Love Can Also Be Turned To the Law of Strife

It would be incorrect to assert that the law of death and destruction, the process of devouring in order to live, is the sole power or that it universally rules everything. We can also see signs of collaboration, love, self-sacrifice for someone or some higher ideal that we accept, and these, while obviously meeting the terms set by the basic rule of destruction as a requirement for progress and growth, also show us that there are other principles at work.

Sri Aurobindo provides some notable examples: “The mother bird facing the animal of prey in defence of its young, the patriot dying for his country’s freedom, the religious martyr or the martyr of an idea, these in the lower and superior scale of animal life are highest examples of self-sacrifice and it is evident to what they bear witness.”

With a wider view we can however see and note that these sacrifices, while expressing a nobility of purpose, still pay homage to the law of strife. “Love itself has been constantly a power of death. Especially the love of good and the love of God, as embraced by the human ego, have been responsible for much strife, slaughter and destruction.” Even the noblest of impulses and acts have been turned into instruments of division, strife and destruction!

We also see that acts of self-sacrifice for a cause or principle do not necessarily lead to the result desired; rather, it is frequently the case that the end result is the opposite of what was intended. For example, religious martyrs are sacrificed for a religious principle, but the religion itself, when it comes to power, undertakes crusades, inquisitions, and burnings of heretics or unbelievers. Similarly, soldiers may go to war to defend a principle or protect their country from aggression; but their sacrifice helps that country go on to victory and then, in most cases, to oppress, colonize and control in their turn. In fact, we may see that historically enormous numbers of people have died and suffered through battles of religions, which promulgate, ostensibly, the rule of love and compassion.

This is an illustration of the complexity of human affairs and the fact that finding the right response to a situation is not as simple as we might wish it to be.

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 5, Kurukshetra, pp. 40-41,

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