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Rioting at Columbia University 1968 — Editorials


This is undoubtedly the most naive editorial you will read about the rioting at Columbia University:

Newsweek (May 6) reported: “In the office of [Columbia President] Kirk some students … broke into his stock of liquor and cigars …” But are they really to blame for imitating their seniors? If the foremost person of such a great university is engaged in smoking and drinking, it is hardly to be wondered at that his students tend toward licentiousness and disrespect. A teacher ought to be a paragon of the virtues he extolls, or at least ardent in his efforts. (And, what’s more, he ought to be extolling virtue.) When he is himself immoral (and drinking liquor is every bit as immoral as smoking marijuana), then he can hardly be expected to elevate those under his charge.

The present state of chaos in education throughout the world is no more than the natural result of the aims (or, rather, aimlessness) of the modern educational system. And this is no more than a reflection of the aimlessness of today’s civilization. On paper, in text books, it would seem that Mankind has just about reached the penultimate peak of knowledge, pleasure, comfort, security and power that he has ever known throughout countless millennia of evolutionary existence. And what we may call the older generation (those who lived through the Depression and fought the Second World War) are certain that this is so. Only the young, who are naive enough to wonder why their elders don’t live up to the pretty ideals they preach, and why their lives are actually wretched and unhappy, seem to recognize the facts.

For although modern civilization is a boom on paper, it’s a bust in practical terms. Even the naked primitives of the forest and desert are happier than modern civilized man, and it would be difficult to find an era anywhere in history as full of discontent as this one. Life carried on simply for the unlimited gratification of material and temporary senses is not worth living, and has no capacity to satisfy the intelligent human being. Without a transcendental purpose—without a direction toward final answers, toward the eternal and the Absolute—the human mission must always go unfulfilled, and human desire must always stand unsatiated and restless. Life not devoted to eternal fulfillment can only be devoted to death as its ultimate goal.

Civilization must serve the higher purposes of human life if it is not to decline into bestiality. And education must be made to lead the young members of society upward toward perfection in self-knowledge—in other words, toward the confrontation with, and love of, God. Unless these conditions are met and accounted for—unless the schools can be elevated above the standard of factories for producing factory workers—both education and civilization will continue to degenerate to the lowest stages of disorder, ineffectiveness and hopelessness.

And, above all, the men who govern and control education ought at least to be required to keep their personal lives free of vice and corruption, and should themselves be engaged in the higher pursuits of human consciousness. Or is there a double standard for students and teachers? Or are we so debased today that we don’t expect austerity from those who claim the respect and hold the positions of austere men? Or is the “advancement” of the human condition just an advertising slogan?

The aimlessness of materialistic civilization is again nicely demonstrated in the rising crime rate so much in today’s headlines in the United States. It seems never to occur to those who worry about these things that, instead of spending millions more on police to crush, and settlement houses to palliate, they might better direct their energies toward making more sensible laws.

It is the Law that makes criminals by defining what is right and what is wrong, what is legal and illegal. The present abominable state of near-chaos and utter disrespect for law and order is the result of stupid, impractical statutes created by businessmen for the sake of keeping and evolving nothing more than economic prosperity. But human life is meant for more than amassing bank balances, drinking Coke and staring dumbly at a television screen. Human life must target its energies upon the loving service of God if it is to be rewarding and happy. And if the laws of society disregard the Supreme Lord and the principles of religion, and ignore this single valid aim of civilization, then they can never be practical or successful.

Man cannot live as a dot on a statistical chart. Man cannot live as a mere economic unit, acting the role of an ant in a hill. Unless the deeper, more genuine and, ultimately, far more pressing need of man—the need to approach and know God, the Absolute Truth—can be fulfilled, then society will not be stable. And any attempt to regulate society simply for the sake of good business, though it may seem practical, will never work.

A note on yogis:

Those who are engaged in spending sums of money for Yoga lessons, private mantras, meditation courses and the like should stop at least once a day and ask themselves what it’s all about. What is Yoga? What is its goal? If you don’t know, then you must not know what you’re doing, or what you’re paying for.

The real Yoga system, as it comes down to us from the sages of ancient India, was meant to lead the practitioner to the stage of Samadhi, or trance, the mind having been fixed upon God in the Form of Four-Armed Narayana within the heart. The aim is to break all attachment with the bodily concept of life, and to identify oneself correctly as a pure, spiritual living entity, rather than as a product of material Nature. This is self-knowledge, or self-realization. It is a very difficult stage to attain, and impossible for one whose mind is concentrated on losing weight, retaining or increasing virility, achieving good health, or developing some occult powers.

At one time, the men of the Western world made their ways to the East—some in order to loot it, some to preach religion there. Now the trend seems to be reversed, but modern values being what they are, it’s difficult to know the exploiters from the missionaries. Before paying out hard-earned money or giving away precious time, be discriminating, and examine what you’re going into. If the goal is not pure consciousness, Krishna or God Consciousness, then it is not Yoga, but nonsense.

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