Needing a higher image of the human being

Schopenhauer, the great 19th century philosopher, has been described as ‘the first Western philosopher to stumble on’ the Upanishads. In his Afterward to Easwaran’s ‘The Upanishads,’ Michael Nagler says that Schopenhauer, thence, ‘was trying to draw our attention … to a habit of looking beneath the surface of life to its underlying causes … and … to the courage to discover in ourselves a higher image of the human being.’ Nagler also quotes Gandhi thus: ‘there must be “heart unity” among all, meaning spontaneous concern for the welfare of others … ‘

Against that, we have Firestone, et al claiming that mankind is now in the Sixth Extinction on Earth, referring in part to over-population and damage to our environment. Greed – both corporate and governmental – rules. Covert hegemonic wars by nations, overt religious wars, migratory invasions by Middle Easterners of Europe and other nations of the West, and crass greed by armed political factions in many places, all suggest that mankind needs another century or two (or three) before mutual destruction can give way to mutual support globally. Well, one can only hope, and pray!

Yet, from my own experience in Australia, there are so many of us contributing to civil society – both in Australia and overseas. But, there are not just enough of us. Against that, a rampaging age of expectation – claiming more and more of other people’s hard-earned money (euphemistically described as government money) – is devaluing moral standards overall.

I therefore fear that Fukuyama’s ‘The Great Deterioration,’ referring to the de-moralisation of advanced Western societies, will continue to have relevance. As well, Huntington’s clash of civilisations may have already begun. Perhaps only a tri-polar global governance (by 3 powers representing divergent cultures) can bring political stability and relative security.

Empires, hegemonic or not, just do not last! Ask Ashoka, Rome, Genghis Khan, Britain.