Krishna and Arjuna

We pray to the Divinity in you.

Don’t be misled. The war on terrorism and the war in Iraq are really consequences of an inner conflict that is always being waged in our own hearts and minds. Since we all suffer from this protracted subtle warfare, the question arises: What does it take to win this perennial battle?

Every successful military engagement is defined by four essential ingredients: knowledge of the enemy, resolve, a coherent overall strategy, and specific tactics that defeat the enemy and establish peace. To truly attain the life, liberty and happiness of which our founding fathers so eloquently spoke, each of us must recognize that in a very real sense, all of life is a battlefield. To be victorious, we must employ the same formula for success as the military warrior. We must know our enemy, have sankalpa (determination), and we must adopt a philosophy of life which assures that every arrow which flies from our bow is released as a means to lead us closer to our ultimate goal of life.

No human being consciously desires to live in fear and pain. No one intentionally tries to create obstacles for himself. Everyone wants to be happy, healthy, creative, loving and nurtured to the fullest extent possible. To be successful in our battle for happiness, our tactics must reflect the yogic teaching of “including all and excluding none.” Why? Because every experience (including the war in Iraq) comes into our awareness as a means of delivering some important teaching which will become helpful on the path toward Self-realization and freedom.

As we have observed the images of the Iraqi war through the television media, we have seen what is required to prevail in an armed struggle. From the very first days of conflict, United States military experts have attributed a projected coalition victory to an ability to gather “reliable intelligence” and to deploy precise laser-guided missiles with powerful consequences. If their assessment is accurate, we can learn from the military’s experience by gathering our own “reliable intelligence,” and using it as the basis for performing each of our own actions with precision.

All living beings must continuously act. All life is action, and for every action—including our thoughts, words and deeds—we experience a consequence. Every action, therefore, has the potential to lead us closer to fulfillment, or to lead us farther away from our goal of life. This truth, known as the law of karma, recognizes that every action (which will inevitably bring about a consequence), begins with a thought. The mind moves first and the body follows. Long before an action is performed outwardly, it is performed subtly in the world of thoughts, desires and emotions.

The Bhagavad Gita teaches that the real enemy of peace and tranquility exists in the subtle world of the mind. The enemy of peace is desire—the seductive delusion that certain objects and relationships have the power to make us happy. By projecting this alluring quality onto various objects of the world, human beings unwittingly ensure enslavement to pain and misery.

All desire is born of ignorance—we ignore the intuitive wisdom of our own Divinity when taking a specific action. Desire and its progeny, fear and anger, can make it impossible to base our actions on “reliable intelligence.” The more desires we have, the more we remain discontented prisoners of war. Desires are endless. Every desire begets another desire, and when a desire is fulfilled, we fear that we might lose what we have attained or might not get what we want. When desire is thwarted, it burns to anger. As Swami Rama teaches, “When one puts fuel into a fire, the fire is not quenched but burns more fiercely.”

To guarantee our success on the battlefield of life, we must learn from the advice of the military generals: if we know our enemy, base every action on “reliable intelligence,” and perform those actions skillfully, like a “precision laser-guided missile,” we will be victorious.

Having recognized self-willed desire as the enemy, it’s essential to obtain “reliable intelligence.” Certainly, there are many sources of intelligence competing for our attention, and they are relentless in their mission to influence our actions. The senses clamor to be satisfied. The ego tries to steer us toward the pleasant and away from the unpleasant. The stored, unconscious power of fear, anger and greed are habitually rising to the surface with great emotional force.

The most reliable source of intelligence upon which to base our actions is the conscience or buddhi. In yoga science this “reliable intelligence” is referred to as guru, and its knowledge emanates from an intuitive library of wisdom stored in the super-conscious mind. Metaphorically, this knowledge is depicted as a universal force of light that can transform the darkness of those contracting habits that have previously enslaved us to physical, mental and emotional dis-ease. During the decision-making process, it is Guru, acting through the mirror-like functioning of a purified buddhi, that can discriminate, determine, judge and decide which thoughts, words and deeds will lead us to the end of sorrow.

In addition to the five fundamental elements of space, air, fire, water and earth, which form the basic constituents of the material world, the light of guru is a sixth element—as reliable as fire or water, and unfailingly present in every experience and relationship. But unlike the physical elements, the Guru principle exists as a constant, an illuminating guide star—always available to help correct our ignorance, re-direct the trajectory of our actions and cure our dis-ease. If we learn to exercise the requisite amount of will to employ this “reliable intelligence,” the consequences of our actions will lead to victory and peace of mind. If our actions serve unreliable intelligence, based on the pernicious enemies of fear, anger and greed, the consequence will be painful.

Pain is the shadow of the outstretched hand of the Divine Reality. Pain is what dissuades us from unconsciously traveling in the passing lane of life at one hundred miles an hour. The pain of war and the fear of terrorism encourage us to travel consciously at a much safer speed—in the right-hand lane of life—where it’s easier to base our actions on the “reliable intelligence“ of buddhi.

Unlike animals, human beings can perform actions freely — without being controlled by the four primitive fountains of food, sex, sleep and self-preservation. Discrimination and will power enable us to understand, evaluate and control the desires that eventually motivate actions and their consequences. By basing our actions on “reliable intelligence,” we learn to serve only our deepest driving desire for happiness. Then, as we willingly surrender the passing pleasure of preya, the inherent power of desire is transformed into strategic reserves of energy, willpower and creativity. The more we experience this profound truth, instead of being the enemy, our desires become a necessary means to assure victory.

Inner conflict is the mother of all problems. As long as there is conflict within the mind, conflict will continue to exist in the world. When we reduce inner conflict by basing every action on the “reliable intelligence” of buddhi, we reduce conflict in the world. The more we practice this skill, the more we will know inner peace and change the consciousness of the entire planet. The more we can eliminate fear (worry), anger and greed from the battlefield of our own mind, action and speech, we become the instrument which will end terrorism and war.

Every sage from every tradition echoes the same truth. You already have every capacity to be victorious in this battle for peace and happiness. You can become a light to the world, and if it’s not going to be you, then who will it be? If real peace is not going to begin now with you, when will it begin? Dear brothers and sisters, get up and fight this battle! This is your dharma, and the whole world is waiting for you to become the light that will end the darkness.