Over the course of the last several months, Sri and Bob have been holding dialogues with Dwarko-ji. Some key excerpts are collected here. This is offered not only to inspire, but also to form some guidance for those who seek to have active participation in the work of the Center for Nonviolence Research. The spirit of a dialogue is to engage in active inquiry. There is no attempt to convert another to see our own point of view. The intent is to learn about ourselves and learn about others through inquiry.
1. Some say Materialism is as the pursuit of material possessions. Some others see it as the pursuit of money. What is your attitude to possessions and money?
The people who have money power should treat themselves not as owners of money but as trustees. They will earn money and will use money and will use money for their own purpose. But, the rest will be surrendered to the society. Here, I express the words given by Jesus Christ, "Self Obedience, Chastity and Voluntary poverty”.
[Sri] Just today I got to read Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, which was given to me by Bob.
A passage from that book spoke directly to this topic.
You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?
what shall tomorrow bring to the over-prudent dog burying bones in the
as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?
[Sri] My own observation about Dwarko-ji is that, he has little or no possessions; draws no salary and appears to me to have embraced all the three values Self-obedience, Chastity and Voluntary poverty.
2. We agree with the desire not to create an "institution" with its attendant politics. What are some practical ways of structuring the organization so that needed leadership is present to guide the work but avoids the politics of power that comes with that.
Our Institution will be of loose brother hood. This institution will have the basic philosophy of Science, Spirituality and Mutual Trust. This will create a new institutional set up.
3. You also speak of the "lust for property and power" that is corrupting society. All the societies in the world are now oriented to personal ownership of property. Can we balance between the lust for it that corrupts and yet maintain a sense of ownership and ambition to achieve, which is the energy, needed to motivate people?
As I have said above, lust for property and power can be developed into trusteeship.
4. "One world, One religion, One culture". There are possibly different interpretations. The interpretation we cannot agree with is that creating a homogeneous culture in the world, one ruling nation and a single religion. Perhaps there is another interpretation. Perhaps it has to do with "getting along" with each other while allowing Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Jews to practice their own religion. Perhaps it has to do with nations respecting each other and practice inclusive thinking.
You see the World has become small. They call it global village. All these barriers of caste, colour, creed, nation. sex are going to be broken. The Hindu, Muslim, Christian, these labels are out of date. We take every creature as our kith and kin. We develop universal consciousness. We develop super consciousness. Science will help us to create outer man, Spirituality will help us to create inner man; Integration of science and spirituality will help us to create Superman. When there is Superman, there will be a new religion, new government and new culture.
5. Reasons for violence? It appears simplistic to characterize violence as the consequence of science or capitalism. The history of mankind, long before religion appeared, long before capitalism or science came, was riddled with violence. If violence predates the institutions that we wish to hold responsible, this should cause us to probe deeper into the reasons for violence.
Jesus Christ said, "Resist not evil". Gandhi said, "Passive resistance". Vinobha said, "Active assistance in right thinking ", and now we say, to solve the problem of violence though the development of spiritual force in ourselves. While sitting in Bodhgaya center, We can transmit our ideas to people who are involved in violence and change their heart.
6. What is spiritual force? How does this work for nonviolence?
This week, I was in Mumbai. I read in one book about a nice incident. This incident happened before 1940. A group of dacoits sent a letter to the head of a village, that they would come after two days to loot the village. The bead man contacted the villagers in a meeting and told them about the letter. Everybody was frightened and a worried and they went to one Saint, who was also living in the same village. The Saint was also a good singer. They told him about the dacoits. He told them not to worry. Come in the evening, we shall go to meet the dacoits. Then he told his wife to prepare a nice dinner for some special guests. She prepared the dinner. The Saint in the evening accompanied by the villagers went out of the village to receive the dacoits. Seven dacoits came in the night. First the Saint sprinkled rose water on their faces. The dacoits were surprised. They said, “When we go in the village, people run away. They scream. They close their doors. Here, you have come to welcome us ". The Saint told them, " This is your first visit to our village. It is our sacred duty to welcome you.” He welcomed them to his house for having dinner. The dacoits went to his house and had dinner and asked the Saint to sing a song for them. He sang a song of Muslim Saint. All the dacoits were Muslims. Having taken dinner they told the Saint and the villagers, " We have eaten your salt, we will not do anything wrong in this village. We are grateful to you and we are going back. Please forgive us for our nasty letter."
This is the non-violence in action! I am searching such methods.
7. The situation in Bihar appears quite troubled? What personal development would prepare to work with the violence there?
I feel myself lucky to get cooperation from your group and I believe that something nice will come out from our honest effort. I am never frustrated in this difficult situation of Bihar. I am a small man with many weaknesses. Still I feel that with the help from friends like you, something nice will come out, I remember a couplet of Vinobha, " Inner cleanliness, outer cleanliness, manual work, non-violence and in the end surrender ". So, let us do our duty properly and then not expect any results. This will, help in our personal development.
8. Explain “Poverty is frozen Violence”
At present, the world is passing through crisis. Half of the world is poor and hungry. It is said that the poverty is frozen violence. If there is poverty, there will be violence. This is the root cause of unhappiness all over the world.
[Bob]There is no doubt that the world is in crisis. This may be the most dangerous time in human history. We MUST eradicate poverty in the world. It should have been done decades ago. Since Capitalism is a viable and dominant force, we can use this force itself in eradicating poverty. Key to this idea is to develop and communicate the idea that eradicating poverty can be profitable. That would put the world’s entrepreneurs to work solving the problem. I have no doubt that given the incentive; the world’s entrepreneurs could get the job done.
While solving the poverty problem would rid the world of “frozen violence”, violence in some of its worst forms would continue to exist, perhaps even grow. Violence is not confined to the poor, however. The richest people are often the ones that perpetrate violence. They pay for the training, the transportation, the facilities and the implements of violence. For example, we know that Osama is a rich Saudi and that many other rich people have contributed to his organization. Rich people pay for the Irish/Catholic problems in Ireland and the Middle East violence. Of course there is domestic violence at every economic level, in every country and region and in every caste. In fact, it would not surprise me if a study concluded that the incidence of crime and violence is lower in places of real poverty than say lower-middle class or even the average of violence in all classes.
9. What is the source of conflicts among humans?
Mind is creating trouble for the man. As Lord Buddha said, "The passion, lust, desire, craving is the cause of unhappiness in Human life". Therefore, the result is war, violence and unhappiness.
[Bob] It is often that we find the roots of good and evil entwined. Here is yet another case.
In the case of strong motivating emotions I would agree that they are too often the source of Mankind’s problems. However, that is only ˝ the story. They are also the source of Mankind’s achievements. A world without passion would be a dull world indeed. It is the control and sublimation of Man’s desires that we want to encourage and not the elimination of desire in itself.
Dwarko is a perfect example of the need for passion well directed. It is his passion that drives him to spread the concept of non-violence.
10. Please speak of values in human life and nonviolent action.
Man is passing through a crucible. The old values are breaking and Man is in need of new values. Man has lost faith in violence but not created faith in non-violence. Now the choice is between non-violence and total destruction. It has crossed the limit also. Everybody in the world understands that violence cannot solve the human problems. But man has become victim of mind. Mind is giving trouble to Man. So it is necessary to develop human mind, if man wants to survive. So he has to live above mental attitudes. Man has to search new values of life. For this, Sri Aurobindo suggested to develop super mind. “To rise over the passion and lust of mind and achieve super consciousness and live on super mental plane”.
[Bob] Dwarko hits an important point right on the head (no pun intended). Mankind must go through a paradigm shift. We must replace the set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that foster violence as a way of solving problems. Today’s technologies of destruction are so powerful that a small minority of people bent on violence could virtually destroy the world, as we know it.
Dwarko sees the transformation process as having started “Man has lost faith in violence…” but not completed, “…but not created faith in non-violence…” I fear that he is right when he says, “Now the choice is between non-violence and total destruction.” So, we are at the phase change, and as we know, things are most interesting at the phase change. Perhaps we can really do some good.
I wish it were true that “Everyone in the world understands that violence cannot solve the human problems.” [We could say “More and more people understand …” - Sri] While many, perhaps most people believe that violence cannot solve Mankind’s problems, unfortunately a significant number of people have not achieved that understanding. For example, the current strain of terrorism is not based on poverty and certainly the terrorists believe that violence will achieve their goals. In fact, to some extent, violence is achieving their goals. The key to unwinding this may be how “violence”, “problems” and “goals” are defined.
Since violence has the characteristic of a one-way street, the ultimate question may be ‘How do we convert violence believers and perpetrators into non-violence believers and practitioners?’ In other words, “How do we generate faith in non-violence”? That’s a tough question that needs to be answered.
11. Examples of super mind in real life?
In India, in personal life, there were many examples, where the man lived on the super mental plane. Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavir spoke about practicing non-violence to solve the economic, social and political problems of mankind.
[Bob] Yes, many times in many places there have been people that might properly be called super-human. The best of them set the highest standards for human conduct. Their very existence moved Mankind to civility, creativity, compassion and morality. These super-humans have changed the world for the better. They garnered the support of millions of people simply by the force of their ideas, their charisma and their personal moral strength.
And their followers have too often become so certain that they now know the only right way that the charity, compassion and love engendered by the leader is subverted and turned to hatred and violence.
Unfortunately the power to move men carries with it the power to do good or to do evil. What turns a person to evil instead of good is a nagging question. Certainly, violence is not linked exclusively to poverty or even to belief systems. There are those who have no desire for peace. They believe they are entitled to any piece they can take. In the Prophet, Kahlil Gibran said something to the effect that ‘…the best that is in any of us is in all of us… so too the evil.’
The other part of the equation that is very troubling is that evil and violence of just a few people can be incredibly destructive, especially with today’s technologies. So it won’t be good enough if 95% of the world believes in non-violence and 5% believe in violence.
We must not oversimplify the problem for if we do, no solutions will be found.
12. Dwarko-ji, please comment on Spiritual power and how it works.
As we know that when element uranium is dissected and reaches the atom, there is an explosion of subtle energy and nuclear energy is produced. With this energy one can destroy the whole world by pressing a button in his room. In the same way if man rises over the physical body, mind and intellect and reaches the spiritual stage, surely, he can also bring a change in the whole world. Today, it is the necessity of mankind to develop a spiritual power through super consciousness.
Then the question arises, how to do it? Gandhi has shown the way. Today the power of words and letters is not working, as the mankind can't be influenced by writings or speaking. Gandhi said, that, "when I die, burn all my book in my cremation. They will be of no use. My life is my message. Whatever, I had done in my life will help to solve the human problems". But now, it seems that, personal actions are also not effective.
So, now there is only one dimension left. That is the spiritual power. Man has to create collective super power to bring change.
Dwarko’s identification of a Spiritual Power to create the needed paradigm shift is probably the only force that could achieve that goal in time. So how do we help that happen?
[Bob] I would worry about a charismatic leader that would bring the world to a spiritual awakening. Leaders tend to support one way of thinking. I believe we need to maintain our differences but create an environment and spiritual philosophy that respects those differences. I like to think about life as a mosaic. A wonderful picture made of discrete parts. When you step back and look at the whole, the differences are what give it character and meaning. An all white picture or all brown or all black pictures would certainly not be as interesting, creative or expressive as a colorful mosaic. And yes there are limits on the discrete pieces too. They are chosen and placed in the picture based on size, color and shape. The choosing is the job of the Creator. Our work is to make ourselves worthy of being chosen.
13. You have spoken of a New method of non-violent action?
Jesus Christ said resist not evil. Gandhi said, "No, we must resist evil, not with evil, but with goodness". That he called passive resistance. As the time passed, Vinobha said, "In passive resistance there is also coercion". So he suggested instead of passive resistance, active assistance in right thinking. We should convince the person and change his mind. He also said that," In violence, we use sharp, sharper and sharpest methods. But in non-violence we must be gentle, gentler and gentlest. So there is a necessity now to make research in non-violent methods. We should take some problems of violence in the society and try to solve them by non-violent methods. In this way, we can develop a new mind based on super consciousness and solve the problems of violence.
14. What does it mean to combine Science+Spirituality+Mutual Trust, as thethree drivers of 21st century?
At present, the science has progressed very much in the world. It has shortened the time and space, man has come nearer man. Unfortunately, science has gone towards violence. Therefore, science has become curse. But if science takes the help of spirituality it can become a blessing. In fact, science is searching truth in outer world and spirituality is searching truth in outer world and spirituality is searching truth in inner world. Science is giving the speed in the development of mankind and spirituality gives direction. When there is Harmony between science and spirituality, the result will be a Superman. Therefore, to create a superman, it is necessary to bring about the integration of science and spirituality. Keeping these view in mind, Vinobha-ji established Samanway Ashram (Harmony) in Bodh Gaya, the place where Lord Buddha got enlightenment and he suggested that science will develop the head, spirituality the heart and mutual trust the hand. So there is the necessity for harmonizing science, spirituality and mutual trust to solve the human problems and create a whole man. We have to keep scientific outlook to solve the problems on the basis of spirituality and mutual trust. For this we need experiments for solving problems and for creating a non-violent society.
[Bob]I don’t agree that science has gone towards violence. Certainly man has used scientific discoveries to create violence. But the discovery of how the universe works is not in itself good or evil, violent or non-violent. It would be a shame to prevent inquiry in the name of preventing violence. Is the statement “Science has gone to violence” essential for the rest of the proposal to stand and keep its integrity. If we say no, then we can avoid saying that.
[Sri] Dwarko-ji tells us a story about Vinobha who was invited to the World Peace Congress that met in India. He declined as he had work to do. A delegation from the WPC came to visit him and asked him if he was worried about nuclear weapons. Vinobha is said to have replied, “I am not concerned about Nuclear Weapons. I am worried about the hatred that man has for man. If that hatred is gone we won’t have to worry about Nuclear Weapons”
[Bob] Certainly science is ahead of our moral structures. We must deal with very significant questions on how we apply the science of the 21st century. It is not likely that science will focus on more means of destruction when we already have enough to destroy the world. It looks like life and the building blocks of life are the hot agenda of science today. That’s where all the money is going. And those issues could generate polarized populations with each group believing fervently that they have the only right answer…that could lead to more violence.
In fact at present we do not have a person like Gandhi who can guide us to do research in non-violence. But we desperately need nonviolence also. So we must work together and put collective effort. Samanway Ashram is in Bihar. There are many problems of violence in Bihar. We want to take some problem and try to search ways and means to solve that problem.