A Tantric solution to War

The very essence of Tantra is how to create a beautiful and ongoing harmony that brings peace, security, fulfillment, intimacy and contentment allowing bliss and ecstasy to be normal easy parts of your life. The Tantric way, unlike many other traditions is to accept opposites as part of the whole. So conflict is embraced as part of harmony, because a harmony based on avoiding or resisting conflict, will be overpowered by it. Rather if conflict is embraced in the right way it fuels, enhances harmony making it deeper and more beautiful.

The solutions to wars and other widespread social conflicts are the same as those used for a failing marriage, the most intimate war, but massively larger because politics is a marriage of millions. Essentially you have to build the right sort of trust. There is trust in a system based on violence and fear. It is trust that there will be violence and fear, thus it is self perpetuating.

Politics is about relationships, it is the social dynamics that govern the human cultural environment. The obvious version is the formal systems for distributing power and authority, leadership, through rituals like elections and crowning monarchs and presidents. And it is also the less obvious informal group dynamics of power, status and authority by which relationships are organized so that groups small and large can make decisions, choose roles and achieve goals for mutual and not so mutual benefit. It is an interactive product of a top-down AND bottom-up processes. When it is imposed it means the whole system is violent. Simply destroying ISIS just continues that culture of violence.

The very bottom of the bottom-up part of the process is the way individuals organise and cope with the inner conflicts between different desires and fears, the inner war they must work with to carry on living. Many say this is the real, deeper mean of “jihad” in the Muslim teachings. The process and culture of politics give a model to people about how they participate in this inner war.

The challenge is building trust in a state of war.

Then finding ways to let that process of building spread out into peace, security, wealth for all and finally a beautiful moral life. This process is extremely hard when the whole society is suffering from generations of trauma from an ongoing state of war. It is easier if, as it was in 20th century Europe, war was no longer the normal state; as it had been until say the 17th century. It was an extraordinary event, and therefore the recovery from the 2nd world war actually boosted their whole economy. This was helped by binding war to rhetoric, secret operations, small proxies away from home and strengthening exercises (that actually resulted in covert healing). This putting of boundaries around wars, by making it a “cold war”, points to a solution.

One way of solving war is if all sides agree to rules of war.

Of course this means they have to talk to each other first. If the traumas are deep then just getting people talk is no easy task. But once talking then some of the first things they could seek agreement on is defining who are fighters and who are not; putting boundaries around the violence, like what are acceptable ways of fighting – an honour code that all agree to without imposing a solution. This is not a fast project the Christians in Europe started putting boundaries around war in the 5th century and it has taken 1500 years for us to get to the situation that war is no longer the normal state of social relations. Now at least there are models of how it can be done and what results can come from it.

But this achievement has made the beneficiaries, like the USA, arrogant. They think they can impose the European solution. Europe and its best children, the USA and Australia, and its best copycats Japan etc show what can be achieved if war is no long the norm. And what can happen when trust that desires can be fulfilled in safety replaces trust in fear and violence.

Out of this system of trust created by negotiating boundaries on war can come a healing process with “civilians” being left alone to heal. Slowly the number of civilians will grow until they outnumber fighters and victims. It has to be based on consent and choice with the power elite and the ordinary people realizing they all can heal. Then mutual security will lead to everyone getting richer and more powerful. The whole society benefits from people choosing to participate in producing goods and services for living, rather than being forced by trauma into producing goods and services for defending against pain and death. With all the creative and productive energy eaten up by revenge scenarios inspired by widespread feelings helplessness and powerlessness, and post-traumatic stress.

As the situations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel prove overwhelming force coming from outside (or even inside) doesn’t work. People bow in surrender then use anything available to fight back first as individuals then in gangs and finally in armies. The current situation in Israel where a few people using knives against guns has become a movement is a model for the failure of overwhelming force.