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A Deeper Understanding of War

Seeing and responding to a deeper understanding of why we still have war and conflict in our world.

How to get the most out of these Wisdom Quotes:

  1. Put aside everything you think you already know.

  2. Open your mind and heart to receive something new.

  3. Take your time going through each point.

  4. Return to any points that particularly touch you.

  5. In the coming days, listen carefully to the wisdom within you.

1. The Collective Ego

“Question: Why do human beings have conflict? Why is there war? Why do people kill each other?”

“That’s a very deep question. Humans live from what I call the ego. The ego is a false sense of self. It’s a mental image of who you are, created by mind activity, things you identify with.

The ego is dysfunctional in many ways. It is even more dysfunctional in its collective aspect. When you get collective egos - which means nations or tribes or religions - the ego, in order to enhance its ultimately fictitious sense of identity (because it’s just a mind-made identity), needs to emphasize the otherness of others.

It needs its enemies in order to feel its own identity more strongly. You have to be “other”. I cannot recognize my oneness with you because that would detract from my sense of identity.

Nations do it to each other, political parties do it to each other.

You’re trapped in a collective, abstract sense of identity and so you can no longer recognize the other as a human being. Once you’ve attached a mental label to the other, you have basically dehumanized the other. Then, very unconscious people can even inflict violence on others because, by attaching mental labels, they have dehumanized the other.

We need to go beyond the ego, which is produced by unconscious identification with mind activity, to realize who we truly are beyond the fictitious mind, the fictitious identity.”

2. The Origin of All War and Conflict

“Wars are created through people. They’re created and perpetuated through thoughts and feelings that revolve around being a separate self.

All the activities that we know of as war are dominated or come from one single thought: “I am a separate self.” That’s it. That is the origin of all war and conflict - conflict in ourselves, conflict in relationships between two people, conflict in families, conflict in communities, conflict in countries, conflict in the world. It all comes from one simple idea, “I am a separate self.”

Until the problem of conflict and war is dealt with at that level, at its core, its root issue, the conflict will continue. For how many centuries have we been trying to prevent wars from happening? Even now, with all our sophisticated means, how come we can’t prevent wars? We can’t. Why? Because we never go to their cause.

If you’re driving along in a car and it comes to a halt, what do you do? You look at the petrol gauge - oh, it’s run out of petrol, that’s why it’s come to a halt. It’s kind of obvious, you go to the cause. But strangely, we don’t do it in relation to conflicts - personal conflicts, interpersonal conflicts, inter-community conflicts, international conflicts - but they all come from the same place, just this simple, single belief."

~Rupert Spira, from the video: Explaining War

3. The Outward Expression of An Inward State

"Question: How can we solve our present political chaos and the crisis in the world? Is there anything an individual can do to stop the impending war?

Krishnamurti: War is the spectacular and bloody projection of our everyday life, is it not? War is merely an outward expression of our inward state, an enlargement of our daily action. It is more spectacular, more bloody, more destructive, but it is the collective result of our individual activities.

Therefore, you and I are responsible for war, and what can we do to stop it? Obviously, the ever-impending war cannot be stopped by you and me, because it is already in movement; it is already taking place, though at present chiefly on the psychological level. As it is already in movement, it cannot be stopped - the issues are too many, too great, and are already committed.

But you and I, seeing that the house is on fire, can understand the causes of that fire, can go away from it and build in a new place with different materials that are not combustible, that will not produce other wars. That is all that we can do.

You and I can see what creates wars and, if we are interested in stopping wars, then we can begin to transform ourselves, who are the causes of war."

~J. Krishnamurti, 1948, Second Public Talk, Bangalore, India; Collected Works of J. Krishnamurti

4. The Way to Peace

“We know very well that airplanes, guns and bombs cannot remove wrong perceptions. Only loving speech and compassionate listening can help people correct wrong perceptions. But our leaders are not trained in that discipline, and they only rely on the armed forces to remove terrorism.”

“We often think of peace as the absence of war, that if powerful countries would reduce their weapon arsenals, we could have peace. But if we look deeply into the weapons, we see our own minds - our own prejudices, fears and ignorance.

Even if we transport all the bombs to the moon, the roots of war and the roots of bombs are still there, in our hearts and minds, and sooner or later we will make new bombs.

To work for peace is to uproot war from ourselves and from the hearts of men and women.

To prepare for war, to give millions of men and women the opportunity to practice killing day and night in their hearts, is to plant millions of seeds of violence, anger, frustration, and fear that will be passed on for generations to come. ”

~Thich Nhat Hanh, Living Buddha, Living Christ

5. Realizing Our Responsibility

"To bring about peace in the world, to stop all wars, there must be a revolution in the individual, in you and me. Economic revolution without this inward revolution is meaningless, for hunger is the result of the maladjustment of economic conditions produced by our psychological states – greed, envy, ill-will and possessiveness.

To put an end to sorrow, to hunger, to war, there must be a psychological revolution and few of us are willing to face that. We will discuss peace, plan legislation, create new leagues, the United Nations and so on and on; but we will not win peace because we will not give up our position, our authority, our money, our properties, our stupid lives.

To rely on others is utterly futile; others cannot bring us peace. No leader is going to give us peace, no government, no army, no country.

What will bring peace is inward transformation which will lead to outward action. Inward transformation is not isolation, is not a withdrawal from outward action. On the contrary, there can be right action only when there is right thinking and there is no right thinking when there is no self-knowledge. Without knowing yourself, there is no peace.

To put an end to outward war, you must begin to put an end to war in yourself. Some of you will nod your heads and say, “ I agree”, and go outside and do exactly the same as you have been doing for the last ten or twenty years. Your agreement is merely verbal and has no significance, for the world miseries and wars are not going to be stopped by your casual assent.

They will be stopped only when you realize the danger, when you realize your responsibility, when you do not leave it to somebody else. If you realize the suffering, if you see the urgency of immediate action and do not postpone, then you will transform yourself; peace will come only when you yourself are peaceful, when you yourself are at peace with your neighbour."

~J. Krishnamurti, 1948, Second Public Talk, Bangalore, India; Collected Works of J. Krishnamurti

6. Remaining Connected

"Question: “I am in Kyiv, Ukraine, and I have this question: how do I stay courageous in the face of possible death?”

Rupert: The source of all courage in the face of possible death is the recognition of the ever-present nature of Being.

Behind whatever fear may arise lies ever-present Being, God’s being, the only Being there is. That One is ultimately ever-present - deathless, and real courage comes from that recognition.

Many people in your country now are acting in a way that is consistent with this recognition. In other words, they are transcending themselves as a person. They are acting for something greater than themselves.

They are acting for freedom, and their actions, whether they know it or not, come from a deep recognition. This is where true courage comes from, it comes from the recognition that what we essentially are, transcends the limits of the person.

That recognition gives us the courage to transcend our individual, personal needs, and to act with courage, which means to act for a cause that is greater than the survival of the person. Many people in your country are inspired by this understanding.

Remain in touch with this ever-present Being, God’s ever-present Being, the Being we all share, that lies in the background of your experience - and allow that to inform your actions, your relationships, your conversations, the way you look after your people.”

7. Summary

A short video summarizing the main points to take away.

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