By George Merlo Pallath
What is the meaning of civilization? Is it just big cities, high rise buildings, glitzy cars and well dressed high flying people? Does it require exploitation of the natural resources and destruction of the environment to create civilisation? To most people the present day western civilisation is the highest form of civilisation known to humans. The capitalistic world of money, wealth creation and materialistic achievements of the wealthiest countries and cities of the world are the prime examples of civilisation. In this world, humans are considered as the dominant species that has the license to exploit all the natural resources, plunder the forests and oceans, killing all other species for making money and creating wealth. It is the selfish world of the inward focussed humans who does not care about all the environmental degradation being caused all over the planet in his quest for more wealth and money. The prime driving force is the greed for money, power and prestige. We kill, plunder, rape and destroy whole nations in our unceasing quest for power, influence and wealth. The tribal outlook is quite apparent in all humans even after so many years of evolution. If you take individual human beings, they are basically no different from the cave men that existed some 90,000/- years ago on planet Earth. Inside each one of us we are still the same old humans with the tribal instincts, violence, selfishness and greed of those gentlemen of yesteryears. Anthropologists say that the humans were hunter gatherers for more than 6 Million years, and they stumbled into agriculture somewhere around 80,000 BC. After that the humans started their journey of modernisation very quickly. Just 120 years back the fastest means of travel for humans were on horseback. By the turn of the century, steam engine was discovered which quickly graduated into developing trains, cars and then aeroplanes. Along with all the developments taking place, humans used these new found technologies to kill, maim and destroy whole societies and regions of the world. Technology started to dictate the new rulers of the world. But the intrinsic character of humans never changed. Humans became more and more sophisticated in the manner of destroying and killing his opponents. From swords and spears, humans started using guns and rockets. The greed for power spawned two world wars killing millions of humans and destroying whole countries in the process. By the end of the second world war nuclear weapons were created and used for the first time. It destroyed whole cities along with their population. The meaning of the word “savage” obtained a whole new meaning. Now countries have enough nuclear weapons to destroy the whole world 6 times over. Still the basis character of the people is still very much the same. They still want to kill, maim, rape, destroy and exploit. The greed and lust of the humans know no bounds. Is this the civilization that we call modern. Apart from the fact that we have started to wear glitzy clothes and shoes, nothing has changed.
Being civilized is to be broadminded, loving and caring for our fellow beings both humans and animals, protecting the environment. Being civilized means being without anger, hatred, jealousy and being peace loving, tolerant and caring. Being civilized means being aware that we are all ONE. Being civilized means living in harmony with nature. A civilized society means an advanced humane society which cares for the entire world.
Civilization starts in our mind. There must be a transformation in the manner in the manner in which we think. As J Krishnamurthy says, we must unlearn our conditioning, all the layers of conditioning that we have all acquired must be shed and be like a new born baby with a fresh mind and a clear vision. During Vedic period, the people living in India achieved a high degree of awareness and enlightenment. They were civilized in the true meaning of the word. There were peace and harmony all around. Highly enlightened and aware individuals and the highest level of civilization was achieved in India which can be understood from the writings in the Vedas and Upanishads. The Indians were nonviolent, peace loving people who respected the environment and lived in harmony with nature. Possibly the various invaders found this easy pickings and destroyed the culture and the civilization which existed here during those times.
Countless Hollywood movies have been made showing higher civilizations from outer space visiting our planet and saying that this planet and its inhabitants are still primitive, violent, selfish and exploitative. In these movies the visitors from outer space are always shown as highly developed civilized and technologically advanced species which is capable of unimaginable destructive force but always desisting from using their power on a helpless race and going back dejected hoping to come back after a millennium waiting patiently for us to become civilized.
In the new testament, Jesus is stated to be the son of God who took a human form to save the humans from sins and give the hope and deliverance. Even though Jesus is the son of God, capable of Godly powers, he desists from using those powers and dies meekly on the cross. The message conveyed is that even if he had all the powers of God at his disposal and could have easily destroyed all his detractors, he deliberately took it upon himself and suffered, to atone for all the sins committed by the humans and seek forgiveness form God almighty. It may only be a story. But the point is well taken. Being loving, caring and unselfish and being ready to sacrifice self for others. A civilized person is the one who has conquered all his animal instincts and being in control of his mind and thoughts. He is aware of self and the surroundings.
The basic message of all religious texts are to the effect that we should be loving, caring and being unselfish. But humans regardless of which religion or groupings that he unwittingly belongs to behave with the intrinsic tribal instinct that is deeply ingrained in their minds. They continue to be exploitative, selfish and greedy. Whatever the materialistic achievements that the humans have achieved were at huge loss to the environment and the whole ecology. This society cannot ever be seen as being civilized unless individuals become loving, caring and sharing with our brethren and nature. If the theory of evolution has any meaning it is time for humans to evolve into a higher being who is self aware, non destructive, living in harmony and balance with nature. The next step in evolution for human beings must happen in our minds and not physically. It is said that we use only 1/10th of the power of our mind. It is time to understand and become aware of its infinite power.
A quote by Sadhguru sums it all ” The best thing that you can do for the world is to be a joyful and blissful human being. Go out there and be responsible to yourself . Bravely seek your joy , your bliss.” It is time for the next step in human evolution which must happen in our minds. It is high time for humans to cross the barriers of “physical being” into mental and spiritual beings.