War and Peace, and Yoga

By: Shreepal Singh

All humans are anatomically similar – two hands, two feet, one mouth etc. Out of these similar humans, some become very kind heart, benevolent in their dealings, having piety for others problems, even ready to sacrifice their own life; while some others become outright cruel, killers of fellow humans, ready to take undue advantage of others weakness. How this difference is made out of the same stock? It is their thoughts that make them different. Thoughts may be different and these thoughts motivate humans to act. These thoughts are translated into one’s conduct. It is so simple.

Often times we happen to have different thought of things around us. And, sometime these thoughts are found so different from each other that they do not find a remotely meeting point. I do not agree with your thought and you do not agree with the one I have. As thoughts are often not mere thoughts but get translated into our conduct – our actions – we have times when we confront each other. If you happen to be the leader – the head of a nation – and do not find enough reason in my thoughts and, likewise, I too happen to be the leader of my nation and do not sense any reason in your behavior, then we are on the way to fight. Then, we are nations and we fight with armies. Then, there remains no more peace but war between two nations; and, if you have the courage – or I have the courage – to go to the logical end of your – or my – thoughts, this war between our two nations may even expand into the World War. Such is the power of thoughts.

Thoughts are ‘thoughts about things’ around us and like things of the world around us these thoughts may be simple and plane in their formation and nature. If these thoughts are tested by some method in a systematic manner and found matched with reality, these are labeled as ‘scientific thoughts’; or reasonable thoughts. But thoughts are not always simple and plane; these may be weird, idiosyncratic, absurd, fluid like dreamy etc.

But how these thoughts are made? They have their foundation in human biology (neurons and all that stuff), for sure; but they are not entirely made out of one’s biology. One’s thoughts have a vast – very vast – spectrum, just like the world in which one lives. In a way, one’s thoughts are almost a reflection of the outside environment in which he or she lives; but this natural process too doesn’t cover the entire spectrum of the space occupied by one’s thoughts.

There are many psychological theories – like Freud, Jung et al – that try to explain the process of thought formation. Still, all such psychological theories only partially explain the origin of thoughts.

Explanation of the origin of such behavior on our part makes us wise; in our wisdom we avoid pitfalls in our ways – in our mutual dealings and mutual understanding.

There is one view from India on the problem of the origin of human thoughts. This view from India deals with the entire personality of an individual, wherein the origin of thoughts is merely its part and incidental one, and is called Yoga.

Yoga is a comprehensive science of human well-being. This well-being is so comprehensive that it is not limited to one’s this single present life. It is a science dealing with mystery – mystery of life and mystery of this universe.

Yoga as a science is formulated and enriched by a long series of Yogis, like Rama, Sri Krishna, Mahavira, Buddha, Buddhist Christ, Baba Farid, Guru Nanak, Nizam-ud-din, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Prabhupad Swamy etc.

One who has an acumen to go to the essence of all these seemingly diverse spiritual personalities would find a harmoniously whole discipline of knowledge put in place from many – diverse – angles. Of course, a superficial glance would find them all diverse.

One can see this world composed of multitude of diverse things but when he or she goes to the root – the essence – of all these diverse things, surely one would find only atoms – simply combined differently.

Our modern age is called the ‘Age of Reason’ and of all these Yogis, Sri Aurobindo talks to us in this language of reason. What does Sri Aurobindo say about the origin of our thoughts?

Sri Aurobindo says, “The most disconcerting discovery is to find that every part of us – intellect, will, sense-mind, nervous or desire-self, the heart, the body – has each, as it were, its own complex individuality and natural formation independent of the rest; it neither agrees with itself nor with the others nor with the representative ego which is the shadow cast by some central and centralizing self on our superficial ignorance.

“We find that we are composed not of one but many personalities and each has its own demands and differing nature. … We find that inwardly too, no less than outwardly, we are not alone in the world; the sharp separateness of our ego was no more than a strong imposition and delusion; we do not exist in ourselves, we do not really live apart in an inner privacy or solitude. Our mind is a receiving, developing and modifying machine into which there is being constantly passed from moment to moment a ceaseless foreign flux, a streaming mass of disparate materials from above, from below, from outside.

“Much more than half our thoughts and feelings are not our own in the sense that they take form out of ourselves; of hardly anything can it be said this is truly original to our nature. A large part comes to us from others or from the environment, whether as raw material or as manufactured imports; but still more largely they come from universal Nature here or from other worlds and planes and their beings and powers and influences; for we are overtopped and environed by other planes of consciousness, mind planes, life planes, subtle matter planes, from which our life and action here are fed, or fed on, pressed, dominated, made use of for the manifestation of their forms and forces.”

Can one stop the influx of one’s unwanted thoughts? Yes, one can. How can we stop the entry of unwanted thoughts – the thoughts that disturb the serene equilibrium of our being? It is the subject matter of Yoga – Yoga, an elaborate science with its peculiar inbuilt safety precaution rules. The purpose – the aim – of Yoga is not to make a person proficient in controlling his or her thoughts and, thus, avoid conflicts and wars – though this benifit is a byproduct of Yoga. The purpose of Yoga is to enable you to serve your supreme personal interest, which interest is not confined to ensuring your well-being in this your present life alone. It is the supreme personal interest that Yoga serves for you but the nature of which you do not have the means (in an ordinary state of your being) to know. Though again by walking the path of Yoga you reap the benifits for this life – your life – too, like avoiding conflicts and wars.

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