Modern societies are still grappling with the issue: Who should lead societies? Market, Money, Profits? Industrial leaders who create resources and wealth? Workers? Generals? Bureaucracy? Politicians? Academia? Religious preachers? People – as in the idea of democracy today? History is replete with a wide variety of systems, rulers, methods of selection, seniority, etc., and now we are in the era of rule by masses; as good or bad as the leaders we end up ‘choosing’; who come and go and so have a vision of mere 2-3 years!
Modern science, schooling, has given every person the ability to read and write. Now, thru’ books and internet all kinds of knowledge are available at our finger-tips; and to all and sundry! Yet, we’ve no definitive ideas on what is ‘good or bad’ and in any case, who is to decide! So, we are in a state of perpetual purposelessness, ever seeking something!
Ideally speaking, all this science, education, democracy, is supposed to make us more and more efficient, happier, as time goes by; right? Well, in theory, yes. But does it really happen; is it happening? Can it ever happen with mere 3R’s and literacy?
Is technology making us selfless? Before 1924, the average lifespan of a light bulb was around 2,500 hours! One light bulb manufactured in 1901 is still burning today, nearly 120 years later! In December 1924, a global organization known as the Phoebus Cartel hatched a secret plan to increase sales by lowering a lamp’s lifespan to just 1,000 hours. They even re-engineered their own products to achieve this. There’re numerous similar examples! Today, over a century later, this profit-model of throwaways is what we’re stuck with, for all products! If they last longer, our earnings will be harmed!
Long-lasting or Throwaways? If we recall ‘simple living and high thinking’ was a universal ideal. Earlier cars, watches, fountain pens, warm clothes, furniture, even daily and party wear, lasted for years, if not from generation to generation! Thousands of centuries old pots and pans are still being discovered; our potters used to say, these will last for generations; till the traders came from overseas!
And, even marriage was supposed to last for seven generations! Perhaps, so that we could come again and again in different roles as husband, wives, children, in-laws, et al, so that we could balance out hurts, pains, joys, giving-taking! Now we have frequent divorces and neither parents nor children know how to adjust; each is free to do what it wishes – this is premature freedom, which won’t lead to the Freedom, Ananda we seek, unknowingly thru’ pleasures!
Is technology good in the hands of we the ‘thought-polluted’ who have no idea yet on the healthy worldview of this Creation; and, are akin perhaps to monkeys toying with a watch to see what it is; what makes it tick! Arrogantly, free from superstitious religious ideologies, we have in a few centuries made money from the ‘throwaway’ model, in utter disregard of its long-term harms, causing all round pollution, environmental degradation, selfishness!
The “Knower” is the boss of the “known”: Bharat believes that our ancestors were great Rishis, not apes, and it is they the Rishis, not the savages, who have given us the social systems, varna-vyavastha, based on the wisdom of the Upanishads which give a healthy worldview of what the creation is all about and how our vocation and daily work and living itself can help us realize our universal need for Ananda!
Bharat believes that knowledge must include not just ‘matter’ but knowledge of our ‘spiritual’ reality too, of myself as the one who ‘perceives’ and knows; the observer of the ‘observed’. It is this knowledge of ourselves as the ‘Subject’ (distinct from the body that is mere matter!) that will ‘lead to humility’ and a ‘spirit of work as worship’, so that ‘in and thru’ our daily work and living’ we grow towards the highest goal!
In contrast is the modern western scientific culture, believing in apes as their ancestors; which gives rise to arrogance and selfishness! Why? Because in our ignorance we believe, scientifically (!) that matter is all there is; we’re better than our forefathers; because we can manipulate ‘matter’ better! We forget that our Rishis knew that the “knower” is the singular consciousness; the one boss of the infinite “known”; the One to be realized!
Who will teach us the Game of Life? Every sport has rules; clear-cut goals; codes of conduct, ethics, duties, Swadharma; umpires who give on-the-spot decisions (not after years and years and with lots of money); legends, heroes, villains!
Have I learnt to Reflect? Have I ever had time to think, to reflect, ponder over this mysterious mystery of Creation! What are the rules of the Game of Life where suddenly I have appeared as a baby! Someone takes care of me, loves me; unselfishly! From where did I come, why, where am I going, what is the purpose of my being here? Shouldn’t I know; but how!
Who are our Mentors? In an ideal system conceived by Bharat, the best men were Mentors of society who guided us on the goal of life and how to build character to realize the highest human goal. The administrators were those who learnt from the Mentors and focused on governing and creating codes of conduct, social systems and education so that each was committed to its Swadharma. The entrepreneurs focused on projects for creation of resources and wealth and, trained the workforce who were the only result-producers. Our Mentors had ensured that all learnt the rules of the game of life.
What can we do to ensure that education once again focuses on creating Mentors and citizens committed to striving to fulfil their respective Swadharma? In democracies the problem is not: Who will bell the cat; but who is the cat?
Views expressed above are the author’s own.