The Wisdom of Hindu Thought: A Paradigm for Our Time
When I was a college student, I used to chant Mantra, practice yoga and Meditation and used to attend religious ceremonies. I was ridiculed by my fellow students for not being a rationalist, and not able to admire the marvels of science, and western technology. I adored abstraction, reason, humanity and modern technology. I was told by fellow Marxist students and pseudo secular professors that religion hampers freethinking and is the only reason for foreign colonial rule in India. Since then, I have read Carl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Nietzsche, Malraux, Voltaire, Rousseau, Hobbes, Descartes and Stare. These western intellectuals predicted that religious fervor will decline. Carl Marx, of course maintained that religion is the opium of the people because it alienated man from himself and the world. Moreover, said Marx, religion did not possess its own consistency. Because of our educational system was western oriented and the influence of western thinkers, many Hindus were far from enthusiastic in learning our Vedic system or practicing Hindu Dharma…
But, since then I have lived. I have traveled all over the Arab world, Europe, Africa, Asia and America. I have studied the past history of Christianity and Islam. I have seen misery, distress, discrimination and agony in Islamic and Christian societies dominated by exclusive religions. Living in the western high-tech society, I have discovered that religion cannot be sloughed off. It sticks to our heart. Faith in God has not disappeared, nor has man’s mystical impulse vanished. I have found that all exclusive religions have lost its vitality and spirituality.
How do we find meaning in today’s unstable world where Jihad terrorism, drug trade and violence in the name of desert dogma? The world is changing rapidly beyond the comprehension of common man. What if the old paradigms do not work anymore? What we do if the traditional, rigid, closed, mechanical, dualistic and dogmatic thought systems work to repress the transcendental quest of man?
PEOPLE IN CRISIS
In the West, I saw the marvels of modern technology. I know now, that life can be prolonged with transplants, and behavior can be modified through genetic engineering. Attitudes, feelings, states of consciousness and belief system can be altered by modern psychological and neurological techniques. Criminals can be apprehended through criminal profiles and crime scene forensic analysis. Modern computers, cell phone, face book, and modern communication system has enabled us to communicate very fast. Modern technology can use very sophisticated means of manipulation. Mass media manipulates the public into receptive, passive consumer of unwanted ideas and gadgets.
Yet, the high-tech society is in crisis. Today, man is confronted by a number of psycho-social-ecological problems. These problems appear in different forms. Alienation, mental and physical disorder, stress, divorce, teen age pregnancy, child abuse, crime, violence, suicide, alcoholism, drug abuse, and terrorism affect everybody. Statistics and simple observation inform us that there is hardly an individual, family, group, or community that is untouched by the impersonal technological society.
The purpose of science, technology and life sciences is to enhance our lives to help us for the fullest experience we have. We cannot claim that modern knowledge explosion, communication system and computers always results in happiness.
In this high-society, spiritual vitality and cultural life is stagnated. Art is replaced with commercials. Religious ideology becomes propaganda and a dogma. People spend more time not for introspection but for seeking pleasure and indulgence in their personal desires. Love, requiring personal commitment is replaced by momentary pleasures of sex. Happiness is a marketed commodity based on “having fun”. In general, the individual is left without a sense of internal worth or self-identity. As a result, people are alienated from the high-tech society they have created. As Albert Camus has depicted, man is “the stranger” not alone to his universe and society, but to himself”. When people turn their gaze inward, they find incredulity, aimlessness, rootless, dehumanization, insecurity, irrationality, resentment and aloneness. Modern high-tech society and organized religions and dualistic dogmas have promised that life will be unremittingly blissful is not persuasive enough for the common man.
How do we cope with the ideas impermanence, novelty, constant transition, frequent change and terrorism? We need a new thought system that could transform us from passive bystanders to passionate architects of our future.
Religion, sociology, life and physical sciences offer different assumptions, theories, paradigms and models to understand human nature, our problems and solutions. These theories, models, concepts, assumptions, practices and methods of understanding humans are characterized by various intellectual tendencies. All these exclusive dogmas, theories and models offer explanations that are different and inconsistent with one another.
THE REDUCTIONIST PARADIGM
The mechanical, reductionist models of modern science view human being as an object apart from his or her eco-systems. The reductionist paradigms regard the universe as a giant machine where operational laws could be discovered by rational analysis of its parts. As a result, human beings are separated from nature and fragmented. Many theories and Models are developed to understand the minute details of human being. But these mechanical models are not always well integrated in a way that allows us to fully comprehend human nature. They offer multiple explanations, approaches, methods and means in understanding human problems and practical solutions. In such reductionist models, cause is forgotten for function. Humane philosophy and spirituality are replaced for planning, skills building and mass propaganda. Truth seeking, harmony, peace and spiritual salvation, and ecological perspective are replaced with pragmatism, utility, profit making and mass marketing.
THE PHENOMENOLOGICAL PARADIGMS
The humanistic, existential and phenomenological paradigms view humans as forward moving and concerned with existential choices. They value feelings and other qualities that are unique to man. Phenomenologist stresses the importance of the individual’s immediate conscious experience in determining reality. Objective reality of the world, faith in God, and religious experiences are not important determinant of man’s actions, so claims phenomenologist. There is no sure path to a true reality or definite spiritual values to live. Human beings do not know their potential and they are in a state of “Being and Becoming”. Individuals are not offered any direct action for self-realization, or direct guidance for spiritual life. Existential practitioners consider that a non-judgmental attitude and no-directive therapy will solve all human problems. Individuals are left alone to choose their own life style without any guidance or direction. There is ambiguity in purpose, confusion in knowledge and conflicting values in all phenomenological paradigms.
THE MARXIST MODEL
The Communist Manifesto States that the “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle.” Class conflict, terror, mass agitation is the major means for the Marxist dogmatic to gain political power and survive. The atheists’ propaganda aims to make people believe that there is no GOD and no karmic retribution so that people would no longer be restrained by their conscience. Instead, they would focus on class struggle and acquiring material wealth by all means. Under Marxism, the individual has no freedom and they can be controlled by force, manipulated, intimidated and threatened with harm. The morally bankrupt, godless Marxism can bring only enormous fear and Suffering to the world. The Marxists believe in violence, conflict, war, tyranny, massacre and terror. Marxists were successful in disintegrating tradition culture, belief system and life principles. The concepts of empathy, harmony, peaceful existence, religious tolerance have been replaced with class struggle, conflict and hatred. The result has been a total collapse of social, moral, religious and ecological systems and a profound crisis for human beings. The Marxists believe in killing people like a serial killer. Through killing, the Marxists satisfy their perverted sense of the ultimate power of deciding people’s life and death.
The question is: can we have healthy persons in an unhealthy Marxist paradigm- a system based on essentially unhealthy model. Marxist Model based on violence, terror and intimidation Cannot heal us or solve common human problems.
THE DUALISTIC PRADIGM
The Dualistic paradigms view man continually in conflict between God and Devil, Allah and Jin. Without doubt, the closed, dogmatic, addictive paradigms often create conflict between believers and non-believers. These rigid dogmas view Good and Evil, God and Devil (Allah and JIN) as antithetical to one another. Faith in their GOD or Allah is the only way for salvation. The non-believer, the outsiders are called the Kafir or pagan and they are condemned for ever.
HINDUTVA: THE SYSTEMIC, ALL INCLUSIVE PARADIGM
These closed, rigid, dogmatic paradigms create conflict, hatred, and violence cannot solve our problems. In other words, there is no solution for our personal-social ills short of fundamental whole-system change. The first step is to face our taboos and toxic patterns with honesty and integrity. Hindutva offers a powerful paradigm to solve common human problems. Our Sanathana Dharma can expose the deep roots of the present day crisis-from personal to international-and provides the philosophical catalyst for individual, social and global change. Individuals, families and nations cannot be fully healthy and harmonious in a world filled with rigid, dysfunctional paradigms and systems. Our Vedic theories and models can successfully help individuals, families and communities to change and live in peace and harmony. Vedic models can be applied to reshape unhealthy social structures too.
Hinduism is open- ended, systemic, broader and all inclusive. Hinduism teaches that all human beings, nature, and the eco- systems are part and parcel of the ultimate reality. Consequently, all human beings enjoy equal possibilities of coming with each other, with God and nature. It is life affirming, tolerant, pluralistic, and all inclusive. In our Vedic system, all elements, events and processes are interwoven, mutually influencing, and endlessly moving in a dynamic flow. Human beings are not viewed as ascendant over nature, but each is part of the other (Purusha-Prakrthi). Hindu thought is not a rigid, closed system or a blind faith. It is science, philosophy, and a prescription for daily living with positive values, peace, and harmony. IT gives spiritual guidelines (Atma-Bodha) for GOD realization (Brahma-Jnana). It provides, clear, correct and comprehensive guidelines for man to transform himself from the limits of the present materialistic existence. A spiritual life can be attained within the limits of the present life. Hinduism offer different ways to reach a harmonious life co-exist with different people, and perfection. The Vedas, Upanishads, the Puranas, and the Bhagavat Gita identify various paths (Margas) for peaceful, harmonious and happy life for GOD realization. Karma Marga, Jnana Marga, and Bhakthi Marga have its own distinctiveness and each one can be practiced.
Hinduism also prescribes means for practicing, promoting and protecting DHARMA. Artha, Kama, and Moksha. Understanding and practicing these concepts will unite the conflicting man in the ever changing society. In this high-tech society, Hinduism can be put into application by all people without restrictions. Under our Vedic system, all human beings enjoy equal possibilities of coming into contact with each other, with GOD and Nature. The eternal Vedic system is universal, all inclusive, tolerant, non-discriminatory, and pluralistic. Practice of Hinduism will affect the choices one makes in the ever changing, transient High-Tech society, the individual, groups and the community is raised to the highest level. The anxiety, self-doubt, stress and alienation can be overcome because of technological manipulation, and consumerism no longer influences one’s behavior. The individual, groups, family and community gains the courage to act which will help him/her to transcend modern maladies. They gain inner strength not only to participate in the high-tech society but also to reach the higher spiritual level. As a result, ethical, economic, and psychological decisions can be made for personal-social-family life with peace, freedom and harmony. Apathetic conformism and “emotional crowd behavior” will disappear. Then we will not become victims of violence, conversion, and psychological manipulation. We will become masters of our own destiny. We will enjoy freedom, and we can provide the vitality and spiritual force without fear to unify the whole world.
To gain Hindu wisdom, Hindus must choose appropriate Hindu Dharma and expand the individual resources based on Hindu thought, The, all Hindus will grow in wisdom, and Hindu wisdom can grow into services for others or of causes. Hindu art, culture, philosophy, literature, science, psychology and music can refine human vision, which further develops the individual, family and the world. Human beings can understand the world and move into the future with a compelling Hindu perspective and vision.
It requires all Hindus around the world to move forward with self-esteem, assertiveness, discipline and unity. If Hindus are united with Hindu dharma, we can achieve the humanizing mission of the world.
By Dr Babu Suseelan
This article borrowed from www.haindavakeralam.org