The War Is Within

By Christmas Humphreys

Wars arrive because we will them to arrive, but no for other reason. Once a war starts, it is the start of science at the time, which decides whether the weapons used are bows and arrows or bombs. The effects of the declaration of war may differ; the causes are the same.

The will to violence which causes war, the desire to dominate the thoughts and acts of others is, in the minds of those who generate it, partly conscious, partly subconscious and largely unconscious; in the last case all the more potent for being unrecognized.

Those who consciously cause for the sake of the spoils of war are evil men, and the name of Hitler, for example, will be reviled as evil while men have memory of World War II. It is common sense that those who lead the Military Services, and earn their preferment and reward by success in that leadership, cannot, to say the least, be entirely averse to war. The same applies to the aggressive type of politician whose foreign policy, when opposition to his country's desire is encountered, is one of violence. Though he speaks, and loudly speaks of peace, he is causing war. In these cases, because this type of individual is seldom noted for introspective examination of motive, it is charitable to describe his will to war as subconscious only. The effect is of course the same.

In the third category are found the larger proportion of mankind particularly the Western variety. Wars are declared by the few; the decision reflects the unconscious will of the many. The larger groups within the state bring pressure on the Government concerned, either loudly or silently. The several political parties, the trade unions, the financial and "big business" houses, the press, which at once arouses and reflects what is euphemistically described as public opinion but which is in fact mass emotion, all these together press the Government, of course in the name of Peace, Honor, and the Brotherhood of man, to declare war. And in what do these units consist save in smaller and smaller groups and families, and in the end, the individual man and woman?

But each individual man who strives for self-aggrandizement, who grasps for himself as much as he can of commodities, such as money, power and honors, which he knows to be in short supply; all who in such competition as involves the financial if not the physical death of the loser, nevertheless compete for their several advantage; every one of the thrusters for place, in traffic, politics or trade, whose attitude, unexpressed but fiercely concentrated is ,"I am the better man, and the loser…. Well for him it's just too bad", each and every one of these is the cause of war, and collectively will cause it.

True, some forms of ambition, some will to succeed, is laudable in popular morality, is " reasonable" and even 'right'. But collectively it causes war, by bows and arrows or the H-bomb as the case may be.

For the causes of suffering, said Gautama the Buddha, the all Enlightened One, is tanha, desire for self, the grasping, craving cry of 'I want this and I want that'. And the craver gets what declare to be a law of science, and Jesus- 'as ye sow so shall ye reap'- declared to be a law of man. And what he wants, how ever he may deny it, is war. In English law a man is presumed to intend the reasonable consequences of his acts. If a million men each want what the other wants, and see no reason why they should not have it despite the claims of all others, what must happen? If the government of a hundred million men wants the property of another government of another hundred million men and the mass emotion of the many, fostered by politicians and the press, submerges the cooler reason of the few, the result is war, whether the weapons used are bows and arrows or the H-bomb.

The force behind the blind and urgent selfishness which causes war? Is ignorance, or philosophically ignorance, the unawareness of the simple fact that life is one though its forms are multiple, and that men are brothers whether they behave as members of one family or as homicidal and deluded fools. When a man is under the delusion that his self is separate from all other selves, and in some way better, so that his desire must in every disputed cause prevail, is it surprising that larger units, moving in the same fog of illusion, act in concert as an emotionally retarded small boy a million times his natural size?

Life is one, said the Buddha, and the Middle Way to the end of suffering in all its forms is that which leads a man to see, as a fact as clear as sunlight, that all man kind, and all other forms in manifestation are one unit, the infinitely variable appearances of an indivisible "Whole". The few who possess the vision shared by the mystics, the poets, the saints and the nobler-minded of all ages, see that this is so, and advocate that life, individual, national and international, should be lived accordingly . These are the minds that founded the league of Nations, the United Nations and all other organizations, large and small, that move to a better awareness of the central truth on which all science, religion and philosophy is founded. But they preach on a false assumption, that even those men who in mind agree with them will in act and deed apply the truth when seen.

For the war is a war within, and to will not cease until that day when every living thing is gathered back in to the oneness which is beyond all name or human understanding.

In every mind is the battlefield of self versus Self, of the blinded part which fights against the less -deluded flame of the light which must in time, itself a form of illusion, return enlightened to the light from which is came. Meanwhile, we live in difference. All religions are not the same, nor are all philosophies, and it is a howling lie though a noble one to declare that men are equal. They are in fact infinitely variable, each treading his own path to the mountaintop of selflessness, where the vision and the will of oneness are father to the selfless act, and the individual knows first hand , the strength of own desire.

Applied, this is a depressing truth, for it means that war is inevitable as long as men want war, and at the present, nine -tenths of them are busy wanting it. But there signs of a nobler vision, and it matters not for the moment if the cause of the non-declaration of war be the fear of the ghastly weapons in the in the enemy's hands, or the love begotten of a sense of unity which one day will alone make war impossible. Let the first for the moment prevail; in the end I believe it will be the second.

Meanwhile, each one of us is hard at war-within. We must face this battlefield; withdraw, as the psychologist would say, our habitual projections of that strife from the world around us, and realize that we should be so busy killing the selfishness within that we really have not the time, much less the will to blow up our neighbor, and when a few more individuals recognize that the war within implies a friendly tolerance of those about one, and of their ways of living and internal fighting, the Hitlers and Stalins and even the unpleasant fellow next door may provoke in every man a smile, rather than an H-bomb, or even a bow and arrow.