a science to peace?

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The science of peace.

 

 

  

For the world citizen of today, perhaps the most pertinent question regarding the people of that world is: How to make the `united nations' a reality?

  If a therapist can get groups of angry people to cease arguing and get along with each other, why not a group of Nations, religions or political parties? If there is a science to it then it can be done. 

   Looking back a little, we can find instances where some of Humanity's forerunners have succeeded in their own spheres at producing a peaceful unity. Assuming that their successes were based upon a deep understanding of nature, let us not be surprised if their methods turn out to be the same.

   Here are some cases in point.  

 

 

In 1884 the Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy wrote his book titled What I Believe. “In affirming my belief in Christ's teaching,” he says about the book, “I could not help explaining why I do not believe, and consider as mistaken, the Church's doctrine, which is usually called Christianity”. It was consequently met by barrages of criticism from every side of Russian and European society. The Church in Russia soon exercised its influence and had the book suppressed.

   Oddly though, rebuffs against the book were freely published and distributed. There was no shortage of rebuffs, either. The Church and State did not approve of Tolstoy's theories, but neither did the non-religious revolutionaries.

   In his later work The Kingdom of God Is within You, Tolstoy took the argument back up in further detail in order to meet every criticism. In it he put forth the idea of “Non Resistance to Evil by Force”. He stated that within the story of the New Testament there is easily found a formula that, if followed, will bring about unity from separation, peace from war, or fellowship from enmity. Furthermore, this modus operandi apparently applies to humanity as a whole as well as to individuals alike. Tolstoy puts it simply here:

 

 

   “The question amounts to this: In what way are we to decide men's disputes, when some men consider evil what others consider good, and vice versa? And to reply that that is evil which I think evil, in spite of the fact that my opponent thinks it good, is not a solution of the difficulty. There can only be two solutions: either to find a real unquestionable criterion of what is evil or not to resist evil by force.

   “The first has been tried ever since the beginning of historical times, and, as we know it has not hitherto led to any successful results.

   “The second solution --- not forcibly to resist what we consider evil until we have found a universal criterion --- that is the solution given by Christ.”

 

 

The most obvious and widespread criticism was that the strategy is simply not practical and could not bring results. Tolstoy acknowledged this in the second book:

 

 

“[…] the principle of non-resistance to evil by force has been attacked by two opposing camps: the conservatives, because this principle would hinder their activity in resistance to evil as applied to the revolutionists, in persecution and punishment of them; the revolutionists, too, because this principle would hinder their resistance to evil as applied to the conservatives and the overthrowing of them.”

 

 

 

However, all this was before Gandhi.

   Mohandas Gandhi, the Indian barrister, read The Kingdom of God is Within You while he was in South Africa in 1894, the year after it was suppressed in its native Russia. It left an “overwhelming” impression on Gandhi, as he said in his autobiography. “Before the independent thinking, profound morality, and truthfulness of this book, all the books given me by Mr. Coates seemed pale in significance,” he said. (Mr. Coates was a Quaker and friend of Gandhi's.)

   Gandhi wrote Tolstoy a letter and they both began a friendship that lasted until the Russian's death. When Gandhi established a lodging house for families of the Independence movement, whose fathers and husbands were in British jails, Gandhi even called it `Tolstoy Farm'. 

   In 1906, Gandhi stepped into the spotlight of the world and became the spark that ignited a mere idealistic theory into a practical demonstration, on a scale that had never been done. Like a social scientist and self imposed guinea pig, the man we now know as the Mahatma (or `Great Soul') put the theory of non-violence to the test and qualified it --- defeating the British Empire and winning India its independence. Looking back, the modern world can no longer hold a sober argument that the strategy is ineffective. We must at least acknowledge that it can work --- and with the contagious power to unify people -- as it once did under certain circumstances, in India.

   Nevertheless, as B.P. Wadia, in his book The Gandhian Way, says: “What was obscured till Gandhiji appeared on the scene and courageously proclaimed, to all and sundry, the mighty and majestic truth Ahimsa, Non-Violence, is now acknowledged by everyone […] as the real panacea for all human ills; but how many legislative and reform bodies are there which act upon that beneficent principle?”

 

 

The answer is hardly any. The reason may be that nobody is confident enough to try the strategy. It seems that successfully demonstrating it is not so easy. A deeper understanding of how and why it works, or what laws it is based on, is needed.

   Therefore, we must also acknowledge that the simplistic view of the strategy as being mere `passivism' or `non-participation' is inadequate.

   “In making the British quit India,” says B.P. Wadia, “Gandhi made the people justly evaluate and appreciate [the British]. That single event in his life-drama reveals the strength of Hercules, the generosity of Hatim Tai. This hidden aspect of his `Quit India' mantram remains mostly unrecognised.”

    The strategy, which Gandhi called Satyaraha (or Truth-Force), is based upon a fundamental perception that Unity is a reality. Whereas passivism can be the refuge of cowards, Satyagraha takes well-cultivated courage to express that unity.

   “For Gandhi,” says Oxford's The Concise History of India, “the pursuit of satyagraha involved a range of behaviours that together would create an India, both of individuals and as a nation, capable of self-rule. Above all it involved settling disputes by seeking truths shared with an opponent whom one must always respect, even love.”

   So, “The truth shall set you free” is by no means a strategy that is exclusive to Christian doctrine. But as Tolstoy pointed out, it is highlighted and emphasised through the story of Christ. Although Gandhi called it Satyagraha, it is also found in Hindu doctrine as Yama, or the five commandments, consisting of harmlessness, truth to all beings, non-stealing, continence and abstention from avarice.  

  

Indian independence was not the first time the `New Testament Strategy' has ever been effectively demonstrated. The example stands out because of its scale, and because Gandhi openly named it as non-violent resistance. But, across the ocean in England, before the Indian Independence movement had run its course, Charles Bradlaugh had used it too.

   Charles Bradlaugh --- known as “Our Charlie” by the workers of Northampton -- was an English politician and lawyer, renowned as a champion of Free-thought or Atheism. But his stance on religion has somewhat overshadowed his deep commitment to improving the conditions of the poor.

   In the election of April1880, he ran for Member of Parliament for Northampton, as a Radical, amidst a bitter campaign wherein the Church, Tory's and especially the Whigs, widely slandered him for his Atheist views. (Remember, this was at a time when Atheism was relatively new, and feared as a justification for immorality.)

   Bradlaugh won easily. When he went to swear himself in, he claimed the right to `affirm' instead of taking the religious Oath of Allegiance (with hand on the Bible), for obvious reasons. His request was spitefully denied, and so he offered to take the Oath after all, for the sake of the workers who voted him in. The House, however, denied that too. Thus, because he could not take the Oath, Bradlaugh's right to take his seat was forfeited.

   He took it anyway and was promptly arrested and imprisoned in the Clock Tower of the Houses of Parliament. A by-election was then declared for Bradlaugh's seat.  

   This was not the end, however: `Our Charlie' was re-elected with even more votes than before. The nature of the war was set: the House continued to refuse him the right to take either Affirmation or Oath, and Bradlaugh continued to take his seat anyway, on the grounds that the people of Northampton voted him in. He was regularly escorted from Parliament.

   Bradlaugh was voted in four more times, always with an increased majority. He was even fined 1,500 pounds, in 1883, for taking his seat and voting illegally as a member.

   On the last time, however, crowds of workers gathered and surrounded the House, violently calling out their support for “Our Charlie”.

   They had in previous months, formed into mobs and threatened Bradlaugh's opponents with violence. But in these times, Bradlaugh himself rushed from his home to the rescue of his enemy, and chastised his frustrated supporters.

   Earlier the day of the election, Bradlaugh gave his second, Annie Besant, an order: “The people know you better than they know anyone, save myself; whatever happens, mind, whatever happens, let them do no violence; I trust you to keep them quiet!”

   But the crowd was angry. The man they had continually voted for was not deemed good enough for the authorities. Where was the democracy?

   This time Bradlaugh refused to leave.

   No less than four policemen were called in to wrestle him from the house. Although he struggled to remain, he did not harm or attack the officers. They, on the other hand, bruised him badly and tore his clothes, as well as putting him through great humiliation. When they were finally seen emerging from the door, the workers charged the gate with a force too large for the police to contain.

   But Besant -- well known to the workers -- leapt in their way and implored that they stop.

   Fortunately, they did. Even Bradlaugh himself nearly lost control, as Besant relates in her Autobiography. “I nearly did wrong at the door,” he admitted to Besant later. “I was very angry. I said to Inspector Denning, `I shall come again with force enough to overcome it.' He said, `When?'. I said, `Within a minute if I raise my hand.'” But Bradlaugh overcame the rage inside him.

   The aftermath was a barrage of criticism by the press, at the behaviour of Parliament. The so-called respectable government of England had inflicted violence on a man so obviously wanted by the voters, and so civil in his own deportment.

   Because of the outrage, the next time Charles Bradlaugh entered parliament, he was not only allowed to take the Oath and his seat in Parliament, but he also established the Affirmation. He went on to promote home-rule in Ireland and in India. He was the first Freethinker in parliament. When he died, Bradlaugh's funeral attracted thousands of mourners. The Mahatma Gandhi was one of them.

 

 

Notwithstanding what words they used to express what they stood for, Ghandi and Bradlaugh used the same strategy. And they both succeeded.

Both Gandhi and Bradlaugh refused to retaliate with violence, or to harm their opponents (whether in deeds or in words). On top of that, they both went out of their way to help their so-called enemies -- all this, even to the point of taking on suffering for themselves. Indeed, absorbing the violence so others did not seems part of the Strategy.

   One might theorise that it is inevitable for those persons who are humanity's foremost in both intelligence and strength of courage to perceive the same natural laws. Christ also taught a very similar strategy at the Sermon on the Mount: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” And later: “Love you enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if you salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others?” Etc.

   In theory, the Strategy seems quite illogical. 

   As Christ healed the ear of the soldier who came to seize Him, Christ chastised His disciple for cutting the ear; similarly, Bradlaugh too chastised his supporters for violently threatening his oppressors.

   As Christ willingly went forth to the crucifixion --- something he'd predicted many times --- and sacrificed himself, so too did Gandhi enter on fasts to starve himself either until death or a cessation to India's violence.

   Another strange and interesting coincidence is that Christ declared that no man should take Oaths, for to swear allegiance to an exclusive group would compromise one's allegiance to all of humanity. Charles Bradlaugh also refused the oath of Allegiance to the British Government --- even if it was on the Bible!

   Before continuing, note one more interesting coincidence: both Gandhi and Bradlaugh's opponents were violent in their method, yet incongruously called themselves `Christians'. The Hindu and the Atheist did not call themselves Christians, yet they imitated Christ almost exactly.

  

 

 

Next let us take our discussion to Japan, and to the martial art called Aikido. The founder of this style of fighting was named Morihei Ueshiba, but to this day his followers refer to him as O Sensei, meaning `The Grand Teacher'. O Sensei (born in 1883) founded Aikido, the martial art that he described as “love in action,” on account of its non-malicious nature and its technique of cooperating with the opponent. This art specialises in redirecting --- rather than resisting -- and using the opponent's weight and force against them. The more force with which you attack an Aikido practitioner, the more the same force hurts you. It thus forces the attacker to `sympathise'.

   O Sensei trained under many renowned masters throughout his life. Eight of his years were spent under the guidance of Deguchi Onisaburo, a master who advocated non-violent resistance and universal disarmament. He once said: “Armament and war are the means by which the landlords and capitalists make their profit, while the poor suffer.”

   It rubbed off on O Sensei. His goal in life became clear. In his words it was, “To teach the real meaning of Budo: an end to all fighting and contention.” (Budo is a word that covers all the Japanese martial disciplines.)

   In 1927, he left his master and began his new style in Tokyo. It attracted a huge following that included many high-ranking instructors. Some of them were so impressed that they sent their own students to O Sensei.

   Later, in 1942, O Sensei moved back to a farm in the country, saying that Budo and farming were one and the same. It was at this time that he first used the name Aikido. 

   It is related about O Sensei, that at this time a high-ranking soldier in the Japanese army journeyed to find him, and upon seeing O Sensei, the young soldier demanded that he come back and serve in the war. It was a matter of patriotic duty, he said.

   O Sensei refused.

   Angry, the younger man drew his sword and attacked. O Sensei disarmed him without hurting him, then calmly tossed the sword away. The young man retrieved his sword and attacked again --- once again, O Sensei disarmed him and tossed the sword. A third time the soldier attacked with the same result.

   This time, the soldier became O Sensei's disciple.

 

 

The similarities in strategy needn't be pointed out. But there is a subtle relation that might be missed. Gandhi, when on trial, went on to “invite and cheerfully to submit to the highest penalty that can be inflicted upon me”.

   Oxford's The Concise History Of India relates:

 

 

“The judge, on his part, said that the charges carried a prison term of six years, but he added that if the government later saw fit to reduce the sentence, `no one would be better pleased than I'.

 

   “Gandhi also used this trial to articulate in dramatic fashion central elements of his political style. Refusing to be placed in the powerless and humiliating position of the usual defendant, Gandhi defiantly pleaded guilty and even took upon himself responsibility for the acts of others. In the process he at once embraced, yet repudiated as incompatible with colonialism, British notions of `justice'. At the same time, by bringing suffering upon himself, he enhanced his saintly role as one who sacrifices for the good of all.”

 

 

 

Gandhi's influence caused a “surprising amount of reasonableness, if not actual goodwill,” to pervade the dealings between the British and the Congress. This showed itself most visibly in jail, where “Congress leaders were accorded a special A-class accommodation that allowed them books, visitors, and food not permitted ordinary prisoners.”

   Here, then, is the subtle relation: Gandhi refused to retaliate, and, consequently, he morally disarmed his prosecutors. O sensei refused to retaliate, and, he physically disarmed his opponent.

   (Again, Christ agrees: “And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.”)

  

England gave in and left India; the House accepted Bradlaugh; O Sensei's attacker became his disciple.

   Of course, Rome became the centre of Christianity.

   Here is one last similarity between all parties: Jesus the carpenter's son was later named `The Christ,' or `anointed.' Bradlaugh became `Our Charlie'. Mohandas Gandhi became `The Mahatma' Gandhi. Morihei Ueshiba is now called `O Sensei'.

   The names, of course, are not part of the Strategy, as they were not self-given. But they may be a result of the Strategy.

 

 

The implications are three: From a practical point of view, Christ and his teachings have been tested and qualified as pertinent, not outdated or irrelevant; similarly, the other major religions and atheism, have equally been qualified; lastly, the truly sincere members of any of the above ways are in actuality following the same way. Or, in other words: the true separator of humanity (and consequently the cause of war and oppression) is language.

   A church-goer would do well to ask himself: “Am I converting people to a way or a word?” A hater of the church might do well to ask: “Am I an enemy of the way of Christ, or of those who clothe themselves in Christian terminology?” It is a question of the baby and the bath water.

   This tool of ours called language has drawn the attention of humanity away from truth (and each other) for so long, it is perhaps our greatest enemy. Like the Sabbath had, words were created to serve Man, but have ended up ruling him. Today, there seems to be a rush to convert all the Wisdom of the Ancients out of mystic terminology and into the language of physics --- as if the modern clinical labels are allowed and the more poetic images of the past forbidden. Both are clothing the same truth. 

   Shakespeare once pointed out that even the Devil can quote scripture to justify his own purposes. If you read the bible, it is important, is it not, to pay more attention to what Christ did than what he said? For example, he said: “I bring not peace but a sword!” Out of context this could mean much mischief. But Christ never once took up a sword against any person in the literal sense.