It is a matter of deep concern to all reflective persons, that in both international and domestic politics, self-interest is the keynote. Each nation for itself, each party or class for itself, each man for himself, is the principle which at present guides human affairs. Aggrandisement of the strong at the expense of the weak is still the order of the day. So it has been throughout history, which, in consequence, has been an appalling record of crime and deceit, and the tale bids fair to continue in the same key until some catastrophe—perhaps not distant or unforseeable —overwhelms the human race. Atomic weapons are but one and possibly not the worst, of the instruments of destruction that threaten all of us.
The message of Eastern and Western wisdom, stripped of pompous phraseology is summed up in the words ‘ love ’and ‘ unity and it is to these ideals that we must now turn in our domestic and international programmes. Within the state it is for the rulers to create those institutions which will develop the finer traits of the mind and give a spiritual and liberal education to all, teaching simplicity of life and encouraging the expression of art and literature of a quality that exalts the heart. The exclusive reliance on economic means must be abandoned and the stress laid on individual and international morality. Attempts to create internal differences must give place to an unceasing effort to promote unity. In such a community alone, can appear the saints and geniuses needed to bring society to the highest state of perfection.
Internationally, rulers, governors and administrators of all peoples, must be persuaded to return to sanity and adopt the concept of unity. Dependence on power politics and physical force, or diplomacy based on duplicity is inevitably disastrous. The idea is not necessarily to abolish all defensive forces but to make a supreme endeavour to meet others in a spirit of sincerity, with the object of making a contribution to the well-being of all. Nature has endowed man with a love of truth and with sympathy. The moral equations are not less exact than the mathematical, and a sincere goodwill on one side will pierce the mists of suspicion and produce a like reaction.
China was not saved from the Mongols by the Great Wall which cost a million lives to build. Only when the Emperor Kang Hsi demonstrated the true spirit of Buddhism, inviting the Mongol princes to his court and establishing monasteries of really pious and learned monks near the frontier, did the Mongols cease to be a menace. Compare this with the fate of those who relied on physical force to overcome others—Rome, Spain, the Turks and the Moguls. To-day, also, weapons of destruction and aggression solve no problems.
We appeal to all those who rule, to follow this programme and in this way to save, not only their countries, but humanity as a whole. We ask the peoples of the world to repudiate those governments who try to violate the sanctity and organic unity of life. Those who want to exercise domination over others are the enemies of their own people, and have no claim to the loyally of the lovers of peace.
The world is moving, flowing like a river. Spring is followed by Summer, night by day. The Self (Atman) is beyond this restless change which surges within the confines of time, space and causation.
Man is a creature whose body and mind is limited by time and space where all is relative, and yet who yearns for the Absolute in Whom all his problems can be resolved. History is the record of his quest of the Absolute : often he has searched in the wrong direction, as did Alexander of Macedon and Napoleon Bonaparte, only to end his life in disillusionment and without friends. The spirit of enquiry of those two leaders was diverted into wrong channels, and their great funds of energy and ability were squandered on the conquest of others rather than directed to self-conquest.
The Emperor Ashoka cannot be charged with the same failure. He had realized that the glamour of power and pleasure was transitory and that the enlightened life lay in surrendering himself to the will of the Ruler of the changing universe, not in a spirit of passive acceptance but of active co-operation in harmonising his actions to the rhythm and order of the world and so discharging his debt to all living creatures.
Though few have the opportunity of practising it on the grand scale of an Ashoka, such a life of right conduct is a necessary factor in the enquiry into and discovery of the spiritual secret. In all forms of knowledge man is in fact searching for an unchanging Truth which will explain all changing truths, in the same way as at their own level art, music and literature are enquiries into the nature of light, sound and form. This is in consonance with the Vedantic view of knowledge (jnana) but the Vedanta goes further in supplying the missing key of the essential technique, without which the unchanging Truth remains inaccessible.
Realisation of the Self through self-discipline, renunciation and meditation is the goal of evolution and the end of all search.
It is the direct and indestructible knowledge that one’s Self is beyond time, space and change. T. S. Eliot hints at this consummation in the lines
And all shall he well and All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.