Addressing the Contradiction Between the Reality of Life Struggle and the Ideal of Harmony

Seers and sages throughout history have set forth the ideals of peace, harmony, human unity and “harmlessness” (ahimsa) as a goal in front of humanity.

At the same time, we have always been confronted with the stark reality of the world which is based on struggle, conflict, and warfare, and which has tended to progress through the battle of ideas, concepts and physical war.

This contradiction is confronted directly by the Bhagavad Gita as Sri Aurobindo describes it: “War typifies and embodies physically the aspect of battle and struggle which belongs to all life, both to our inner and our outer living, in a world whose method is a meeting and wrestling of forces which progress by mutual destruction towards a continually changing adjustment expressive of a progressive harmonizing and hopeful of a perfect harmony based upon some yet ungrasped potential of oneness.”

The Gita purposely focuses on the warrior in the midst of the ultimate battle to drive home the need to recognize and address this underlying reality of life. “The Gita accepts this aspect of the world-energy and the physical fact of war which embodies it, and it addresses itself to the man of action, the striver and fighter, the Kshatriya,–war which is the extreme contradiction of the soul’s high aspiration to peace within and harmlessness (ahimsa) without, the striver and fighter whose necessary turmoil of struggle and action seems to be the very contradiction of the soul’s high ideal of calm mastery and self-possession,–and it seeks for an issue from the contradiction, a point at which its terms meet and a poise which shall be the first essential basis of harmony and transcendence.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 6, Man and the Battle of Life, pg. 48,