Buddhu Ram: I am glad to see you Kalu and Balu. Good to see Balu back from his escapade! I need your help if you have the time. (These 2 dogs are brothers born at Navadarshanam. Balu had run away, found after a week, and brought back.)
Kalu: You flatter us BR ji. Please ask. We will try our best.
BR: A group of Americans is coming to Navadarshanam. They are highly educated and experienced in active peace work. Some have at times risked their lives protesting movement of US warships carrying missiles fitted with nuclear warheads.
I am sure Ananthuji and Jyoti are going to ask me to speak to them and I do not have a clue to what might be appropriate. I do know that they are concerned about increasing violence around us but what can I say to them?
Balu: Being mere dogs what do we know about such complex matters, but since you ask I am willing to give it a shot. In my view violence among you humans arises from your tendency to think that more is better than less and bigger is always better.
BR: You may be right but I do not see the point you are making. Please explain with more details.
Balu: Okay, take cleanliness. We dogs understand the importance of cleanliness as much as any other specie of animals but do not go overboard like you. To relieve ourselves we go into the bush and cover up afterwards. We always sweep before we sit, unless the place is already clean. We take a head-bath when water is available, but we also dry clean our bodies by preening, rubbing, scratching, and rolling in sand or on a rock. We often take each other’s help in doing things we cannot do, such as debugging, licking some parts, and slicking. We manage to do a good job, don’t you think? Our brethren living in the wild do even better than us: they literally shine.
BR: We humans do the same; I do not see any difference.
Balu: I am afraid I do, and a lot of it. For instance you humans wash yourselves with strong soaps and rub your body with rough towels everyday; some do it 2 or 3 times a day in summer. By this you remove natural protective oils that our bodies provide to check harmful bacteria and to keep our skin moist and healthy. Your males shave every day using sharp blades as well as soaps and lotions of doubtful merit. Some people do this drill twice a day, thereby exposing their facial skin to double the harmful effects of chemicals in the lotions. To take away the body odors some of you use deodorants containing even more harmful chemicals. Your toothpastes and mouth cleaners have deadly germicides that kill good bacteria together with the bad and make you more vulnerable to infections.
You will agree with me that in cleaning your homes some of you beat even the standards of ICU’s in hospitals. Many of you have your floors swept and wet mopped every single day using strong insecticides even on days when the floors are clean and all this is not needed. In some homes floors and appliances (even kitchen gadgets) are rubbed, wax polished and disinfected daily. This blind addiction to spotless cleanliness enslaves you to your home and furniture for life. Even when they have servants, some housewives tire themselves sick by daily wiping their furniture and decoration items.
Yes, cleanliness is good, but do not go manic over it. Your madness perverts your perception and you begin to regard dust, soil, and mud as dirty. The fact is that there is nothing cleaner than natural dirt from the forest floor. But few humans can believe that dirt is not dirty and in fact it has powerful curative properties.
Kalu: Excuse me for interrupting, but I would like to add something. I have noticed that you humans carry your cleanliness mania even to your gardens, farms, and the forest. This is really sad because in the name of cleanliness you remove dead leaves and other organic matter that falls on the ground. You forget that this is valuable mulch that protects the soil from the hot sun, preserves moisture, and encourages the growth of soil building worms and insects that live and work under the surface. By removing the mulch you not only kill the insects but also the soil and invite soil erosion. Do you realize that this is violence on a far bigger scale than any of your wars?
One can go on and on. For the sake of health and cleanliness you process your food in insulated factories and then pack it in tins, bottles, pouches and cartons. The biscuits in a box are wrapped in layers of corrugated paper and foil. By doing all this you end up with a huge garbage problem. This garbage is dumped everywhere and the entire earth is turning dirty and sick.
BR: What you say is enlightening. Please go on.
Kalu: This craze for more and bigger things is applied virtually to every aspect of your life.
Your houses are bigger than necessary and they are crammed with furniture and knick-knack. As a result your lives are cramped. Yet most of you are killing yourselves to earn more so you can buy more. For transport you have cars, planes, boats and more. But every year you increase their number and travel more.
BR: Yes, you have a point there; but what is the connection between possessions and violence?
Balu: They are connected as day is to night. Obviously, all humans cannot possibly have all the things they desire. The supply is limited because earth’s resources are finite.
When a society puts high value on possessions few people become wealthy. A majority remains poor and suffers deprivation. Such unequal distribution inevitably leads to unrest and violence. Similarly, in a world divided into nations if some are rich and others poor there is bound to be violence. It is simple to see; the wealthy, individuals or nations, have to protect their wealth with weapons. As wealth grows in the hands of a few, weapons to protect it also grow bigger and more lethal. If you do not take steps toward distributive justice the weapons of war will become megaton nuclear bombs, and worse.
You humans are not very good in conflict resolution we dogs are better. We too have our disagreements and altercations, but they are momentary and easily resolved. But you humans keep fighting over an issue with armies year after year.
BR: I agree with you, but what are we to do? What are our nonviolent alternatives?
Kalu: Apparently humans were not always so greedy; otherwise they would have perished long ago. . Forest dwellers living simply in obedience to nature survived happily for hundreds of thousands of years. Only civilized people who spurn nature’s laws and try to control it have trouble.
Nature alone has the wisdom and the power to run the universe. No animal species, not even humans, can possibly handle nature’s job. In fact it is foolish to want it. I think you humans must learn to live in obedience to Nature. This means obeying its laws. These laws are written in the wind and even we dogs can read them.
For instance, nature values and loves all beings and makes sure they have enough to eat. Obviously, for all animals to survive there is a law that says no specie may deny other species their basic sustenance. You humans are disobeying this law by acquiring all the soil to produce food for yourselves. As a result your population is increasing and all other animals are dying.
Living in obedience to Nature is the real non-violent alternative.
May 14, 2005