A Letter from Swami Kriyananda about the Terrorist Attacks
September 12, 2001
The tragedy in New York and Washington was, and of course still is, appalling. I only hope it has affected none of you personally, through friends and relatives. That it affects all of us in some way is, however, inevitable. I am proud of America for talking more of prevention of future terrorist disasters than of revenge. For whereas I agree with those who have said we must take preventive measures, any desire for revenge would be motivated by hatred. May our nation’s actions ever be on the side of truth, and wisdom, not of destruction and adharmic action. My worry, of course, is that Bush may have a tendency to be “trigger-happy.” However, the circumstances themselves are so grave that I hope he will feel curbed by them to cautious reason and common sense.
We are living in a time of global confusion — morally and spiritually above all. I would like to have witnessed, on the television coverage so far, more talk of God and less of the superiority of our democratic system. The real struggle of these times is between light and darkness: between enlightenment and willful ignorance, between God and Satan. America, as the great Indian yoga master Paramhansa Yogananda often said, has aligned itself with the forces of light, and for this reason is, with its great power, the hope of the whole world. May this country never forsake this divine true role by embracing material greed, forgetting God. Karmically, I would say that these attacks on such an important commercial center as the World Trade Center, and on the heart of our military might at the Pentagon, carry a suggestion of a divine sign that America should change its priorities by living more consciously for God. At the same time, the destruction of the plane that seems to have been meant to destroy the White House or Capitol Hill may be taken as a sign of divine grace on our general destiny. No country is perfect, but there is much more good than bad Karma in America, as Master himself said. As he also promised, God will watch over us, and will be able to do so ever more fully if we cling consciously and lovingly to Him.
As you all know, I almost never watch television. These last two days, however, I’ve been watching the events closely as they unfold in New York, Washington, and elsewhere in the world. The arrogance in the photos shown of ben Laden, and the glee in Palestine of people dancing and laughing in the streets in a victory mood, are despicable. Never have Americans wanted, what to speak of rejoiced in, the sufferings of their enemies. Rather, we’ve stooped to help the very enemies who first attacked us, after we’d won the wars they launched against us. These hijackings are manifestations of satanic consciousness. I see no point in pretending spiritual love by showing tolerance for them. Evil is not tolerant of Good. Good cannot excuse evil in the name of spirituality. We must sternly oppose sin, while at the same time always wishing good to all sinners. It would be undharmic, which is to say unrighteous, to do nothing: It would show nothing but spinelessness.
Yet I worry that even in the name of dharma, unless America is very careful its reprisals, could trigger a world war. Bush has said — and I can’t help thinking we have no choice, though I might be wrong — that we can no longer allow countries that host terrorists to go unpunished -- not for the sake of revenge, but for the prevention of future, similar acts of terrorism. Pakistan, however, hosts terrorists. So does Libya, though Libya doesn’t seem to be involved here. Phone calls have been intercepted to Afghanistan boasting the success of the recent strikes. All I can say is, I’m glad I’m not in a position to decide America’s actions on these matters! What if Pakistan is involved? Would India become involved then, too? and China? Yes, these are critical times, and the terrible thing is that we cannot resolve anything by simply not acting. That was what Arjuna, in the Bhagavad Gita, wanted on the eve of the war of Kurukshetra, and Krishna told him he must do his duty. The consolation given in that scripture was that death is not an end, anyway. The one clear thing is that weakness in the face of evil is simply a clear invitation to evil to be even more evil. Thus, action of some kind is unavoidable. Let us pray that it be the right action. Even the best-intended actions, however, can be misinterpreted -- as we know very well from many of our own life experiences.
Good also will surely come from these devastating events. America’s recent isolationist trend will, I think, be changed. The international community will become more closely united in cooperation. Much suffering will, however — or so I believe — come to the world over the years to come. Ananda must stand as a beacon of spiritual strength, faith, and love for God. This is our dharma — our path of higher duty. We must cling to this dharma more strongly than ever.
I believe the events at the convocation in Los Angeles have helped our members to screw up their courage in defense of truth. I believe also that the utter need I’ve felt to pour into writing and finishing my new book — for which I’ve suggested the title, Hope for a Better World! (subtitled, “The Cooperative Communities Way”) — is part of the divine will that we do everything possible to prepare ourselves for offering a new, solution-oriented and spirit-oriented way of living.
In Master’s love,