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Namah Journal


Evolution Next XVI — the Age of Truth

Dr. Alok Pandey


We have entered the Age of Truth. The information explosion is only its surface sign. It is rapidly shaping humanity. Our education and other institutions need to reckon this shift of values and change accordingly.

The godheads of the future

Each age of mankind has its own presiding godhead or deity. It is irrelevant whether a temple is erected in its honour and name or not and whether any ritual worship is offered to it. Though very often, we do find institutions that serve as a temple and books to which zealous enthusiasts of ideologies cling as sacred literature! Nevertheless this deity becomes active in the heart of an age as the Time-Spirit, since this is the original temple where all the gods have their seat. It is the immanent Divine within creation who puts forth one among His many aspects and powers that begin to act in a particular age and turn the tide of time in a particular direction. Mankind is helpless before this Zeitgeist or Kāl-Puruṣa who embodies and upholds the yugadharma, the Law that will govern an Age. Of course, at first there is a stir and revolution that breaks and eventually stops the influence of previous powers. The deity who ruled the previous age withdraws behind the veil, back into the Divine seated in the human heart while the new god takes his seat and sets into motion the New Law for earth and man. It is a period of massive revolutionary changes, shifts in various energy-fields and an altering of the balance of the previous Age. The old order breaks down and the new is activated in the human system or to use a modern simile, a new order is downloaded and installed. This subtle work often goes unseen due to the din and noise and the anguish and outcry of that changeover when, to use an Indian image, the great Serpent of Infinity, symbolic of an unfolding time, changes its coils, momentarily destabilising the earth. It is only later, sometimes much later, that man notices the shift. In fact when the time for this shift comes it just happens and man has little say in it. Of course it becomes much simpler if men understand what is happening and consciously participate or at least collaborate in the change that has been initiated. The change will take place even if they do not; but it will only bring for them bewilderment and confusion, even cynicism and despair. It is only when the shift is complete and the new order fully established that the blinding storm created by the rapid pace of the change subsides and there is a clearing and in that one can see the New Light dawning upon the horizons of our inner mind.

Such is the situation now. At least for nearly half a century we have been witnessing a massive shift preceded by the two great wars and revolutions that led to the breaking down of the old world-order. The godheads worshiped earlier were traditions and custom, society and religion. But now the times are changing. The new deities that have awakened within the human heart and the collective psyche are Truth, Freedom and Unity. Behind them all waits Love and Delight to emerge when the ground has been created and the human heart purified with the light of Truth. A custom or tradition must therefore first prove its truth before being accepted freely by the individual who will be free to accept or to reject. Religion must validate its findings and society must shed its narrow formulas, determined by family and clans into the sense of national and world-unity. The children of today and even more so tomorrow will be driven by this Zeitgeist until the new order establishes itself. Naturally they or rather the parents and teachers who still base themselves on the old schools of thought are bound to experience difficulties of transition.

The problems of transition

It is here that one must tread with caution since the human mind tends to dress and worship the new deities in the old ways. Let us take one of these deities such as ‘Knowledge’ or ‘Truth’. There is in times such as these an explosion of scientific knowledge which has become the new priest replacing the old one, religion. Thus for example, since it is the Age of Truth, human authority based on experience and age is over. But what Truth is and how it is to be discovered is still not known to us. We tend to therefore believe in whatever seems to come through the filter of science in an almost superstitious way. We may say that there is nothing superstitious about it since scientific knowledge is gathered through experiments. But that is precisely how superstitions were developed in olden times through empirical observations, which is the first step towards science. All that we have added now is that these observations must be replicable and statistically verifiable for a thing to be true. But statistics are often the handmaiden of information received through observation. What we miss out is that for every bit of information that we gather we miss out much more that remains hidden below the surface because we do not yet have instruments to register it. Therein lies the rub.

This is the root cause of confusion. The old currency of time is being rapidly discredited whereas the new is not yet in place. There is a tendency towards a free and blind acceptance of whatever presents itself in a scientific garb which is currently in fashion or else uses the instrument of logic to convince us. But reason itself is limited by the data it can receive through the senses and Truth is much more than data or information. It is important to distinguish between information and Truth. It is also important to recognise the limitations of reason as an instrument of knowledge. The Age of Truth can dawn fully only when we have passed beyond reason into the light of an intuitive perception. This is so because reason relies heavily upon sense perception and external and observable data while a whole range of information pertaining to the deeper layers of life goes unnoticed. Intuition, on the other hand, is able to scan the entire range in a single sweep, even if momentarily as a flash of lightning illumines an area. In fact, information is valueless unless we can also understand the entire range of forces at play at any given moment.

The need for a new education

Therefore the education of a child should include, on the one hand ways and means of developing intuition and, on the other hand a practical understanding of the entire range of forces at play, — forces physical, psychological, occult, spiritual. This can be done through various means but most of all it comes through the practice of making the mind quiet as also through self-study and becoming conscious of oneself. This means allowing time for reflection and introspection to the growing child, helping him make his choices rather than making the choices for him by virtue of authority. It also means learning organically through all the small and big experiences that life itself offers to us for our growth. These experiences often go unnoticed since we still have the concept of a classroom education that is disconnected with life. The child goes to a school where a set and prescribed course must be finished within a given framework of time and with the specific purpose of getting good grades. These grades in turn are supposed to help him secure a good job, which means for most parents and children, good money and position. This is inverting the very foundation of education, which should primarily be for growth and learning, to equip a child not just for earning money but for living life in a beautiful and meaningful way. To have wealth without beauty and to have an external position without any inner meaning and compass to direct our life purposefully are dangerous situations to be in. An adult who has gone through this process, unless he is inwardly developed by virtue of his past evolution, will be not only useless but perhaps even harmful to himself and to the society he lives in! And then when he ends up finding ways and means to cheat the system and deceive others we call him a criminal and bring in the police to curb his evil propensities. But is it not the direct result of our emphasis, given almost exclusively on money and position rather than on inner growth and progress!

Life is a constant learning but to make the most of this process we need to go through it consciously. When someone makes our choices for us then we tend to divide life artificially into right and wrong. This may sometimes be a safe option but it is not necessarily the best when we consider growth and progress towards an increasing awareness as the aim and objective of our earthly existence. That is why we see today this tendency to experiment and learn rather than be simply taught through a textbook. This way even failure helps by making us conscious of something in our nature. Surely this is no easy task but there is no other that can be complete and consistent with the demands of our times. It does not mean an unbridled freedom as some may imagine. It means bringing before the tribunal of reason of a child all the various possibilities and forces at play when he is making his choices. He should not be caught completely unaware of what is hidden underneath and is pushing for expression through his body and mind and speech and feelings and impulses.

Therefore a minimum psychological understanding of who we are and why we do what we do, in short a basic knowledge of human psychology, is essential for all children. Of course, the means for imparting this knowledge will differ for different age-groups. But it should be there as a fundamental subject of study, not through books and theories, but through observation, discussion and reflection.

This should include among other things the motives for our actions, the ways to strengthen our will, to develop the capacity of reason, to learn to differentiate between the true emotion of love which is strong and healthy as against sentimentality which opens the doors to all kinds of weaknesses and errors and even aberrant behaviour. It also means teaching and training the children from a very young age to control and master their impulses. This is necessary even to truly practise reason and lead a reasonable life. Otherwise our faculty of reason is often used to justify our weaknesses and other harmful tendencies. We are not going here into the details for actually putting it into practice (this can be taken up later) but the principle and the fundamentals should be clear. Instead of doing this, the main faculties we focus on are primarily memory and as in some New Age schools, the sensory apparatus. A lot needs to be done for the children embodying the new ideas of Truth and Freedom and Unity. If not well equipped, they may be misled under the growing stress of these very godheads by distorting and disfiguring them and deviating them from their true purposes. The impulse for Truth will lead them to challenge each and every known conception so far and it is natural that it should be so. But what they also need is a direction for their search, otherwise they may end up destroying the past but not have the right understanding of how to construct a new future based on a more complete and truer understanding of life. For all these godheads, including Truth and Freedom and Unity, also evolve as man evolves. We often put our conceptions into these emerging godheads. And therein lies the danger. If we slowly educate and prepare children to progressively understand what true freedom is, what truth is, what indeed is unity and love, then they will be equipped to deal with these energies when they suddenly invade their heart space. They will be strong and capable to contain the onrush of these new forces that have entered the world arena and are awakening human beings to their power-play. Instead we are busy teaching them how to memorise lessons and take the tests and get degrees and earn money!

Information explosion and the Age of Truth

Among these forces the most important power that is working today is Truth. We can almost say that this is an age of Truth and nothing can remain hidden for long or kept into cold wraps sealed from public eye. It is not only a question of the people around you, our own internal mirrors have become active compelling human beings to be mentally honest and accept and acknowledge their thoughts and feelings. All this has created a momentary chaos, momentary when we look at things through large spaces of Time.

Mankind is becoming conscious of a vast and complex subjective self within and behind its neat outer existence. That is why the old social formulas that tied life into well-groomed patterns of behaviour are soon going to give way to something that seems to be chaotic. This is partly because we have entered the age of Individualism wherein human beings are becoming more and more conscious of the immense complexity of their nature and know not how to reconcile the diverse and jarring elements within. On the other hand, we see a flooding of the mind and senses with loads and loads of information that they cannot assimilate. We shall take up the issue of individuality later. For the moment it is important to understand how to deal with the information overload to which mankind is being subjected. As a silver lining it is doing one good thing and that is to expand the mental world of man. But on the other hand, it is taking away that great capacity of reflection that makes us what we are. We are not just thinking machines but conscious beings. That is the big difference between Artificial Intelligence and Human Intelligence. Artificial Intelligence works by feeding of information which it then learns to sift and use. But man can reflect, go deep within the information received and discover something completely new that was held within. Through reflection and contemplation, man can recreate himself and his world. He can completely undo past habits of thought and feelings and reactions and substitute them with completely new ways of being and doing. Unfortunately the explosion of information is taking away this faculty of reflection and turning human intelligence into artificial intelligence. There is a need to reverse this. The question is how?

The damage starts from the institution called the school, where what we are engaged in doing is a systematic undoing of man and turning him into a production machine that can give good output and earn money. We are building more schools but they are still repeating the patterns of the past, albeit with better buildings and heftier fees! They are simply becoming information hubs rather than laboratories of human evolution which is what a school must be.

What we do not realise is that many institutions based on the old world understanding of life will soon become dated. To revive and pump all our energies into them is to disrespect the fast-emerging future. Thus for example, the whole idea of memorizing lessons will soon become outdated. Every possible piece of information is now readily available at the click of a button. To still insist on making students memorize lessons by rote is to cut them off from the present flow of life. What is needed now is to help the student understand the intrinsic sense of that information. It is to be taken to the next level. By understanding we mean not only a grasp of what a piece of information means but the deeper import contained within it. Information is often like a sign language that is conveying something much deeper to us than its superficial sense. But to grasp the inner sense we have to understand and tune in to the consciousness that stands behind all phenomena.

Memory can be left for other purposes rather than holding bits of information about physical subjects. In fact memory itself is a vast subject that is related closely to our states of consciousness rather than simply mechanically memorizing things. All this and much more await our discovery as the horizons of the old world recede and new stars come into sight and which are going to completely change the way we understand everything.

Information is after all merely raw data perceived through the imperfect instrument of the senses. It is a pity that most children do not know the difference between information and knowledge. They accumulate lots and lots of information and clutter their memory-store. It is unfortunately believed that the more information one has and can spew out, the more knowledgeable one is. The real sign of knowledge is how one uses the information. To arrive at knowledge, it is enough to have even one small piece of information. One can then use it to go deeper and deeper into it until one arrives at the ‘Knowledge’ which means effectively the discovery of that ‘truth’ and ‘power’ that sustains the surface phenomenon.

Physics itself has developed thus by diving deep into matter. Though there is a lot more to do, perhaps using different methods, but the basic direction is right. But in other fields it is yet wanting. Information itself exists at several levels in different ways. The sensory input is simply one such external mode, there are many other modes in which information is packed and corresponding to these modes there must develop in man instruments that can decode it. Otherwise our science will always remain a science of appearances.

The end of schools and the beginning of education

It is not unlikely that the future may well see the end of schools with school bags. Instead there will be homes of Light where the student will be taught how to use information and facilitated in making his own discoveries of Truth. There will be no more teachers but facilitators and mentors, at best guides and perhaps Masters who will awaken in the child the true knowledge and teach him the ways of Wisdom and Love. At the end of this process of education, it is not the child but the ‘teacher’ or the mentor who will be tested! The test will be that the child who has passed through him is equipped to reorient his relationship with himself and the world in a new way. The old world relationship was one of mutual interest and exploitation of resources where man was little more than a thinking animal walking on two legs and the world was a mechanically self-regulating energy system. The new world will correct this error. We shall see ourselves as a spiritual being first, with seeds of divinity embedded within us and the world will be seen as a conscious and living entity that is progressively manifesting and unfolding the hidden divinity within it. The end will not be a degree nor a finished and smart product equipped to make money but a conscious and living soul who is aware of his own and life’s goal and is ready to face the greater school of life, its manifold challenges and facets of the One Reality. He will be able to sift information and see behind appearances whether they come transmitted through the Internet or human agencies, look at them carefully to distinguish the true from the false and going deeper down get to the essence of information that is knowledge. Going still deeper he should be able to discover the Wisdom that stands behind Knowledge as its secret base. And if he is capable enough to go deeper into the heart of Wisdom and marvel at the Love that has woven this world into a many-tessellated Whole and the many-bodied One.

True and successful education would mean that the child has discovered that sense of ‘marvel’ and wonder within him rather than finished it along with his curiosity satisfied with standard textbook answers. The irony of it all is that we have now ‘all the answers’ but few questions and that is never a healthy state. It is through awakening of the right kind of questions that we begin to arrive at a truer and deeper knowledge. Indeed question is the mental form taken by the deeper quest in man. Since we are mental beings, the questions we raise can be simply the starting points for becoming aware of this deeper quest. This happens because we do reach a point where the answers raise more questions and the riddle of life becomes more puzzling the more we seem to solve it! A point comes when we discover that all that we have understood and known is insufficient to explain the cosmos and ourselves. Then we are ready for a new journey where the lamplight of reason and the staff of intellectual analysis become insufficient. A fire is lit within and a greater light, the light of aspiration becomes the leader and faith becomes the staff of the journey. We once again rediscover the wonder we had lost as we passed through the production machine called the school. The artificial scales of knowledge enshrined and rigidly embossed in our degrees fall off and we begin to perceive something that was always there and yet never visible to our mind and senses.

Perhaps it is beyond the grasp of our mind and senses. The original sense of the Indian term for Knowledge is Vidya, which means that which dispels all illusions and goes behind appearances and external differences to reveal the core of Truth. It is the knowledge based on the Oneness behind creation rather than the knowledge based on divisions and differentiations that one experiences on the surfaces. Of course both are needed but the latter without the former becomes a source of evil and disconnects us from the larger Whole that is always greater than all the parts put together. To discover that deeper Oneness is indeed the real business of information so that we can also discover the interconnectedness of life and the wonder that creation is.

To keep this sense of wonder alive in the child by showing him the relativity of all human knowledge acquired by the mind and reason is one important step in this direction. To raise the level of his seeking by turning it from questioning to quest is another important step. When the quest is born then the task of the educator is over. For the quest itself carries its own light that will see us through the journey. All that is needed after that is to instil the sense of wonder in the human heart and to fill it with beauty and joy and love. For therein lies the ultimate secret of evolution. Knowledge is but an aspect of the Universal Deity, one which we may term the head. But Love is its core and Delight and Beauty, the two streams of energy flowing from this core that sustain and help us through life and its manifold journey.

Dr. Alok Pandey, an editor of NAMAH and a member of SAIIIHR, is a doctor practising at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

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body mind and spirit
Old world order body mind and spirit





Human psychology


Information explosion



The school




Sense of wonder