So, by witnessing ignorance, racism, and violence, if you lose your serenity, in what way you are going to help? You will become another problem. And you are not the cause for the violence or racism or ignorance. You make sure that you don’t become the cause for those things. If it is there, if you can help in some way, do it. If not, accept it. “That’s God’s way. God will take care of everything.” You should not become a part of it. So, don’t create the situation. And if there is a situation, if you can help by alleviating, do it. If not, at least pray. That’s all you can do. The world is always there. A mixer of everything good and bad. You should not be getting affected by those things.

During the sixties, the young children at that age, the so-called hippies, they used to come to me and say, “How can we allow this Vietnam War to continue like this. We want to stop it.” “How are you going to stop it?” “We want to march to Washington.” “What for?” “To bring peace.” “Oh, I see. To bring peace, you should have peace. If you don’t have peace how can you bring it to others?” “Ohh, that would take ages for me to find my peace. Do you want me to sit quiet until that time?” “Okay, if you don’t want to sit quiet, what would you want to do? Your march will not be a peaceful march.” I gave an example. When somebody walks by with a gallon of gasoline in the hand he sees a building on fire and he says, “Where is the time to go and fetch water? All I have is gasoline. Let me pour it.” I said, “Why do you do that?” “Well, I don’t have time to go and fetch water. I have only gasoline.” That means you are adding more fire to the fire. What should you do? If you don’t have water, don’t go there with gasoline in the hand. Stay away from that. Your staying away from that itself is a helpful thing. Otherwise, you march there with all the anger and you create more problem. You should prepare yourself for that. What you want to see outside you should have it yourself first.

Mahatma Gandhi in his life did that. When he wanted to do Satyagraha, that means to express the opposition to the white government, he trained people in an ashram. After much training they go, sit in front of the offices, and chant. That’s all. They all sit in front and chant. What do you call now with the placard they go around? Strike. They don’t strike. They don’t strike something or somebody. They go there to show their opposition and pray. I have seen it personally. When the policeman comes and hits the person, every time the policeman hits, the person will say, “Ram.” If the hit is more severe, “Ram!” Another, “Ram!” He will simply say God’s name, that’s all. If the policeman stops hitting, he will look around, “Sir, your boss, the superintendent, is looking at you. If you don’t hit me, he will punish you for not doing your job. Hit me.” He asks the policeman to hit him so that he can save his job and every time he hits, he will say God’s name.

When somebody hits, if you hit in return there’s no greatness in that. You are equal. But if you pray for him you are expressing your soul force. Because you believe in that soul force. You don’t even raise your arm, you don’t even shout. Here, what happened in the march? The policemen will be standing there, these people will be calling them pigs. You provoke them. So, if you have that kind of attitude, don’t go there and create more problems. Take your time, find the peace in you. That is the reason why most of the peace talks fail. People from various countries come together in the name of peace. Peace conferences. You have heard many of them. And every peace conference ended in problems, in fighting, quarreling. Why? Because they never had peace in their hearts. So, what you want to see outside you should have it first. Self reformation. Only then outside reformation comes. One has to have patience in doing that.

Swami Satchidananda

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