The Signs of the Time

The One Spirit of the Universe, present everywhere, is the source of the Spirit in Man. As above, so below. The law of analogy and correspondence holds good in every direction, as the investigations of science are increasingly proving. Perhaps the teachings and findings of the ancients will be looked upon with a little more attention as they are vindicated further and further. Science and knowledge, like civilization, also have their cycles, and we are in fact returning to a point on the spiral of time when the wisdom of the past is being resurrected. Perhaps the myths and fables of the ancients might be found on examination to be the ancient method of expressing truths and facts.

Where do we find that science has paid the least attention to the ancients? Perhaps in the study of the mind, the soul and the emotions of man. The psychological truths recorded by Sri Krishna in the Gita, by the Buddha in the Dhammapada, by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras, and finally clearly expressed and defined by H. P. Blavatsky in modern terms in her works, will, it is hoped, gain the popular recognition they deserve.

Otherwise? Otherwise there is no hope for the moral reformation of society as it is presently constituted, and it is more than likely that our civilization will disappear into that "sea of horror," of brutality and destruction as prophesied by H.P.B. Does this sound too extreme? Well, the times are also extreme and people need awakening. Realize for a moment the state we are all in. The most horrible and destructive engines of war are at the command of a few politicians—not patriots or humanitarians; for politicians, of whatever country, have rarely been either. Behind them stands what is now termed "big business." Their aims and objects are not seen by the majority of people, who gather their information from the penny papers and the weekly tabloids—sops to the inquiring mind and dullers of the common wit. Truly, one of the extraordinary manifestations of this "literate" age is the uneducated mind—eyes that can see and heads that whirl in every conceivable direction, visions of confusion instead of the steady flame of Truth. No wonder television is one of the most popular among the media in this age; its flickering pictures fascinate and hynotize the viewers, not only into an emotional trance of identity with the fortunes or tribulations of the actors, but simultaneously inbue them with concepts of morality and methods of speech and of dealing with others that are often the reverse of the noble, the generous, the brotherly, the kind, the sympathetic.

One of the curses of our civilization is the false system of economics prevalent today, that competition alone is the law. It is not. If the sun and the planets and the whole universe can live in harmony, if law is seen to be everywhere, if rhythm and unity in diversity are everywhere present, then to say that competition is necessary for growth and progress is as palpable a falsity as any lie that was ever perpetrated.

Let us turn for a while to the question of cycles. The mere fact of a weather cycle in itself is important. It helps to incline the mind to the idea of ebb and flux in everything. Fluctuation becomes rhythm. Hitherto the average person has not been much concerned with cycles in an analytical sense. Vaguely they are said to exist. Vaguely he lives within them: cycles of inflation and of depression, financially; of ease and of anxiety, moodwise; of national amity and of wars and manoeuvres, internationally. A thousand examples can be advanced to prove that we live in and are surrounded by all kinds of cycles. Applications thereof remain terra incognita to most. Yet, if they are to prove of any value, that is what must be searched for.

We of the present age are interested mainly in physical and objective results and events. We are inclined to demand visible rapidity in results and visible changes, social, economic, political and what-not. This produces a kind of impatience and we are not generally calm enough to look for the trend of the present cycle or to be able to recognize it. We look to politics, economics, sociology, education, transportation, the "news of the day." All these are the ephemera of the age; they point to a trend, but are results rather than causes. Where do the causes and the sources of trends lie? What about the urge among persons of many nations to unite in friendliness and to do away with the fear of wars and invasions; the suggestion of the elimination of the barriers of trade and commerce, of national currencies and barrier-tariffs, so that plenty may flow to areas of scarcity; the generosity, disguised or blatant, of many nations prepared to give to those who have not; the freedom of study and of education and the travelling students and itinerant professors from all over the world, who have been crossing and recrossing it till the unity of knowledge and the similarity of thought and psychological make-up is impressed on all who have made contacts with such persons; the great interest in art and music and drama, and in the international appreciation of various cultures; study of various philosophies, religions and histories of countries and groups—there is a gradual building-up, an amalgamation, going on right before our eyes. Are we helping it on or hindering it? Or are we merely being passively tossed by the waves of this sea of the cycle in its onward movement? Are we going to strive for fraternity, for liberty and for equality of opportunity? For duties and responsibilities before rights and privileges? Or the reverse?

The forces that would oppose this trend are equally well defined: There is the sneaky politician who strives for power over others, first in his city, then in his district and finally in his country. He and his kind are everywhere in our capitals and speak on behalf of our many governments. That we should permit it is a proof of the weakness of our conviction that principles of right and of truth and of co-operation are the true rulers of the world. The clever priest, of whatever religion, comes next. He enslaves the ignorant masses, generates vague fears and prevents the light of open inquiry from touching those who seek it. Then there is the economist who closes frontiers and debars people from meeting one another out of fear of "loss." Here the perversion of thought is very clear: the basis for all economy has been pre-chosen: it is competition. Co-operation, on the other hand, has a smaller group of protagonists. Its voice is lost in the shuffle of currencies manipulated by "big business," which knows no frontiers (artificial barriers created to imprison the thoughtless multitudes). Next we have the scientist who degrades himself and places his knowledge at the disposal of the warmonger (another name for big business in a new disguise), the manufacturer of arms and ammunitions. And fears of retaliation and attack are created by the propagandist and spread by the news-agencies and the papers, so that even the educationist who should honourably spread knowledge among the ignorant masses becomes himself confused and ineffective.

Ask yourselves why it is that many governments have devoted half if not two-thirds or three-quarters of their revenue to preparation for war and acquisition of weapons, and only a quarter or less to education. Ask yourselves, upon reading Plato's Republic, if a shift should not be immediately insisted upon in government legislatures and administrative positions, so that the philosophers and educationists be properly employed there to see that the people receive their just dues. The fact that this is not the case in most countries is an indication to all of us of the unnatural situation the world is in and of its seriousness. Each one of us has a choice before him. The forces of construction and of destruction allure and beckon us, the one to self-sacrifice and the other to self-destruction. Is it for the latter that we live and labour? Shall we not learn from the lessons of history? Learn these lessons we must—if not the easy way then the hard way, through pain and suffering.

There are some good signs. Tyranny as a form of government has become outmoded and has been replaced by republics and democratic methods (in theory if not entirely yet in practice). The tyranny of religious creeds has also been broken and freedom of thought under secular states prevails. The days of nationalism appear now to be over and the international State is bound to arise and autocracy under one form or another still prevail in the world and will continue to prevail under new disguises until exposed for what they are. Freedom of knowledge alone will relieve us from fear, ignorance and anxiety. H.P.B. tells us in earnest that two-thirds of the world's evil would be done away with if only we would learn to treat others as brothers and give them the trust that we accord to members of our family.

We may well ask, What is our true family? Is it not the family of the wise and the friendly and the just and the free? Do not the Great Masters of Wisdom down the ages stand exactly for that? Do They not oppose the forces of desire, of anger, of greed, of depression, of dejection, of doubt, with the force of Truth and the light of Knowledge? Well, if so, then where do we stand? Are we with Them or not? Let us take our stand. The paths are two indeed, and each one has to choose for himself or herself. Shall we choose the path of light and love, of help and co-operation, or of selfishness, of darkness and of eventual destruction? Each passing moment marks our progress in one direction or the other. Let us choose!

Mankind is caught in a great illusion. It thinks it can solve its problems through legislation, through political and social reform, through scientific and technological progress, through greater knowledge, greater wealth, greater power and greater control. It may solve some problems with this strategy, but those are trivial problems and temporary cures. By these methods we shall go on creating new difficulties on the one hand and trying to solve them on the other to maintain the illusion of progress....If we human beings do not transform inwardly, we shall soon join the list of those unfortunate creatures that lived a million years or so and then became extinct, for they could not adapt themselves. Only time will tell. Survival requires not the intelligence of "progress" but the ability to co-operate and love each other and to live in harmony with nature. The ant has survived longer than man. What we need now is not more ability and more efficiency, but greater cohesion, greater compassion, greater capacity to share and work together.

Education in the twenty-first century must therefore concern itself not with greater "progress" but with the inner transformation of the human consciousness. This has been pointed out before by the Buddha, Socrates, Christ and innumerable other sages in all cultures.

—P. Krishna

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