The Hope for an Alternative Society

The Hope for an Alternative Society

Guru Purnima 2016

~Shri Gurudev Mahendranath

One of the fondest dreams of my boyhood and youth was that we stood on the threshold of a vast public awakening. The innocence of boyhood and restlessness of youth had made me see all too clearly the great defects, inconsistencies and needless suffering in society. Any minute now people would wake up all over the world and try to put it into better order. The awakening never came, except perhaps to a tiny minority, and now the defects are increasing and the future prospects of improvement cannot be seen. The utopia we hoped to see on the horizon has been lost in the darkness of war, hunger and useless suffering and violence.

For thousands of years men and women have been trying to reform both the world and mankind. There has never yet been success. Political ideas and parties have been born and flourished on the support of a gullible public. Nothing worthwhile has yet been achieved. Desperadoes have seized power and raved and ranted the gospel of salvation, equality and nationalism—the promises profuse, but where are the results? Now it would appear that every intention and effort to change the condition of the people have only resulted in frustration and often created new unforeseen problems.

One of the mysteries of recent history is why outward demonstrations of political and economic change have brought about neither advancement nor improvement. Typical examples are seen in the case of Russia and Communist countries. Where mankind expected to see vast changes and remarkable transformations, we too often see failures and even backwardness, while the puritan morals and blatant sexual irregularities have been preserved.

Now we begin to see a ghostly superstructure behind modern civilization, which refuses to be controlled or destroyed. We call this vague but evil ghost the establishment. We know it’s there yet none can clearly define exactly what it is. It has become the product of the consciousness of civilization, made by the society and its accepted beliefs and thus by man himself. Thus, we ourselves are not only its product, but also factors in its creation and preservation. This is its strength and reason why it appears to be almost indestructible.

Every age has seen its rebels against the establishment. When protest has grown in strength and a new party assumed power, it quickly finds itself caught up and maintaining the very establishment it sought to weaken or break. Soon after the Second World War we saw a powerful tendency to challenge the establishment by the youthful products of the War and post War society which followed. Young people began to see the futility of the established patterns and the weary routines of the establishment.

Before the Second World War, Communism and radical politics had captured the youth. Through the obvious failures of Communist countries it was easy to see that politics were futile and left-wing tendencies solved not a single problem but created others. Young people began to take to the road and leave the comfort and security of hearth and home, wear outlandish garments and more important still, reject their traditional religions and adopt new ideas or the religious patterns of far away lands. Thus, we saw the rise and fall of the Beat Generation of Beatniks, Dharma Bums and its pseudo-Buddhism, the Flower People and swarms of Hippies. Nothing like this had ever been seen in history and never had youth so obviously protested and in such vast numbers. The establishment was shaken but not seriously damaged. The sub-culture or alternative culture (alternative to established society) grew and expanded. They made themselves heard through the medium of loud and noisy rock music and spread their message through their rhythmic songs. Rock still remains very solid and has greatly influenced adult entertainment.

How long was the Garden of Eden to last and what was it going to achieve? Could and would it change society? Some think it very nearly did. But the modern Garden of Eden was also to have its modern serpent to upset the movement towards the Utopian Paradise. It came at first in the form of soft drugs believed to be comparatively harmless. These unfortunately paved the way for hard drugs like opium, heroin and cocaine. The pipe-dream ended and lost its virility in smoky fantasies and numbed the brains of these who might have been dynamic leaders. By 1968 and 1969 the movement of youth reached its peak and began to wither. The establishment began to collect and reabsorb its deserters and the gutters of big cities began to collect the junkies, the unfortunate incurable addicts who were the casualties of experiments with hard drugs. Where do we go from here?

The younger generation so emphatically rejected the adult culture that they refused to listen to anyone over thirty years of age. This was the first defect, but it was due to the obvious tendency of parents trying to reproach them or turn them back to the conventional patterns they had rejected. The older generation preached an outdated puritan morality of unnatural patterns. The general set up was repeated wars, famines in the midst of plenty, unemployment and an educational system unrelated to needs or conditions. Who wanted this? If the brainwashed generations of the establishment wanted to preserve it, the youth wanted no part of it. In this sense they were perfectly correct, but it led to the mistake of rejecting the advice, experience and guidance of older people who were completely on their side.

By the time the sub-culture realized its blunder, the drug scene had already spread its tentacles too far. Drugs had become accepted as an essential part of the new youth scene, and so already the young people, who had rejected the features of the old society, had accepted new ones which were harmful. On social levels the drug scene weakened the new culture by exposing its followers to police harassment and legal intimidation. Vast numbers of the general population which did support them, turned away when it came to drugs. The youth had made a second blunder by making drugs an acceptable and essential part of their scene. Those who had dropped out from school, employment and society in general, found a new problem in the need to obtain money to buy the drugs, and so became chained to the very establishment they sought to reject.

At the extreme end of the chain are those who became hard drug addicts. Many of them have remained or returned to Western lands but large numbers can still be seen in India. This human wreckage live below the standard of normal beggars. They have nowhere to to sleep but the streets and nowhere to bathe. To these ragged outcasts even soap has become a luxury. They beg only for money to buy drugs. Indians have grown tired of these people for they are not beyond threatening or intimidating people into giving them money. Foreign tourists have become their main target and this has invited government action to be taken against them. These people who once talked of freedom and life in Nature’s natural environment are now chained like prisoners to the big cities where alone they can beg for money—a sad end to a grand ideal. Advice from any older person might have prevented a painful experience for the voice of mature wisdom would say, “If you don’t indulge, then don’t start.” Practically all addictions starts off as a joke, a little fun, or the dubious bravery of “try anything once.”

As far back as 1967 a prophecy was made that the youth subculture would break up and there would be a vast mass return to where they had started. Where a few groups or individuals had the capacity, sincerity and determination to stay the course, it would develop into a search on spiritual levels. This is what actually happened. The spiritual search has become a way of life for many; but we must not confuse this deeper and more real spirituality with the Hari Krishna Salvation Army types of pseudo-guru set-ups which have developed into their own forms of a rat race for more clever rats. The really sincere have realized in time that it was to be a quest for spiritual attainment and not just a whirl of new activity. This process still continues and we can only wish success to these sincere seekers that they will find true guru guidance and not commercial or sexual exploitation.

These are the people who will remain as the real freaks and even super-freaks, they will stand aside and aloof from left-wing politics, drugs and sordid organizations and community life. They will not pine or yearn for the company of other Western freaks for their real quest is beyond the gregarious instinct. Some may, for protection or mutual assistance, gather in small groups but his will be incidental and not as a pattern of conformity.

As we look back on Han Shan, Dattatreya, Jadubharath, etc; as the super-freaks of the past, so future generations may look back on the super-freaks of today who rejected the establishment and found the incomparable wonder of the Cosmos. There is no end to the process of spiritual construction and the galaxy of new men and miracles to crowd the Cosmic scene. If man does not destroy mankind or pollution does not destroy man, future generations if not blind, deaf and dumb will have much to see, hear and shout about and meditate on these Cosmic people. Altogether a scene too amusing to imagine.

The new sub-culture of the younger generation borrowed ideas and spiritual concepts and tried to make them a practical reality. Most impressive of these was the concept of “togetherness.” Like most ideals, easy to talk about and even imagine but most difficult to practice.

Togetherness requires a number of individuals to lose their individuality and harmonize with each other on all levels. We have all had the unpleasant experience of meeting someone and feeling we just can’t live without them, only to find a few months later, that it is more impossible to live with them. Real harmony and tolerance among humans is very rare. It is even rare in families where people have a greater interest in togetherness. It is wonderful if and when it can exist but it mostly remains only an ideal.

The drop outs from the establishment did for the most part, fail to realize how much and how well they had been brainwashed from birth and all too easily at the slightest provocation, reverted back to their former conditioning. Time has proved that you just cannot have togetherness among unstable or erratic people. Stability may be laughed at as old fashioned but it still remains an essential quality for all future values. Strange is it not, that most of the people who talked and thought of a new world and better society did not themselves have the ability to pull it together?

Doing your own thing—what a wonderful ideal! It is incredible how rare it is in modern society for anyone to be able to do what they want to do because they want to do it. It remains true even when not involving relationships, pleasant or unpleasant, with others. To do and be free to be able to what you wanted to do when you wanted to do it was grand. Yet in the freak scene where it was held as an ideal, it was actually very very rare. Mostly it became a routine of “follow the leader,” do what they did, wear what they wore, smoke or eat what they said and like what you were told to like. These things may not have been wrong in themselves but they were other people’s things and not the thing arising from one’s own spontaneous wishes or desires.

The search for new values became an important feature of the subculture because of the widespread rejection of Christian puritan morality and outdated restrictions. In many Western countries and areas, the Churches and their representatives had a position of influence out of all proportion to their actual size or support. After the Second World War and the spectacle of Protestants fighting Protestants, and Catholics killing Catholics, the general public experienced a sudden waking up. The spectacle of a Church which could remain friendly and neutral to both sides separated them forever from the people. Now the younger generation sought among other faiths, religions and philosophies. If there were any casualties with the rise of the sub-culture, the Church became the most hurt. Another amusing situation. The Occult World was much more interesting.

The Occult is not easily swallowed like a pill or an aspirin tablet. Having the I-Ching, the Tarot, the Kabbala and the Om Mani Padme Hum thrown at you all at once is like having having malaria, typhoid, gonorrhea and a boil between the buttocks all at once. Which would you try to cure first? Too much occult, like to much disease can lead to confusion or burial. Yet that is what most seem to have done or had.

In my own role as a guru I have been conspicuous as a book burner and try to wean disciples away from useless reading. But this does not mean that some features of literature could not be of infinite value in preparing the ground for new patterns of life in which you have no experience. The wise seeker would do well to consult someone of greater experience or take recommendations for reading from the mouth of a responsible guru. There are thousands of books published every year. Most of it is low level and only suitable as diversionary reading. For those requiring the real wisdom texts the selection is very small, but material of such a nature that you must read it again and again. Generally, it is heavy literature and needs to be read slowly and in small doses. This type of literature will not only indicate supreme values but also guide one in the practical way and means of how to live. Yet these books will never be the substitute for a guru, but rather the ground which makes the guru more easily understood.

Thousands of freaks have come to India. Most return disappointed. This is due to two reasons. The first is that the Westerners come to see an India which is either imagination or invention. They visualize a world of holy men, ascetics, sacred fires, gurus and spiritual vibrations powerful enough to knock your hat off.

This is not the India which they find, because of the second reason; a surfeit of politico-economic-secularism has practically destroyed the old India. Gurus there are in plenty, but mostly professional money and disciple collectors. Of the real spiritual gurus, who were contented to dwell in lowly huts or small caves, there is a desperate shortage or they are only found in remote regions. Most certainly, the cities like Bombay and Delhi where freaks so love to congregate, are not the places to find spiritual or wisdom guides of any type.

Most of the shoddy clowns of modern India try desperately to collect disciples. Real gurus don’t want them and if a real sat-guru does accept a disciple it is only because they see them as having the great potential required to attain liberation. They want only those who can attain and have no desire to collect failures.

The great defect of the whole Indian scene is that most if not all foreign visitors are entering into a sphere of higher values of which they have no experience. How then can such strangers have the capacity or insight to know who is the real guru and who is only the clown? To those who have failed so pathetically or have got themselves entangled with some phony rag-bag, a word of advice. Do not be discouraged or unhappy. Simply cut your throat and hope that in a future rebirth you will have better success. If throat cutting is repulsive, you could try chemicals or better still and much cheaper—a high building. It’s a hard world.

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