Postmodernism: Is tolerance abandoning responsibility? – SPYS Thursday 22 March 2018

Kaitlyn Winkler

For this week’s Food For Thought talk Gopi Jivana Dasa introduced us to the philosophical movement of Postmodernism. One of the main contributors to the school of thought was Friedrich Nietzsche who argued that there were an infinite number of perspectives and interpretations of the world around us due to the difference in people’s awareness and the imperfection of the senses. Postmodernists have since taken that idea and expand it to say that all the infinite perspectives are good and relevant. This is now the philosophy that dominates our current society. We try to apply political correctness to all that we do as to not offend anyone and show our respect.

If all perspectives are correct then one would assume that this would create a level the playing field of different ways of life, however, this is not the case. Gopi explains how postmodernism has developed a slippery slope to one specific lifestyle of constantly seeking pleasure.  This is not only leading to the destruction of our environment but our culture as well. Slavery is larger than it has ever been before. Often children will be targeted by human traffickers and sold to grown men because our extreme tolerance restrains us from condemning pedophilia. Young people, especially boys, are growing up consuming large amounts of pornography thanks to the internet. This has led to sexual promiscuity and a lack of mental control which consequently is killing long term relationships. In the United States, many of the recent school shooters grew up without fathers. Our children are being barraged by explicit and sexual music and advertisements, some of which would have been illegal just a few years ago. We are all sliding down into a lifestyle that is solely based on the obsession of sensual experiences.

Our tolerance has been made to seem positive and accepting of all when really it is the refusal to take responsibility of mature discrimination. This discrimination is not the exclusion of people but rather thinking about what is right and wrong. Another word for this would be discernment. Gopi explains that we should not create a veil of tolerance, not caring about what is right and wrong as if we are nihilists. Instead we must be responsible adults and take responsibility for ourselves and others. Be a hero and help those around you. All of our souls are on an interconnected journey so our actions and decisions impact other souls for what could be life times. All thoughts and emotions are connected in the ethereal realm, therefore it is important to help each other reach divine harmony.

So how can we be more responsible? According to the ancient texts, mana, or the mind, is a blank canvas where all sensual experiences are kept and this can very easily be corrupted. We often do not think of the long term effects of our actions and therefore try to fill ourselves with pleasurable things that have no sustenance. There is a mantra in Srimad Bhagavad Gita which asks that impermanent happiness and distress be endured without having them affect you. While this might seem to tell you to ignore happiness, you want to find eternal bliss and leave material pleasures behind. One way to do this is to develop your Buddhi, which is transcendental intelligence. It can be seen as your conscience, the guiding voice of God and paramatma, the guiding spirit. We need to strengthen our discernment between what is good and bad by raising our awareness. Gopi explains that right now, it is as if we are trying to look through a key hole; we are unable to see most of what is on the other side of the door. It is necessary for us to become more aware of our soul spiritual existence. This can be done by meditation and the usage of sacred sounds to awaken the soul or exploring the realm of the soul with others. Read about philosophy, spirituality and influential spiritual people like saints and prophets can also aid in enlightening our awareness.

In summary, tolerance created by postmodernism has become an excuse for not being responsible and discerning between what is good and bad. Because of this we slide down into a lifestyle that is only concerned with material or unsustainable pleasure. We must not become nihilistic and believe that nothing matters but rather choose the different lifestyle of awareness and discernment. It is necessary to become responsible for ourselves as well as others and to do this we must develop our transcendental mind.

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