In this article, we are using the word cold war in a sense different from its usual usage with political implications. Here it is meant to indicate a situation of covered animosity due to resentful thoughts towards an individual or group that may later burst into an outward manifestation.

People on this planet are usually driven by a certain pressure of psychology transpiring around them in their daily life. Unknowingly, they succumb to it and let their life be governed by what may be called the rut-psychology; in other words, the society and its ways overshadow the minds of individuals and keep them pushed into the conventional rut. This fundamental malady is responsible for all individual and collective suffering.

One of the direct offshoots of this malady is the carrying of quite a few cold wars in ourselves - based on my country, my religion, my culture, my conclusions and the like. In other words, emotional attachment to one’s nation, religion etc forms the basis for distancing oneself from the others. One can easily see how it leads to arguments and conflicts with those that don’t agree with us; consequently, one’s mental content is riddled with a number of cold wars during the waking hours. These are usually against those with whom we are not in good terms either as individuals or as groups. It can easily be seen how destructive that kind of mental state can be. Those cold wars fritter away vital energy leading to a disturbed state of mind; human beings remain totally unaware of that destructive psychology.

It is to be noted that there is no hot war without there being a related cold war preceding it. Now the various peoples of the world are taken in by the cold wars simmering in their minds and, off and on, erupting into hot wars. The individual transformation to inner freedom from cold wars can help the collective psychology and, in due course, bring about the much needed camaraderie among the human beings.

Freedom from the Cold Wars
People can sense the unhealthy mental state due to the cold wars, either through one’s own self-awareness or by a prompting circumstance - such as listening to an Enlightened Master, reading a book, watching a movie and the like. When they do this, they keep wondering how to dissolve the cold wars as a necessary prelude to a peaceful mind. It leads to an inwardly directed attention that moves in the direction of ‘Know thyself’. Very soon they discover that such an attention helps them move away from energizing the cold wars. Not being fed, the cold wars begin to gradually dissolve. A strange feeling of well being settles in as a result of eradicating unhealthy contents in our minds. It will lead to an inward situation of having no enemies.

From childhood days, self-importance builds up in human beings based on the identification with a nation, religion, language etc. The mind is habituated to develop attachment to the identified object and think in terms of ‘I’, ‘me’ and the ‘mine’. Inevitably, it creates division among human beings and forms the basis for the cold wars. When one sees this sad state of affairs, there is a resolve to see what can be done to dissolve the cold wars in oneself.

The conventional methods of dos and don’ts (especially related to religious preaching) cannot dissolve the cold wars. On the other hand, they may feed the unfortunate thing because of attachment to belief systems.

Self-awareness is the key. Turning our attention inward, we can understand how the habitual neurosis runs our thoughts which build up the resentment towards others. The winding of the spring takes place all the time and that is how cold wars come to stay with us. The wound up state runs future thoughts with greater momentum than before and so the cold wars get hardened in due course. This awareness is what can unwind the process and bring the much needed inner freedom. If we are with this salutary change, very soon we see the light at the end of the tunnel – the possibility of total freedom from the cold wars in our minds and, so, the chance of ending the hot wars.

We have to be very patient with the movement of the inner change. It is obvious that we cannot do it in a jiffy. After the process of self-awareness sets in, it takes quite a while before we understand its power and gain confidence. We see the inner movement as one that polarizes the mental energies towards stable peace. Whatever is profound is a matter of slow growth. As it is often stated ‘Easy come, easy go’. So, phenomenal patience is needed in this matter of applying ourselves to the inner freedom. Once we see the possibility of dissolving the cold wars, we understand the basis for peaceful and wholesome living.

When we become aware of the harm we do to ourselves and to others by allowing the cold wars to function in us, there is a natural deepening of the inner awareness. First, it prevents the energizing of the neurosis supporting the cold wars. Second, it gives us the confidence that it is possible to dissolve this neurosis completely. The peace that comes with this change is felt to be an intrinsically healthy one because it moves us towards having no enemies. This does not mean that we will allow others to exploit us. Where there is impropriety, we will come up with good-natured protest to make the other understand, but there will be no rancor and such residual resentment towards them. The change happens naturally as a result of the growing self-awareness.

One of the items that help us dissolve the cold wars is the awareness that behind every action of people there is a multitude of causes that culminates in their good or bad behavior. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says that human beings behave as if mounted on a machine, implying that the causal forces are indeed juggernauts. This understanding brings in sympathy and compassion towards the wrongdoer. It does not mean that we will be phlegmatic about misbehavior; only that we will not handle it with animosity; we will bring in a more wholesome attitude to contain the evil and do a good job of it.

Our Responsibility
People for whom the above paragraphs make sense begin to reflect on the many cold wars they harbor in their daily life. They may even realize with a shock how many of such wars function in their minds as ‘bees in the bonnet’! The response to this realization makes us understand how the cold wars destroy our mental peace. So, the question arises, “Can one wash away these cold wars and function from a state of wholesomeness towards all people irrespective of their nationality, religion etc ?” In other words, can there be integration in our minds leading to openness and a conflict-free state? Simultaneously, there can be an adequately responding mind and not a reacting mind; it is clear that the latter forms the basis for cold wars.

When the majority of people in the world understand the need to dissolve the cold wars in them, for their own sake and for the sake of the collective psychology, the world will move to be a place of care and camaraderie. Therefore, it is incumbent on every one of us to apply ourselves to this matter of clearing the cold wars. Simultaneously, it can take us to higher dimensions of spirituality. That would be conducive to individual serenity and the much needed global unity.

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Author's Bio: 

Gopalakrishnan T. Chandrasekaran was born in Madras (now Chennai), India. He received his doctoral degree in Coastal Engineering from the North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA in 1978; served on the research and teaching faculty of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India, the North Carolina State University and the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, Kuwait.

Aside from his professional involvements, he was interested in the philosophic issues of life for the last forty years or so. This led him to the messages of Ramana Maharishi, Lao Tzu, J Krishnamurthy, UG Krishnamurthy, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Eckhart Tolle, Marcus Aurelius and similar Masters. His book entitled “In Quest of the Deeper Self” is the outcome of his reflections on those and his wish to share the outcome with others.

Gopalakrishnan is a member of the International Association for Near Death Studies, Durham, NC, USA. He lives in Kodaikanal, a hill town in the southern part of India, with his wife Banumathy. Blog: