Sri Swami Satchidananda

A Better World

A Better World

By Swami Satchidananda

In order to have a better world we must learn to think of the globe as a whole. Our world leaders need to be more selfless and sacrificing. Only by having a universal and spiritual vision can we bring positive change into the political field. A person who is really interested in making positive changes will never resort to violence to effect political reform. The approach has to be nonviolent. Anything achieved through violence will not last long; it will leave an enemy sitting somewhere plotting against you. If instead, you make a friend, you need not be afraid of the other person; and he or she need not be afraid of you. Permanent peace can never be achieved by violent means.

In war there is no winner. Who creates war? The bombs don’t drop by themselves. It is the people behind them, the human minds that create war. All the wars are in the human mind. A little peace can change the mind, and it doesn’t take that much time. By devoting a few minutes a day to meditation—to peace prayers—you can send out nice vibrations that will go around the globe and influence political leaders.

If we want peace, we cannot constantly talk about others as our enemies. The best way to achieve victory is to see that both parties are victors. How? Make the others your friends; see yourself in everybody. As long as you treat another group as your enemy, you will never find peace. If you want peace, bring friendship. By putting out positive thoughts, you can even make that enemy into a friend. I know that can be very hard to do. But we don’t necessarily have to treat people who do wrong things as enemies. They should be approached with compassion and friendliness.

Remember, there is no power higher than love. Hatred breeds hatred; violence breeds violence. If we sincerely want world peace, we have to depend on our soul force, not on anything else. When our efforts fail, when we have nothing else, then we think of a Higher Power and turn to that force. And that is what soul force is; that is what prayer is all about. Mahatma Gandhi was a great example of this principle. He demonstrated that, by being a peaceful activist and trusting in soul power, one could liberate an entire country. That is how India gained her independence. Mahatma Gandhi, U Thant, Martin Luther King, Eleanor Roosevelt, and others were great humanitarians in public life. We need more people like these to lead and inspire.

We need to use the spiritual teachings of our chosen faith to help us have real love for one another. Do you realize that even war is based on love? Unfortunately, that love is misplaced or limited in some way. If you want to throw a bomb on another country, you may feel that you’re doing it for the sake of your country—because you love your country. Fine, you love your country, but don’t you think the other person will love his or her own country in the same way? If your love is universal, how can you bomb someone else?

If we want to be happy, we should work for the happiness of all people everywhere. That is the only way to achieve real peace and contentment. Unless the human mind is freed from greed, jealousy, and hatred, there will be more and more wars. If you free your own mind of all these problems, at least that little part of the world will be free from trouble. If we want a world free from violence, we should free ourselves from every kind of violence—in thought, word, and deed. If we want a peaceful world first we must have a peaceful mind. There is a saying, “As the person, so the world; as the mind, so the person.” Change the mind, you change the person; change the person, you change the community, the society, the nation, or the world.

We always can make our world a little better, more peaceful. How? If we maintain our own inner peace. We are the creators of the outside world that we see. The world is nothing but your own projection. If your mind is clean, you see a clean world outside. There is nothing bad in this world. If you are good, everything is good. If you are bad, everything is bad. You project your image onto the world. You don’t have to blame anybody else for making your life or the world the way that it is. What you see outside depends on your vision. If you wear a pair of green glasses, everything you see will appear green. If you have a jaundiced eye, the whole world will appear yellow. Will you be able to remove the yellow color by scrubbing clean the trees or the person at whom you are looking? No, that will not remove the yellow you see everywhere. You have to clean up your own eye. You have to heal from the jaundice and then your eye will see things as they truly are. So, Yoga is based on self-transformation, self-refinement. If you are a good yogi you will have no problem with the world. You will be able to see things as they are without adding on to that or having a colored vision. You will have a good eye or a God-eye to see the good in everything. You will see God in everything.

We always can make our world a little better, more peaceful. How? If we maintain our own inner peace. We are the creators of the outside world that we see. The world is nothing but your own projection. If your mind is clean, you see a clean world outside. There is nothing bad in this world. If you are good, everything is good. If you are bad, everything is bad. You project your image onto the world. You don’t have to blame anybody else for making your life or the world the way that it is. What you see outside depends on your vision. If you wear a pair of green glasses, everything you see will appear green. If you have a jaundiced eye, the whole world will appear yellow. Will you be able to remove the yellow color by scrubbing clean the trees or the person at whom you are looking? No, that will not remove the yellow you see everywhere. You have to clean up your own eye. You have to heal from the jaundice and then your eye will see things as they truly are. So, Yoga is based on self-transformation, self-refinement. If you are a good yogi you will have no problem with the world. You will be able to see things as they are without adding on to that or having a colored vision. You will have a good eye or a God-eye to see the good in everything. You will see God in everything.

My Guru, Swami Sivanandaji, used to say that you should always keep the magic wand of Yoga with you. Touch everything with that wand and you can transform every action into Yoga. Yoga is not only about standing on the head. It should help you to stand better on your own two feet. Everything should be done in the yogic spirit. That means that you are a lifelong yogi. That is what real religion is all about. If you are a Catholic, you should not be a Catholic only when you go to church. You should be a Catholic at home, on the road, in the midst of conflicts. If somebody is going slowly, don’t keep on honking the horn at them. Even in the midst of the little botherations of everyday life, you should maintain a consciousness of Yoga and compassion.

Always be conscious of what you are doing. When you talk about peace, everything about you should say, “I am a peaceful person.” You can convert everything that you do into a yogic act. The world needs these kinds of clean actions. That is why I always say that to practice Yoga means to live a peaceful, easeful, and thus useful life. How can you have a better world, if the citizens in the world are not peaceful or easeful? Then they will not be useful but rather they will be nuisances. Don’t we have a law against disturbing the peace? What does that mean? In order to have a nice, harmonious world, we should have peaceful people. Go out into the world with yogic light. Touch everybody and inspire them to become better people. When you live like that, you are like a walking lit candle. Whomsoever touches you will get lit.

To make the world right, each individual should find the ease and peace in their lives. Once you have that peace, others will find many things for you to do to serve in the world. Think that you are a nice instrument, ready to be used for the good of all. If an instrument wants to perform an operation safely, what should it do? It should first get itself sterilized, is it not so? It should free itself from dangerous viruses and bacteria; then it is fit to operate. That is what you call “spirituality” or Yoga. It is what helps you rid yourself of undesirable things that only add to the problems you are trying to help. It enables you to go out into the world as a clean instrument. Then you can really be instrumental in serving the world! You become yogis so that you can serve others better. You become a good instrument so that you can bring some benefit to somebody. We want to see this happening all over the world. The future of the world is in your hands. Even a few people can change the whole world. So, go and share it with others and make the world a better place in which to live. You do what you can from your own level and leave the rest to the One who created the world.

One of the reasons we established Yogaville was to create a village comprised of yogis dedicated to selfless service. We have people living here from all walks of life, from various religions, but all living as one family, helping one another. Yogaville is an example for our world. Talking about having a better world is good, but we wanted to make a small, exemplary world here. Everyone who comes to live in Yogaville repeats a daily vow. This vow serves as a reminder of the ideals they want to embrace. The main point is to give up our selfishness. Let’s learn to live a clean life, healthy life, happy life. That’s the very reason why we don’t have any cigarettes, non-vegetarian food, nonprescription drugs, or alcohol here. God didn’t create our lungs for cigarettes. If God really wanted us to take a little nicotine, it would have been very easy for a little nicotine to have been sprinkled in the air itself. We would not have to go and buy cigarettes. So, we believe in doing things that will preserve our health and happiness, and staying away from everything that would disturb our health and peace. Let’s not allow anything that would disturb our physical health or mental peace. By keeping ourselves in good shape, we can be of service to the community.

We also realized that if you cannot have communion with your own neighbor, how are you going to find peace anywhere in the world? Your neighbor is God in a visible form. Let us have communion with our own neighbors—next door and around the globe. So, at the very center of Yogaville, we have built a beautiful interfaith shrine, known as the Light Of Truth Universal Shrine (LOTUS). The aim behind LOTUS is to remind ourselves and others that we are all neighbors; we are all part of the human family. We can have a better world when we remember that we are all children of one God. All over the world we see religious strife. People are fighting one another in the name of God and religion. And all the wars and fighting are because of a very narrow view of the world. If you think, “Mine is the best, yours is the worst,” you are putting others down. We are literally destroying ourselves in the name of religion. Is that the purpose of religion? Do you think our God will be happy with the way we treat each other and what is happening in our world?

In order to have a better world, a more peaceful world, we must have a universal approach. We don’ t mean uniformity where everyone thinks and acts the same way. We are saying that we want to learn to love, respect, and honor every human being. We want to celebrate and enjoy the diversity because we recognize the underlying unity. We feel that the whole world is our home, everyone is our brother and sister. It’s time to know each other and to live as one global family. With that kind of feeling the whole world will be a haven and a heaven.

Very often people ask me, “How can the world be saved?” My answer is: first of all save yourself; you are a part of the world. Unless and until you do that, you are in no condition to save the rest of the world. Like charity, world peace begins at home. But remember, we are not here to change the whole world. That would be impossible. The world will always be filled with difficulties and challenges. There has never been a time in history—or even prehistory—in which the whole world has been peaceful. God didn’t create an all-peaceful world. We learn our lessons from adversity and that is the purpose of adversity. We create our own problems—whether individual, national, or global—and only through trying to solve those problems do we learn necessary lessons. At a gathering at which I spoke in Los Angeles, a well-known scientist, the late Mr. Buckminster Fuller, got up and said, “Friends, don’t hesitate to make mistakes. Make as many mistakes as you can and as soon as you can. That’s the only way to learn.” It is very true.

There always will be calamities, natural or otherwise. There was a big earthquake in Italy, a volcano erupted in Hawaii, a storm battered the Dominican Republic. Whom would you blame for that? We have to accept that there’s a cosmic force, a greater force that functions in various ways. By accepting that, we keep our minds calm, and with a calm mind we can even think of how better to handle a crisis. Because the answers will not come if you have already disturbed the mind. Whatever trying conditions there are in our lives or in the world, we should always have a positive attitude. No one knows exactly what is going to happen from one moment to the next. But worrying about what will happen to the world is not going to help much. If you allow your mind to worry, you will not be able to think calmly, plan constructively, live prosperously.

I don’t believe in all the doomsday predictions. I consider this a transitory period. We are witnessing a great change. When a seedling is transplanted, at first its leaves wither and fall. It has to face that stage; that is part of the process of getting rooted in the earth. It cannot live in the nursery always. In the same way, I see a very bright future for humankind; we are slowly getting rooted. This itself is the proof of what is to come. I really feel we are going to see a better world. I don’t think that the end of the world is at hand. It is going to stay many, many thousands of years more. We can sleep safely. If you insist that I give a reason for my feeling, I would say that I see more and more people becoming better people, wanting to know the truth. Why are all these people taking such an interest in spirituality, in improving the environment, caring for the earth, leading more compassionate lives? The consciousness of people is changing and they want to know how to lead a better life. We do not need to look forward to a new age; it is already here. If the vision of the new age is to see more and more people living peacefully, living harmoniously, living lovingly, we are already seeing it.

My prayer is always that universal love will light our paths. Every day when you pray, repeat: “May auspiciousness, peace, fullness, prosperity, happiness be unto all. May all see good in everyone, may all be free from suffering. May the whole world be filled with peace and joy, love and light.” When you say this, it’s not just words; you really have to feel it, visualize it. It should be heartfelt when you send your peaceful energy out to the world. All prayers will bring benefit so let us wholeheartedly pray for our world. Let us each spend at least a few minutes each day in meditation. To me, those are the most important minutes. These peaceful vibrations will help millions of peaceless minds and war-mongers. Your peaceful vibrations, although you may not even realize their effect, will certainly help many people. You will be helping the whole world in some way or another to find peace and joy. And you can carry this peaceful feeling from meditation all through the day, all through the week, all through your life. Even in the midst of a busy life, you can retain this peace. With this outlook on life, the whole world becomes a beautiful Yogaville. Let the whole world know by your example that you are someone beautiful and divine. Let your actions bring out that cosmic beauty and help to build a better world.

 

 

Swami Satchidananda, holding a globe