On Gandhi Jayanti, when our country remembers the Father of the Nation, two principles that he demonstrated all his life are most remembered – truth and non-violence. From a spiritual vantage point, let us explore how these are two sides of the same coin.
‘Truth’, in spirituality, has a deeper meaning than is commonly understood. It does not just mean being truthful and revealing facts as they are, but refers to the ‘absolute’ truth – one whose existence cannot be refuted at any point of time. When, at every moment, the universe is changing, what is it that was, is and will always remain? The answer is: the soul, also known as atma, spirit or being, is that constant entity.
Now ask the question ‘who am I’ and spirituality will respond with the same answer: you are an immortal soul. We human beings are a tiny point of sentient energy that plays its role in the material world through acquired bodily costume. Our body is visible matter made up of five elements of nature, and so it is bound to age and ultimately perish. We souls, on the other hand, are invisible spiritual beings that live on forever. When our current bodily costume is reduced to ashes, we don a new one and continue our journey in our next life. So, while our body is ‘false’ or transient, the original nature of our being is that of ‘truth’ or eternity.
How does knowing our true identity make any difference to us? More importantly, how does this ‘truth’ lead us to the twin principle of ‘non-violence’? To understand this, let us take a look at our innate nature.
All human souls have inherent qualities of wisdom, purity, peace, love, happiness, power and bliss. Yes, there could be variation in the percentage of these qualities in all of us, but none of us ever run out of them. When we remain in the consciousness of our original form, these seven qualities come into play and make us perform elevated actions. We become givers of goodness. The realisation of our eternity also instils in us a sense of courage and fearlessness, allowing us to do the right karma.
Also, connected with our real identity is the profound universal knowledge about the law of karma. According to it, the fruit of our actions is definitely received by us, and our karmic accounts travel with us even in our next life. This realisation encourages us to do good, violence-free karma so that good comes back to us.
But the question arises that if all of us are naturally wise and virtuous souls, why is there so much violence in the world today? It is because we are either oblivious of our true identity and have mistaken ourselves for our body and its roles, or despite being aware of our original form and nature, we are unable to live in that consciousness due to our weaknesses. As a result, we get trapped in a limited materialistic world view.
In that space, everything is defined by the physical. So our beauty and gender; class, connections or religion; our assets and achievements etc. dominate our thoughts and vision. Instead of having natural love and respect for all, we start measuring everyone with man-made yardsticks. Our dealing with others fluctuates as per our needs and their rank in the social hierarchy.
Not anchored in anything absolute, fear of loss sets in, giving rise to an ugly game of push and pull. A never-ending competition to chase greater wealth and status ensues. Disconnected from our spiritual values, we enter the territory of violence that is ruled by five vices of lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego, and their lesser-known kin – laziness, criticism, carelessness and others. From constant givers we turn constant seekers. And all of this starts as we identify with the false.
To dispel the darkness of violence, we need to re-kindle the light of truth, and live in the awareness of us as spiritual beings. A soul-conscious lifestyle is the way forward to building a non-violent relationship with the self, others and the natural world. It is the way to spreading peace, love and happiness in the world.