Beliefnet
Reprinted with permission of Hinduism Today.

PARMATH NIKETAN, India, October 17--September 11 was a tragic day of unprecedentedproportion. Never before in the history of the world had one group soblatantly, so callously, so mercilessly struck at so many thousands ofinnocent people.

We were in Munich, Germany on the Vishwa DharmaPrasaar Yatra, travelling first to the Caribbean, then to USA and Canada,then to UK and then to Europe, spreading the messages of peace, unity andVasudhaiv Kutumbakam, that "The whole world is one family." In the midst ofthis yatra, we heard the shattering news. Times like this and acts likethese almost render us speechless with sadness. It is only after the sandhas settled back on the beach after the storm, that we can bend down andexamine the pieces of that which was crushed in the tempest.

Those whoengage in these unforgivable acts of terrorism, intimidation and violenceclaim that they are fighting a jihad, a holy war. However, the term "holywar" is itself an oxymoron, a paradoxical fallacy. A war can never be holy.Only peace is holy. That which is holy is peaceful, loving, pious andcompassionate. War, by its very definition, is none of these. The terroristsclaim they are fighting a war in the name of God. However, there is no suchthing. War -- especially those acts which kill innocent people -- cannotpossibly be undertaken with God's consent or to win His favor. How can we --in God's name -- kill His children, His creation? Could you possibly killyour sister or your brother and claim you did it for your mother or father'ssake? Or that you did it in order to win your parents' appreciation? Thiswould be absurd.

Rather than fighting a true "holy" war, the terroristsare using God's name in order to justify their own evil, violence andaggression. To me, the true jihad is a holy war within ourselves, a waragainst that which is unholy within our own hearts, a war of annihilatingour own egos, our own jealousies and grudges.

However, simplycondemning the acts is not enough. That which happens must happen for areason. That which happens must have a lesson inherent within it. Let usthen look at what we can learn, what reassurance we can gain from thistragic event. What can we take from this which will both help us growindividually as people as well as help us grow as nations and as a world?

To me, one of the most important lessons here is one of safety, one ofcomfort, one of complacency. So many people throughout the world (especiallythose living in India, or Indians who live abroad) think of everythingWestern as superior, as inherently "safe." If you give someone a gift andsay it's "from America," their eyes will widen with anticipation. If youtell someone that a particular object you own is "from America," thatautomatically grants it "First Class" status. The idea of sending ourchildren "to America" for studies or work is one that fills us with greatpride, comfort and security. It is every parent's dream to send theirchildren "to America," and it is every child's dream to go. It is not onlythat parents think their children will have a higher income in America.Rather, there is an inherent yet almost tangible feeling of safety, securityand superiority about everything Western.

Additionally, from what Ihave seen, people living in America have a very deep sense of safety,security and invincibility. There is a sense -- taught since childhood --that living under the umbrella of the American flag will guarantee not onlymaterial prosperity, but also personal comfort and safety. And, I am notcondemning this feeling. I, personally, love America and love Americans fortheir great openness, great honesty, eagerness and steadfastness on the pathto God. And, in many ways, this feeling of security regarding the country isnot misplaced. The West achieves standards of excellence which areunsurpassed anywhere else in the world. The education and professionalfields are peerless.

However, none of us, regardless of where we live,regardless of where we work, regardless of where we have attained oureducation, is invincible and invulnerable. It is only by the grace of Godthat we wake from our sleep each day. It is only by the grace of God thateach of the billions of neurons in our brain continue to function properly,allowing us to breathe and our hearts to beat. It is only by the grace ofGod that our legs move when we think "move" and that our ears can processthe sounds we hear. It is only by His grace that the thousands and thousandsof blood vessels in our body, continue to carry blood safely to and from theheart, without rupturing along the way.

We must take this opportunity-- as tragically given as it is -- to turn back to God, for He is the only true protector. Let us turn back to Him and realize that we are simply in His hands and that itis only by His will and His grace that we continue to exist and toprosper. Is only by turning to Him, by dedicatingour hearts and our lives to Him that we aretruly safe and truly secure, not just our bodies, but our souls.

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