All problems of existence are essentially problems of harmony.
They arise from the perception of an ideal, which has not yet been actualised, even when its actualisation is perceived to be possible or practicable.
Conflicts are both internal and external.
Internal conflicts relate to disequilibrium among the members of the personality, physical, vital and mental and other higher principles of the being.
At a certain stage of development, internal conflicts can be increasingly resolved, if the powers of the pure mind are so developed as to control and refine the urges, impulses and habits of the vital and the physical. Balance in personality is attained when the predominant quality of the pure mind is able to control the qualities of the feverish passion of the vital and habitual and mechanical tendencies of the physical.
But even then, the equilibrium arrived at is always insecure and can break down under the pressure of the vital and physical demands or under demands of growth of multiple aspects of personality. This happens particularly under the pressures of the conflicts between the pursuits of reason, ethical sense and aesthesis. Only the higher development of spiritual quietude, amplitude and dynamism can establish stable and secure equilibrium.
External conflicts arise on account of the mismatch between the internal and external. It is in our external life that the distinction between the self and the non-self becomes sharper and the problems and conflicts in our external life reflect the degree and kind of our inadequacies in relating the self with the non-self. These inadequacies are rooted in our ignorance of the real nature of the non-self and consequently our practical disabilities in dealing with the non-self.
In general, it can be said that the non-self presents itself to us in the form of circumstances, which are a network of interrelationships of things and persons that are physical and psychological in character. These circumstances are often adverse or neutral, but they can all be transformed so as to make them favourable and friendly. The art of this transformation and its practice is the central key to the solution of conflicts and problems of our external life.
Basically, we need to develop some intimacy with our circumstances so that they cease to provoke within ourselves attitudes of shrinkage, suffering or escape. These attitudes have to be replaced by the spirit of embrace, joy and victory. In the ultimate stages of our dealing with circumstances, we shall find that circumstances are a mirror of our own inner self and the path of victory lies in uniting the non-self with the self so that both of them are revealed to each other as two sides of an identity.
It is here that the ripe wisdom of humanity comes to our aid, and it is here that what is called true knowledge needs to be applied systematically and scientifically. It is futile to expect victory without the possession of that wisdom and without sincere commitment and application of that wisdom to our day-to-day life.
All that is stated above needs to be qualified in the light of the critical circumstances through which humanity is passing today.
Science and technology have made the world global in character, but human consciousness has not yet become global; the organisational structures have become vast but the human ego and its moral incapacities have made the human being a slave of impersonal machinery, which is becoming more and more intricate and complex.
Human thought has so advanced that it has given the great dream of an ideal social existence that would harmonise the demands of liberty, equality and fraternity; but unable to bring forth the requisite resources of wisdom, strength and skill, liberty tends to deny equality, and equality tends to smother liberty. Fraternity does not figure in collective experimentations.
Leaders of religion claim to possess the secrets of peace and harmony, but religions collide among themselves and show the fissures of division and gulfs of distances that prevent the promise of the needed alchemy.
The old structures of society are breaking down, which adversely affect stability of families and interrelationships among members of families; the call of return to basic values finds no ready response.
Instruments and gadgets are multiplying so as to facilitate demands of comfort and appetites for pleasures. Gravitational pulls of the powers of the subconscious and of the Unreason clash with the powers of light and Reason. In that battle the leaders of the State, of industry and of commerce struggle to provide competitive programmes and slogans, projects and formulas and plans and techniques that keep conflicting goals unattainable.
Professionals and experts, teachers and preachers, artists and artisans are found sharpening their abilities and their tools in efforts to raise hopes against the tides of pessimism and cynicism.
Earth and its future, human race and its survival, masses of people and their destiny seem to be in a state of balance, which may suddenly tilt in one direction or the other fatally or gloriously.
In such a situation, we are obliged to seek solutions and practicable guidelines which, if implemented, can fill us with hope and make us look for sustainable development and brighter future of humanity
One General Counsel
If we make a study of human history, particularly in the context of social conflicts and upheavals, we find that the ultimate solution has been found when the leaders of the society or the dominant minority come to realise the need to fulfil the aspirations and urges of those sectors of society which, although neglected or oppressed over a period of time, have awakened and are keen to absorb the higher frontiers of knowledge, experience, insights and skills.
But that is only the first step. This is to be followed by the decision of the dominant minority to abdicate their domination or their dominant position and to impart their knowledge and experience to all those who are awakened and are ready to receive them.
Since this effort would imply dealing with large masses of people, efforts have to be massive and the process of empowerment of the weak and the oppressed has to be as rapid as practicable.
Whenever this happens deliberately in some kind of planned action, transitions tend to become smooth and less painful.
In the present circumstances of the world, it can be said in a general way that large masses of people are awakening all over the world and they need to be encouraged, supported and empowered.
It has been rightly observed that the people normally follow the examples of the best leaders and endeavour to abide by the standards that are set by those who represent excellence.
In the following statement, we shall identify the important problems and conflicts, which leaders in certain specific domains confront, in an attempt to suggest how best they can contribute to their solutions.
Leaders of Religion and Spiritualit
As it is true in every other domain, so in the field of religion and spirituality, eminence and excellence do not appear to be shared widely among the leaders. It is rather rare to find those who have truly attained spiritual enlightenment and wisdom.
There are, indeed, a large number of learned people who have acute knowledge of theory of religious and spiritual life, but they are themselves in need of ethical and spiritual practice and realisation.
Many of these leaders occupy high positions in institutions devoted to the propagation of religious doctrines, beliefs and faiths. Corresponding to the position they occupy in their institutions, they have responsibilities not only in regard to religious and spiritual matters but also in regard to the conduct, management and development of estates, dominions and matters connected with material life, wealth and property.
One of the major conflicts, which is experienced in this field is connected with the conflict between the demands of spiritual life and the demands of material life.
Another conflict in this field is witnessed when each leader is found to be engaged in propagating and spreading the influence of his own religious or spiritual programme, which collides with similar engagements of other rival or competing religious and spiritual leaders.
The third area of conflict is related to the relationship between the leaders and the followers, a conflict which gets accentuated by rapid changes that are occurring in our contemporary world.
The influence of religions seems to be diminishing all over the world; ethical precepts are increasingly being challenged in respect of the claims of absoluteness and universality; indeed, ethical doctrines are now being largely acknowledged to be relative in character.
Efforts are being made by religious and spiritual leaders to find more and more effective means of propagation and conversion, and there appear to be confusions in regard to ends and means.
Religious and spiritual persons seem to be losing ground and yet making valiant efforts to sustain themselves in a religious grouping of their preference, gripped occasionally by exaltations that come from what they consider victories and by depression when they find their competitors succeeding and themselves failing.
Among the top leaders, there is a growing acknowledgement of the problem of conflict of religions and the need to bring together, at least in dialogue if not in practice, adherents of various faiths. The old acrimony and intolerance among religions have lost their sharp edge but the goals of tolerance, understanding or unification are not clear and there are even sharp differences and conflicts.
What solutions can be suggested?
One obvious thing is for the religious and spiritual persons to bridge the gulf between what they profess and what they practise.
While awakening others, they need to attain higher heights of awakening in themselves; they need to become teachers who teach least by instruction but most by example.
They need to meet one central challenge of our times, which is expressed in the theme of science and spirituality; they need to touch the hearts of the young people by demonstrating that spirituality is itself scientific in character and methodical in its methods of application and production of results
They need to study not only their own doctrines and beliefs but widen themselves to study with sympathy and impartiality other doctrines and beliefs; they need to see that there are large areas of commonness and even identity among all the conflicting faiths and spiritual practices; they need to understand that differences and conflicts are not inherent in their doctrines but are very largely due to geographical and historical situation in which they were formulated and propagated; they have also to understand the value of genuine differences and aim at bridging these differences by admitting that exclusivism will always lead to insoluble conflicts and that richness of the variety in the approach in the domain of the Spirit needs to be welcomed and encouraged.
There seems to be a great wisdom in the affirmation that while Spirit can be a common goal, each one must have his own unique religion or his own unique spiritual path.
Religious and spiritual persons need to demonstrate that their dealings with material life are attended with purity, honesty and scrupulous care to manifest the holy breath of the Spirit. While material life and material wealth need not be eschewed, nonetheless, they need to be pursued with full responsibility and knowledge of how to harmonise the demands of the Spirit and demands of Matter.
The religious and spiritual persons have a natural opening towards knowledge and towards its communication to others; they aspire for the reign of reason, right and truth and justice and they have a natural tendency to work for the reign of the Spirit and its universal unity and light and love. The extent to which these natural tendencies are nourished will be the measure of their ideal character and soul-power. To correct imperfection or perversions of these tendencies may be regarded as one of the central tasks of the religious and spiritual persons.
Politicians have a great role to play since it is through them that modern State is sustained and engineered. Theoretically, they are supposed to make the collective wisdom and force of the community available and to organise them for the general good. But practically, what controls the engine and drives the train of the State is only that amount of the intellect and power of the community which will be allowed to come to the surface by the particular machinery of State organisation.
What is happening today is that the organised State power is increasing to such an extent that it tends to eliminate free individual effort and to leave it dwarfed and cowed into helplessness.
In an ideal condition, the business of the State should be to provide all possible facilities for co-operative action, to remove obstacles, to prevent all that is harmful, and eliminate avoidable injustice to secure for every individual a just and equal chance of self-development and satisfaction to the extent of his powers and in the line of his nature.
But in practice, the State acts not as an organism but as a machinery and it tends always to uniformity; it acts crudely and in the mass, and it is incapable of that free, harmonious and intelligently varied action, which is proper to organic growth. As a result, even idealistic politicians are obliged to make compromises and tend to yield to the pressures of the machinery of the State.
The politician tends to demand subordination of the individual to the good of all, but there is no guarantee that politicians would represent the best mind of the nation and therefore no guarantee for their conception of the good of the all being inspired by the best and the highest thought or aspiration.
There is, in our times, an increasing number of politicians who represent all the average pettiness, selfishness, egoism, self-deception that is about them. Great issues often come to them for decision, but they do not deal with them greatly; high words and noble ideas are on their lips but they become rapidly claptrap of a party. As a result, what is secured by them is in no way the largest good of all, but a great deal of organised blundering and evil with a certain amount of good, which makes for real progress.
Political systems of today require politicians to amass a great deal of money; and this requirement breeds corruption and compels them to take resort to unfair and even violent means.
Their attention is centred on their own self and on the aggrandisement of their personal power and influence. Instead of working for the general welfare of the people, they tend to work for the welfare of the members of their own families or of their henchmen. Such is the degradation in the political life today that politicians have come to be viewed by people with mistrust or even contempt.
Much thought is being given today to bring about changes in the Constitution so that only those can come to possess and wield the power of the State who combine in themselves both honesty and capability.
Unfortunately, this combination is rather rare, and even when this combination is obtained, those who possess it are reluctant to join political action. Things, therefore, can improve only if the Constitutions are properly redesigned; a new political and social awakening must come about, which would encourage honest and capable people to come forward in the political life in order to remedy the present evils of the political life.
It is sometimes suggested that benevolent monarchy is much better than what democracy has come to imply in practice. But whatever advantages of monarchy or even of benevolent monarchy, we have to realise that the seal of night is on monarchy and even where it tends to survive, it takes the form of a mere constitutional monarchy. Humanity has advanced so far that it will continue to affirm the rights of the individual and the value of individual freedom. The future seems to lie not in reversing backwards to old forms of polity but to create new forms which will ensure the growth of democratic democracy and will prevent the democratic functioning from getting deteriorated into plutocratic functioning. But this will require that politicians are imbued with such public zeal, which was expected in ancient polities of benevolent or ideal kings.
To live not for oneself, not even for the family but for people and people's welfare, this spirit which makes one's welfare dependent on the welfare of the people has to develop rapidly and vastly among politicians.
There are natural tendencies, which contribute to the making of good politicians. These include will-force and the capacities, which make for strength, skill, courage, leadership, protection, rule, victory in battle, creative and formative action and will-power, which lays its hold on the material of life and on the wills of other human beings and compels the environment into desirable shapes. Imperfections and perversities of these qualities have to be corrected, and greater wideness and
heights of nobility and heroism have to be brought to their highest possible development.
We live today in a phase of social development where businessmen occupy the central stage, even when their actions are invisible and their power and influence are often wielded through politicians and other allied agents.
Businessmen themselves tend to become politicians, since there are obvious advantages whenever business interests can best be carried out by means of framing and implementing the needed political policies.
But if the businessmen prefer not to wear political masks, it is because of requirements of economy of time and also because professional politicians of today are often ready to promote the interests of the businessmen.
Still, the conflicts between businessmen and politicians constitute a major phenomenon of our contemporary times. Often businessmen are counselled not to dabble in politics; often they are told that their capabilities of entrepreneurship are greatly blunted when they enter into politics; businessmen counsel themselves, at least at the theoretical level, that it is best if they remain businessmen. This is not a false counsel, since the qualities that contribute to the making of an ideal businessman are not identical with the qualities that contribute to the making of an ideal politician.
An ideal businessman has a natural tendency towards activities of production, exchange, possession, enjoyment and contrivance that organises order and balance and works out to the best advantage the active relations of existence. An ideal businessman has a temperament which is at once grasping and generous, prone to amass and treasure, to enjoy, to show and use, bent upon efficient exploitation of the world or its surroundings. This temperament is also capable of practical philanthropy, human kindness, ordered benevolence, orderly and ethical that looks for rules, codes and standards. A true businessman has a great capacity for adaptation and measure.
Limitations and perversions of these great qualities of businessman are to be found on a large scale today and our own contemporary civilisation is predominantly commercial and industrial.
These limitations and perversions make the businessmen work within the narrow confines of personal or selfish interests and induce them to seek advantages and profits even when they are injurious to the common good of the people or the world. They tend to forget the distinction between healthy competition and destructive competition and begin to promote the latter instead of the former.
Science and technology are promoted, not because of any special love for knowledge and skill, but because they are efficient instruments of wealth production and material prosperity.
Art is appreciated and promoted by them, not because of special aesthetic taste but because it is a pleasant diversion and adds to the spice of life
These limitations and perversions must be corrected and the right law of development of businessmen would be to promote harmony in the world and to promote knowledge and art not merely for their utilities but for their intrinsic values.
With the growth of globalisation, businessmen have great opportunity to develop new qualities of entrepreneurship and to create new standards of excellence. They have also right opportunity to foster the ideals of internationalism and of universal brotherhood. They can, if they so will, utilise their wealth not merely to produce more wealth but also to produce better and more qualified manpower and to utilise material instruments for shaping a humane and harmonic civilisation.
The great problem of the conflict between Capital and Labour constitutes the central challenge for businessmen all over the world.
Businessmen have to realise that without competent and contented labour, business cannot prosper properly, even when short-term gains can be acquired by means of exploitation and oppression, ‒ legal or otherwise.
The inequalities between the haves and the have-nots have got to be so abridged that they cease to be glaring and injurious.
Private enterprise and initiative need not be curbed; on the contrary, they need to be encouraged and fulfilled. But care has to be taken that those who contribute labour and sweat are so looked after that they have full employment opportunity to develop their talents and skills and also enjoy leisure in which they can cultivate their inner resources of mind and spirit.
It will be a privilege of the businessmen of today if they can voluntarily utilise their wealth for new structures of interrelationships. Those who possess wealth should not possess it as a personal possession but as a trust assigned to them for its utilisation.
The ideal society towards which humanity must labour to shape itself can be created only if businessmen utilise their ability for the creation of prosperity so that it can be put at the disposal for the creation of a new world of mutual harmony.
Life Family is a natural unit of collective existence, which supports and sustains a large network of relationships and institutions that serve the cohesion of group life, national life and international life.
Family life stabilises the life of children and adolescents; it propels adolescents and youths into larger interests of development, responsibility and adventure; it serves as a knot of economy where basic balances of savings and expenditure are worked out; it is a fulcrum of the wheel of the society on which threads of social and political life are woven; and it is a living throb through which the cultural heritage pulsates and gets transmitted to the posterity.
The warmth and happiness of family life are a barometer of the general cohesion, prosperity and wellbeing of the entire society.
There are traditions and customs which have for long cultivated ideals that members of the family have been induced to share and practise, and these values have fostered the sense of mutuality, co-operation and exchange of acts of giving and receiving.
But the chief malady of our times is that these values are breaking down in our fast changing world, and there is anguish and cry to return to them.
Husband and Wife:
The relationship between husband and wife rests upon ties that are deeper and profounder than those determined by customs and even duties. Spontaneity, loyalty, love, friendship and equal partnership at all levels of the being, − spiritual, moral, emotional, intellectual and physical. This profundity of relationship can be arrived at only by deep culture of the soul and various accomplishments of the head and the heart. It also implies mutual helpfulness, understanding and spirit of sacrifice. Self-control, patience and perseverance are constantly required.
Egoism and pride, rigidity of opinions and insistence on one's own preferences, wishes and decisions, these and allied tendencies create misunderstandings and avoidable quarrels.
A number of trivial circumstances crop up in life which, if not handled with a deliberate effort to maintain harmony, can produce injuries which cannot be easily healed
In our times, society has tended to become very open and secrecies and privacies which were available in olden times have become difficult to obtain. Larger world can invade intimacy of relationship, and what is demanded is increasing transparency and implicit sense of trust.
Situations are multiplying where the choice between truth, on the one hand, and abyss, on the other, becomes imperative.
Our times demand from us greater purity and greater endurance.
Parents and Children:
Relationships between parents and children have come under heavy strain, not only on account of widening generation gap but also because the demands that children make from parents and parents make from children have become very stringent. When both parents go out of home for work, children get deprived of time to spend with them and bonds of trust become loose and weak.
Educational world of children has become remoter from the parents' world of work and concerns. More often than not, parents do not have the art and tact of dealing with children at different stages of their development.
Children tend to demand more and more freedom and parents would feel the necessity of imposing more and more discipline and regulations.
It is not realised that mere good advice, which is not backed by their own example of ideal conduct, has practically no effect.
Children are often scolded and even punished; parents demand confessions and even when confessions are made, they are not easily forgiven. Children begin to live within narrow shells of privacy in which revolt continues to be nourished. Explosions take place, which can be prevented only when parents show and practise intense understanding and indefatigable labour of love.
It has to be realised that children are not personal possessions of parents; they are a trust and they have to be fostered by combining gentleness and firmness, and also, much more importantly, the capacity to appeal to their sense of reasonableness, nobility or dignity and far-reaching power of compassion.
Children should be looked upon as sovereigns of the family; they should be in the centre of care and concern; all circumstances of life are to be so designed that they provide informal means of their growth and development. Parents have to be ready to sacrifice their own pleasures and conveniences so that highest interests of children are served under every circumstance.
While parents and children constitute the core family there are a number of relations which are personally intimate to the members of that core family. These relationships are under a very heavy stress on account of increasing growth of nuclear families. Nonetheless, the totality of the family welfare depends upon not only what obtains within the nucleus but also upon whatever is outside the nucleus: grandfathers, grandmothers, uncles (paternal and maternal) and members of other families getting related through marriage, adoption, or design or accidental intimate relationships.
In this connection, one of the major problems is that of ageing, which has not yet received due attention. Due to increasing healthcare, people are able to attain very ripe old age. Neglect of aged members of the family causes enormous sufferings both to the aged and others who are related to them. Programmes of continuing education, appropriate old-age vocations, needed healthcare, spirit of respect for age, experience and wisdom can create situations whereby the aged can transmit their experience to all those who need them, – these measures need to be taken by each family. Social organisations also have a role to play in the fulfilment of these objectives. Creation of homes for the aged should also be encouraged in the society. In the ultimate analysis, every unit of manpower should be respected, cared for and utilised for the total welfare of the society.
Personal interrelationships among the members of the family is one of the most serious problems, and the entire human history is full of accounts of the poisonous trees that grow up when these relations are not properly and deliberately cultivated and pursued with higher ethical and spiritual aims. Misunderstanding, jealousy and competition in possessing more and more are chief causes of the ruin of personal relationships. There is no simple cure for these maladies, and there is no alternative to seeking solutions through right methods of introspection, self-control and replacement of covetousness by the joy that comes through renunciation of the sense of personal possession.