Peace is something we all say we want—except when we want to fight. Yes, many a morning each of us arises to enter battle rather than face a day filled with harmony and joy. So what is this desire to do battle, to fight to go to war? It is nothing new. War is the counterpart to peace; we cannot have one without the other. For many, peace is boring; war provides exhilaration and an opportunity to rise above the mundane. Heroes tend to come out of war, not peace.
So why do we still long for peace? What is it in peace that we cannot find in battle? And how can we live without bouncing back and forth, never satisfied wherever we are at any given moment?
Let us look at why people go to war. For glory. For adventure. To prove our mettle and courage. To grow up. To have comrades.
Peace: why do we want this? For harmony. For quiet.
Can we have any of these without war or peace? Yes. These various goals are not achieved only by war or peace. And depending on his destiny, someone can feel harmony in war and glory in peace. So if we free these goals and qualities from being yoked to war and peace, we arrive at a different view. War brings destruction, distraction, death, horrific challenges. Peace, for many, brings boredom, complacency, passivity, apathy. War and peace produce chances for many people to face different types of karma at the same time.
The real question is, do we want only peace or only war, or do we face the reality that God is in charge and knows what is best for us at all times? War can be necessary when there is a tyrant. We then go to war to override the conflict the tyrant is causing. We will outwar the tyrant, either now or later. And we then work to have peace—not passivity, but a lively, active life filled with change and growth.
Both war and peace require us to give up our attachments. Attachment to peace will bring apathy; attachment to war will bring aggression. When we are nonattached, we face whatever is there for us, and neither peace nor war affects us. We are in the Heart, with God, living the destiny of the character we are playing.
Apathy Just war
Owning all qualities brings us to where we are fighting no one. Even fighting for peace is a distraction. We fight or live in harmony with no attachment, which means we are always aware and willing to do it God’s way. We are not the doer, God is. We are actors on the world stage, playing parts that are all interconnected. If someone is attached to peace, then there has to be someone equally attached to war. If we are distracted by neither and instead focused on the Heart where God dwells, we then contribute selfless service. We play our part no matter what it is. In the Bhagavad Gītā, Ārjuna has to fight, but he resists that reality. Finally, after Krishna shows him the Truth, he plays his part without attachment. Bhishma, fighting on the opposing side, is already a great being; he knows the part he is to play in the drama. He knows Ārjuna will kill him. He does not shirk his duty. He plays his part to the fullest.
When we live from a place of nonattachment, war and peace are off the point. Whether in peace or war, we are to play our part to the fullest and with our focus on the source of all the play, the great director, God.
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