Tuesday, January 11, 2011

There Ought to be a Revolution!

Years ago, probably in the 1940's, Paramhansa Yogananda, author of "Autobiography of a Yogi," and founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship headquartered in Los Angeles, encountered difficulties with the Los Angeles Planning or Building Department. In the way people do, a small group that included Yogananda were complaining about government red tape. Someone pipped up and said, whether humorously or in frustration, "There ought to be a revolution!" Yogananda was quiet for a moment and then said calmly but with quiet conviction: "There WILL be a revolution."

I recently finished a book by David C. Korten, "Agenda for a New Economy: from Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth." In briefest summary it's about how and why America should dump Wall Street in favor of Main Street. America and the western countries, and truly most of the world, is faced with a large bank overdraft. We have overdrawn the balance in the account of natural resources, energy usage, fair trade of useful goods and services, fair wages, respect for differences in race, nation, culture, and religion and so much else.

The rubber band of over-indulgence is near to snapping. There ought indeed to be a revolution and I think there WILL be a revolution. Naturally, as a yogi, I hope it will be peaceful but, let's face it, the odds of that happening are slim to nothing. We've seen riots occur spontaneously in different countries when price spikes in food, or shortages in basic commodities take place, or when wages or hours are cut due to austerity measures. And these are small potatoes.

There need not be any violence if enough leaders and citizens shared a common vision of what's needed. And if any country can gather the will to make drastic changes, I think America, for all her many faults, can do its part. But it's going to take a lot more hardship before the political and cultural will rises to the challenge. We saw a glimmer of heartfelt national unity immediately after the 9-11 attack. It didn't last long but we saw and felt it. And so did other countries.

But what David Korten is describing, even if it is but a fraction of the large areas of human activiity that are in desparate need of radical change, requires the overthrow of powerful people and vested interests. As Gandhi and King knew firsthand, those in power do not relinquish it willingly. Bankrupting them would of course do it but what we've seen is the bailouts only made those who triggered the need for the bailout, richer.

Faced with such odds, the authentic thing for most of us is to turn our back on that which we cannot change. Let the "dead bury the dead." Let's start new and promising things: small and creative businesses, communities, sharing with others what we have learned and have.....creating, in short, community, in all its rich variety of forms.

We need to revolt from and break away from dependence on government handouts, and go on alone. A song, "Go on Alone," is something of Ananda's theme song. It takes courage to leave a career, a "good" job, a looming pension, a comfortable home but haven't thousands (or more) already been forced to give up these things already? Why cower in the darkness, hiding your head in the sand, hoping the sandstorm will pass over you and everything will be just like it was before? It won't! The mainstream news is not worth exposing yourself to.

It doesn't take a whole population to effect a revolution. Study any revolution, peaceful or otherwise. It's usually a statistically insignificant percentage of the population that ignites the movement! And I'm not talking about being AGAINST anything but FOR sustainable, community, balanced living. If enough people stop borrowing money to buy consumer goods, and begin living real lives with real people who share real values, the edifice of power and greed will tumble like the walls of Jericho!

America is the best place for this second American revolution. Many here may seem greedy, selfish, and self-indulgent, but I think that's mostly what we've had the luxury to do for a relatively short period (since WW2). In general, America still has vitality, drive, creativity, and, yes, even high ideals.

A part of this better half of America died with the last of 3 assassinations: Robert Kennedy's. The election of Richard Nixon marked a detour or turning point in losing touch with our ideals, however flawed they have always been in their implementation. The cynicism and distrust brought about what we saw in ourselves in Vietnam and in some of our citizens' public brutality and hate during the height of the civil rights movement exposed and wounded our national self-image. We descended into self-involvement and haven't stopped since.

But now the necessity to pull out of this drunken binge of galloping consumption and debt will be the saving grace of this country's creative vitality and ideals. We have to recognize the opportunity and seize it.

Everything is going to be turned on its head: religion, politics, construction, manufacturing, retail, farming, health......and on and on. The basic trend will be that the individual, and relatively small or smaller groups of people, will need and will seize the initative to implement changes. These will largely be outside government control or influence, though in some cases, in partnership. With the federal, state, and local governments crushed under their own debt, imagine the thousands (or is it millions) who will become unemployed? Lord help us if we stop waging wars: what will become of all the soldiers and their contractors?

Yes: a tsunami is heading our way. It mgiht seem far offshore and too small to notice but by the time you see it, it will be too late. Those who live a God-centered life and guided by grace and strengthened with Divine power, who step off the wheel of unsustainable living and do so in harmony with others of like mind will not only find greater fulfillment but can act as instruments to help many, many others: whether by example or directly.

I am not a pessimist. I am an optimist. I base these things on what Paramhansa Yogananda predicted before his death in 1952 and what my teacher, Swami Kriyananda, has warned audiences about for decades, and from what knowledgeable forecasters in all fields are saying, and what just makes good, common sense.

Blessings, Hriman