Orme-Johnson, D.W. & Dillbeck, M.C. (1987).
Maharishi’s Program to Create World Peace: Theory and Research,
Modern Science and Vedic Science, 1, 2, 206–259.
The Basis of War and Terrorism: Stress in Collective Consciousness. Maharishi identifies the source of all conflict in society as stress in the collective consciousness of the nation and the world. Stress in collective consciousness, Maharishi asserts, is the result of the mistakes and suffering of the citizens, and has its ultimate basis in the violation of the laws of nature by the individuals in the society (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1986, p. 98). “Violations of the laws of nature” are actions that are not in accord with the laws of nature that govern progress, development, and happiness in human life.
Collective Consciousness. The fundamental force governing the quality of social life, according to Maharishi, is the collective consciousness of society. The collective consciousness of a social group is the wholeness of consciousness of the entire group. Each level of society is described as having its own characteristic collective consciousness, such as family consciousness, community consciousness, city consciousness, state or provincial consciousness, national consciousness, and world consciousness (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1977, pp. 123–124). Just as the consciousness of an individual determines the quality of his thought and behavior, so also there exists another type of consciousness for a society as a whole; a collective consciousness for each family, city, state, or nation, having its own reality and the possibility of development. The quality of the collective consciousness of a society is a direct and sensitive reflection of the level of consciousness of its individual members (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1977, p. 122).
An illustration of collective consciousness is the common experience that each family has a characteristic feeling associated with it; similarly, the modes of behavior and cultural values of different geographic locations or even nations as a whole are distinctive. The quality of collective consciousness at each subordinate level contributes to the quality of collective consciousness at a higher level. For example, the quality of national consciousness is influenced by the quality of collective consciousness in each state; an agricultural state brings its own unique influence to the national consciousness (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1977, p. 122).
Reciprocal Influence. The influence of each individual is important in creating a peaceful and harmonious society. According to Maharishi (1977, p. 124), there is a reciprocal relationship between individual consciousness and collective consciousness. That is, each individual influences the collective consciousness of the society, and at the same time each individual is influenced by the collective consciousness. The consciousness of the individual is the basic unit of the collective consciousness, and therefore the collective consciousness of a nation or the world can only be improved through improving individual consciousness. As noted before, both individual and collective consciousness are enriched through the development of higher states of consciousness.
Fields. Each level of collective consciousness may be thought of as a field that permeates the entire society. At the basis of all levels of collective consciousness is the unified field of all the laws of nature, the field of pure consciousness (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1986, pp. 74–75). According to Maharishi, it is through the direct experience of the field of pure consciousness by the individuals in the society that an influence of peace is created in the nation and the world.
Coherence in Collective Consciousness. The primary determinant of the quality of life in the society, according to Maharishi, is the degree of coherence or integration in collective consciousness (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1986, pp. 80–89). Maharishi states that the result of a coherent collective consciousness is an integration between individual desires and the needs of the society as a whole. The ability to spontaneously fulfill one’s own interests while contributing to fulfill the social interest is based on the degree to which the person’s awareness is identified with the unified field of all the laws of nature. This is because the unified field is that level of nature that has the capacity to govern all aspects of nature simultaneously, including all aspects of society (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1986, p. 75). The degree to which society as a whole can display this harmonious quality of behavior is dependent on the degree to which the individual members of society generate an integrative influence in collective consciousness from the unified field. Thus, the level of coherence in collective consciousness is dependent upon the proportion of members of society regularly experiencing the unified field, as discussed below (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1986, pp. 74–77).
Peace and Collective Consciousness. Maharishi’s understanding of peace is that it is not a state of inertia, stagnation, rigidity, or passivity, but a lively, creative, and dynamic interaction among the different elements and groups of a social system in which all behaviors are mutually supportive and harmonious. The unified field is itself the permanent basis of peace because it is the state in which the infinite dynamism of the universe is unified in one orderly and balanced structure of natural law (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1986, pp. 74–76). This combination of unification, balance, and dynamical creativity is precisely what is needed in world consciousness to establish peace. Because the unified field is the most basic level of individual and collective consciousness, this dynamical state of peace is inherent in the foundation of society. It only needs to be enlivened in the conscious awareness of the individuals so that this quality of infinite dynamism and harmony can be infused into social life to structure a state of permanent peace.
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Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. (1986). Life supported by natural law. Washington, DC: Age of Enlightenment Press.