In the case of every problem
man wants to search its root and is not content until his search succeeds.
Where and in what does the root of violence lie? Geneticists will locate it in
the genes inherited from one's forefathers. It would mean that man is helpless
in the matter since he cannot control his heredity. Psychologists trace
violence to one of the basic Instincts. Environmental scientists blame it on
the general atmosphere or circumstances surrounding a human being since his
childhood. Some philosophers attribute it to karmas.
Thus we are confronted with a
plethora of views on the subject. If we pause and think for a moment we find
that each one of them is partial or one-sided, though none of them can be
termed wholly untrue. We must take a holistic view. But even this might not
provide the ultimate solution. More serious thinking is needed. Each of the
theories based on genes, prime instincts, environment and karmas has a
more or less deterministic ring about it, which leaves one both, pessimistic
and helpless in the face of the Inevitable. However, the doctrine of karma
also suggests the possibility of changing the karmas. Then why can't
other factors be changed ? The genes, the instincts, the environment-all can
be changed. The possibility of change kindles new hope in the heart. After
all, we can change; violence can change.
The key to change is the
development of non-violence. Both violence and non-violence inhere in us. Our
mind also works in two ways: one dictates anger; the other counsels patience,
puts the brakes on anger. Both the instigating and the restraining tendencies
are there. Good and evil are both present in us. The real question is which of
the two we shall develop. Which one shall we awaken and which one shall we put
to sleep ?
It is here that meditation has
its role. Through it we can awaken non-violence and put violence to sleep. It
is then a question of proper awakening. Unfortunately we are fully conscious
of things material but totally unconscious of our selves. Meditation makes us
conscious of our selves. It develops self-awareness. Once self-awareness has
dawned, non-violence develops.
We talked earlier of genes,
instincts, environment and karmas. Of these four, environment or the
general atmosphere has an immediate impact on us and so deserves our attention
first. In this connection it is noteworthy that right from childhood man is
exposed to violence, crime and immorality through the mass media-radio,
television, cinema and newspapers. No wonder crime and violence permeate
modern society since the whole atmosphere is charged with them and nothing or
very little is heard of non-violence in general. The worse the crime the
bolder the banner headlines in newspapers. What could be a better source of
free publicity ? A radical change of policy is needed to reverse the
situation. The general atmosphere must improve minimizing people's exposure to
undesirable activities. Sex, greed, fear, suspicion and anger-they all breed
However, while trying to
improve the general tone of the media, it will have to be remembered that the
root cause of violence can be removed only through spirituality or a knowledge
of the self.
In non-violence we veritably
have the philosopher's stone that can change all dross into gold. It is said
that genes and instincts cannot be changed but karmas can certainly be,
else there will be no relevance of penance, austerity and the like. The need
to change remains crucial. Both the root and the branches have to be changed.
And as stated earlier, the most important and powerful means of bringing about
complete change is meditation. It alone has the power to develop non-violence,
self-realization and the sense of unity and equality of all sentient