Self-Defense in Universal Spirituality:
Interfaith Values of Active and Forceful Resistance Against Evil
Underpinning the foundations of Chivalry is the core concept of “self-defense”, especially including the defense of others. In the authentic tradition of the Knights Templar, this is driven by the timeless principles of Sacred Activism, as the practical application of Templar Spirituality.
The ancient Code of Chivalry of 1066 AD features three commandments among the 10 Pillars of Chivalry, which best express the priority focus on self-defense, as protectors of the innocent and as guardians of civilization: “Defend the traditions of religion and the principle of Faith” (2nd Pillar); “Respect and defend the weak against abuses by the strong” (3rd Pillar); “Always uphold right and good, against all evil and injustice” (10th Pillar). 
The Temple Rule of 1129 AD, as the founding charter of the Knights Templar, introduces the primary purpose of the Order as “for the defense of” the principle of Faith (Rule 1). It declares that Chivalry must practice “the love of Justice that constitutes its duties”, and “do what it should, that is to defend” (Rule 2). Further confirming the central mandate of protection of innocents, it reminds all Templars that “God holds both the strong and the weak equal” (Rule 38), and that Templar authority “must sustain the weaknesses and strengths of others” (Rule 47). 
The Templar Code of 1150 AD (distilled from the Temple Rule) further highlights the Templar emphasis on self-defense: “Use one’s strength only to protect and uphold the weak” (4th Pillar); “Always uphold and represent Justice with fairness” (5th Pillar); “Oppose all forms of gossip and defamation” (12th Pillar). 
Unfortunately, the modern era is generally dominated by a counter-culture of “political correctness”, blaming and shaming activists with propaganda, to discourage all forms of standing up for what is right. This escalating propaganda is based on pseudo-religious criticisms, which are used to censor and suppress opposition to evil, and to promote passive acquiescence and tolerance of all forms of wrongdoing and injustice.
As a result of this destructive trend, beyond the obvious needs for protection against adversity, the concept of self-defense takes on a dual meaning: It has now become necessary to also practice verbal and philosophical “self-defense”, simply to justify one’s activism in opposing the forces of evil.
Although political correctness against rightful activism primarily targets Christianity, Spiritual Seekers of the New Age movement (which involves concepts of Universal Spirituality from ancient esoteric mysticism) are also subjected to similar points of false criticism. Spiritual Seekers engaged in activism opposing evil are typically accused of focusing on “negativity” and thereby attracting “negative energies”, or otherwise being supposedly “unspiritual”.
The underlying principles of classical Eastern spirituality, and original doctrines of the Ancient Priesthood of Egypt (which is also the source of early Christianity), together established the foundations and framework of most New Age beliefs. As evidenced in the historical record, those concepts of Universal Spirituality all conclusively prove that the typical anti-activist criticisms are false. Indeed, those timeless traditions expose the common criticisms as superficial misconceptions, which were never a part of the genuine religious doctrines.
This report is provided to empower all activists of Universal Spirituality, armed with the power of the Truth, backed by the facts and evidence fully presented below, to easily defend their Sacred Activism for the benefit of humanity, as being entirely consistent with the authentic principles of Universal Spirituality.
Disclaimer: Self-Defense Primarily by Non-Violence
Evidencing that a preference for non-violent “spiritual warfare” is authentic to the Knights Templar, the Temple Rule harshly criticized that the Crusades “did not do what it should… but strove to plunder, despoil and kill” (Rule 2). It commands only to “remove [French: ‘arachier’, Latin: ‘delere’] from the land enemies”, meaning to drive out, but not to kill (Rule 14). It also provided that only to “defend the land” (Rule 56), Templars were “permitted to strike [Latin: ‘hostem’] the enemies”, proving no specific intent to kill (Rule 57). 
In the modern era, and in the tradition of Sacred Activism, resistance to evil is almost exclusively through “information warfare”, “legal warfare” and “spiritual warfare”. Except in isolated cases of state-promoted violence or state-sponsored armed aggression, effective self-defense rarely requires any physical use of force. Rather, the type of “self-defense” usually needed is to promote Truth, upholding positive religious values which justify active opposition to the forces of evil, in defense of humanity.
While all spiritual religions essentially teach non-violence, traditional religious doctrines often describe fighting against evil in terms of justified lawful self-defense in armed conflict, with reference to killing. This is mostly a product of the historical circumstances of ancient teachings. In context, it appears self-evident that beyond limited guidance for only the most extreme situations, such doctrines are primarily analogies.
Indeed, the religious doctrines of “self-defense” prove that when armed force or even killing would be universally justified, then certainly mere social, political or legal activism is overwhelmingly warranted. These forms of simply exercising the right to Free Speech, and asserting legal rights, cannot possibly be criticized.
Interfaith Doctrines of Defense with Justice
The central concepts of Universal Spirituality are expressed by their ancient Sanskrit terms: (1) “Karma”, literally the “action” of cause and effect, meaning spiritual consequences with physical manifestations; (2) “Dharma”, literally “cosmic law and order”, meaning the “path of righteousness” and the virtue of moral law as natural law; and (3) “Ahimsa”, literally “non-injury” or “non-harm”, meaning non-violence.
These principles are essential teachings from Vedic Hinduism (ca. 1,750 BC), as the origins of Buddhism (ca. 550 BC) and the practice of Kriya Yoga (ca. 500 BC). They are also integral to classical Hermeticism (ca. 150 AD), which greatly influenced the New Age movement through the Theosophical Society (1875 AD), and were further popularized by the Self-Realization Fellowship (1920 AD) of Paramahansa Yogananda, becoming the underlying philosophy of New Age spirituality.
Nonviolence Allows Defense – The concept of Ahimsa as “nonviolence” never meant to imply any supposed pacifism . The Hindu scriptures directly support the use of force and violence against an armed aggressor  . Tantric Buddhist scriptures even give “formulae for killing unjust kings”  , permitting lethal force against corruption and tyranny. Such defense must be lawful and for a just cause  , and the weapons or force used must be proportionate to the level of aggression or scope of harm defended against .
A prominent Buddhist journal documents “key differences between nonviolence as taught by the Buddha, and pacifism. … Buddha encouraged a pure mind that seeks the least harm. … Himself a member of the warrior caste, the Buddha… never counsels [royalty] to abandon legal administration with its attendant consequences and punishments for crimes, nor to abandon warfare and protection of their state.” Buddhism teaches that a soldier or defender may kill “as an upholder of safety and Justice, focused on love of those you protect rather than on hate for those you must kill”. 
Karmic Law of Consequences – From ancient Vedic teachings, the governing principle is Karma, the universal mechanism by which the energy and consequences of one’s actions necessarily return to oneself. Thus, one can dispense Justice by force, thereby manifesting another’s Karma as the consequences of their own actions.
As the Apostles taught: “God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption.” (Galatians 6:7-8) This reflects the essence of Karma as spiritual cause and effect, which can also manifest through actions in the physical world.
In Hinduism, invoking Karma upon another by imposing Justice is properly done with a positive intent to correct their abuses. This provides the additional benefit of actually saving them from incurring even more painful Karma as escalating consequences, by stopping or deterring what would otherwise be their continued offenses.
Positive intent is especially important, because when imposing Justice against another’s wrongdoing, Karma would also cause oneself to be more strictly corrected by consequences, in the event of one’s own misdeeds against others.
As Jesus taught: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1; Luke 6:37) “If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will [God] forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:15, 18:35; Mark 11:26; Luke 6:37) “He that is without sin… let him first cast a stone” (John 8:7).
As Christianity strongly supports judgment and punishment for crimes, clearly this does not mean that nobody should be judged. Rather, this is better understood in the context of Karma, that one who judges others for an offense must expect to be judged for any of their own offenses.
Defensive Force by Justice – Buddhism teaches that: “The committed meditator purifies his or her mind… to ascertain Justice while defending society against violence, and [may be] thereby occasionally called to the use of force.” 
Buddhist scholars explain “another key difference between the Buddha’s nonviolent position and pacifism: … Before and after any war, before and after outbreaks of violence, the student of Dhamma [Dharma], the committed meditator, lives the life of nonviolence… [and] seeks the least harm at all times.” This “allows him to consider a proper role for benign force… Nonviolence has room for strong actions whose origins rest in concerned and caring motives. Similarly, passive, acquiescent enabling of violence is not Dhamma.” Therefore, “permitting someone else to perpetrate harm without consequences is not nonviolence.” 
Violence is Better than Cowardice – Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948), the Hindu spiritual leader, international lawyer, and world renowned activist for civil rights in India and South Africa, wrote about the necessity of violence in justifiable self-defense , in his own words:
“Where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence… I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honour than… in a cowardly manner, [to] become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonor.” (Ghandi)
“My method of nonviolence… will make it possible, if the nation wills it, to offer disciplines and concerted violence in time of danger. My creed of nonviolence is an extremely active force. It has no room for cowardice or even weakness. … If we do not know how to defend ourselves, our women and our places of worship by the force of suffering, i.e. nonviolence, we must… be at least able to defend all these by fighting.” (Ghandi)
“He who cannot protect himself or his nearest and dearest or their honour by non-violently facing death, may and ought to do so by violently dealing with the oppressor.” (Ghandi)
Justified Force Against Tyranny – The previous Dalai Lama XIII of Tibet, His Holiness Thupten Gyatso (Thakpo Langdun) (1876-1933), declared the necessity for forceful defense against tyranny:
“In the future, this system [Communism] will certainly be forced… If, in such an event, we fail to defend our land… [we] will be subjugated like slaves to the enemy; and my people, subjected to fear and miseries, will be unable to endure day or night. … We should make every effort to safeguard ourselves against this impending disaster. Use peaceful means where they are appropriate; but where they are not appropriate, do not hesitate to resort to more forceful means.” 
The current Dalai Lama (XIV), His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso (Lhamo Thondup) (b. 1935), a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate (1989), commented on that statement in an interview: “Just between us, this isn’t strictly practicing non-violence.” He explained that the previous Dalai Lama was “advancing the idea that defense of a land has to be assured by the people who occupy it.” When asked whether such armed defense would have saved Tibet from annexation, he replied “I’m convinced it would have.” 
The Dalai Lama XIV also stated in a public presentation: “If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun. [But] Not at the head, where a fatal wound might result.”  This confirms the teaching that while even armed force can be used, the intention should not be to kill out of anger or hatred, but rather to provide necessary defense to uphold goodness out of love for the innocent.
The 20th century Tibetan Buddhist warrior monk Jampa Tenzin explained: “Generally, of course, non-violence is good, and killing is bad… But each and every thing is judged according to the circumstances of the situation, and, particularly in Buddhism, according to the motivations… Individual, or self, motivation is obviously not allowed… Unless we did something, sooner or later we couldn’t practice religion… Dharma [must] prevail and remain… even by violent means.” 
Active Resistance to Evil in the Ancient Priesthood
The Ancient Priesthood of Egypt is the source of Hermetic traditions of Theosophy, and the inspiration for most concepts of New Age spirituality. It also embodies the origins of Christianity, and the earliest forms of Chivalry. Accordingly, ancient Egyptian teachings are highly significant and profoundly revealing about interfaith doctrines on the spirituality of active defense against all forces of evil.
Since the very beginning of recorded human history, the Ancient Priesthood has included the essential function of defenders of Faith and guardians of the Sacred Wisdom. This iconic role has always focused on upholding the principles of Justice, through disciplined Sacred Activism promoting positive traditional values of good over evil:
In ca. 10,068 BC, the Assyrian “Nart” Knights were founded by King Jamshid, becoming the first known chivalric priestly guardians. They were spiritual defenders of the esoteric “Nartmongue” Holy Grail, and Knights of an egalitarian “Round Table” Order. From ca. 7,477 BC, the Narts were continued and led by King Kai Khosrow, who for these reasons is considered the “Persian King Arthur”.   In Old English, the ancient name “Narts” actually became the medieval word “Knights”.
It is this Ancient Priesthood of Sumeria which was the original Priesthood of Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18; II Samuel 15:24-29), which became the Priesthood of Solomon (I Kings 1:39), and later became the Biblical Magi of the New Testament (Matthew 2:1-2). Jesus was the Chief High Priest of this Magi Priesthood of Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:5, 5:6, 5:10), thus continuing the Priesthood of Solomon.
The Sumerian Magi Priesthood of Melchizedek had also influenced and continued through the Egyptian Priesthood. This is evidenced by artifacts from the Tomb of the “Scorpion King” one of the earliest High Priests of ancient Egypt, dated to ca. 3,150 BC. The Tomb contained imported ceramic jars containing residue of sacramental wine, indicating a gift from the Sumerian Magi Priesthood.  
It is the Ancient Priesthood of Egypt which both Saint Augustine and Saint Jerome recognized in 418 AD as the original “true religion, which… began to be called Christian” , and “established anew the Ancient Faith” within Catholicism .
The Egyptian “Djedhi” Priests were a special class of High Priests, named after the “Djed” pillar associated with the “god” (actually an Angel) Osiris. Djed Pillar artifacts were prevalent in ancient Egypt as early as the Predynastic period , demonstrating that the Djedhi Priesthood existed as early as 5,500 BC .
The Djed pillar, depicting the spinal column as a symbol of strength, was a reference to the Djedhi Priests having a moral “backbone” and being pillars of moral strength, as guardians of the Sacred Wisdom.
The papyrus scroll King Kheops and the Magicians, dated ca. 2,570 BC, evidences that the Djedhi were considered both “Magi” and “guardians” of the Sacred Wisdom, and were appointed to the royal court of Prince Hordjedef in the manner that an Order of Chivalry would be.     
(The famous “Jedi Knights” of the Star Wars films by George Lucas were based upon research from his mentor, the scholar Joseph Campbell, who noted the historical Templars continuing the Djedhi Priesthood of ancient Egypt.)
From the earliest periods of the Ancient Priesthood of Egypt ca. 5,500 BC, the outer walls of the sacred Temples featured images of seemingly military-style victories, representing the spiritual battle of good against evil.
Archaeologists explain the traditional “royal smiting scene and its variations, shown at the Temple entrance – the origins of which may stretch back to the very beginnings of Egyptian history. … The military exploits of Egyptian kings were often depicted, for symbolic, protective purposes. … In all periods, however, the function of these scenes is largely symbolic… [for] defense of the Temple against its enemies – the forces of chaos which existed beyond the sacred precinct.” 
The role of the Ancient Priesthood thus inherently involved the concept of active protection of the Temple against the forces of evil, and priestly recognition and support of the necessity for vigilance and action in defense of positive values.
These victory scenes often depict angelic hawks (associated with the Angel Isis) flying over the smiting Pharaoh, carrying symbols of Holy Spirit blessings to him. This is a powerful symbolic declaration of the ancient theological doctrine that “victory in battle is granted by God”, which is implicitly based upon the doctrine that such battles (whether physical or spiritual) must be for a Holy purpose of a worthy cause.
The first etiquette book in history was the papyrus scroll entitled Instruction of Ptahhotep ca. 2,400 BC, discovered in Thebes (Luxor)  . Even as an etiquette book for Pharaonic royalty and the Egyptian Priesthood, it mandates steadfast resistance in opposition to all forms of evil: “Keep not silence when someone says anything that is evil.” (Maxim 3) “Correct chiefly any misconduct by others. Vice must be drawn out, that virtue may remain.” (Maxim 36)
The Egyptian Book of Going Forth by Day (popularly called the “Book of the Dead”), which developed from the Pyramid Texts as early as 2,345 BC, was widely used as Papyrus scrolls from ca. 1,550 BC. Scroll 42 (sometimes called “Spell 42”, meaning a “Prayer”) is a Liturgy for “preventing slaughter” by overcoming the forces of evil:
“The shambles is equipped with what you know… Thoth is the protection of all my flesh. … There are no men [or] spirits… who shall harm me. … I am he in whom is the Sacred Eye, and nothing shall come into being against me, no evil cutting off and no uproar, and there shall be no danger to me. I am he… who adjudges… I am he who protects you… My striking power is in your bellies… My name overpasses… everything evil. … I am released from all evil.” 
This scroll describes evil as “the shambles” of chaos of the material world “what you know”. The primary protection is “Thoth”, the Angel of knowledge associated with Hermetic wisdom, and opening one’s inner “Sacred Eye” of spiritual knowledge.
In this Liturgy, the Priest(ess) reading it invokes the relevant Saints and Angels into oneself to embody their spiritual strengths, saying “I am…” The Liturgy is thus a mandate for the Priest(ess) to “judge” evil actions, to “protect” the innocent against harm, and to exercise “striking power” (whether physical or spiritual), all as necessary to overcome the forces of evil. The Angel saying “My striking power is in your bellies” means that all humans are charged to be agents of God by taking action in the world.
Therefore, in the practice of Sacred Activism, all Spiritual Seekers are fully justified, and indeed obligated, to strongly expose, resist and oppose the forces of evil, with vigilance, aggressive persistence, and when necessary even with lawful armed force. All Spiritual Seekers, as well as all of humanity, have an overriding moral and spiritual duty to actively detect, expose, denounce, condemn, boycott, resist and reject all wrongful abuses, and to exclude and impede those who would inflict harm or injustice upon others.
Suggested Related Topics
Learn about Christian Self-Defense in Templar culture
Learn about Templar Spirituality underlying Chivalry
Learn about Sacred Activism as Templar Faith in Action.
Academic Source References
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