February 01, 2006

An alternative holistic paradigm of thought

So while globalism has many positive aspects and is an irreversible process, it also has its menacing, darker side which we would do well to keep in mind, because unless we are able to develop a positive consciousness that can overcome this negativity, the whole transition could turn out to be abortive and, ultimately, self-destructive. Indeed, carrying further the analogy of transition and metamorphosis, one can liken the present global scenario to the time when a caterpillar enters the chrysalis before it becomes a butterfly. The experience could not be a pleasant one; there must be a terrible sense of constriction and crisis. But if it succeeds in undergoing that painful process, an ugly, earthbound worm is transformed into a beautiful, multi-coloured butterfly that can fly through the air rather than crawl on the leaf. Hopefully, that is what could happen to human consciousness provided we are able to make the transition to globalism safely.
The major question facing us, therefore, as we hurtle towards the end of this most violent and gory century in human history, is how to develop a consciousness that could sustain the emerging global society. What we need is a global 'dharma', a paradigm of thought that would stress co-operation in place of competition. convergence in place of conflict, holism in place of hedonism. For this we can turn to the great spiritual traditions of humanity, and I would like to explore briefly with you some of the universal concepts of the Vedanta, surely one of the high watermarks of world philosophy.
Let me place before you five seminal concepts from the Upanishads which, taken together, could provide an alternative holistic paradigm of thought as against the fractured and fragmented nature of our present perceptions. These begin with the most fundamental one, the all pervasiveness of the divine – Isha vasyamidam sarvam yat – tells us that this entire cosmos, not merely this tiny speck of dust that we call planet earth but the billions upon billions of galaxies in the borderless universe around us, Anantakoti brahmanda as the texts say, are all permeated by the divine. Wherever there is manifestation, it is illuminated by the divine, and this in a way represents the philosophical correlate of the Unified Field Theory that the scientists are looking for, a single theory that would explain all phenomenon.

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