According to the nature of things, peace can’t be attained without peace within. Without making peace with Heaven, there can be no peace on earth. Without clearing our debts we owe to God, there can be no real freedom.
We are in the loss, the Quran declares making exception for the select few who take care of their souls. Today we talk about peace in political terms but have forgotten its metaphysical or spiritual ground. Let us clarify why we must shift the focus and not put cart before the horse.
In Islam God is called As-Salaam and Islam is said to be derived from the root “slm” that implies peace achieved by submission. What is to be submitted is human will, individual autonomy, the world of centrifugal desires and passions. Fasting is one of the mechanism for achieving this end. Our deepest desire is to find peace and Heaven is where peace reigns and the greeting of Islam is also call for peace. Now this peace is an aspect of spirit/consciousness that constitutes our deepest reality. Peace is an attribute of purified consciousness and every religious ritual is ultimately directed to achieving this purified consciousness. Unless we have achieved control over unruly passions and self directed effort that ordinarily constitutes our sole activity in the world centric life, we can’t go for jihad or establish God’s dominion that revivalist movements in Islam have sought.
In Islam prayer, fasting, zakat and even Haj are all subservient to the ideal of achieving proximity to God which effectively means accessing the World of Spirit/Peace. A saint is defined in terms of Ananda nature – how much peace he or she radiates by his or her very presence. A golden test for one’s credentials as spiritual Master or rightly guided Leader is how much harmony or peace has been achieved by the person.
The Quran declares that peace can come only from remembrance of God. Today fasting is one way of remembering God. But how many of us are happy when Ramadan is extended by one day? How many of us are happy with the discipline of senses that fasting seeks to realize? Don’t we wish there were lesser hours of fasting? All this means we fail to achieve peace with ourselves, our desires, our passions. So how can peace be there in the outer world if it is not within us.
Let us come back to the concrete question of achieving peace in Kashmir today. One may first note that the problem of peace is almost global. Worldwide there is a conflict of interests, classes, economies, ideologies and all these conflicts are ultimately traceable to wrong view of self and failure of achieving proper submission as demanded by religion. We fight for some kind of nationalistic ideology. Kashmiri nationalism or Indian/Pakistani nationalism is part of the problem and linked to wrong view of self and other. We fight for certain exclusivist version or our interpretation of Islam – many Muslim fighters from Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan and Kashmir invoke guarding Islam against the ideological or religious other. This again is based on a questionable view of Islam or religion in relation to other traditional religions and at root of much of sectarian conflict today.
We seek such goals as development that is based on war against nature or at least certain technological view of nature as something of a resource to be used, as an It rather than a Thou, as something that deserves recognition and respect in its own terms. All slogans of vikaas (prosperity) are rapist in origin – nothing short of raping mother earth is required to fuel so-called growth engine. Our economy is linked to increasing growth and GDP and not maximizing Gross Domestic Happiness or Peace. An economy that seeks maximization of profit, that involves manipulation of currencies, that takes inflation as something given, that has no problem in counting production of war machinery or narcotics or we have the largest faith healing and black magic industry in the subcontinent. Here neighbours, even relatives, are suspected for disturbing our domestic peace and people throng occultist practitioners. All this supposes a view of other that is exact negation of our professed Sufi ideal of sulhikul, of “ekhtchetibayi bi gezermiba/habbaya chi gumanae/ hukustibikus/tilwan chi kus.
We have increasing population of drug addicts implying people seek short cuts to inner peace and these prove disastrous. We face such problems as juvenile delinquency, divorce, alienated parents and families and all these are linked to failure to find peace in normal rhythms of life. It means we have failed to properly orient our lives to the Centre or God. In the end every problem is one of ignorance. We pursue power and thus disturb harmony and peace that lies in the depths of our being because we don’t know that our real nature is Unruffled Consciousness, the still point beyond time. The question is what are we doing to get the missing dimension that grounds peace? Kashmir problem has these ignored dimensions as well. A free Kashmir without free or virtuous souls – and everything today seems to conspire to destroy these souls – is not really free.