Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Key to the Alternate Present

Right after reading the forgotten map by Manfred Max-Neef, I really needed some time jus to sit back and think about what he was trying to say. It is indeed very thought provoking. It gives a key or guide to answering the few main questions of Life and our existence on this planet, which every man has come up against, some ignore while others try to seek out the information or may I say knowledge. Manfred takes us through a small journey back in time where we discuss meanings related to terms “Decision”, “Direction” and “Reason”. Manfred even counters the same will of a man’s journey towards knowledge, in this case, our existence, and shows us that there are some things more important than knowledge if we want to realize the truth.
Manfred first discusses how we got here. “Here” in terms of Time. How important was the journey here? Well, after I had a read through, I’ll say It is as important and précis as it gets. In a nutshell, An action, statement or say even a word could have changed you, your beliefs and also your very existence. One tiny little change in the past would make hell of a difference in our time. Therefore a small change you make now makes a huge change in the future. As Spanish Philosopher José Ortega y Gasset had said “I am myself and my circumstance.”
12th century, Italy, Giovanni Bernardone or shall I say Francis of Assisi referred to a world full of love and relation within every being. Man would have had feelings for all that is there around us. But a little later in Italy, Machiavelli’s stated “It is much safer to be feared than to be loved” . He had made a statement sharing his views. But he had actually created a new world, a new direction. The gravity of the situation makes a huge impact when we think of it now. The reason? Well we chose to follow Machiavelli and thus came up with concepts for our social, political and economical concerns.
Giovanni Francesco Pico della Mirandola faced this world, but wanted to attain spiritual renovation and believed it could reconcile humanity. Did he set a new path? Not really. Francis Bacon suggested we explore nature. The more we unravel about the nature the more we unravel about ourselves. Now the people chose to believe this, and from then on research and knowledge was everything needed to know. But Giordano Bruno in 1600 AD believed that Earth and everything in it had life, that earth had a soul. Was it going to make a change?
There was change, but it was towards the path lead by René Descartes who had said “What I see through my window are hats and coats covering automatic machines.” as a result we have witnessed the triumph of mechanism and reductionism. From then on scientists, mathematicians, physicists and inventors were on the high. The Earth became a playground for science. Man was overcome by the wonderful feeling when he had discovered something new. Man started reasoning more, knowledge was power, science was the beginning and the end.
But Goethe, known more for his literary works than his successful pursuits in the field of science felt upset with the limitations of the Newtonian physics. For Goethe, “science is as much an inner path of spiritual development as it is a discipline aimed at accumulating knowledge of the physical world. It involves not only a rigorous training of our faculties of observation and thinking, but also of other human faculties which can attune us to the spiritual dimension that underlies and interpenetrates the physical: faculties such as feeling, imagination and intuition.” Science, as Goethe conceived and practiced it, has as its highest goal the arousal of the feeling of wonder through contemplative looking, in which the scientist would come to see God in Nature and Nature in God.
Now I could say that the path which we have chosen compared to the path shown by Bernardone, Francesco Pico, Giordano Bruno and Goethe, They are two different worlds. How vast the difference would have been.
But take the world we live in. We have reached science’s limitations almost. We have concepts to economize our lives. Systems to maintain balance. But are we successful entirely? Manfred points out that man is still missing something. He feels poor, and what Manfred is trying to implicate is that man lacks spiritual power. He compares the situation to love. We can have numerous studies on love from many perspectives. But scientifically we only attain knowledge, but not understanding. We have to experience love to understand it. Thus Manfred points out that the completeness of our being might rely on the relation between science and spiritualism. Science makes man think, gives him a medium to explore. Man might have just not explored spirituality yet. Now even thought man had a balanced approach towards this point there is still poverty, war and many other hazards. What if another path had actually found ways of bringing truth and peace through understanding.
That is what Manfred makes us realize. Our pursuit of knowledge has postponed our navigation towards understanding. Maybe the inner peace that Goethe is talking about might actually help in solving the confusions through attaining understanding of everything around us. He also proposes an idea to change the language. What if man realized the miracle of life, his perceptions would change drastically. This change could make a beginning, A new path.

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