” You have Abraham Lincoln. What a man! I think his blessings should work out one day in this country [USA]. A saint. What a personality.” (talk 1984-08-18)
Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi
A letter from a friend of mine.
Recently I’ve been reading about the life of Abraham Lincoln and wanted to share something about how he embodied some of the subtle powers of the vishuddhi chakra. There are many parallels between his life and the explanations Shri Mataji gave about the pure manifestation and workings of the vishuddhi.
There are a few loose similarities between the lives of Lincoln and Shri Krishna; both came from very humble agricultural/agrarian backgrounds. Lincoln’s father was a simple trapper who lived by catching wild animals and who later graduated to working a small piece of farmland. Lincoln spent his childhood and teens doing farm work. Shri Krishna worked as a cowherd and is famous for his association with farming and cattle herding.
Both Lincoln and Shri Krishna rose from their unassuming background to be involved in the direction of a great civil war. (In Shri Krishna’s case the war between the Kauravas and Pandavas depicted in the Mahabharata, which was a civil war between the two groups of relations over the rightful heir of the throne).
Lincoln is most famously celebrated for his role in the abolition of slavery and for leading the Northern states to victory in the American civil war. (1861-1865)
At the time slavery was the most controversial and divisive topic in the country. Political parties and governments were split on the issue and no one had yet found a way to keep the country politically unified whilst still pacifying the southern States who seemed determined to hold on to their ‘right’ to keep slaves at all costs.
It’s an interesting facet of human behaviour that quite often people inherently dislike any criticism of their own actions (even with something that seems obviously wrong like slavery), yet at the same time we humans seem to revel in criticising others. We are quick to point out the mistakes that others make, yet at the same time we often find it difficult to accept the criticism that others give us. We have heard Shri Mataji tell us many times to forget criticising others and to concentrate on constructively criticising ourselves.
Lincoln’s approach was somewhat different to ordinary human beings. He understood that criticising and chastising generally leads nowhere and that, paradoxically if you want to change someone’s mind a good way to start is by agreeing with them and acknowledging their view point.
Lincoln hated the injustice and moral repugnance of slavery and had desired for years to end it. Yet when he had his first chance to express his perspective in a public debate with his political rival Stephan A. Douglas this is what he said:
“ I have no prejudice against the Southern people. They are just what we would be in their situation. If slavery did not now exist amongst them, they would not introduce it. If it did now exist amongst us, we should not instantly give it up… When southern people tell us they are no more responsible for the origin of slavery, than we; I acknowledge the fact. When it is said that the institution exists; and that it is very difficult to get rid of it, in any satisfactory way, I can understand and appreciate the saying. I surely will not blame them for not doing what I should not know how to do myself. If all earthly power were given me, I should not know what to do, as to the existing institution”
Lincoln is recognised as the man who can take most responsibility of ridding America of slavery and yet he began his political career by never publicly condemning slave owners nor stating that he wanted slavery abolished.
(Lincoln considered slavery to be so logically and clearly incorrect that he felt that eventually it would drop out of evolution, and if he could stop it spreading to newly created states who joined the union then eventually the whole country would reject it.)
Lincoln had taken a vow in the early part of his career to never criticise another person. Even when he was in command of the union army fighting, what were at the time, the bloodiest and largest infantry battles that had ever been fought, he still forbade any verbal criticism of the enemy, saying: “ Judge not that ye be not judged. They are just what we would be in their position.”
Note that this principle does not mean Lincoln advocated inaction or that he allowed evil or negativity to flourish unchecked. Far from it, he won a war while still advocating his ‘do not criticise others’ policy. He was a righteous fighter and man of action. He just didn’t waste time and energy in criticising others
… Even when he was fighting them!
Lincoln has been called “one of the greatest storytellers who ever lived”. He was famous for his Ability to hold a crowd and before his political career began he would hold sway to small crowds in the backroom of shops and houses telling anecdotes and cracking jokes.
When Lincoln was tragically assassinated his funeral was, at the time, one of the largest and most well attended in all of history. Sixteen white horses lead the funeral procession and it was documented that 160,000 mourners attended. These were perhaps manifestations from the unconscious symbolising his link to the sixteen petals of the vishuddhi chakra and the place of America in the virata.
Lincoln was a great admirer of William Shakespeare (another of the all time great storytellers) and said he learnt much about the power and passion of language from reading and memorising dialogue from his plays. At Lincoln’s funeral mourners carried banners with quotations from Shakespeare and the bible: ‘Be still and know that I am God’ Psalm 46:10
If you’d like to read more about Lincoln I can recommend a writer call Dale Carnegie, he wrote a very famous book called ‘How to win Friends and influence people’ in which he describes the qualities of Lincoln. (I was always put off by the title, but I would recommend this book to all yogis, it’s like a treatise on the qualities of the vishuddhi including diplomacy and sweet communication).
Carnegie also wrote a very readable biography called ‘Lincoln the unknown’ (out of print but available on eBay etc. for about £10) also highly recommended. Also worthwhile is ‘A team of Rivals’ by Doris Kearns Goodwin, which is a very in-depth, but still accessible account of Lincoln’s political life.
Any feedback or input very welcome. Thanks for reading.