Hope for a Better World
Yogananda taught that a better world cannot come from outer changes of political ideology, social or economic systems. Solutions generated on the same level of consciousness as the problem can only bandage. Real change comes from the evolution of our consciousness.
We are in the midst of a seismic change – not just of our society but of civilization itself. We are moving from Newton’s world of bricks and billiard balls to quantum realms of field and foam. In science our most basic assumptions of reality are shifting from solid foundations to fluid realms of uncertainty and shimmering potential. In all areas of life outer forms are dissolving. We are leaving an era of matter and form, entering an age of energy and inspiration. And yet our institutions continue to operate on the long-outdated assumptions of the 19th century.
The Age of conFORMity
Most of us grew up learning how to conform to form- to memorize data, repeat the sequence, follow the rules. Our school systems, created during the Industrial era, were conceived to meet the needs of manufacturing. The model of the factory, with its assembly line structure oriented to mass production, shaped education in its image. Children are moved along a conveyor belt of classrooms and curricula, injected with content and tested for compliance. As Sir Ken Robinson wryly observes “We even process children through a grade system based on the ‘date of manufacture”.
Factory Model Education
Factory model education rewards a way of thinking that repeats what is already known. It looks to the past for solutions- and this is precisely what we can no longer afford to do. We cannot solve the problems of our time with the same mode of consciousness that generated the problems in the first place.1 We can’t respond to an increasingly complex and fast changing world with the same ways of thinking our parents and grandparents used.
Even now schools prepare children to succeed in the Industrial era, but we are already living in a world that has evolved far past that era. The pace of change in the world is exponential. Today’s kindergarteners will likely have careers in fields that do not yet exist. The explosion of knowledge and technological advancement means that current knowledge is virtually guaranteed to soon be outdated. We can’t predict what the world will be like two years from now, let alone 10 years from now. Our sole certainty is that radical change is inevitable.
Core Survival Skills in the Age of Energy
When everything is changing around us, we can’t find security in outer forms- or even outer knowledge. Creativity and Intuition are core survival skills of the world unfurling around us. We must make our way in a world where everything we already know is insufficient and none of the conventions of culture can guide us. We need to draw our solutions, ideas and inspirations not from the past, but from the future. That is the territory of the arts.
Art as a Tool for Accessing our Divine Creativity
The arts teach us to be at ease in the unknown, to lean into what does not yet exist. The painter feels the shape of the clouds before the brush brings them into form, the dancer opens to the flow of energy and brings forth a new step. The creative process teaches us to open to new possibilities, to tune into ‘what’s trying to happen’. The arts are important not just for decoration and entertainment (as they were in the age of form) but as tools for awakening and channeling energy.
In the Age of MATTER we were taught that art is about reflecting or repeating form. In the Age of ENERGY we realize that the modalities of the arts are tools for channeling energy.
In the studio, we learn how to open the channel inside of us. We learn how feel and follow the flow of energy. In the flow of creative expression, we cultivate our capacity to receive inspiration from the infinite fountain of Divine Wisdom within. What we practice in the studio becomes a skill we can use in our daily lives.
Creativity and Higher Consciousness
Swami Kriyananda was a huge advocate of the arts. This was not just because he loved beauty and harmony- though he certainly did. Swamiji realized how important the arts can be in awakening higher capacities of consciousness. Every one of us can open a channel inside ourselves that allows the Divine Creative Energy to flow through us. When we can do that, we have all the resources we need because the source is no longer limited. We can meet the challenges of our lives- and of our times, with the resilience that comes from a power greater than our own. We can channel ‘superconscious’ solutions to the simple problems of our daily lives and for the dire problems of our era. In the emerging age of energy, expanded human capacities will be required. Clarity of perception, agility of thought, fluidity of perspective, sense of play and exploration, these are among the modalities of the emerging intelligence. This is what creativity cultivates. A new way of being in the world calls for continual expansion, for wearing roles loosely, holding opinions lightly; becoming not so much a fixed end-product- what Swamiji called “a bundle of self-definitions”, as a vessel through which life flows freely.
THE NOBLE NEW
Sing songs that none have sung, Think thoughts that in brain have never rung, Walk in paths that none have trod, Weep tears as none have shed for Lord, Love all with love that none have felt, and brave The battle of life with strength unchained, Give peace to all to whom none other gave, Claim him your own who is e’er disclaimed. –Paramhansa Yogananda, 1923