East and West, bad karma is building to a critical mass, and catastrophe.
Catching many political leaders unawares, nuclear disarmament has once more surfaced as a major public issue. From Vermont to California, a dozen state legislatures have sponsored nuclear freeze resolutions; the latest New York Times/CBS poll shows that more than 70% of all Americans favor an immediate halt in the production of nuclear weapons; and antinuke demonstrations in Europe threaten the NATO alliance. Even the communist countries are not immune to the upheaval.
So what's new about all this? Haven't the dire predictions of nuclear holocaust and the patient, reasoned pleadings for peace been echoing ever since the nuclear age dawned with ghastly suddenness at Hiroshima? Can we really expect that another UN conference, another summit meeting, another round of grass-roots demonstrations will cause nuclear weapons to vanish?
A lot of people seem to think so, and one thing they're very good at is educating the public about the details of nuclear war. Official-looking maps with neatly drawn concentric circles, appearing lately in local newspapers and national news magazines, show the effects emanating from ground zero of a 20-megaton air-burst over Your Home Town. (Twenty megatons means a blast equivalent to the explosion of twenty million tons of TNT.) Both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. have thousands of such weapons in their nuclear stockpiles. There are some 50,000 nuclear warheads on earth, with an explosive yield 1.6 million times that of the antique bomb dropped on Hiroshima. If a 20-megaton bomb exploded above a major U.S. city, it would:
• produce a fireball with temperatures of 20 to 30 million degrees Fahrenheit that would vaporize everything within a 1.5 mile radius, leaving a crater several hundred feet deep;
• create a silent heat flash traveling at the speed of light that would instantly kill anyone within a 6-mile radius;
• emanate supersonic shock waves and 300-mph winds that would knock down all structures within a 6-mile radius;
• kill 50% of the population within a 10-mile radius by direct thermal radiation and blast pressures;
• ignite a firestorm that would turn bomb shelters into crematoriums, asphyxiating and dry-roasting anyone inside them;
• disperse lethal doses of fallout that within 24 hours would kill most survivors downwind from the blast.
That's the basic holocaust scenario most everyone's protesting about. That's why young people in skull masks are out in the streets of New York, Paris, Bonn, Rome, Washington, Boston, etc. out there demonstrating against their governments.
The world's religious leaders are out there, too the Pope, Catholic bishops, Methodist ministers, Buddhist monks. And astute politicians, picking up their constituents' vibes, are scrambling onto the antinuke bandwagon. And the doctors. And the scientists. And the lawyers. And the movie stars. And the rock musicians.
Everyone's wailing about the irrationality of the national leaders, the big bad guys with their grubby fingers on the buttons, who for the sake of national pride and prestige are ready to invoke the full horrors of nuclear Armageddon upon millions of innocent citizens.
At last we arrive at the central myth of the whole nuclear disarmament movement the myth of the innocent citizen. These hordes of "innocent citizens" surmise that if they can just get Ronnie and Leonid to sit down together, these two could sign some papers, shake hands, and solve the whole thing. The U.S. and the Soviet Union could bury the nuclear hatchet. It all sounds quite sane and rational. But it's based on a faulty analysis of the whole problem.
The truth is, neither the U.S. nor the U.S.S.R. is a free agent. They are both acting under the influence of the inescapable law of karma.
An example from the Vedic literatures, the timeless books of knowledge from ancient India, may help us understand. The sages explain that although two bamboo trees rubbing together sometimes ignite a forest fire, the real cause of the fire is not the trees themselves but the wind that brings them together. The trees are only instruments. In the same way, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. are not the real causes of the friction between them the friction that may well result in the forest fire of nuclear war. The real cause is the invisible wind of karma. And that karma is being generated by none other than allegedly innocent John Q. Public.
Karma is a force of nature, like time or gravity. And the law of karma states that for every action we perform there must be a reaction. No one can escape the law of karma. A major axiom of the law of karma is that if we cause pain and suffering to other living beings, we must experience an equivalent amount of pain and suffering in return, both individually and collectively.
When we properly understand the law of karma, we can see just how the neighborhood McDonald's hamburger stand has much more to do with nuclear war than Reagan and Brezhnev. If you think the descriptions of nuclear war are terrifying, you should read the descriptions of what goes on inside the world's heavily automated slaughterhouses. Millions of animals are butchered daily on modern, cost-effective, computerized production lines.
When challenged, the person who eats the meat will often say, "Well, I haven't killed anything." But by purchasing the neatly packaged meat in the supermarket, he's paying those who do the actual dirty work. And he's just as guilty.
It's the height of hypocrisy for someone to march for peace and then go to McDonald's for a hamburger or home to grill a steak, roast a chicken, or fry some fish. This mentality prompted George Bernard Shaw, one of the world's famous vegetarians, to write,
We pray on Sundays that we may have light
To guide our footsteps on the path we tread.
We are sick of war, we don't want to fight,
And yet we gorge ourselves upon the dead.
The hypocrisy of the "peace-loving" meat-eater has been even more thoroughly condemned by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the great spiritual leader who is the founder and spiritual guide of the Hare Krsna movement:
"Those who kill animals and give them unnecessary pain as people do in slaughterhouses will be killed in a similar way in the next life and in many lives to come. One can never be excused from such an offense. . . . There are many rascals who violate their own religious principles. Judaeo-Christian scriptures clearly say, 'Thou shall not kill.' Nonetheless, even the heads of religion, giving all kinds of excuses, indulge in killing animals while trying to pass as saintly persons. This mockery and hypocrisy in human society bring about unlimited calamities; therefore occasionally there are great wars. Masses of people go out onto battlefields and kill each other. Now they have discovered the atomic bomb, which is simply waiting to be used for wholesale destruction."
For those who understand the laws of karma, the cause of nuclear war is very clear. They realize the utter futility of protest marches, signatures on nuclear freeze initiatives, and peace negotiations between heads of state. The real problem is that the Americans, Russians, Europeans, and practically everyone else on the planet are building up a huge debt of bad karma, which can result only in disasters of the most terrible kind.
Just consider the 50 million abortions performed each year throughout the world. Again, the terrifying descriptions of nuclear war are easily matched by the descriptions of the atrocities committed against unborn children. They are ripped into pieces by vacuum suction devices, sliced and diced by surgical knives, and scalded by saline solutions. The karmic reaction for these abortion deaths is incalculable. And when it's combined with the karma from animal killing, the total karma awaiting the world's people is multiplying so rapidly that unless drastic action is soon taken nuclear war is inevitable.
What's needed to prevent a full-scale global holocaust is not a broad campaign of marches and petitions, but rather a broad campaign to educate people about the laws of karma and to convince them of the consequences of murdering millions of innocent animals and unborn children. Such a campaign will go a long way toward preventing any increase in the world's enormous burden of karma.
But what about the mountain of bad karma that has already piled up?
The Vedic literatures describe that the subtle, destructive energies of karma can be counteracted only by even more powerful energies transcendental, or spiritual, energies. Vastly more powerful than even nuclear energy, spiritual energies are stored within certain mantras. When properly chanted, these combinations of sounds release their potencies and produce a tremendous effect.
The most powerful force on earth is the Hare Krsna mantra Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare which is composed entirely of the holy names of God. The Vedic literatures teach us that God's name, being nondifferent from God Himself, is supremely potent. So if a person chants the holy name of Krsna even once, he can be freed from the karmic reactions of more sins than he could ever imagine committing.
The chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra is now going on all over the world. It is going on openly in the major cities of the West, a fact almost everyone knows. And, though few in the West know about it, it is going on underground in the Soviet Union, where the Hare Krsna movement has attracted thousands of followers.
It is this powerful chanting alone, on both sides of the Iron Curtain, that is the greatest hope for world peace a peace that will never be achieved by people who have failed to understand the problem of violence in their own hearts.