Peace from ‘The Waste Land’ & other realms


NS NAGARAJA shares some thoughts on the science of peace.

Peace is something everybody wants. Perhaps it is one of the top ten highly prized items! What is this peace?

Peace is “freedom from disturbance”. A disturbed state comes when there is disruption from normal and steady functioning. This applies to an individual inside, as well as to a community, a state or a country. By the time I finished writing this line, almost accidentally I read something about T. S. Elliot’s The Waste Land. I was sure that I would not be able to read and understand 434 lines of poetry, but I wanted to check what it was about. The ending caught my attention: “Shantih shantih shantih”. I was not interested in The Waste Land any more, but in the person who wrote it, and what made him write “Peace, peace, peace” at the end. He must be a noble soul.

The Nobel prizewinner had a great amount of disturbance in his personal life. It pushed him to create great literary works like The Waste Land that left a yearning with the signature saying, “We want peace, peace and peace.” Elliot moved on from The Waste Land and produced other great works, perhaps in the state of peace.

This led me to explore more of the science of peace. The first reference I came across is from the field of practical philosophy taught in the Upanishads. I must warn you that I know very little about the Upanishads, but they talk about Tapa trayas, the three kinds of troubles (I had a lot of them!) and how to resolve them and achieve peace. Adi bhautika (physical realm) troubles arise out of external circumstances, Adi daivika (divine realm) troubles arise out of karmic laws and Adhyaatmika troubles arise out of one’s own self – body and mind.

The Upanishads preach that shanti mantras (prayers for peace) can bring the troubled individual out of this troubled condition. Now my curiosity started growing. We all know that a particular state of being embodies a certain level of consciousness, but that itself is a knowledge and we may not have of full understanding of it. In the ancient teachings, mantras were used to invoke certain knowledge and a condition in the person reciting them, whereas repeating them mechanically is a ritualistic act with little or no results.

Here are some of these prayers called shanti mantras.

One from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says:

Aum! That (Brahman) is infinite, and this (universe) is infinite.
The infinite proceeds from the infinite.
(Then) taking the infinitude of the infinite (universe),
It remains as the infinite (Brahman) alone.
Aum! Peace! Peace! Peace!

This evokes a sense of the vastness of existence. The ‘I’ is part of such infinity. Moving the mind in this thought itself can be elevating. Attaching the mind to that higher ideal, that Reality, even if it is temporary, will produce corresponding vibrations and feelings.

This one from the Taittiriya Upanishad brings a simple idea of togetherness. If we truly immerse our minds in the meaning, will we not start caring about our co-travelers?

Aum! May He protect us both together;
may He nourish us both together;
May we work conjointly with great energy,
May our study be vigorous and effective;
May we not mutually dispute (or may we not hate any).
Aum! Let there be peace in me!
Let there be peace in my environment!
Let there be peace in the forces that act on me!

The following shanti mantra from the Aitareya Upanishad is about integrity and being truthful:

Aum! May my speech be in accord with my mind;
May my mind be in accord with speech.
O Self-effulgent One, reveal Thyself to me.
May you both (speech and mind) be the
carriers of the Veda to me.
May all that I have heard not depart from me.
I shall
join together day And night through this study.
I shall utter what is verbally true;
I shall utter what is mentally true.
May That (Brahman) protect me;
May That protect
the speaker (i.e. the teacher), may That protect me;
May That protect the speaker –
may That protect the speaker.
Aum! Peace! Peace! Peace!
Lead us from the unreal to the real
Lead us from darkness to light
Lead us from
death to immortality
Aum! Peace! Peace! Peace

Now, can all this knowledge and understanding of peace come without truly being in that state of being, that spiritual condition? Ponder over it.

Let the spiritual condition create the necessary awareness and knowledge in us. If pursued under proper guidance and with the help of Yogic Transmission, meditation can truly create that spiritual condition in us. Let peace not remain as knowledge or definition. Let it be the foundation of our existence and help us launch our consciousness into a realm yet to be known.

Article by NS NAGARAJA

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