We all have unity and, at the same time, diversity. Physically, mentally and materially we are all different. We do not think the same way. Although we sometimes say we are thinking alike, our thoughts are never one hundred percent the same. Even when we gather for a common purpose, our thoughts are still different. No mind is exactly the same as another mind. Nature never makes duplicates. Scientists say that not even two snowflakes are exactly alike. There is constant variety in creation. Mentally we are different; physically we are different. The only thing in which we are not different is our awareness, our consciousness, the light within—or, as the Bible calls it, the image of God. In that we are all one. The same light is shining through many different colored lamps.
That diversity is necessary because we all have to play different parts in this cosmic drama. Each one comes into the drama with different makeup and costumes. Unfortunately, we do not make up our minds to live up to the truth that we are really all one behind the costumes. That is the reason there is so much chaos in this world right now, even in the religious field. As many of you certainly know, more lives have been lost in the name of God and religion than for any other reason. All the political wars and natural calamities together have not killed as many people.
This shows that there is something terribly wrong in our approach. We are looking at the superficial side of religion and forgetting to go deep into its foundation. If we did, we would find that all the religions ultimately talk about the same God, the same Truth; but somehow we ignore that common base and continue to fight over the superficial aspects. It is time for us to recognize that Truth is one; there cannot be two truths. If we would only realize that, we could enjoy the variety in our expression of that Truth. Variety is the spice of life, no doubt. We need it for enjoyment. If we were all the same— looked the same, thought the same—I think this world would be a very boring place. The varieties add charm to our life.
Think about food for a minute. Each person likes something different. But even though our tastes may different, we would not deny other people because of that. We do not cast them aside: “You are bread and butter people. Go away! I like salad. Everybody should eat salad. Anyone who eats something else is wrong.” Fortunately—so far at least—we have not started separating people in the name of food.
We know that there is only one purpose for eating, though we may eat many foods, and that is to satisfy our hunger. This is an excellent example of the unity in purpose and the variety in expression. Life should be like that. When we forget that unity, the variety is not fun anymore. It becomes a basis for fighting. If we could remember that unity always, we would find real peace, harmony, and joy in the world. There is nothing else to be done. It is the lack of this understanding that has created all the wars and the crisis that we are in now. Mere scientific discovery is not to blame. The scientists themselves are not to blame. The fault is in the way we use the scientific discoveries.All these wars are created by human minds that seem to lack the proper understanding.
My sincere wish and prayer is that one day we will all realize our essential oneness, enjoy our differences and live together as one universal family. That is why we built the LOTUS (Light Of Truth Universal Shrine). It is one shrine dedicated to the light of all faiths and to world peace. I am finding that the LOTUS is much appreciated by everyone, everywhere I go. I tell them clearly, “If we want to put an end to all these worldly problems, whatever they are, we should go to the very root. The root cause for all this disharmony is the lack of spiritual understanding.” It is from ignorance of our spiritual oneness that we commit crimes, deny each other, kill each other, rob each other.
The cause of hunger in our world is the lack of spiritual understanding, and the solution is to see the same spirit in everyone. The same is true of all the crimes, whatever problem you look at. If I love you as my own Self, will I sell cigarettes and pollute your lungs just to get your money in my pocket? If there was this kind of love in the world, would we see so much pornography? Even young children are not spared. Why? For what? For money. Is it not so? It is such a shame.
The root of all these problems is this lack of spiritual understanding. That is why whatever we do to treat these problems will bring only temporary results. We can only eradicate the problem completely if we go to the very root of it and treat the cause. That is where spirituality comes in. Our spiritual or religious education should bring us together— respecting everyone’s religion, race, culture and so on. It should make us feel that we are one family, a world family. No matter what you are, where you are, what your faith is, you are my brother, my sister.
The LOTUS is only a beginning. Our aim is to educate people: “Let us not fight in the name of religion. Let us know that we are all one in spirit.” The moment that kind of understanding comes (the realization that we are all essentially one in spirit although we appear as many), all of our physical and material problems will be solved. Until then the problems will continue.
There is no shortcut to this end. We have been trying to solve our problems in many different ways, but we have not tried to treat the basic cause. Now the time is right. We are slowly beginning to understand the cause for all our health problems, and we are slowly beginning to change our eating and living habits. We are trying to eliminate all the poisons that come into our systems. More and more people have stopped smoking. More and more people have stopped taking meat, refined sugar, alcohol. Why? Because everyone is becoming aware that so many of our physical diseases and mental difficulties stem from wrong living and wrong eating.
In the same way, until and unless the basic cause for all our world problems is eliminated, all the relief our solutions bring will be temporary. It is like painkillers. You may have killed the pain, but you have not rooted out the cause. If you have weeds in your garden, do you simply pluck the stems and the leaves? No, you dig deep and take them up by the roots. Otherwise, they just keep coming back. If the root cause is there, the problem will still return. And the root cause is that we do not see our own spirit.
We are all one spiritual family, and we should all be taking care of each other. Anything that is done to bring this kind of understanding, to bring this knowledge to people is the greatest charity. There are charities that put food on tables today, and I am very happy about that. They perform a great service. But it is also important to eliminate the cause of starvation. If we eliminate the cause, there will no longer be starving people to feed. Let us come forward to make this a reality. I am not talking just about the LOTUS, I am talking about making this understanding a reality. Wherever you go, talk to people. Tell them, “We may look different, even think differently; but we are all one in spirit. Hello, my sister. Hello, my brother.” Care and share, love and give. Apply it in your own life. Then you are carrying a LOTUS in your heart. And that LOTUS light will shine within and without. Please let us all do our share. Nobody is insignificant. Everybody, even a little child can do something. Let all the minds think in these terms and come forward to do something so that the entire creation may be filled with Peace and Joy, Love and Light. Om Shanthi.
(from Peace is Within Our Reach by Sri Swami Satchidananda, reprinted in the February 2008, IYTA Newsletter)