Is There Hope for the World?
In 1942, Paramhansa Yogananda made the predictions discussed in the following article.
Occasionally one reads dire pronouncements regarding an imminent “end of the world.” The latest prediction of doom was given by a well-known minister in Pasadena, California, who publicly set the “Day of Judgment” for September 21, 1945. When reporters asked my opinion, I explained that world cycles follow an orderly progression according to a divine plan.
No earthly dissolution is in sight. Two billion years of ascending and descending equinoctial cycles, or yugas, are yet in store for our planet in its present form. The earth is currently on an ascending cycle, and eventually the world will become a better place. The figures given by the rishis for the various world ages deserve careful study in the West.
Complete and partial dissolutions of the world
The Hindu scriptures declare that an earth such as ours is dissolved for one of two reasons: the inhabitants as a whole become either completely good or completely evil. The world-mind then generates a power which releases the captive atoms held together as an earth. In a partial or temporary dissolution, only a part of an earth or a world is dissolved, as happened during the flood experienced by Noah. But in complete dissolution the entire system of universes, all stars and planets, and all things are dissolved.
Partial or temporary dissolutions, such as Noah’s flood, are a result of the accumulated wrongdoing of mankind. Mankind’s destructive thoughts and deeds distort the ether and throw the atomic and thermal combinations out of balance, creating natural disasters— earthquakes, spitting volcanoes, tidal waves, and cataclysms. All natural calamities are the indirect results of the accumulated evil actions of individuals and nations.
World War I produced a world-chilling snowball of karma that swelled into the devastations of World War II. Immediately after this war there will be great famines, influenza, new kinds of diseases, earthquakes, and floods — offshoots of the bad vibrations caused by the hatred and selfishness of warring nations and the agonies of the slaughtered and injured.
Forgiveness and nonviolence
Consulting history, one may reasonably state that mankind’s problems have not been solved by the use of brute force. The use of “jungle logic” instead of human reason in settling disputes will restore the earth to a jungle.
The horrors of modern warfare show just how much the so-called civilizations of modern times need Christ’s teaching, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” To bring lasting peace to earth, forgiveness is necessary. “One should forgive any injury,” says the Mahabharata. It has been said that the continuation of the species is due to man’s forgiveness. By forgiveness the universe is held together. Forgiveness is holiness, the might of the mighty.
Nonviolence is the natural outgrowth of the law of forgiveness and love. Americans may well remember with pride the successful nonviolent experiment of William Penn in founding his 17th century colony in Pennsylvania. The Quakers had no militia, forts, soldiers, or arms. Amidst the savage frontier wars and the butcheries that took place between the new settlers and the native Indians, the Quakers of Pennsylvania alone remained unmolested. Others were slain but they were safe. When the Quakers were finally forced to give up the government of the state, war broke out and some Pennsylvanians were killed. But only three Quakers were killed – three who had so far fallen from their faith as to carry weapons of defense.
It takes a fairly strenuous course of training, and the disciplined life of a soldier, to attain a mental state of nonviolence. The perfect state is reached only when the mind, body, and speech are in proper coordination. Every problem would lend itself to solution if individuals and nations determined to make the law of truth and nonviolence the law of life.
Nations must look after one another
If nations realized that all possessions are gifts of God to be shared equally, they would continue on for centuries without wars and famine. God alone is the maker of life and the creator of the sunlight, water, and air that support human life. By no human effort can man maintain himself without the help of God. Man cannot create the grains, or the power of digestion to digest food, or the life force which absorbs the grains’ nutrients and chemicals into his tissues. But because man must do his part to acquire God-given things, he easily forgets the direct hand of God in all human affairs.
The prosperous nation might think: “What do we care for other nations; let us roll in plenty. What do we care for the starving nations whose people are dying by the millions, as long as we are prosperous?” The prosperous nation must realize that national prosperity depends not only upon a plentiful supply of natural resources, but also upon moral conduct, harmony, and spiritual living. Any nation, no matter how successful, which becomes debauched, selfish, and inharmonious, will find its prosperity disrupted by civil wars, treachery, and foreign aggression.
The karma of warfare
The outcome of wars is not decided by the mere brute power of nations. Victory or defeat is determined mathematically (though seemingly mysteriously), according to the stored-up effects of the nations’ good and bad actions (karma), performed through the centuries. God alone is the Supreme Judge who knows all, and whose inscrutable laws mete out victory or defeat to a nation according to its past karma.
The karma of a nation depends on the degree to which its people as a whole have acted in keeping with cosmic law. I have often said that America cannot lose in the long run, if her enemies attack her, because her karma is basically very good, despite a few wrong things she has done. The karma of her present enemies, by contrast, is bad, and they will have to pay for it.
We are constantly moving forward
I am often asked if the economic, political, social, and religious revolutions and transitions now experienced by most major nations will result in greater international understanding and harmony in the years ahead. The answer is yes. Every religious and educational revolution shakes up the sleeping souls, and quickens the receptive ones, awakening in them a desire to follow the path of Truth.
Modern methods of transportation and communication have brought the nations of the world within a stone’s throw of one another. Universal depression and the devastation of war are making nations realize more and more that national security and prosperity are dependent upon international development and upliftment. Some nations may stumble on the way; others may slip backward a little, but they will be moving steadily toward the goal of greater understanding.
The cosmic plan for the future
In Inner Culture Magazine* for December, 1939, I made certain prophecies about the outcome of the war which had just broken out in Europe. Now, some two and a half years later, I wish to record here some further and more detailed prophecies, which have recently come to me, about the postwar world. History will bear testimony to the truth of this blueprint of the general future happenings in the world:
1. The United States of the World will not come in a day, or in our lifetime, but a great deal of groundwork will be prepared in this twentieth century.
2. After this war, the world will see an unprecedented brotherhood of nations; a revival of scientific, universal religion; advances in commercial and military aviation; and the betterment of the masses.
3. As we move forward, there will be a greater understanding of international hygiene, drives to destroy poverty from all parts of the globe, free exchange of commodities, vast changes in our financial systems, equality of capital and labor, advanced yoga practices, and the establishment of world colonies to serve as models for the world.
4. Science and religion will join hands to free religion from superstition, thus giving the world a more secure civilization. Experimental psychology will investigate religious methods and yoga techniques for human perfection and God-contact.
5. Somewhat farther into the future, the material efficiency of America will combine with the spiritual efficiency of India, to lead the world to a more balanced existence.
6. No matter what happens, the world will become better and better until The United States of America are joined by The United States of India, The United States of Asia, and The United States of Europe — and all are ready to amalgamate into The United States of the World.
Remember that God is the Author of this cosmic drama. Every page of His cosmic drama is filled with inexplicable mysteries, which will ultimately be solved in the last act of the cosmic play. Only devotees who are in tune with God are in a position to know the cosmic plan and the divine will with regard to nations and human lives.
Our united soul force
Only through our united soul-force can God help this world. Real brotherhood can never come unless we feel it in our hearts, and such feeling can only be attained through Self-realization and contact of God in meditation. The laws of God are the laws of brotherhood and love. All nations must come into the temple of universal love and understanding.
From articles and lessons, 1938-1942
*One of the early magazines published by Paramhansa Yogananda