What is human nature? Is it something static, or has it got any pliability and flexibility? Has it been changing through the evolution of human culture and civilization, science and technology, literature, philosophy, systems of education? Has it been changing, growing more mature; or, is it something that's absolutely static, incapable of qualitative changes?
It seems to me, that there is an instinctive fear incorporated in the human brain and neurochemical system by the way of living that mankind followed from century to century. This instinctive fear, or the urge for continuity of the physical organism, has provoked the inclination to assert, to own, to possess, to dominate, stimulating concepts like victory and defeat, rulers and ruled, etc. So what is instinctive can be termed "natural." If the human race had looked upon the instinctive desire for assertion and aggression as something natural that is desirable, natural therefore to be protected, natural therefore to be glorified, if the human race had looked upon assertion and aggression as desirable, natural, glorifiable, we would not have proceeded from tribal life to the creation of a society. We would not have proceeded to create a rule of law in society. We would not have proceeded form tribal life to the creation of a society. We would not have proceeded to create a rule of law in society, and educate the members of society to understand the laws, the rules, and the regulations. We wouldn't have educated the members of society in the principles of economic structures, administrative set- ups; informed them and enabled them to adjust their behavior to the principles of economic and political structures. We would not have done all this. We would have said aggression or violence is natural, so let us fight. Quarrels, and fights, and bloodshed would have had moral sanction; but they do not have moral sanction. There have been efforts to curb the aggressive tendencies, to restrain the aggression inclinations, find out alternative ways then waging wars and battles for the resolution of socioeconomic or political clashes, challenges, and problems. If we read human history, we find conscious, organized effort towards restraining, curbing, controlling this assertive, violent, aggressive tendency. Look at the direction in which the human race has been moving collectively. It has not succeeded in spite of having made efforts through many centuries, because there seem to be some loop- holes, some contradictions that are required to be resolved, some shortcomings which will have to be eliminated; but the direction of human civilization is not from violence to more violence, but violence towards less violence, towards absence of violence, towards peace. So the direction of human movement does not indicate that the human race is satisfied with the instinctive violence contained in themselves.
Why hasn't the human race succeeded in eliminating violent tendencies, even in being able to restrain it to a great extent? It seems that we lacked a comprehensive, holistic approach to life. After having created society, having built up economic and political systems, I think we stumbled when we created the concept of a nation- state and national sovereignty. We grew out of tribalism, in a way, but on the other hand, we built up sophisticated tribalism in the name of nation- states and national sovereignties. Naturally, a sovereign state requires a national economy. As an individual has self- centered ambitions, self centered ways of behavior, the nations developed self- centered, that is, nation- centered economies and political structures, political systems.
Now if you and I, as self- centered human beings, always preoccupied with the anxiety to preserve the entity of the self, the "me," preoccupied to gratify every wish of the self, every ambition of the self, there are clashes among us. Everyone wants to dominate; everyone wants to own, to possess; everyone yields to jealousy, to suspicion; and human relationships become invisible battlefields where battles are waged through glances, through words, through abstaining from words, through indifference, callousness; and families suffer from cold wars and hot peace. Isn't that our daily experience?
So co- existence of self- centered entities, wanting to relate on their own terms, lead to tensions, conflicts, and clashes, in the same way. On one hand, you create science and technology, means of communication and transportation, and on the other hand, you want to have self- centered entities with the idea of their own sovereignties. Then the economies clash, the economic interests of sovereign nation- states clash. Their desire for economic expansion, ideological expansion, stimulates clashes, tensions; and then you create, you build up a United Nations, where the sovereign states send their representatives, not the representatives of the people, but the representatives of the states, the sovereign nation- states, sending their representatives to the United Nations to argue - to argue, to bargain, and to go back to their government to tell that their interest has been preserved at the cost of someone else's.
Don't you see the battles that are going on between the developing and the developed countries; the economic battles, the ideological battles, between the communist, the orthodox communist, and non- communist countries? So, I think the aspiration for peace, the aspirations for love, compassion, as a way of living, the aspiration for liberty, fraternity, and equality was not coordinated with the existence of sovereign nation- states. Either we have to set ourselves free of the theory of nation- states and the idea of sovereignty of the states, or, we have to say that world peace is not possible. World peace requires a world economy, a global approach to political issues.
So, there has been an anomaly, historically speaking: that aspiration for peace, love, compassion, brotherhood, friendship etc., and the insistence for having nation- states as completely independent and sovereign units, coexisting with other such sovereign units. We have no time to go into the elaboration of these issues, one is just briefly mentioning them.
Secondly, the aggressiveness, the tendency for violence, has been condemned by religion, spirituality. The so- called organized, institutionalized religions have been talking about turning the other cheek, talking about the non- violence of the Buddha and Mahaveda, and so on. They have been talking about it in individual life: but on the other hand, these organized religions, preachers of spirituality, propounders of human ethics, etc., never bothered to correlate their talk about non- violence, peace, or love with the economic relationship which is the content of our daily living from morning until night.
The economic structure we have created after the Industrial Revolution is a structure yielding to exploitation, by the producer of the consumer, maybe not in one's own nation, but where we find markets. The governments of the nation- states became trading companies, and therefore the main concern of the national economy is finding markets for the production that goes on very quickly, very fast, due to technology. So, you go on producing, and you want markets, therefore controlling markets becomes a competition: a new competition where you form power blocks, political and economic power blocks, and the competition, the comparison, the tension go on. Either, the economy will have to take the shape of a global economy, sharing the resources and distributing the products on the basis of equality, freedom, etc., or, there is going to be absence of peace, there is going to be tension, there will be battles fought on the economic level. There is no bloodshed, but there is something worse than bloodshed in these economic battles. So please do see with me that peace is a holistic way of living. You cannot fragment life, and say we will talk about peace and love and compassion in the religious gatherings, churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, and in relation to economics, production, profit making, marketing, has nothing to do with love, compassion, freedom, friendship, etc. It will have its own ethics, that's what the international economic Mafia is doing today. World peace requires a new approach to economic relations, to the ownership or resources, to the ownership of means and instruments of production, not in one country, but on the global level.
If you go on developing science and technology, you have to look to the psychological structure, and see that it does not remain rigid, dedicated to worn- out ideas of the past centuries. If the psychological structure remains tethered to worn- out ideologies which have lost their relevance to the context of the twentieth or twenty- first centuries, obviously there cannot be peace. Peace shall remain a Utopia as long as it is not looked on as a whole way of living, but is looked on as an issue of treaties and agreements between governments. Its a whole, holistic, new way of living involving the total population of the globe. Not something to be played around with by the governments, it's not a festival of the governments, its something where the lives of the people, the psychology of the people gets involved.
You see, so the instinctive aggressiveness has not been sanctioned and glorified. There has been an emphatic, cooperative effort among the human races to curb it, to restrain it. They tried to restrain it through religion; but the organized and institutionalized religions forgot their purpose and went astray. They talked about hells and heavens, and rewards and punishments, and gods and goddesses. Instead of persuading the people to bring heaven down to earth, they encouraged the fear of punishment and the temptation for rewards. So the whole ethics got vitiated. Instead of religions helping human relationships and living on Earth to become more peaceful, they created a priviledged class, running away form daily life in the name of religion and renunciation, and becoming a parasitical class. Because you become religious you don't have to work, you can retire to monasteries, to temples, to mosques. So religion could not help.
We thought we could help to restrain and curb through education, but the educational systems were geared to the needs of the nation- states, and they started training human beings to fit into the economic and political structures the governments were building up. So that became a new kind of bondage. That did not help.
So peace has remained a Utopia, though a distinct aspiration of the collective human family because there have been loop- holes which will have to be filled. The aspiration for peace having a bearing on economic structures, on political set- ups, administrative set- ups, educational systems, and so on, when there is that correlation and coordinated effort, then peace need not remain a Utopia.
Instead of emphasizing aggressiveness and assertiveness, if the children in families and schools are helped to emphasize the aspiration for friendship, sharing, cooperation, then they will not grow up with the psychology of confrontation, they will grow up with the psychology of friendship and cooperation. Today, the whole education throws us back on a defensive attitude on relationship. Beware, somebody might cheat you. Psychologically, somebody might deceive you. So, you have your own defense mechanisms, and psychological relationship is like a battlefield. A kind of fear is stimulated, and the child is always asked to compare, to compete, to be on its guard. If the educational systems introduced the children to the mechanism of mind, to the whole movement of part, and helped the children to explore the myth of an individual mind, than perhaps peace shall not remain a Utopia.
Why not observe our own life? Is there peace in your life only when you are not fighting with someone else, quarrelling with someone else? The absence of verbal quarrel, psychological clash, does it constitute peace in your life? Has peace any positive and constructive content as far as your daily living is concerned? It seems to me that peace is related to the awareness of what is the aim, the objective, the purpose of life. As long as living is a means to an end, and not an end in itself and by itself, there cannot be peace in the life of an individual. Going to a school or a university is a means to acquire a degree, a diploma, that is a means to acquire a job, a job is a means to acquire money, money is a means to purchase social security, and so on and so on. We are not concerned with living. The quality expressed in the movement of our relationship with nature, with ourselves, with fellow non- human species, with fellow human beings, on so on - the quality, the essence of life is neglected completely, and living becomes only a chain acquisitive process. Like chain smoking, its chain acquiring, acquisitive process.
Go on acquiring. Acquire, own, possess, protect, and die in the end, feeling that you had acquired so much, and you had so much wealth, and you are leaving behind so much property. Do you see, living becomes a means to an end, not for the joy of it, not because life is something sacred? Life is for living. The purpose of life cannot be outside living. The act of living cannot become a means to an end, to please some god or goddess, to acquire money, prestige, security, etc.; but the act of living is the worship of the divine, it is the only way one can express gratitude, gratefulness, to the cosmic life of which one is born, and in which one is living and moving.
So, it seems to me, there cannot be peace - there may not be clashes, you may be a decent human being, and you have cultivated the art of controlling your emotions, therefore you do not have quarrels, clashes, battles with other human beings, but controlling, curbing, restraining is not enough - peace requires a different perspective of life, it requires purification of perception: life not as a means to an end, but life as an end in itself. Life itself is divine, life is divinity, it is something sacred, and reverence for life is the perfume of religiosity. There is no other religion, but reverence for life that is self- generated and self- sustained.
So there cannot be peace unless there is this radically, qualitatively different perspective of life, and therefore a different approach to life, and a different attitude to human issues, challenges, problems. So peace is not only non- war, or non- aggression. It is moving from a fragmentary, partial, or compartmental perspective of life to a holistic perspective of life. It is moving from the dimension of the psychology of confrontation to the psychology of cooperation.