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What is War?

We are at war! Are we not? Every evening the TV news brings us pictures of conflict, of soldiers with guns patrolling occupied territory while the populations plot to blow them up. We see nation despising nation, terrorists bombing innocents in unsuspecting busy streets, and religious fervour calling for revenge and death sentences. Politicians incite hatred and justify the use of terrifying and deadly force. Hatred is piled upon hatred and fear upon fear. Big brother is in his element, and all in the name of justice. We are at war – otherwise where is the peace?

Apart from starvation and poverty, the most distressing aspect of life is violence (and the former often stems from political violence). If I were to ask you to identify the cause of violence – of wars for instance – you would probably site a number of things. Among the causes that most people would come up with would be politics, imperialism, nationalism, capitalism, communism, racism, fascism, economics, resources, sectarian religions, national interest including defence, the protection of a persecuted minority and so on. But none of these things are really the causes of war – they are only the excuses, the justifications. These are the scapegoats. The real cause lies buried deep in our own subconscious minds. That which we find distasteful in ourselves we project outwards in an attempt to reject it because we are afraid of its implications, we are afraid that we will act out such thoughts and feelings. By exteriorising our negativity we are trying to divorce our selves from it.

We say that we hate war and all its horrors. We want no part in it. We campaign against it, marching with banners and writing letters of protest to those in power. “Not in our name” we shout loud and clear. But it is our own ‘beast’ that we have shifted out into the world of things that we are discrediting. It is our own personal horror that we will not take responsibility for, which we will not admit even to ourselves.

Every disappointment, every feeling of hurt, of hate, jealousy, envy, greed, revenge, suspicion, betrayal, distrust, anger, every ambition that is centred around self interest, every indulgence in self pity, all of our fears, these are the fuels - the very living power of war. These are to be found within every one of us, and every such thought, every such feeling is fuel to the stockpile of horror on the psychic planes, to the beast whose only expression can be violence and horror.

Psychologists will confirm that we make others scapegoats for the evil in ourselves. It is not the man who fires the first bullet that is responsibly for a world at war, for a world in flames, it is we - who have stockpiled the fuel in the collective unconscious, who have piled evil onto evil until it has become a raging beast that must needs to act, to express itself in a world of violent action.

FOR ALL ACTION FOLLOWS THOUGHT. ALL WARS START ON THE PSYCHIC PLANES – MIND/EMOTION. ALL WARS ARE ALREADY RAGING IN THE ASTRAL WORLD LONG BEFORE THEY EMERGE INTO THE MURDERING OF FLESH AND BLOOD. War is like the troubled and unalterable trail of a ship’s wake, the prow of which is already cutting through the waves far ahead.

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Image from Artist Metlius666


None of us can claim immunity from this responsibility. All of us contribute in some measure to the collective beast that is every evil in the world. We are the cause, individually and collectively.

“Cry havoc and let loose the dogs of war” (Julius Caesar) - W.S. This is no mere poetic sentiment it is truth. In war the ‘Hell Hounds’ are let loose from within us and all that was sinful and forbidden by polite society is then encouraged. Hatred, violence, ferocity, cruelty, and every kind of cunning and deceit, all these become transformed into virtues in those who direct them at the ‘enemy’. In one way and in various degrees we welcome war because there is this caged beast within us whose substance we should like to gratify but cannot for fear of the consequences. This beast is in part exteriorised onto scapegoats but its basic being still remains within feeding off our fantasies and daydreams, our fears and insecurities. Occasionally, one of us gives vent to the beast within and then such a person commits vile acts for which we would prescribe the worst of punishments. In this too, there is the element of scapegoating, of venting some of our own steam through punishing others.

Wars can only be stopped at the psychic level; they will never be stopped by politics. War is the way that we think and feel, the beast that we create but will not admit to. Eventually, such a beast must rage its path to the light of day and then all is war – within and without. Even when a war comes to an end there is the starting of the next in the steady build up of hatred and the feelings of injustice and revenge. These are the inevitable results of the manifest act, of that which has gone before.

Thus we see that violence begets violence, that war begets war. The Wisdom Teaching tells us the true nature of these things, it tells us how and where violence is born, and it tells us therefore how to identify the real cause. Above all, this Perennial Wisdom reveals us to ourselves. It shows us what we are, how we work, and thereby how to change ourselves and in time, the world.

Until we can understand and face up to this truth wars and all forms of violence are inevitable. In the inner worlds we have made war: in those same inner worlds we must make peace. We must re-absorb our personal beasts into our conscious selves and transmute their substance by the alchemy of spiritual wisdom.

The wisdom Teaching is the science of consciousness – it is the measure of all things. Within the great field of this creation, of life, mankind is a potential God. We have the power of a God, albeit in smaller measure, it is the power to create with our minds. At the moment we are like children who, when given some sticks, use them to make spears, swords, and bows and arrows. We use our minds to create hell on earth but we could just as easily create heaven. What a frightening power we have in our minds! Everyone should know this truth, a truth which the Wisdom Teaching reveals to the wise.

Eric McGough  




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