A New Synthesis of Yoga as a necessity to overcome the impasse of modernity - Skype - Track 104 (15 August 2008)

Debashish: I am thinking about the issue of the impasse, this impasse as you said which we are going through at present and a special kind of barbarism. The second quotation that you read from The Life Divine, it seemed to me that Sri Aurobindo is pointing to possibilities of barbarism , one which seems more like a hedonistic barbarism and the other more serious because he calls it a comfortable condition without any idealism where the aspiration disappears because man is happy with his material state, sort of like the ideal of the Russian socialism which in a different way is coming to us in our modern way. It seems as if there is a certain kind of satisfaction which life can give, we think that this can last as a condition in which humanity becomes satisfied and says a typal perfection or is it inevitable that the aspiration will force us out of it?

Prof. Kireet Joshi: I think I will repeat your question to some extent, please tell me if I have understood your question properly. Your question is that Sri Aurobindo refers to two alternative possibilities – one is reversal of mankind in which mankind would return to a comfortable hedonistic life?

Debashish: Yes.

Prof. Kireet Joshi: And if that happens, maybe that there is a sinking of mankind and a kind of failure of mankind on account of the reversal of mankind, that condition. The other possibility is that even if mankind does not sink, even if mankind is not destroyed as a race, another possibility would be to create a civilisation or a barbaric civilisation in which human beings would find a tolerable, comfortable, mechanical facilitated existence. Somewhere where people get clothing, shelter and basic necessities of life quite easily and in sufficient measure and therefore people would remain like animals doing their work as it were and watching the world engaged in cinema and drama and all kinds of pleasures of life and doing some work here, some work there and flying from one place to the other and spending time in which case it would be typal economic life established on the earth and I think this is your second hypothesis and I think that is your question, is it?

Debashish: Yes. I see that second hypothesis is something which is very close to realisation in a very large section of humanity today. Given them a certain kind of satisfied life in which there is no aspiration, no idealism.

Prof. Kireet Joshi: What you are saying let me repeat also once again. You feel that the second possibility of arrival of a typal human life, economically satisfied and flourishing in comfort, without the urge, evolutionary urge to go beyond. You feel that we are almost nearing that kind of existence. Your question is whether I share that feeling? Is that so?

Debashish: Yes, Kireet Bhai.

Prof. Kireet Joshi: My answer is the following. I only like to share with you my own feeling that this possibility, I agree with you is looming large. If for example there had to be a constant conflict between communism and capitalism which was very much on the top of the agenda of the world at one time, if that conflict had remained there was a tremendous impetuous for the evolutionary urge to move forward but that that situation is no more there and there is a further development, some people now speak of super capitalism coming over the earth and spreading over the whole earth in which the conflict between communism and socialism on one side and capitalism on the other would not be there, so there is no impact and there is therefore no quarrel on that basis. It is a kind of a comfortable position for the capitalistic order of society in which something of socialism will be aspirated, namely the ideal that everyone should get basic necessities of life. I think we are arriving at a point socialism loses its edge because capitalism is able to provide to a large or increasing number of people the basic necessities of life, even within the materialistic frame of society. And if this is multiplied let us say within twenty, thirty, forty years, there is this possibility and it might actually lead to the cessation of the evolutionary urge in mankind.

Fortunately, I think because Mother and Sri Aurobindo have raised already high and they have brought into the world new forces, I believe that it will no more be actualised. Although I would agree that we are almost arriving at that point but I think something new is going to happen and it is that which we have to consider also during the course of our journey, – what is that that will allow a new development which will not allow mankind to rest comfortably only in a typal existence of economic, social, comfortable. Would you like to say something on the subject?

Debashish: No. I completely agree with you, I was just listening so that answers your question, one thing I would like to say is that if that is the case the other kinds of conflicts that have also arisen, particularly those of a infra-rational kind with fundamentalism and terrorism and things of that nature, it is as if rationality is being retracted in its comfort zone by infra-rational forces at this point and there may not find the right kind of solutions but this is restricted to certain areas of the world but there are large areas where people are still  comfortable in their certain zone of material sufficiency. But I hundred percent agree with you and look forward to what you said over time regarding to what Mother and Sri Aurobindo have brought. If anybody else would like to ask any questions at this point?

Question: Is there anything that we could do or as a physical action in all different countries, who ever or wherever to fight against this apparent comfort, and apparent immunity in comfort. This is the reason is starting from the mind is, it can play in either way, it is like Mother said that mind can prove anything, so I mean we can convince ourselves about anything and so find some kind of unity in this comfortable community, which is largely in the corporate world in the United States, for example. So, of course there are forces that are working because Mother and Sri Aurobindo have done their Yoga but as individuals what is the resource to contribute anything against this force?

Prof. Kireet Joshi: I like your question very much, I must say and although your question is in a sense limited which can be summarised by saying: what is it that we can do at this stage of development and this question triggers off a number of things that to one’s own mind. The most important thing to my mind is to develop in the world spiritual education. You know there is a line of thinking according to which we are called upon to do many things, not only one thing. So if I say we should concentrate on spiritual education, it may seem as if I am proposing only one thing to be done but if you examine this answer more properly, you’ll find that this answer spiritual education implies a number of things to be done; socially, politically, economically, culturally. And therefore for the time being, I would only say in a general formula, let us concentrate upon the task of spiritual education in the world. If you can succeed in doing it, we shall have crossed a number of problems and resolved them.

So in due course of time I would like to discuss with all of us this theme of spiritual education because the moment you speak of spiritual education implies a number of things to be done, socially, politically, economically, culturally and therefore for the time being I would only say in a general formula, let us concentrate upon the task of spiritual education in the world. If you can succeed in doing it, we shall have crossed a number of problems and resolved them. So in due course of time I would like to discuss with all of us this theme of spiritual education because the moment you speak of spiritual education a number of objections are bound to arise and to answer those questions, many questions concerning political life will have to be answered. Many questions of social life will have to be answered. So for the moment I leave it with you only one line – the one thing in which we can all participate in is the development of spiritual education.

Question: Is it possible for you to illustrate more to be specific about by an example?

Prof. Kireet Joshi: Let me say only one line – spiritual education implies the creation of learning society. I don’t know whether you are aware of or you must have read perhaps this great report of UNESCO of 1971. You know there are two great reports of UNESCO, one is the report which was given under the direction of Edgar Furore, under the title ‘Learning to Be’ and another was in 1995, which is entitled ‘Learning Treasure Within’, these are the two great reports of UNESCO. I like both of them but I like the first one better because it speaks of creating in the world ‘Learning Society’. To my mind that phrase “Learning Society’ summarises the problem of the world today. Learning society is one in which the centre of the society is the child. It is not only child-centred education, it is not child- centred class, it’s a child-centred society. If you want spiritual education to be realised, it is not enough merely to make the child the centre of a class, it is necessary to make the child centre of the whole society, that is to say the child should be sovereign of the society and that brings a complete shift from the present mode of social existence.

Today in the economic life, speak of the sovereignty of the consumer, not the child the consumer is the sovereign and everything in the world is at the service of the consumer. Some other people speak today of the necessity of sustaining society by political organisation and large number of people have come to realise that democratic form of government is perhaps the most suitable form of the government, if you want to meet the ends of liberty and so on. And therefore they speak of creating a society which is democratic. And if you ask the question what is the sovereign in the democratic country? The answer is the sovereignty of the parliament. So if you want to sum up in a way the entire social and economic system of the modern world and even the future perspective if you look at the world, you might say you are going to increase more and more the sovereignty of the consumer and the sovereignty of the parliament. But if you want to give spiritual education then we have to establish in the world sovereignty of the child. Now you can see with this one example which I am giving you, will show you, the enormous implication of the sovereignty of the child and spiritual education for shifting the whole centre of social existence, political existence, economic existence. You think it is a good example?  

Answer: Yes, very much, thank you. I thing I was curious about is that you know sometimes it is said that you know the Divine has to see you; you cannot see the Divine before that. So since the spiritual education is based on experience, so are you hopeful that with the child coming into spiritual education, amongst the children will really make a big difference which is enough to fight with this huge capitalist world?

Prof. Kireet Joshi: It’s a very, very good question, your question is whether spiritual education will provide to the children sufficient power and capacity to fight against the present mode of life, economic, social, political life. My answer is that the very doing of spiritual education, the very process by which we shall be able to bring about the operation of spiritual education in the society will combat many, many problems, which are today beseeching the mankind. So I believe that if you can see the implications of spiritual education and the process by which you can bring it about, I think at least for you and for me it’s a big task awaiting us and if we start doing it many tasks will enfold themselves.