War and Oneness

A Unified Perspective of the War in Ukraine

Douglas Balmain
7 min readMay 1, 2022


Photo by Max Kukurudziak. Used with full permissions.


​The war in Ukraine has been reminding us all of how small this planet we share is. Modern warfare is not localized. There can be no isolated incident in our current reality of global economics, connectivity, and thermonuclear capability.

Many of us, myself included, are uncertain about how this war relates to us and our role within it. We see the suffering, we feel the suffering, but what is our relationship to it? What is our responsibility to it?

It is inevitable that war and conflict create contradiction and confusion. How can we rejoice in the killing of the enemy and simultaneously mourn loss of life? How do we reconcile selfish impulses alongside our loyalties to what exists beyond ourselves? How do we understand our desire for peace alongside our proclivity for violence?

These questions have reminded me of the Bhagavad Gita, the ancient spiritual dialogue between Prince Arjuna and his charioteer Lord Krishna. Krishna, who is understood as being the “Supreme Personality of the Godhead,” gives counsel to Arjuna as he experiences the profound ethical dilemmas of being confronted with war.

Prince Arjuna

You lick at the worlds
around you,
devouring them
with flaming mouths;
and your terrible fires
scorch the entire universe,
filling it, [Krishna],
with violent rays.

Tell me —
who are you
in this terrible form?

(Bhagavad Gita. Chapter 11. Paragraphs 30–31.)

​The deities of ancient eastern thought and religion are not deities in a western, monotheistic sense. In this context, the divine in Lord Krishna is the divine in all of us. The incomprehensibility of Krishna exists in his everythingness. In the context of the Gita’s teachings, Krisha is pushing us to embrace the oneness of all things by virtue of common being and common origin.

The value in these teachings is in recognizing that each one of us contain all things at all times. Our capacity for violence and non-violence, our capacity for love and hate, our…