What Is the Role or the Responsibility of Religious Leaders to Make World Peace?
20 Dec 2016 – I’d like to offer my answer to this question at two levels.
But first of all, let me state that in the present context religious leaders can do very little to achieve World Peace. However, having said this, it does not mean they can do nothing. No, they can help achieve World Peace and should do their most towards achieving that goal. This is my first point.
And now going to the two levels of my answer to today’s question.
The 1st level I’d call it the “religious immaturity” level.
The dissension that goes on in the name of religions or beliefs is caused by an immature spiritual understanding, or by a shallow level of spiritual understanding and realization.
I would say and recommend that all religious leaders should open their hearts to accepting the diversity of ways in which the Lord can express Himself, and make Himself or His message known; and to the diversity of ways in which He can accept our love, devotion, service, worship, and prayers to Him. God is unlimited, so why want to limit access to Him to just one single way – “my way”?
Rationally, or intellectually, as theists, or better, as monotheists, we all do believe in the One Same Single Supreme Lord, the Father of all beings, and the Creator of the entire existence. The One Absolute Godhead !
But then, we have a hard time accepting that there are various ways in which He has conveyed his message to Mankind over the ages, and that He has made Himself known over the millennia; and we have a hard time accepting that according to so many differences in terms of the ways the Lord reveals Himself, in terms of background, culture, beliefs, historical period we are living in, and so on and so forth, there is a diversity of ways in which we can learn about God, know God, see God, worship God, pray to God, serve God, and ultimately fully surrender ourselves to the Lord.
And then as religious leaders, if we have such an immature spiritual understanding, or immature spiritual realizations, then we reflect this same immaturity of ours onto our congregations and followers, who then act in intolerant ways towards other forms of belief, or other forms of understanding, seeing, worshiping, serving, praying, and surrendering to the Same One Only Absolute Godhead.
The second level is much deeper, I would say.
And at this 2nd level I would say that there are two main conditions for World Peace, without which we will never be able to achieve any peace at all.
On the one hand, we must understand that war and violence, or let’s say killing and violence, are karmic reactions. So unless we go to the deep causes of killing and violence, and stop them at that level, peace will just not be possible, however strongly we engage in wishful thinking, or in making all sorts of peaceful arrangements, or peaceful agreements or in signing of peace treaties.
Just to give one simple example of these karmic reactions that we are getting as worldwide war and violence. If you just look at the massive killing and violence that goes on in the world in the name of food, where literally billions and billions of innocent creatures are being cruelly raised and most cruelly slaughtered for the sake of food, you’ll understand what I mean. All this violence and killing by the billions that is going on in the world in the name of food for humans is naturally causing a chain reaction that just won’t stop unless and until we stop it at the root, and just let animals live their own lives for their own purposes, and stop seeing them as food for humans.
So on this point, religious leaders should come forward very strongly and in a more open way against all sorts of cruel practices, and urge their congregations and followers to also fight against and stop all such cruel practices, as no scripture endorses unnecessary violence or killing of innocent creatures, just the opposite – all scriptures are quite clear about the consequences of any type of violence. E.g. see Job 4:8 “As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it.” Matthew 26:52 “(…) all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”
The other condition, and at an even much deeper level, is what our dear Spiritual Master Shrila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada called the “peace formula“, and he wrote about it on his comment to verse 29 of the 5th Chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita As It Is.
The greatest peace formula is the understanding that the Supreme Lord, as the Creator, is the owner of everything that exists and the beneficiary of all human activities. Everything should be offered to the transcendental service of the Lord, because He is the only proprietor of everything that exists. Under the spell of illusion, the living entities are trying to be lords of all they survey, but actually they are all dominated by the material energy of the Lord. The Lord is the master of material nature, and the conditioned souls are under the stringent rules of material nature. And everything is the property of the Supreme Lord, since He is the Creator of all that exists.
Unless one understands these bare facts, it is not possible to achieve peace in the world, either individually or collectively.
Therefore, only by acknowledging the Supreme Lord as the owner and proprietor of everything, and as the Supreme Controller of material nature, and only by offering all our deeds, words and thoughts in the service of the Lord, and by returning to Him all the so called wealth and assets we might have in our possession – and which were never ours in the first place -, can there be peace in the World.
These are my little 2 cents towards this discussion, and I hope that somehow they can be of some use.
Thank you very much !
Rui Silva (Radha-Govinda dasa) graduated in economics and worked as an economist at Air Portugal until retiring from material activities30 years ago to become a Vaishnava monk in the Hare Krishna Movement. He is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment, president of the Krishna Temple in Porto-Portugal, married, two children. He works as interpreter/translator and is an animal rights and human rights activist.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 2 Jan 2017.
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