|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
18th World Vegetarian Congress 1965
PRELUDE TO PEACE
WOODLAND KAHLER, MARQUIS DE ST. INNOCENT
President: The International Vegetarian Union
In a message from the British Vegetarian Societies to their expected guests at the 18th World Vegetarian Congress in England, Geoffrey L. Rudd has said it is essential for peace and progress on all levels that we should share experiences and new knowledge, and inspire one another to greater endeavour. I am in accord with Mr. Rudd's ideas and would like to share with you some of my inner experiences with reference to the new three-fold revolution which now confronts the civilized world. I refer, of course, to the Cybernation Revolution, the Arms Revolution, and the Human Rights Revolution. This contemporary triple-impulse taken as a whole calls for changes of attitude on the part of vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.
As a result of the Cybernation Revolution, cooled vacuum-tube computers are doing away with the need for human labour. Com-municating by telephone, a modern Minneapolis-Honeywell com-puter is able to receive six million items of information per second and at the same time over a different frequency to transmit another six million items. A computer in the United States Bureau of Internal Revenue does the work of half a million people at a cost of less than 25 cents per man-year. Thanks to such machines plant after plant is being automated in one industry after another. Many of the old familiar problems of community life will have be re-examined and new solutions found. What good are plans and specifications for a working-class state in a world where there no working class? What good is war as a means of settling disputes if both sides are sure to lose? What good is a concept of white supremacy in the face of a world-wide force moving towards social and racial equality?
On account of the Three-fold Revolution some of us are beginning to
be acutely aware of a great need. What is this need? To the best of
my ability I am going to try to convince you that aside from the ultimate
panacea, Perfect Love, the need of our time is Self-knowledge. A missing
subject in almost all present-day educational curriculums, Self-knowledge
involves deep awareness of the mysterious Inner Spirit which sustains
not only the outer universe, but also an invisible realm within each
one of us. This vast
The body-cells have long ago been cybernated, and if we treat them with the kindness and consideration they so richly deserve, the mind-body mechanism will give us lifelong automatated service. In the outside world cybernated machines could give us the same sort of service, freeing mankind from long, dull hours of deadening drudgery. Mother Nature, too, stands ready and willing as always to give us the full ripe fruit of her soil. On earth and in heaven everything seems all set for living the Good Life. Nothing is missing except Self-knowledge.
Self-knowledge is the obligatory prelude to peace, for Without Self knowledge we cannot formulate a proper humanitarian pro-gramme of action. How can we say what is right and natural for our welfare if we don't in the first place know who we really are? The computer doesn't know. In spite of its facts and photo-copies the computer is an ignorant brute without any true human under-standing, human sympathy, or human compassion The twentieth century problem as I see it is not merely how to free Man from labour and give him an assured income. The problem is Man himself, and his inhumanity to himself and to other men and animals. How can he learn to relate his life to eternal values, instead of allowing himself to be ruled by reckless impulses to do as he pleases on the spur of the moment?
Our modern hipster writers, wallowing in drink, drugs, and four-letter words, have hit upon no programme that meets the require-ments of man's true image. And neither have our professional politicians, nor the power-elite behind them. Today on both sides of the Atlantic, not to mention other more remote places, hooliganism has increased to such an extent that it is dangerous at times to walk on the streets of London and New York. In North America, unemployed teenagers, ex-automobile workers from Detroit, and millions of other unemployed people will perhaps never find jobs on account of the rising tide of automation that is trans-forming human labour into a nostalgic legend. Living on government relief, many of the involuntary dropouts from the labour market are Negroes, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and Indians. They do not work, they do not expect to work, and in many cases they do not want to work. And if they did want to, there are no jobs available. In the U.S.A. the ranks of the unfortunate dropouts are growing, along with the ceaseless inflow of new automobiles; and no adequate solution of the parking problem is in sight - neither for the automobiles nor the population. The cars couldn't care less, but for the millions of human beings who have become socially unnecessary, life at times must be very painful.
Looking back on my own life I have come now at the age of seventy to regard pain as a heavenly force which taught me in illness what I failed to learn in health. During the earlier part of my life, except when pain pushed me towards the Light, I was inclined to remain in the dark, carried away by the current of transitory desires. Desire is the enemy which destroys Self-knowledge, and the desire of desires is to do as you please regardless of the consequences to you or to anyone else. But following such a course you will sooner or later begin to hear the friendly voice of pain. If you have any common sense - instead of taking an aspirin - you will change your conduct and begin to live more and more in obedience to heavenly forces which I have reason to believe can free you from habits that do not contribute to your well-being. Some of my best friends have no faith in the existence of heavenly forces, even though they are unable to come up with any proof to the contrary. Be that as it may, I shall continue to suppose heavenly forces do exist, basing my supposition on the heavenly healing force of which there is incontestable evidence. In addition to this, there seems to be a divine intelligence coming directly from a heavenly -source of supply above and beyond the human brain. Poets, painters, and composers, as well as some of the most advanced scientists, are quite familiar with what appears to be an inflow, but more likely is an unfoldment, available not only for creation of art but also for use in the living of everyday life. Our intuitional faculty and our sensitivity to pain are two of the most precious and sometimes least appreciated of all our gifts from heaven.
In my own journey towards the ultimate truth about what must always seem a mystery to the finite mind I have managed to leave behind many once-popular schools of thought and have at length reached a point of view which might be called eternalistic. We are all ruled by the word we accept and put into action, and I have resolved to activate as far as possible the eternal values of life. It is easier to do so at seventy than it is at seventeen! At any rate as an eternalist I now find myself more and more fascinated by the inner adventure toward the heights of Self-knowledge. Television has told us all about detergents, beer, cigarettes, aspirin - even the -secrets of the stars above are being revealed, along with the private life of fish at the bottom of the ocean. But what do we really know about that still small voice within? Instead of placing emphasis on Self-knowledge, however, modern education is making the mistake of introducing to us everything and everybody under the sun except our Self. In my opinion the basic problem of education is not the construction of magnificent buildings, but the realization of man's true inner Self. My prep. school in Andover, Massachusetts, recently had the courage and originality to take a good look at the values which appear to be ruling the educational world of today. Rising above the glowing autumnal haze of self-congratulation that envelops almost all modern academic institutions, a bold group of Phillips Academy faculty-members and students spent a provocative weekend at Andover, facing the agonizing fact that smart fund-raisers, magnificent buildings, and a curriculum of factual information crammed into youthful minds as preparation for passing college-entrance examinations has not produced a healthy society free from fear. The proof of the twentieth century pudding is in the eating, and all but the specialist can see that society is definitely sick. At Andover the conclusion at the close of the weekend was that magnificent buildings and an ability to pass college-entrance examinations are not worth so much as self-discipline, sympathy, and compassion. The question of whether such by-products of wisdom not learned at home can later on be taught at prep. school, was left unanswered.
Tempted by egotistical vanity, Man has continually tried to become what he is not, instead of simply being what he really is. After all has been said and done, we can be only what we are, for it is impossible for us to make something out of nothing. In order, however, for Man to recognize the perfect work of heaven hidden beneath the superficiality of every undissolved ego, the mind needs to be balanced and calm. When it is agitated by unnatural food or artificially tranquillized by drugs, it does not function smoothly and cannot record the truth. Self-knowledge requires the passive awareness of a sensitive photographic film. Any attempt to become what we are not blocks the inflow of divine revelation.
Self-knowledge, the neglected essential in modern education, does not call for a prefabrcated pattern or blue-print of good behaviour; it is simply a matter of being what we already are in reality, a part of the Hidden Mystery, which we cannot describe in words nor pour into any other kind of man-made mould. There are, of course, many obstacles to understanding who we are. For example - in addition to our inner cravings for personal pleasure, personal profit, personal prestige, and personal power - there is the outer mask made to order for an ambitious client by a public relations council. Although this false image is designed to elevate the client, he is sure to sink into self-deception, fooled by his own publicity. Perhaps the most widespread obstacle to Self-knowledge at present is Compulsive Consumption, implemented by the artificially whetted appetite for more and more material goods and services, most of which are injurious to the health of both mind and body. Brainwashed and seduced by gratuitous publicity and advertising, many of us have come to believe it is a good thing to have our land sprayed with deadly insecticides, our water polluted with life-destroying chemicals, and our food pasteurized, processed, and supplemented with worthless inorganic drug-store vitamins and minerals. Recent scholarly research has underlined the fact that mankind will have to return to a more natural way of living in order to avoid heart-failure, cancer, and a long list of other diseases. We cannot, however, afford to stop at a survey of symptoms. From symptoms we must proceed to the deep root-cause which in most cases turns out to be our own ignorant style of life - so profitable to a relatively few stockholders and so destructive to the many who are now being crushed under the wheels of ruthless twentieth- century commerce and industry.
In the present age of mass-communication, broadcast for personal profit over a world-wide network, man-to-man communi-cation is becoming less and less frequent. As a result, all over the world millions of men, women and children are being artificially alienated from one another. Hoping to escape from their own Unexpressed emotions, these lonely sealed-off souls are drugging themselves with still more of the same prefabricated mixture, instead of transforming their negative ego-centred inner feelings into some sort of outer altruistic action. After they have had a nervous breakdown and the run-of-the-mill psycho-analyst has finished his attempt to introduce them to the broken bits and pieces of a mysterious mind-body mechanism which any analyst can take apart but only God can put together again, they are no nearer than before to Self-knowledge and Peace. So they go on buying more automobiles and beer and aspirin.
Under pressure of twentieth-century Compulsive Consumption, we may hope to survive only if we bring our individual lives into harmony with heavenly forces. Fortunately for us, Man's True Image is not a material object, but a divine substance capable of expressing progressively the Spirit within. Like all living things, this True Image starts from a seed in the soil of right relationships with other living things. To those who have chosen not to advance beyond the ferocious hunting and fishing stage of civilization, universal peace and friendship may seem to be a childish dream. Nevertheless, this particular vision of a World Commonweath based on respect for all life has within it the possibility of realization for we have not yet reached the limits of our potential evolution and it is reasonable to suppose we do not belong in the darkness of the past but in the Light of the unfolding now.
There are those who sincerely believe the first step in the right direction is social ownership of the means of production, but it seems to me as long as there is no understanding of the Oneness life, animal as well as human, social ownership is not enough. The principal issue of our atomic age is not private versus social ownership of material goods. The principal issue is cruelty versus kindness. Everything else is a side-issue. We vegetarians here at Swanwick have already taken a first step by being kind to animals. Let us here and now take a second step by starting to think of ourselves, not as a small minority faced with a hopeless task, but an ever-increasing international group of dedicated humanitarians destined in the fullness of time to grow into an overwhelming majority.