“Disturbance is due to want of an ultimate goal, and when one is certain that Krishna is the enjoyer, proprietor and friend of everyone and everything, then one can, with a steady mind, bring about peace.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 2.66 Purport)
Contestants at beauty pageants get judged not only on their looks, but also on their intellect. Their intelligence is judged by the answers they give to several insightful questions posed by panelists or judges. One of the questions that is always asked is “What is the one thing the contestant would wish for in life?” The stock answer is “World Peace. I wish for everyone in the world to be happy and living peacefully.” This is something desired by not only Miss America but almost everyone in the world. So how can we actually go about achieving real, everlasting peace?
Let’s first take a look at some of the more conventional methods. The most popular solution seems to be diplomacy. Panels consisting of world leaders are put together, which then meet on a regular basis discussing the issues at hand. This method is appealing because it doesn’t involve violence and it incorporates communication and dialogue, both of which are usually lacking in relationships between world leaders. In order for diplomacy to work, there must be compromise. This represents the biggest hurdle to peace. Every human being has desires, which they then act upon. This is known as karma.
Karma includes any activity performed which has a material reaction associated with it, either good or bad. Something as simple as getting up in the morning to go to school or work is considered karmic activity since there is a desired end-goal. Students are working towards finishing their studies, and workers go to the office to earn money to support their livelihood. Both are noble activities, but they are still done for a fruitive result. In a similar manner, world leaders each have their own agenda and personal desires that they work very hard for. When these desires conflict, as they almost surely will, disagreements result, and wars ensue.
In Ronald Reagan’s famous 1964 speech in support of presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, he said that if someone wants peace, they can have it in a second. “It’s called surrender. Give up everything you believe in and stand for, and you will automatically have peace, with the opposing side gaining victory.” This perfectly points out the fatal flaw in diplomacy. Weaker parties obviously don’t want to surrender, so instead they make false promises in hopes of lulling the opposition into a false sense of security. Talks take place, agreements are made, both parties claim victory, and peace is achieved. Yet this peace doesn’t last long at all. The Middle East is a great example of this. After the end of World War II, the United Nations decided to partition the Palestine state into a Jewish state, and that one act has led to conflict ever since. Every new president in the U.S. is faced with the “Middle East Crisis”, having to deal with the constant fight over who has the right to rule over the land. There have been countless resolutions and agreements made, but there has been anything but peace.
Real peace can only come about when people connect with Krishna, or God. A country may fight over who has control over a certain area of land, but God is the actual proprietor of everything. This entire universe was created by Him in a single glance. At a certain time in the future, everything in this world will be destroyed by Him as well. This is the cycle of creation and destruction that has been going on since time immemorial.
“O son of Kunti, at the end of the millennium every material manifestation enters into My nature, and at the beginning of another millennium, by My potency I again create.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.7)
Though diplomacy usually fails in bringing about peace, the aggressive use of force actually tends to be more successful. If a country gains a decisive military victory, the peace that results tends to last a little longer. The United States was formed after the Revolutionary War which saw the British rulers defeated and driven out of the country. Yet from studying human history, we can understand that states and empires come and go all the time. Some last longer than others, but inevitably, they crumble. This is because fruitive desires can never be satisfied.
“The Blessed Lord said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material modes of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring, sinful enemy of this world.” (Bg. 3.37)
One can only be peaceful when he no longer has material desires. A person can’t simply give up wanting things. It is the nature of the living entity to be independent and act on their desires. The key is that one simply has to change their desires from the material platform to the spiritual. Shifting desires is already something we’re accustomed to. For example, teenagers and young adults are known for being care-free and engaging in unadulterated fun. Yet there inevitably comes a time when these same people grow up and realize that such activity doesn’t bring them happiness. They then take to family life and shift all their desires towards pleasing their spouse and children. Any good parent will tell you that their children are their life-blood. They do everything as a sacrifice for their children.
This change comes about because we are always happier when we are serving someone besides ourselves. This is due to our original nature, that of servant to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna. The spirit soul is completely pure and a lover of God, but due to contact with material nature, it has become trapped in an embodied form, forced to act on the desires of the mind. Just as the parent gains happiness through serving their children, we human beings can achieve the highest form of happiness by serving God. All our other problems will be taken care of as a result.
Aside from issues relating to world peace, there are many other similar minor issues that people try to tackle, such as anger management, domestic violence, teenage pregnancy, etc. What we don’t realize is that these problems are merely symptoms of our biggest problem, the forgetfulness of our relationship with Krishna. Bhagavata-dharma is the occupational duty which connects with Krishna, so one who engages in it will naturally be happy all the time. This equates to a happy family life, which leads to a feeling of security, which leads to a peaceful society, and so forth. Krishna consciousness has a trickle-down effect. The analogy of watering a tree is appropriate in this regard. Serving Krishna means watering the root of the tree, which simultaneously feeds the branches and leaves.
We can serve Krishna by engaging in devotional service. Chanting His name, reading books written by the great saints, and regularly viewing His deity are activities that take little time but yield big results. We simply have to take the first step towards Him, and He will show us the way. If we employ everything for His benefit and petition others to join us, we can have peace on earth.