In loving memory of all those who perished in the Twin Towers in New York City on September 11 2001

‘Famine, disease, terrorism, war, murder, suicide, storms, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, toxic rivers, poisoned food, dying trees – this planet is presenting us with numerous symptoms of a serious imbalance. Yet despite the widespread physical suffering throughout the world today, ultimately the difficulties confronting us are not material, but spiritual. These problems reflect our failure to fulfill our deepest longings to love and be loved, and any solution will require more than just a sophisticated technological effort. We may have made great scientific progress, but as a culture we still have little understanding of love and even less appreciation for the spiritual dimensions of life. The strife and destruction that surround us point to an urgent need to remedy the situation. We must learn how to love ourselves, and also how to love our home planet and the other living beings who reside here with us.

The resolute material orientation of industrial culture has led us down a blind alley. Consumer society has encouraged us to indulge our desires to the utmost and to seek the fulfillment of our desires at every opportunity. Instead of developing self-knowledge and self-mastery, we have learned to look outside ourselves in a never-ending quest for gratification, mistakenly believing that such a pursuit can ensure our happiness. Yet we are discovering that those who “have everything” can still be profoundly miserable and lead desperate, empty lives. Something has gone seriously wrong.

The problem is that we have dedicated ourselves to satisfying our lust rather expressing our love. Although we are all inherently loving beings, we have forgotten our true nature and sacrificed our birthright for a seductive substitute that ultimately brings us pain rather than joy. Because our collective goal has become to gratify our physical senses above all else, we have developed a self-centred culture that condones competition, exploitation and “whatever it takes” to get us what we want. Our egocentric behaviour manifests in countless forms and is driven by lust. For example, we may engage in some sexual activity without love, dominate others in order to feel powerful, destroy rainforests to create more profitable grazing land, manipulate financial markets for personal gain, lie and cheat to gain political prominence, take drugs to get high, or ignore our own children in favour of making more money….

These challenging times require us to fortify ourselves with spiritual knowledge and, even more important, we must put our knowledge into practice. Only then can we call ourselves spiritual warriors capable of serving others. As spiritual warriors, we must never forget that our greatest ally is love and our most dangerous enemy is lust. We can be of genuine service only if we are free from selfish desires and available to become pure vehicles of God’s love’

(From B.T. Swami’s, Spiritual Warrior II)