Asha Praver's Monthly Letter
January 2005

Dear Friends,Asha Praver photo

In the newsletter from Ananda Sangha in Portland, colony leader Eric Glazzard shares this Christmas story:

In the middle of winter during World War I, German and British soldiers were locked in a stalemate, entrenched on opposite sides of a frozen field. Neither side could advance, nor could they retreat without losing a strategic advantage.

Living conditions were terrible – cold, hunger, disease, fear. To relieve the misery and boredom, the solders took potshots at one another. All day and all night mortar fire alternated with rifle rounds.

Into these terrible conditions came Christmas Eve. Just before midnight, during a break in the shooting, a single voice was heard. A German soldier was singing Silent Night. When the song ended, a profound silence descended. Then a British soldier responded with another Christmas carol. Other soldiers on his side joined in making a chorus of voices. Then the Germans sang again, then the British. And so the night past.

At some point in the singing, one soldier climbed out of his trench. In full view of everyone, he laid down his rifle. There he stood, unarmed, singing. Before long, soldiers from both sides were also standing, singing, unarmed, outside their trenches.

On Christmas Day, the soldiers celebrated together with a soccer match. They shared fellowship and what little food they had. Not a shot was fired. After that, the commanders from both sides had to bring in new contingents of soldiers before the fighting could resume.

Maybe this story is true. Maybe it is not. It hardly matters. We love the story because it expresses longing for a world in which everybody lives by the simple truth: We are all children of one God. Like that bumper sticker that said What If They Held a War and Nobody Came?

Swamiji wrote a play with a similar theme. He called it The Peace Treaty. It is set in a mythical place called Crystal Isle. A war has just ended. The common people, guided by a few enlightened leaders, want to implement a plan that will ensure lasting peace. Other more selfish leaders try to thwart the plan. The selfish ones don’t care about the welfare of the people; they just want wealth and power for themselves. In the end, peace wins, and the selfish leaders are banished.

The plot is entertaining, and it uplifts the audience to see goodness triumph over evil. The greatness of the play, though, comes from the beauty of the language, and the insight into human nature that each of the characters provides.

In the spring of 1991, when the Gulf War started, Swamiji said to the community, “This war is just symptomatic of larger trends that are sweeping the planet. The struggle is between broader truths. On the one hard you have over-arching concepts such as love, universal tolerance, and understanding. On the other hand, self-limiting attitudes, such as selfish pride, intolerance, and bigotry. Old barriers of thought are being challenged. The belief that matter is the ultimate reality is being challenged by the scientifically established fact that matter is not fundamentally real at all: Matter is energy. Fanaticism is being challenged by an increasingly fluid view of reality.” This is the transition we are in: from Kali Yuga, the Age of Matter, into Dwapara Yuga, the Age of Energy. “Such changes have occurred before,” Swamiji said. “It causes intense conflict for a time, until people learn to adjust to new and broader realities.”

Those of us who believe in higher truths, Swamiji said, “…have a duty to serve as instruments of the light – to bring faith to others and hope, and a message of God’s abiding love for mankind.”

It was just a few months after the Gulf War started that Swamiji wrote his play, The Peace Treaty. The world does not yet beat a path to the door of the occasional theater where the play is produced, but the thoughts have been “planted in the ether” in a form that will be preserved. Eventually, those who can receive this message of hope will receive it. The transformation of the planet -- like the Self-realization of each soul -- happens on a longer rhythm than just one lifetime.

At the time of the Gulf War, people asked Swamiji, “Is love a power sufficient unto itself to bring about the needed changes to the planet? Do we have to go to war?”

“The power of love is sufficient,” Swamiji said, “if enough people open themselves fully enough to that power. In the Indian Scriptures it says, ‘One moon gives more light than all the stars.’ Even a few saintly men and women balance out the violent tendencies of many thousands, even of millions. In places where groups of people meditate deeply, a tangible peace is felt even by worldly people. Thus we see the importance of personal transformation as opposed to seeking only political solutions to social problems.”

“At the same time,” Swamiji goes on to say, “as Master put it, we have to be ‘practical in our idealism’ Love has the power in itself to conquer all. Few people, however, have developed in themselves the capacity to love so greatly…. Naturally, we’d all like to come to new plateaus of civilization without war, but from the standpoint of abiding spiritual, and even human realities, peace must sometimes be won by hard struggle. Peace comes with overcoming, not with wishful thinking or passivity.” This principle applies to the great stage of world events, and also to the drama of Self-realization happening in the heart of every devotee.

Let us join with the Masters to bring Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward Men. Let us do our utmost to become one of those spiritual beings who, by our very consciousness help tip the balance from darkness to light. A little bit of effort at this time of year brings great deal of grace. What a Christmas present! A gift to ourselves, and to all our brothers and sisters in God.

Blessings and love from David and from me.