The Great War


[Reprinted from THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, February 1962.]

The plan of quiet passive resistance, or rather, laying under the wind, is good and ought to work in all attacks. Retreat within your own heart and there keep firmly still. Resist without resisting. It is possible and should be attained.

—W. Q. Judge

It is the paradox of our age that, though there is a growing body of opinion against war the world over, we seem unable to extricate ourselves from the war atmosphere. The world and the nations composing it have been passing through a succession of small and big crises.

The myth of the War in Heaven has a profound philosophical significance. That war stands for conflicts of different types, on different planes of being, but all rooted in the archetypal war between good and evil, the higher and the lower, the spiritual and the material in human nature. There is one single front on which the real war is raging—the individual front. Wars without are but shadowy replicas of that real war within. It is an occult truth that happenings in the material world, in the life of the individual or of humanity, have their roots in the invisible world of causes. What is visible is but the effect, in part or in full, of the activities of the minds of men.

The meaning and import of wars, small and great, will ever be missed as long as the great truth is not perceived that the Great War of Kurukshetra is waged within every individual's heart. Nations are but collectivities of individuals. National strifes and international wars would not take place if man learned to live at peace with himself, if his mind did not war against his heart, nor his passions and pride against his principles, or one duty against another. It is well to remind ourselves in these days that no man ever kills his brother in this world, that no drop of blood is ever shed, that does not lay a weight of responsibility upon every rational human being. There never can be world peace or world improvement without individual peace and individual improvement. Unless selfishness, the root cause of all moral weakness, is curbed and the senses are trained and disciplined, man will remain more an animal and wars will continue. Only he who conquers himself really wins the war. That is the only real victory; all other victories are ephemeral. What waste of wealth and throwing away of human lives would be avoided through an adequate realization of the real, as against the illusory, nature of war!

All physical-plane wars have their invisible side, both psychical and spiritual. The future of the race, however greatly dependent on human agents—present-day national leaders—is not wholly in their hands, for the Wheel of Karma moves not only because of them but also in spite of them. Each individual, whatever his nationality, who purifies himself from lust and anger and greed is a creator of Peace, and through his efforts is building order for the morrow.

Many noble minds indeed see the waste, the folly, the indecisiveness of war. The boundaries fought over may be lost or won, but the real crux of the conflict is not the visible boundaries but the principles perceived by the mind-souls engaged. We ought to have progressed beyond indulgence in war, but our moral and spiritual evolution is delayed—and this is the Karma of the far past. Our mental evolution has outstripped our conscience. We have discovered vast energies and applied them destructively, imperilling the whole of humanity. Shall we not recognize our individual responsibility for this?

War breeds sorrow, despair, hate, envy; these are seed-causes which ripen, in another epoch, in further bloodshed and misery. There seems no end to the vicious cycle. The breaking out of war in the body politic is like the eruption of fever in the personal body. The cause of the fever has first to be found out, and, having found it, we have to attempt the cure. It is easy enough to see the cause of war or conflict in or between other countries—but how about our own? Are we free from pride, from greed, from suspicion, jealousy, selfishness? It is easy enough to be in full accord with those who think and feel and act as we do, but very difficult when our thoughts, feelings and actions are moving in a direction contrary to theirs. Yet we must get to the point where, no matter how others feel and think and act, we can recognize and treat them in our own thought, feeling and action as units of the one human family. The hard kamic shell in which many of us as Egos are encased may serve as a blockade and so isolate the mind that the nourishment of charity cannot reach it, and the dove of peace can find no place to rest its weary feet.

Most men probably would say that they wanted peace, but many either are not clear as to how it is to be brought about and made permanent, or are not ready to take the necessary steps within their power to secure it. There are two lines of peace effort—the way of war resistance, sometimes known as Pacifism, which is that of a number of peace organizations; and the way of effort to bring about the necessary conditions for a just and lasting peace. Any peace effort, however noble and self-sacrificing, that is directed against war without getting at the causes of war and overcoming them, is bound to fail in the long run. Selfish interests, individual or national, are incompatible with peace. To try to build a permanently peaceful world upon injustice, exploitation, unequal opportunities and unearned special consideration is to build upon the shifting sand. The work of the individual on himself and the cultivation of the attitude that love can settle disputes better than violence and warfare can, are factors indispensable to the success of any effort for lasting peace.

All-encompassing love is born in human consciousness only when personal affections-aversions are transcended. The power and potency of love for resolving conflicts have been proclaimed in all the great scriptures of the world. For instance:

He is esteemed among all who, whether amongst his friends and companions, in the midst of enemies or those who stand aloof or remain neutral, with those who love and those who hate, and in the company of sinners or the righteous, is of equal mind. (The Bhagavad-Gita).

In this world never is enmity appeased by hatred; enmity is ever appeased by Love. This is the Law Eternal. (The Dhammapada)

If a man attempts to do me wrong, I will return to him the protection of my ungrudging love; the more evil comes from him, the more good shall go from me. (Buddhist Sutras)

When the great armies go to war, sorrow is the sole winner.

To those who are good, I am good; and to those who are not good I am also good; and thus all get to be good. To those who are sincere with me I am sincere; and to those who are not sincere with me I am also sincere; and thus all get to be sincere. (Tao Te King)

Owe no man anything, but to love one another; for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. (St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans)

Education has a major part to play in the creation of the will to peace. If we wish war to cease, we must realize that our duty today is to train young boys and girls to control their feelings, thoughts and actions, lest they tend to breed war in the future.

We may have to fight, for, "being bound by all past Karma," we may come to the position of Arjuna and be forced "from necessity" to engage in battle; but we must learn to take the position of being "only the immediate agent," learn to be free from desire and anger, leaving no evil seeds to fructify in the future. There is much food for thought in the following passage from Letters That Have Helped Me:

Let me say one thing I KNOW: only the feeling of true brotherhood, of true love towards humanity aroused in the soul of someone strong enough to stem this tide, can carry us through. For LOVE and TRUST are the only weapons that can overcome the REAL enemies against which the true theosophist must fight. If I, or you, go into this battle from pride, from self-will, from desire to hold our position in the face of the world, from anything but the purest motives, we shall fail. Let us search ourselves well and look at it as we never looked before: see if there is in us the reality of the brotherhood which we preach and which we are supposed to represent. (p. 109)

When the conduct of nations toward one another is governed not by policy but by principles—eternally right—then we shall see the dawn of a new era; each of us can contribute to the building of that future era here and now.




I am quite willing to repeat what the Teachers whom I follow say: that the Absolute exists and cannot be discovered or known; that at the dawning of what is commonly called creation and evolution Spirit and Matter appear in space....It is further taught and seemingly with reason that, in all, seven cosmic differentiations take place, and from these the sevenfold constitution of man is derived. His gross body stands for the whole of gross matter, his astral body for another differentiation, his passions for the energy of the heterogeneous cosmos, his life copies another of the seven, and so on until all are complete. But if you postulate a God, you must put man either in him or outside; and if the latter then your God is not infinite, but has in his universe something that is not himself—for the Infinite must be all. It is much safer to construe these Bible verses in the old Theosophical way, which would in the present instance show that man is made in the image of God, who is his Higher Self.

—W. Q. Judge


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