Monday, January 21, 2008

There has been a great misunderstanding and deliberate misreading of the fourfold society that the ancients saw

Science, Culture and Integral Yoga Globalisation or an Integral Society?
by RY Deshpande on Sun 20 Jan 2008 05:45 AM PST Permanent Link
We understand globalisation essentially in terms of economics, commerce, industry and political dynamics; but there are basic social, religious, philosophical, scientific, cultural or idealistic aspects which often get sidelined in the respective discussions. The question of humanity in its proper sense, of harmonious life of happiness as expressed by mystics, sages, rishis, enlightened thinkers is hardly raised and seen in its deeper or far-reaching implications. Globalisation today is driven by a motive force and does not have its true or authentic content offered to the larger collectivity in the enduring values of the spirit. It is a mechanistic or, to use the modern idiom, a digital phenomenon. The identity of man with things material, the appreciation of the wonder that living reality in its thousand moods is, the recognition of the all-pervasive beauty in nature, or the sweep of cosmic thought, the subtlety of creative perception and expression have to be a part of the global perception.
There have to be different families and nations, there have to be different races, different languages, different arts, and even in the same kind of art different expressions, different games, different sports activities, different recreations; yet there can be a kind of genuine underlying globality in all our occupations. This world is not just a shrunken global village; it is one rich Family of God, vasudhaiva kutumbakam, as says the ancient scripture. In it each member of the family has his own unique soul, his own inalienable individuality and it is that which is valued most in the progress of the both. In the all-inclusive collective life is provided the scope for one’s own uninterrupted growth which, in turn, helps to grow itself, symbiotically helping each other. That is what true globalisation should mean. Are we nearer to it? ...
Yet we have to face the realities of life as it presently exists. Today’s civilisation is an urban civilisation, indisputably with more of science and less of religion, and is moving with the urban speed, carrying urban comforts,—as also urban problems and anxieties. In the entire process the Wealth of Nations has become the handbook of the haves, only to be questioned by the creed of the Welfare State supposedly meant for the have-nots. Modern society is a commercial society. Communist society emphasized “to each according to his needs and from each according to his abilities.” This principle reflects a consideration of individual capacity. Unfortunately, it is defined only in material terms.

But as we enter into the global multicultural and multi-religious age, as we step into the age of information, exclusive forms can no longer be justified in our society. But we have to be also alert about global exploitation and, in the rapacious commercialism, mindful of the ecological devastation that we are causing.

Perhaps we may have to evolve altogether new political systems that go beyond norms of the democracy as we understand it. There has to be an economic system that does not does not suppress economic freedom; nor can there be wealth-production as the single aim of all life. Naturally this will require much thinking, planning and new experiments.

There are certain spirituo-philosophical leads available in figuring what that “new” approach could be. In the extreme situation, to the Buddhist it was the relinquishment of the world of suffering and agony, of duhkha, and he did it by stepping into the selfless blank of Nirvana. This certainly is of no avail to the life that must be lived here in its fullness. Nor can a Mayavadin help us. For him oneness with the passive Brahman is the goal, with the single imperative of getting out of this illusory existence. In their extreme negativism these made room for the rush of unregenerate forces to take possession of human pursuits. This disownment deteriorating itself into tamasic indolence finally drove away the spirit of God from the affairs of the world.

In fact we have conflicts between the world of spirit and the world of phenomena; we also have conflicts caused by the various imbalances, of opportunities and capabilities clashing with each other. We have esoteric conflicts and we have secular conflicts. If one extreme of the first throve in India, the other of the second was flagrantly and very insensitively adopted by the West.

In this context when we hear Vivekananda’s message we at once realise that it has a twofold significance. To the West he cried: “Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this divinity within.” To the Indian his one firm exhortation was to break all idols and worship God the Poor, daridrī-nārāyaņa: “…the only God I believe in, the sum-total of all souls,—and above all my God the wicked, my God the miserable, my God the poor of all races, of all species is the special object of my worship.”

If we are to see a purpose in the creation then that purpose would seem to be to live, even here, in the joy of God-awareness. Someone said, “Put God in your programme.” True, but please, let also God have a programme for us if there is none.

Pragmatism or usefulness is a fact of existence today; the possibility to widen its scope of action, to bring newer dimensions in its swift operative dynamics, is also an aspect of its broader and ennobling intention. The thetic and the anti-thetic have to meet and join in the synthetic. The division between the secular and the esoteric has to disappear; ‘this’ and ‘that’ must unreservedly merge into its happy oneness. The will of man, his reason, his emotion and sensibility, his deeper and purer intuition, the calm and silent promptings of his soul, and its unobtrusive persuasion, all have to be recognised and given a natural place. The cry of the Rishi to lead him from falsehood to truth, from darkness to light, from death to immortality, mŗtyormāmŗtam gamaya, in such an eventuality acquires another poignancy. It becomes an imploration, to put in Sri Aurobindo’s phrase, for “bringing out the Infinite infinitely into form of being”.

That should lead us to understand the nature of a well-balanced and harmonious wholesome society which allows different aspects, collective as well as individual, to come together. Perhaps in it is the sense of an organisation that can meet a thousand and one demands without leading to conflicts. There has been a great misunderstanding and deliberate misreading of the fourfold society that the ancients saw as a proportioned and fulfilling expression of the spirit in life. Only when that is established is there the possibility of higher powers entering into the scheme of collective life, eastern or western, be it today or tomorrow, as it was in the deep past. We should have at least a quick look at it even as we shall try to understand the sense of globalisation.

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