A New Synthesis of Yoga as a necessity to overcome the impasse of modernity - Skype - Track 205 (29 August 2008)

Debashish: Maybe I can sort of introduce a question in lieu of some of the others and I am sure there will be other questions, particularly I know one of the problems you introduced, the very first problem that of the hugeness of machinery and Sri Aurobindo’s statement about the vanishing point is a great sort of concern with many, Rich Carlson with whom I had many conversations on this subject, the question over there has to do with this idea of vanishing point for machinery. What is very interesting is that indeed Sri Aurobindo was writing in that particular comment in the second chapter of The Life Divine, we had just embarked upon the whole regime of the disappearance of machinery in a subtle or subtler transmission, telecommunication revolution and he is talking about wireless telegraphy over there but this question of the vanishing point which is in a sense something. Because today we have reached a point we are seeing all over the world we can contact anybody at just a push of a button, we take it for granted today, but at the same time there is invisible machinery behind it, though we have reduced the mechanical sort of devices but huge machinery has not disappeared and we are in a sense being ruled by a variety of conditioning forces that are utilising this disappearance. You know tomorrow people are talking about a new kind of a biology in which there are implants and all kinds of bionic devices which we can’t see. We see human beings just like human beings, they are so subtle, they have entered in our body but as a matter of fact they have provided a certain kind of a circuit within which the free market can operate even more freely. That in sense as you were pointing out the demise of communism has brought into play this free market in which the individual is not free enough, there isn’t enough freedom of choice of the deeper sort, of the impersonal thought, so that the individuals are constantly being conditioned by the market forces of self-interest and …. So would you like to comment on that Kireet Ji, particularly on this reversed use, if one may say using Sri Aurobindo’s terminology and asuric disappearance of … to the vanishing point is with us today.

Prof. Kireet Joshi: Actually the question that you have raised has many aspects and let me first speak of the present movement of market economy. I think this is the recitation of market economy because many people believe that market economy is based upon the philosophy of the freedom of the individual because in market economy every individual is considered to be free as an entrepreneur, every individual can enter the market and can compete with all the peers and he make his mark in the society and can succeed and can gain whatever he aims at getting. He can work in the society as it were as a field but not as a master, society does not tell him what he should do, how he should do, how he should go about. In that sense you can say that market economy advocates the freedom of the individual and many people believe that market economy is a kind of an ideal system, and with the collapse of communist system in Soviet Union, people believe that now there is a reassertion of freedom of man and freedom of the individual, freedom of market development and humanity is now being freed. This is the kind of reasoning which is being put forward.

Now the statement that you made is very important because question is – is it really true that in a market economy individuals are free? First of all we must know that those individuals who say they are free to enter into market, if you examine really the claim of those individuals who can really get into the global market are those individuals who have some kind of backing of a system of inheritance, it’s a subtle kind of a social machinery, if there was no system of inheritance, if there was no law to support inheritance, if there was no machinery of inheritance then most of the so-called free individuals would not have felt the freedom to enter into the free market. So that is one machinery, machinery which has not been questioned from centuries and centuries and even in the present time and the right to property is regarded as sacrosanct. A right which was questioned in the communist philosophy is now being reasserted in the name of freedom. But we dot realise that this so-called freedom is itself a kind of a machinery. We have a system of inheritance as a result of which property rights are being protected by the society and society has got to protect it, by law. These are all machineries. It is by machinery that some individuals are able to enter into markets, free markets and begin to play a big role. And other individuals are told, you also are free, how illusory this freedom is for those individuals who watch – the big tycoons are moving in the world is really to be seen in the realistic terms. They believe that they are free perhaps; I do not know how far do they feel that they are free? It is true that some individuals do feel free and they exercise freedom and they can enter into that larger market by some kind of circumstances and favourable circumstances, hard labour on their part and so on. But can we say that it is the operation of the whole of the society or the principle of freedom, is every individual inwardly free to enter into global the market? Legally you might say, it’s a law, nobody will prevent him but what is the condition in which individuals are placed, are individuals placed in equality by law? Not at all, this is one machinery.

Second is a big machinery, the market itself. Market is being run by three machineries. One is the machinery by which goods are produced, secondly there is a machinery by which goods are distributed and thirdly there is a machinery of administration by which this production and distribution are annexed. So you have got three machineries. And these three machineries, all of them take advantage of science in regard to productivity. And science itself is an impersonal force which is developing in its own way and there also there are machines by which science is developing and the march of science seems to be almost like a machinery, they have to submit themselves to the progression and the direction in which the science is moving today. This also is machinery and thirdly the whole world today is greatly organised by a system of administration, not only economic administration of which I spoke just now but administration in every field of activity. There is a political machinery, by which leaders are being elected and we know in what conditions it is working, and to what extent individuals are free in this machinery. Those who are examining political philosophy of democracy acutely, they have come to the conclusion that it is a pseudo democracy, or that democracy is the best of all evil forms of government. Not it is best, it is best of evil forms and it is regarded as one of the best economic structures but one of the most evil economic structures, best of the economic structures which are evil, all of them. So in politics has a machinery, even in regard to health care there is a machinery, in education there is machinery. In fact everywhere, wherever you turn today our life is a time-table ruled life, what we call freedom of man is hardly there is leisure to seek even. Everywhere there is machinery, in fact touch anywhere your hand and there is machinery. You build a house; we now call them pre-fabricated houses in which everything is pre-designed and machines draw out all that you need for a housing. This is not to deny the fact that it is a vast field of art, creativity, literature, poetry but even artists today know how much machinery today is at work and how much individuals even find it difficult to really exercise freedom in their own art. So I agree with you that there are various layers of machineries today in which our whole society is encased. And it is against this fabrication of machinery and binding up the societies within machineries of various kinds, it is that which reduces individual to be a cog in the machine. Debashish, what do you think about the reflections which I have presented to you?

Debashish: Yes, Kireet Bhai, I absolutely agree that really brings into focus, this problem of the individual in the modern world and the tremendous difficulty that is faced by us in even having a time and space to allow the growth of the soul. I just wanted to mention if anybody else has any questions, please come forward.

Questioner: All the external perfections like no economic problem, and no fights, no agitations, all those perfections even if we have externally. Do you think that there will be still some internal problems like boredom, sense of insecurity and lack of communication and some kind of sense of gap of in communication, things like that?

Prof. Kireet Joshi: You are quite right actually. Our main emphasis on the fact that basically individual is a seeker of freedom. It is because of circumstances that he is obliged to submit himself to society and to machinery, or sometimes he really recognises importance of society because there is no doubt about the fact that collectivity is also a reality and collectivity also has meaning. While speaking of individual freedom and the value of the individual we need not underestimate the importance of the collectivity, the importance of the collectivity, even the need for collective perfection. But while we look upon the present society as a big machine, we do have to reckon the fact that individual is bound to feel suffocated under the impress of the machinery. And what you are saying the problems of boredom, problems of oppression, problems of anxiety, problems of various kinds of competitive forces which are at work and this feeling of fear of the future and therefore what we call existential problems they are rampant today all over the world. And it is for that reason that we need to examine problems more acutely. My problem is that we are not at present first of all analysing the problems more clearly and we are driven away by the influence of one ‘ism’ or the other and try to defend one position against the other and we are not able to arrive at a very synthetic method of looking at things.

What I find in Sri Aurobindo so refreshing is a new way of thinking, feeling and acting. And this new feeling and this new way of thinking is his synthetic way of looking in which all points of view are synthesised. And I think that as Sri Aurobindo says that we have to move towards that what he calls whole consciousness and consciousness of integrality, and it is only with the integral vision of things that the problem of the present society can be resolved. So I think that this problem of which we are thinking of they do access and do require a solution.