By Wolfgang Borchert
Last November marked the 70th anniversary of the death of Wolfgang Borchert, a young German writer who was seriously wounded in World War II then imprisoned for resistance activities. Physically destroyed, he lived only two years after the war. During that time he wrote antiwar literature that is widely read in Germany but little known in the USA, where it is currently most needed. His play about a traumatized veteran, DRAUSSEN VOR DER TÜR (THE MAN OUTSIDE), brought him literary fame after his death. “Dann gibt es nur eins!” (“Then There’s Only One Choice”) is the last poem he wrote before his death in 1947 at the age of 26. It shows a perceptive foresight of the inevitability of global destruction unless the people of the world refuse to serve the military.
Translated from the German by William T. Hathaway
You. Man at the machine in the factory. When they tell you tomorrow to stop making pots and pans and instead make helmets and machine guns, then there’s only one choice:
You. Woman in the store, woman in the office. When they tell you tomorrow to fill grenades and mount telescopic sights on sniper rifles, then there’s only one choice:
You. Factory owner. When they tell you tomorrow to make gun powder instead of baby powder, then there’s only one choice:
You. Researcher in the laboratory. When they tell you tomorrow to invent new ways to kill people, then there’s only one choice:
You. Songwriter in your studio. When they tell you tomorrow not to sing love songs but hate songs, then there’s only one choice:
You. Doctor in the clinic. When they tell you tomorrow to declare soldiers fit for combat, then there’s only one choice:
You. Minister in the pulpit. When they tell you tomorrow to bless murder and sanctify war, then there’s only one choice:
You. Captain of the freighter. When they tell you tomorrow to ship cannons and tanks instead of wheat, then there’s only one choice:
You. Pilot of the plane. When they tell you tomorrow to drop bombs on cities, then there’s only one choice:
You. Tailor in your shop. When they tell you tomorrow to make uniforms, then there’s only one choice:
You. Judge in robes. When they tell you tomorrow to serve on a court-martial, then there’s only one choice:
You. Railroad worker. When they tell you tomorrow to give the signal to send the troop and munition trains, then there’s only one choice:
You. Man in the country, man in the city. When they try to recruit you into the military, then there’s only one choice:
You. Mother in Normandy, mother in the Ukraine, you, mother in San Francisco and London, you, on the Yellow River and the Mississippi River, you, mother in Naples and Hamburg and Cairo and Oslo — mothers of all continents, mothers of the world, when they tell you tomorrow to raise children to be nurses for field hospitals and soldiers for new battles, then there’s only one choice:
Say NO! Mothers, say NO!
Because if you don’t say NO, if YOU don’t say no, mothers, then:
In the noisy steamy dusty port cities the great ships will groan into silence and float like cadavers of drowned mammoths, slapping sluggishly against the lonely docks while algae, seaweed and mussels grow on the once roaring gleaming hulls that now lie decomposing in a watery cemetery stinking of squishy decayed fish.
the streetcars will become dull senseless glass-eyed beetles lying crudely dented and peeling next to skeletons of tangled wires and rusted tracks, behind dilapidated sheds with holes in the roofs, in desolate, cratered streets —
a mud-gray, porridge-thick, leaden stillness will roll over everything, devouring, growing spreading over schools and colleges and theaters, over sport fields and playgrounds, gruesome and greedy, unstoppable —
the juicy sun-ripened grapes will rot on their broken arbors, the green rice will wither on the parched earth, the potatoes will freeze in the abandoned fields, and the cows will raise their death-stiffened legs like upside-down milking stools towards heaven —
in the research centers new medicines discovered by great doctors will turn to fungus and mold —
in the kitchens, dining rooms and cellars, in the cold-storage lockers and warehouses, the last sacks of flour, the last jars of strawberries, pumpkins and cherry juice will spoil — the bread under the overturned tables and smashed plates will turn green, and the rancid butter will reek, the grain will lie limp as a fallen army in the fields next to rusting plows, and the smokestacks of the pounding factories will fall and smash and crumble to be covered with eternal grass —
then the last person, with lacerated bowels and polluted lungs, answerless and alone under a poisonous glaring sun and wobbling sky, will stagger back and forth between gaping mass graves and massive concrete idols of the deserted cities, the last person, scrawny, cursing, accusing, insane — and his terrible cry: WHY? will die unheard, fading across the plains, whispering through the shattered ruins, brushing against the rubble of churches and bunkers, sinking into pools of blood, the last answerless animal cry of the last human animal —
all this will happen, tomorrow, maybe tomorrow, maybe tonight, maybe tonight, if — if —
if YOU don’t say NO!
For more about Wolfgang Borchert: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfgang_Borchert.
About the translator:
William T. Hathaway is a Special Forces combat veteran now working to overthrow the empire he previously served. He is the author of Radical Peace: People Refusing War, which presents the true stories of activists who have moved beyond demonstrations and petitions into direct action, defying the government’s laws and impeding its ability to kill. Noam Chomsky called it, “A book that captures such complexities and depths of human existence, even apart from the immediate message.” His new book, Lila, The Revolutionary, is a fable for adults about an eight-year-old girl who sparks a world revolution for peace and social justice. Chapters are posted on www.amazon.com/dp/1897455844. A selection of his writing is available at www.peacewriter.org.
The Journey Within: Exploring the Path of Bhakti – A Contemporary Guide to Yoga’s Ancient Wisdom by Radhanath Swami
In this long-awaited follow-up to The Journey Home, The Journey Within, now in an affordable paperback edition, guides readers through the essential teachings of bhakti yoga. World-renowned spiritual leader Radhanath Swami draws from his personal experiences to demystify the ancient devotional path of bhakti, capturing its essence and explaining its simple principles for balancing our lives.
His down-to-earth writing simplifies spiritual concepts and answers timeless questions in a narrative that connects sacred philosophy to modern life. What is love? What is the soul? Who is God? How can we live in the physical world without losing touch with the spiritual?
In concise and approachable language, Radhanath Swami sheds light on how to answer these vital questions and offers solutions to many of life’s challenges. The Journey Within invites readers to reach beyond the material world and delve into their hearts to discover not only the beauty of the true self, but also the simple truths that unite us all.
“Radhanath Swami is a towering spiritual figure of our time.”
—Dr. Cornel West, philosopher, academic, activist, author
About the Author
Radhanath Swami was born in Chicago in 1950. At age nineteen, he traveled overland from London to India, where he lived in Himalayan caves, learned yoga from revered masters, and eventually became a world-renowned spiritual leader in his own right. His acclaimed memoir, The Journey Home, has been translated into over twenty languages and published in over forty countries worldwide.
Radhanath Swami presently travels throughout Asia, Europe, and America teaching devotional wisdom, but can often be found in Mumbai, where he works tirelessly to help develop communities, food distribution initiatives, missionary hospitals, schools, ashrams, emergency relief programs, and eco-friendly farms.
“If you’re looking for an introduction to bhakti yoga and the meditative life, then this is a great read. I haven’t read the predecessor, so I am new to the author. I am also not an expert in bhakti yoga, so I can’t speak to the veracity of his ideas. To clarify for a newbie, bhakti yoga is a way of thinking and living, not a form of exercise. The book is an engrossing read with plenty of food for thought. The author intersperses discussion and explanation of original texts such as the Bhagavad Gita with modern-day experiences and stories. The balance between the two makes the book easy to follow and engaging. It also makes me want to go back and read/reread the original texts such as Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads. Much time is spent in the early chapters asserting that religious divisions are false, that each religion essentially centers on the same god/God with its own cultural context and interpretation.”
“Radhanath Swami has conveyed the Divine Light through his writing with the gentle and seductive effortlessness that he does in person. This book is a joyful way to move closer to the truth within you.”
—Russell Brand, comedian, actor, author, activist
“Drawing from personal anecdotes and on religious insights derived from the Vedic traditions and folkloric wisdom, The Journey Within imparts inspiring devotional teachings for today’s spiritual seekers.”
—Edwin Bryant, PhD, professor of Hinduism, Rutgers University; author, The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali
“The Journey Within combines the powerful wisdom of the East and the West, and I recommend this book to anyone who wants to feel authentic, lasting happiness.”
—Marci Shimoff, #1 New York Times best-selling author of Happy for No Reason
The Journey Within: Exploring the Path of Bhakti
Mandala Publishing | Publication date: October 3, 2017 6” x 9” | 320 pages | Category: Spirituality/Self-Help Paperback | $18.00 | ISBN: 978-1-68383-190-7
Transcend the material world and develop your inner self, your interpersonal relationships, and your capabilities as a leader with these 62 wisdom cards from New York Times best-selling author Radhanath Swami.
In day-to-day life it’s easy to get lost in the material rush of money, jobs, possessions, and entertainment. But is that existence fulfilling? Does the happiness achieved from having the nicest car or the latest gadget last beyond a few moments?
In this uplifting card deck, Radhanath Swami, New York Times best-selling author and world-renowned spiritual leader, provides practical tips on how to integrate a spiritual mindset into everyday life. Whether you’re a CEO looking for guidance on how to balance integrity with making money, someone looking to build deeper, more meaningful connections with other people, or a seeker looking to unlock the miracle of transcendent love within yourself, these down-to-earth non-denominational cards will show you how to live spiritually in today’s material world.
by Serge Mazerand
As a pianist and a composer, I admit being somewhat biased towards music. Yet, when we really come to think of it, we are all musicians by nature. We hum, whistle, sing and swing. Our vocabulary is impregnated with musical terms: we resonate with people and things, we set the tone, do things in concert and feel upbeat or downbeat. Our hearts are the soundboard that beats the rhythm of our emotions.
I have become fascinated by the many analogies with music when it comes to life. That realization led me to write a book called 7 keys to Serenity–– Creating harmony Within.
How can we play a harmonious life symphony and not slide into a cacophony? How can we avoid the many dissonances, subtle and not so subtle that–– when left lingering–– contribute to cause mental illness and disease?
Novalis, a German poet, wrote that disease is a musical problem and its cure a musical solution––hardly an exaggeration, I would argue. Music must be understood as sound, vibration, frequencies, amplitudes and rhythms. This is indeed the stuff of life. This is how our cells function. They orchestrate their own symphony, their song, their dance, through the many receptors and effectors their membrane is studded with. These cells are the musicians––some 35 trillion of them––who play the sacred music of our lives. Quite an ensemble, wouldn’t you say?
They orchestrate a subtle symphony called homeostasis. This is the music that keeps us alive and in good health. When some of these musicians begin to play out of tune, they create dissonance. When enough of them get entrained into playing out of sync, the body feels ill at ease. The result is disease. The key is to create and maintain harmony.
Harmony in musical terms is defined as a balanced combination of notes or pitches that create a sound that is pleasing to the ear. While this is by far not a complete description, the essential element is balanced combination. It is not about just one isolated note, but overtones and chords that are assembled and played in unity, alignment and consonance. It is about interconnection. The occasional dissonance is allowed, yet, when not resolving into consonance, it degenerates into a cacophony––far from pleasing the ears.
On the score of life, harmony could be defined as a balanced combination as well: a combination of mental notes––thoughts––but also of words and actions, that are pleasing to the body, mind, heart and soul. To play life in harmony we must therefore endeavour to create alignment and unity between these three components. Sadly, however, this is not what most of us do in our day-to-day lives. We think one thing, we say something else altogether and, even worse, often act in total contradiction. This creates conflict. Thoughts and words are vibrations that create waves. In Physics, we are taught that when waves align, they create what is called “constructive interference”. When, to the contrary they are misaligned, they create “destructive interference”. They can even cancel each other out altogether. This is how white noise is created. As we keep creating these contradictions and misalignments, we produce subtle energy conflicts and blockages that are detrimental to the “chi”, the life energy that keeps us well and healthy.
So, how can we ensure that we create and maintain this harmony in our life symphony?
In my book, I identified seven keys–– in line with the seven notes that create music: ABCDEF and G. The most important key is A and it stands for Awareness. It plays out in all other keys. Awareness has many other names: vigilance, paying attention, consciousness and the much-touted mindfulness. Yet, it is not just a thing of the mind. It has also to do with the heart. It is intuition. More than a state of mind, it is state of being. I compare it to an embedded antenna that helps us scan our inner and outer environment effortlessly. To stay in our musical metaphor, it is the art of listening––the way a conductor listens to his orchestra and detects shortcomings in tone, volume and rhythm.
As we stand on this “podium” of awareness, we come to notice the subtle music that plays within us. We reconnect with our selves, with our breath, with our emotions.
– Key of B. We realize which attitudes and beliefs empower us and which ones limit our potential
– Key of C: We learn to create our reality by creating thoughts, choices and change.
– Key of D: We incorporate awareness and discipline into a strategy of self-care in the four essential sections of our orchestra: the physical, the mental, the emotional and spiritual.
– Key of E: We become multi-sensory beings, learning to see and feel beyond the visible and the tangible. We notice synchronicity. We become aware of the Human Energy Field and its interconnection with all other fields surrounding us.
– Key of F: We create Flow in our lives through forgiveness and authentic freedom from distractions.
-Key of G: We become aware of guidance, available 24/7 as long as we are connected to the divine energy that permeates the Universe––the matrix of all matter as Max Planck called it.
There are, of course, more variations available in these seven keys, combinations, chords, octaves, sharps and flats–– key variations such as gratitude, attraction, acceptance and many more. When we play them in synergy, they combine to create harmony. Then and then only, do we become the composers and conductors of a beautiful life symphony.
Serge Mazerand is an improvisational pianist and composer of healing music. He records and writes under the private label and brand Keys to Serenity®. He is the author of 7 Keys to Serenity: Creating Harmony Within
Born in France, Serge established very early in his life a profound kinship with nature and music. Yet he chose to study business and pursued a corporate career, marketing luxury fragrances throughout the world. Mid-life spurred him to embrace a radical lifestyle change and he immigrated to Canada to build and operate a floating salmon-fishing resort on the North Coast of British Columbia.
The man of action transformed into a man of reflection when he settled on the banks of an enchanted river. The river became his mentor. After some twenty years of introspection and meditation, Serge was inspired to crystallize his thoughts into written notes. 7 keys to Serenity is his first book.
Coming full circle and combining the power of music, of the spoken and written word, Serge has made it his late-in-life mission to contribute to healing nature and people.
As an inspirational speaker of words and player of notes, Serge is available to set the tone at conferences and events that focus on health and wellness, spirituality, self-empowerment and environmental issues. He also stages his own events along with healing benefit concerts.
by Ziv Porat
Is there a difference between love and knowledge? At first glance this appears to be a rather silly question, since it seems to compare apples to oranges. The personal experience of loving, on the one hand and of knowing on the other, are so very different, how could they be the same, or even similar? One might assume that the more reasonable question should be – is there any thing in common between the two? This might be so if we are satisfied with a superficial understanding of these two facets of the human mind. Yet, if we search a bit deeper into their origin, motives and aim a broader comprehension may emerge.
Essentially, the desire for love arises from the spiritual impulse to come back to our True Nature, which is Oneness and Wholeness. This truth is so very beautifully expressed by the 15th century Sufi mystic, Jami, who wrote, “Love becomes perfect only when it transcends itself – Becoming One with its object, producing Unity of Being”1. These statements may become clearer by reflecting on the desire for love and its fulfillment. When one loves another, one actually expresses a desire to become one with them. The more intense is the sentiment of love, the stronger is the wish for unity.
When a lover longs for his beloved, he wishes to be so very close, never to be apart from to her; any hour that the lover spends apart from his beloved seems to him, as if lasting an eternity. So many love songs were written about the agony of separation from the beloved. When a mother loves her child, she feels no distinction from the child; the child’s joy is her happiness and the child’s pain is her suffering. Love is such an intense motive force in the human mind that it often overrides the impulse for self preservation; this is called selflessness, or altruism. In altruistic sentiments and actions the love for a fellow human causes the person to completely identify (unite) with the other, considering the other’s well being as one’s own. At times this leads to acts of self sacrifice, in which individual well being is subsumed in the care for the other.
The desire for knowledge arises from the same deep source in the human psyche as love does, i.e. the desire to realize the essential Oneness of one’s being with the universe. For what is knowledge? At its core, the desire to know is the desire to have intimate access to the object of knowledge. As one becomes interested in knowing anything or any subject, the process of learning about it brings more and more information, clarity, focus, details and a familiarity with it. This process of knowing saturates the mind until it becomes close and connected to the object of its study.
A physicist investigates the physical universe, because she wants to gain intimate access (knowledge of) to the subject of her research. What was once far away and obscure to her mind becomes in the course of her research and discovery process, clear and intimately known to her. A yogi meditates on the object of his interest; as his meditation deepens, the distinction between the observer and the object of his observation diminishes. The yogi becomes one with the object of meditation. This process is described in the classical text of Raja yoga, The Patanjali Yoga Sutras, and it is the ultimate way of gaining knowledge. This kind of knowledge does not require any intermediary agents, meaning the senses and the intellect. It is a direct knowledge, which cannot be explained in words, but it can be experienced by those who are interested and practice meditation.
Upon further observation, it may become clear that these seemingly disparate aspects of our mind are actually intertwined. The lover is very interested in his beloved; he wants to know everything about her: what flowers does she like, what restaurants does she prefer, what are her interests and so on. In short, he wishes to gain knowledge about the object of his affection; his desire for intimacy naturally includes a desire for knowledge. On the other hand, it is common to hear scientists talk with great joy and affection about the subject of their study. A scientist’s interest in the object of her investigation may become so profound that she will get as consumed by it, as the lover would in his beloved. The scientific interest turns into fascination, which becomes a burning desire to gain knowledge, to be filled with and united with the understanding of the object of knowledge.
If so, then what is the distinction between love and knowledge? Why do they appear to us as so very different and unrelated? The answer to this lies in the difference between the aspects of mind that are employed in search for Oneness; in the case of love it is the human heart and in the case of knowledge it is the head (intellect). When a particular facet of mind is utilized, it would yield a specific result. One’s experience of fire is heat when it is sensed by the skin and light when it is seen by the eye. A search dog on a rescue mission will most likely find that which it was trained to seek, human survivors and not a stash of gold. In the same manner, the tool that is utilized to seek for our spiritual essence will yield results that are conditioned and limited by that specific tool’s scope and ability. In the case of the intellect it will yield results that are confined to reason and knowledge; when it comes to feeling the search will yield results defined by the abilities of the heart, e.g. care, compassion and love.
As the true motive behind all human desires, whether of the heart or of the head, is found a deeper understanding emerges. This understanding is that all the aspirations of mind are but desires to ‘experience’ our True Essence. Because the mind is conditioned to think and feel in limited terms, it finds only a relative and limited scope of knowledge and a small measure of love. Only when the mind is sufficiently refined by spiritual practices, it becomes a clear mirror reflecting our essence. Both the head and the heart need to be developed and refined, and eventually transcended by the intuitive realization that is beyond the function of both.
Therefore, there is no actual distinction between the desire to know and to love. They are but manifestation of our insatiable spiritual hunger to return to who we truly are, our original Being. The yogis call that being, our True Self or Atman. In the realization of our True Self the search for anything and everything comes to its fruition. The search does not yield any new results of knowledge or love, but rather it allows us to realize that we are at all times a Wholeness that was never lost. That Wholeness is simultaneously absolute Being, Knowledge and Love.
1 Fitzgerald, Astrid (2001). Being Consciousness Bliss: A Seeker’s Guide. Great Barrington, MA: Lindisfarne Books, Page 115
About the author:
Ziv Porat has been studying and practicing yoga as a physical, mental and spiritual discipline since he completed his yoga teacher’s training at the Sivananda center in Tel Aviv in 1983. He taught ongoing hatha yoga classes and at teacher training courses, while living at various Sivananda centers and ashram.
He has educated students on the physical and spiritual aspects of yoga throughout California, in Israel, and in Spain. He teaches weekly yoga and health classes at retirement communities in the SF Bay Area, coaches individuals, conducts workshops and writes about spiritual development. Ziv strives to make the great teachings of Yoga and Vedanta accessible, interesting and inviting.