by Liviya Evans, Compass Winter 1999

Sometimes I think that people seem to need conflict in their lives. And war between nations and within nations is just the enlargement of the petty squabble that arises from lack of intolerance, lack of communication, compassion, understanding and respect. If you go a bit further: tolerance without understanding can still cause a great deal of tension. We have all come across situations in our life that we have failed to understand, and tolerance is not really enough. Maybe understanding goes with acceptance? Tolerance on its own causes undercurrents of tension which can escalate and spill over into negative action. An unguarded thought and word can become an act of supposed retaliation. What do we tolerate, and what not? To what do we retaliate, and what not? What do we understand – or not? Is all tolerance positive? Is all retaliation and all rebellion negative? What makes the dictator dictate? All these questions provoke more and more questions.

Sometimes, we can work ourselves up into a state of agitation that is unbearable, and that is a time of great danger, when we can lash out at everything and everyone. This scenario can be going on in our head, and there lies the beginning of war. The seed is sown and seeds have a way of travelling on the slightest breeze and landing where they can flourish best.

So what do we do? What do I do? I who am upset, angered and distraught at all the images that I see, read and hear about all the time and feel so utterly helpless to do anything about. The suffering is just so horrendous. What can I do? The only possible thing that I can do is see to myself. As a once popular song stated “It begins with the man in the mirror.” I must stop, and be still and restore my balance and harmony to my Self. I cannot do it for anyone else and cannot force anyone else to do it. I must find the love within me and face the fear within me, for love and fear are two sides of the same coin. Fear is what makes tyrant tyrannise. Do I then have the tyrant in me? If my actions betray my fear, then I must find the love and translate that into actions. Not easily done. Have I become so complacent that it takes a war on the other side of the world to make me look at myself, and the war that rages within? War separates people from their loved ones in so many ways. Does my internal war separate myself from my Self? And when we speak of Karma, be it national, global or family, we cannot separate it from our own, for it is one, and one is all.

I found the following lines in a 1998 Sunrise from a piece by Kathleen Tingley:

“There is but one true and legitimate battlefield: the mind of man, where the duality of our nature keeps us constantly at the rightful war there is – the war of the god in us against our lower self…We should no longer seek to arm ourselves against our neighbours. Our whole care should be to protect our neighbours against our own selves. The hidden truth about us is that we do love our neighbours as ourselves, though we have not found a way to express the love we do not even know exists. But it is there; the love of our fellows sleeps latent in our hearts with the deity that watches there, though we are quite unconscious of it, our very humanity implies its existence.”