Many people yearn for the time when we will finally be freed from the curse of warfare. Unfortunately, wars will continue until the mass consciousness of the world changes and the majority of people no longer want conflict.
Most people, including world leaders, respond to conflict by striking back—two eyes for an eye, a bomb for a bullet. Killing “enemies” produces no lasting peace; it only sows seeds for further conflict. Paramhansa Yogananda said that world peace can be achieved only by raising the consciousness of mankind.
Negative patterns in the consciousness of mankind not only cause warfare but also disease, natural disasters, global warming and similar problems. During a devastating influenza epidemic in the 1920s, Yogananda said it was a result of the conflict and suffering of World War I. Mankind’s distress attracted the low vibration of germs, which killed twenty million people—twice as many as the war itself.
The quality of our consciousness
What determines the overall consciousness of the world? The Bhagavad Gita tells us that our consciousness is shaped by three different vibrations or gunas—tamo, rajo, and sattwa.
Tamoguna, the darkening, downward-pulling quality, reduces awareness to a dull and contracted state. That part of your nature that wants to push challenges away, to not put out energy, or sees other people as the problem, is the effect of tamoguna.
Rajoguna, the activating quality, puts things into motion and creates desire. It can be influenced in either a downward or an upward direction. Rajasic energy influenced by the downward pull of tamoguna is “ego-active”—energetic but in a self-focused, greedy, insular way.
When rajoguna is influenced upwardly toward sattwa guna, it produces what Swami Kriyananda calls the “truth-seeking vibration.” People are focused more on helping others or improving the world. The work of Mother Theresa in India is a perfect example of this kind of consciousness.
Gradually this truth-seeking tendency becomes more refined and brings us into alignment with sattwa guna, the elevating quality.
With the pure sattwa, you have no personal desires. All you want is unity with God and to be a channel for Him. This is the consciousness of a jivan mukta or free soul. Anyone with predominantly sattwic energy will be a light to the world.
The downward pull of tamoguna
The Yugas— Kali, Dwapara, Treta, and Satya are also expressions of the three gunas. Our planetary system goes through a 24,000 year cycle during which the earth moves closer to the center of the galaxy, from which uplifting (sattwa guna) vibrations emanate, and then farther away into more tamoguna energy.
The latest low point was reached in Kali Yuga around 500 AD, a time when barbarians burnt libraries and tore down civilizations. We are now advancing into Dwapara Yuga and there is less of the heavy tamoguna energy. But we haven’t gone as far as we would like to think.
The predominant energy in the world today is rajoguna being drawn downward by the pull of tamoguna. As a result, the majority of people in the world still have an ego-active nature, which is the source of conflict.
Three approaches to stopping conflict
So with this background, we come to the question: how, in today’s world, can we end warfare? There are three major approaches to stopping conflict, be it personal or global.
The first strategy is to do nothing and hope things improve on their own. This often seems to work because the world is always in flux.
Imagine having an argument and, instead of trying to resolve the underlying feelings, you wait for your, or the other person’s, mood to change. Then you think: “Well, that seemed to work,” and so we get conditioned to waiting for time to change things.
A second, much better, strategy is to neutralize the negative energy by radiating the opposing positive quality—peace neutralizes conflict, love counters hatred. The third, and most effective strategy is to expand your consciousness and invite God to be your partner.
Will time change things?
Trying to “wait it out” is not an effective way to end war in our lifetime because world-time moves so slowly.
The masters say that warfare will not end during Dwapara Yuga because ego-active people will continue to choose violence as a means of resolving differences. Even positive initiatives for global improvements (the U.N. or reducing global warming) are largely nullified by ego-active infighting.
According to the masters, warfare will not permanently end until well into Treta Yuga, which doesn’t start for another 2,000 years or so. During that truth-seeking age the most highly evolved people are able to read minds while even the least evolved have empathy and compassion for other people.
Moving upward very slowly
Warfare is absent in Satya Yuga, the highest age, when people perceive Spirit as uniting everything. There’s a story about the avatar-king, Rama, reputed to live during Satya Yuga, which highlights the vast differences between that age and our own.
Rama sent out a counselor to assess the state of the kingdom. Reporting back, the counselor said: “Everything is wonderful–very harmonious! But in one far flung village, I heard a fishmonger and her husband arguing.”
Rama replied sadly: “That’s the beginning of the end of this age.” Obviously, the world has come a long way down from the highest age and is going back up very, very slowly.
Neutralize the energy you don’t like
The second strategy, neutralizing negative energy by radiating the opposite, produces more lasting changes. But in our relatively unenlightened age, it is hard for a minority of people to put out enough positive energy to change the inertia of world consciousness.
Buckminster Fuller, the designer of the geodesic dome and an icon of the hippy era, made this point at an anti-war peace rally during the Vietnam era. He said:
If you think that you’re going to stop warfare by little gatherings like this and running around chanting slogans, you’re sadly mistaken. There is a military industrial complex that employs millions of people and spends billions of dollars every year. And if you want to stop that, you have to match that kind of energy.
Determination and spiritual power
Each of us, one person out of 350 million people in this nation, finds it hard change such a large system. But we can, and must, create localized vortexes of peace and harmony.
How much that affects the world depends on the amount of energy, determination, and spiritual power flowing through us. A saint or master, realizing his unity with the omnipresent Christ Consciousness, has enormous power to influence minds. Yogananda’s teachings have uplifted millions of people.
As you raise your consciousness, you become less ego-bound and are able to influence those around you in ever-widening circles. Changing world consciousness thus begins in your own heart with your own spiritual search.
The practice of peace
There are certain practices Yogananda recommended that can improve conditions now. First of all, you need to establish a state of peace in yourself. That requires calming your mind and developing a certain amount of detachment.
Daily meditation is essential for this. When you finish meditating, try to hold on to a state of inner peace for as long as possible.
Build a bridge of calmness between your meditation time and your daily activities. Then practice peace through your interactions with other people, always relating as if you’re seeing God in that person. That’s the reality of it because nothing else exists.
A power that changes things
Another very important practice is prayer. While uplifted in meditation, pray for the world. Visualize the people around you, the nation, the globe, and all leaders being bathed in blue light and cooling peace.
Prayer and visualization brings into play a divine power that can radically change things. Our healing prayer ministry at Ananda has received hundreds of letters of gratitude and testimonials about the effectiveness of prayer.
World peace will spread one person at a time. It begins with your own spiritual search and uplifted consciousness. Act as an agent of uplifted consciousness and infect others with sattwa guna. Let God’s light flow through you into the dark corners of the world.
A word of caution about inviting God to be your partner: His plans may be radically different than yours!