. Talk we have to, because it is
recognised by everyone that non-violence is essential for a happy and peaceful
life. Unfortunately the above consciousness is confined to practical non-violence,
which, as we have seen, works on the utility principle. Spiritual non-violence
has been all but ignored and so we have not experienced the unity and equality
Preksha Meditation enjoins its practitioners
to perceive the soul by the soul, which also means that the tendency to
look at the utilitarian style of living must be eschewed and the ability
to look at the spiritual style must be cultivated. Sadly enough, we are
in the habit of seeing, recognizing and knowing only the practical aspect
and we have completely neglected the spiritual aspect. This is so because
we have never understood the true meaning of non-violence. We must see both
the aspects - the practical as well as the spiritual. The former is responsible
for our laying the blame for everything on someone's door. This to my mind
has veritably destroyed all possibilities of our understanding true non-violence.
When we have closed all openings for spiritual non-violence and have opened
all the doors and windows for relationships based on the utility principle,
what right do we have to wish the violence to end ? The question 'How was
violence born ?' should not therefore baffle us, for the seeds of violence
has made it almost impossible for the people to know and understand true
non-violence. Under normal circumstances when we discover amity and fellow-feeling
among the members of the same family or community, or among neighbours,
we are led to believe that there is plenty of non-violence in society, little
knowing that what binds them all together is not so much non-violence as
the utility principle. Once this principle comes under strain violence erupts.
We have therefore to consider this matter with utmost seriousness.
I believe that practising meditation is a
step towards spiritual excellence. To meditate is to see oneself, which
in turn means seeing and searching the real base of non-violence. It appears
we have misunderstood the meaning of meditation. Had it not been so, we
would have given it much greater importance than to mere formal studies.
Today people value education because without it, it is not possible to grow
rich or get a good partner in marriage. Since they have little or no thought
of spiritual goodness, they do not think it necessary to strive for it.
If only we had given equal importance to both!
The search for spiritual non-violence is
not possible through scientific instruments or history or even genetics.
One has to investigate one's soul in order to know one's identity, one's
true self. If will reveal to the investigator all those dispositions within
him that encourage violence, he will then try to find out whether those
dispositions can be neutralized. Such an analysis of the inner self is a
prerequisite for the search of true non-violence, because the question of
violence and non-violence, even while being related to external factors,
is in essence an internal matter. And the root of the matter lies in man's
dispositions. Ironically sociologists, economists and psychologists think
that it is the general atmosphere or external circumstances that are responsible
for the rise of violence. It is held that our behaviour and conduct are
governed by circumstances. Metaphorically such an understanding represents
a situation in which the root is made to take the place of branches and
vice versa. We are thus made to live under an illusion. And the only way
to destroy it is the practice of meditation. The deeper one probes Inside,
the newer the truths one discovers- truths that defy scientific explanation.
We do not regard events that have happened as false simply because science
has no explanation for them. Things are happening within us that science
cannot explain, but they are all too true. By looking into our inside we
can get to know the truth and succeed in striking a balance between the
practical and spiritual aspects of life. We shall be able to answer the
question how violence was born in man only after we have succeeded in integrating
and balancing practical and spiritual non-violence.