It is almost redundant to speak of Yoga as a philosophy and practice that advocates peace. In turn we can say, in the negative, that it also is a philosophy and practice that advocates against war. However perhaps we should be clear and specify that war here is the type of war that kills innocent people and causes destruction to nature and to human habitat. The war or struggle for defeating delusional thinking for overcoming greed, lust, sloth, envy, hatred, anger – this can be said to be a war that we must wage constantly.
The wars waged by the US government at the behest of powerful corporate interests such as oil and energy companies in the Middle East to consolidate and amass ever greater profit at the expense of so many lives and so many resources are for sure the type of war that in my opinion a yogi is steadfastly against.
This type of war waged by powerful capitalist interests using working class men and women to carry out their aims is destructive of mind , body and planet. It destroys the minds of those who are waging it. Those who wield power sink ever lower into the depths of delusion. War is corrosive of the minds of those who bear arms to fight it. More often than not the soldier believes that they are fighting for a just cause like democracy and justice. They may also think they are defending their homeland. Most of the time the justifications for like defense, promoting democracy and freedom is simply propaganda. The billionaires and the media they own and the politicians they’ve bought use this propaganda to brainwash people to kill and die simply for the sake of power and money. Some realize that this , yet embrace it , thus making their intention unskillful and causing massive negative karma. It becomes murder once you know that there is no defensive reason for what you are doing but you do it anyway.
When so much can and should be done to build society and make it stronger and healthier , valuable resources , first and foremost the blood of the youth is spilt on destruction in the pursuit of narrow profit interests. When we can provide high quality healthcare for all women, children and men the ruling billionaires uses resources to commit mass murder. When we can provide high quality education to all who desire it the billionaires and their government carry out wars of aggression. When the climate crisis threatens extinction for numerous species including our own , the war profiteers use public resources to further pollute and poison the planet. In short, blood and treasure is wasted on the billionaires schemes to make further billions for themselves. This is the essence of modern war.
This karma surely has broader social significance than just the impact on those whose intent it is it carry out such unjust wars. As long as we are unconscious or unwilling to speak, and act against war, that karma affects or washes over all of us as well.
We can see the impact of such broader collective karma in the opioid and drug epidemics that are devastating communities across social class lines. We can see the impact in the health crisis overall, in terms of increasing obesity and attendant diabetes, heart disease and cancers. We can see the impact on the overall psychological well being of people in terms of increasing disorders of the mind for which corporate pharmaceutical companies have just the right pill – to take your hard earned money that is. We can see the impact of war on the widening inequality within the US. We can see the impact of war on the deeper impoverishment of communities within the country.
The root cause of war in this age is corporate greed – in one word – capitalism. It is the capitalist class that harbors the intention and the means to carry out such war. However if the rest of us don’t stand up and do something about it, it is a collective problem from which much unnecessary pain and suffering will result.
As we perform yoga to bring mind and body in balance we must act in whatever way that makes sense for us to take right action to do our part to put a brake to the capitalist war machine and to build peace. In this way we align mind, body and planet and practice Ahimsa (non violence).