It’s been 6 years since my book was published. You can buy a copy from Amazon, but I think you should be able to read it for free. I’m talking to the publisher about just posting a digital file here on this site. So stay tuned. In the meantime, you can read the first chapter.
In my last post, I presented Sarkar’s ideas about the world being made up of 4 types of people – warriors, intellectuals, capitalists and labourers. Sarkar goes on talk about the roles and ways that these four groups have dealt with their physical and social environment:
Warriors dominate their environment through the body. This is why they may gravitate towards careers in law enforcement, sports or the military.
Intellectuals seek to dominate their environment through the mind which often propels them towards careers in education, religion or communication through music and the arts.
Capitalists often dominate the environment itself, finding ways to commoditize it for the production of wealth.
Labourers are often dominated by their environment. Actually, history shows that labourers have been dominated by the other three groups, that is, until they revolt.
Revolution is the mechanism through which the social cycle shifts from one power to the next. For example, when capitalists move from innovation to commoditization, labourers begin to revolt. This worker’s revolution can bring societal transformation but quickly moves towards political anarchy and unrest. At this point the warriors step in. The warrior’s revolution stabilizes the situation but it doesn’t take long before their era expands too far and becomes overly centralized and stagnates culturally. When this begins to happen, the intellectuals start speaking up. The intellectual’s revolution questions and threatens the control that the warriors have over the people. This will once again shift the power of influence, but the pendulum always seems to swing toward an extreme that has ill effect. When intellectuals use their power to create a universe where knowledge is available to a select few, they soon become irrelevant in their ivory towers and the pragmatist takes over – the capitalist. Economic revolution leads society into an era of financial security and prosperity. Over time, the capitalists can be consumed in their own hunger for the acquisition of wealth often at the expense of the environment and the treatment of labourers. The rich get richer. The poor get poorer. This moves along until people revolt and the cycle begins once again.
I’ve been thinking about this pattern and if it holds true to our most recent history here in the West over the past century. Thus, I asked you all a question in my last post. Who were the most influential people over the second half of the 2oth century? Two of my friends commented and I’d like to add my 2 cents to what they started.
1. 1940’s & 50’s
You said people like – Hitler, Senator M cCarthy, Emperor Mao of China and let me add President Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Elvis (the father of this new rebel music called Rock & Roll). I would say that the defining events of that era were WW2, Hiroshima, and the beginning of the Cold War (the fear that there was a communist hiding behind every bush). Major inventions of the times were The Manhattan Project’s atomic bomb, radar, the jeep and ballistic missiles. Yes, the 1940’s & 50’s were dominated by warriors.
2. 1960’s & 70’s
Immediately, everyone thinks – Martin Luther King Jr., JFK, Malcolm X, Robert Kennedy (all 4 assassinated for their ideas) and of course, the Beatles. This was the era of big ideas about anti-war, environmentalism, feminism, and civil rights, embodied in events like Woodstock, the Moon Landing, and an unprecedented wide-scale protest of the Vietnam War. Major inventions were the first PC, VCR, Microwave and the Pill. The Sixties is often called the “cultural decade.” Yes, the 1960’s & 70’s were dominated by intellectuals.
3. 1980’s & 90’s
You know where I’m going with this. This period saw the fall of communism, the revival of capitalism, the glamorization of the stock market, the opening of China to the global market, the migration of wealth and production to industrializing economies, the International Debt Crisis, Free Trade agreements, mass mobilization of capital markets, widespread proliferation of new media, the Internet, and the rise of the billionaire (from 13 to 99 in the U.S. alone). Iconic figures include Bill Gates, Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan, M. Gorbechev, Bill Clinton, and even the “material girl” herself Madonna. Yes, this was the era of the capitalists.
Then came 911..the first blow. Global economic crisis and government bail outs followed. Another warrior took centre stage as President Bush rode the wave of mass fear & paranoia right into a new age of global tension and conflict. The planet is in dire straits. New issues of civil rights and freedom have risen. I think we might be ready for another intellectual revolution. Maybe the 60’s are coming back on us. What do you think?
So, a warrior, an intellectual, and a capitalist walk into a bar… (you finish the rest)
In the 1950’s, the controversial Indian philosopher and spiritual leader Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar propounded his theory of the Law of Social Cycle based on the ancient spiritual ideas of the Vedas. This theory states that all of humanity can be grouped into four categories of people:
Warriors rely on the strength of their bodies to take physical risks to perform acts of courage and vigour. Their positive role in society is to protect and keep the peace. Warriors may become policemen, fireman, soldiers, athletes, tradesman, etc.
Intellectuals are happiest when they have the opportunity to develop and express their intellectual skills and talents. Intellectuals develop our ideas about the world and use these ideas to influence society. Intellectuals work as teachers, writers, professors, doctors, priests, etc.
Capitalists are ambitious and possess a penchant for acquiring wealth. They often manage the practical things of life and find their place in society as business owners, traders, managers, entrepreneurs, bankers, landlords, etc.
Labourers keep things running smoothly and work diligently without complaining. They often find themselves in positions of service, such as, clerks, cooks, janitors, factory workers, etc.
According to this Theory, only three of the four have any propensity to rule or dominate the masses: warriors, intellectuals and capitalists. The history of any society seems to cycle through predictable phases depending on who is in power.
I’d like to do a little test. Let’s look back at the second half of the 20th century. For example, when I say “the 1940’s”, what people come to mind? Who are the historical figures that are forever tied to that decade? Let’s do this for 3 time periods. Who would you say were the most influential people of the following eras?
1. 1940’s & 50’s
2. 1960’s & 70’s
3. 1980’s & 90’s
So, please leave your answer as a comment. In my next post I’d like to talk about the results.
History skips along like a stone on the water.
It’s instinctual and automatic. What happens when we find ourselves on the shore of a lake? (Kids love to do this.) We pick up stones and throw them into the water. There’s something therapeutic about it. In no time, we’re on the hunt for the flattest stone we can find. Can we beat our personal record? I think mine is 7. The Guinness world record is 40. How many times can we skip that stone across the surface of the water? It is this image that has really helped me to understand how history repeats itself and how its reoccurring messages echo over generations.
The first time that stone touches down it hits the water with great force and speed, causing waves and disturbances. The ripple effect is strongest at this first encounter. This represents a new event, idea or shift in history that is remembered over time. These are the things the historians document. These are the times and seasons that the prophets speak to. It seems whenever there is a significant event in our collective experience people will write or speak about it. The poets and artists will capture it. The intellectuals will philosophize about it. In fact, I believe important messages are tied to these kinds of events and we would be wise to pay attention, especially if that rock touches down again in our own generation.
It will strike again. As that stone lifts up and out, time passes. People forget what happened. Years lapse. Decades. Centuries. The stone flies through the air hovering over the surface of the water, waiting for gravity to bring it down again. It will hit another generation in different times and places, but the cycle repeats. Will this new generation that is experiencing the “stone” recognize its origin? Will they look back through the pages of history to see if this has happened before? Will they search out the ancient wisdom of the prophets and sages of old, their precious words from works of antiquity? Some will. The young prophets and poets of this new generation will speak to their people. But will they be heard? History tells a different story. The events play out just as the “stone” predicted, before it rises again to one day fall on another unsuspecting generation.
My own journey has taught me to go back to these moments in time. These important historical events are hot spots of seismic activity in the landscape of the past. They contain important truths for us to uncover. I’m talking about things like The Fall of Rome, The Protestant Reformation, The Renaissance, The Age of Discovery, The Enlightenment Period, The Industrial Revolution, and the Information Age.
This is the approach that I took in writing my book Jesus has Left the Building. It was an honest search for precedence. Had God ever left the building before? Had God ever walked out on religion because it had lost its way and had become something not to be associated with? In my book, I looked into Biblical history to discover that God had indeed left the building several times and that most of the Hebrew prophets were focused on this theme.
Well, this is what is meant by the term “forward reminiscence.” This blog will document my thoughts about what is happening in our day in the light of what has happened before. I want to navigate these exciting and frightening waters of our times to find hope. I believe that together we can create a better world for our kids and their kids. But we’re going to have to think differently. We are going to have to understand the times and know what we need to do.
Will you join me on this journey of discovery?
“There is nothing new under the sun,” wrote King Solomon. Three thousand years later, these words still ring true. Sure, we’ve seen some amazing breakthroughs in science and technology. But Solomon was talking about human behaviour, social patterns and cycles of history. Yes, history repeats itself. We are in one big cosmic Déjà vu (which means “already seen”). We keep doing the same things over and over again, and often expecting different results. Einstein described this as the very definition of “insanity.” So, why don’t we seem to learn from those who’ve gone before us?
I’ve seen this kind of thing happening in my own life. When I was a child, my dad was a super hero. See him in his super suit:
Something happened in my teens and twenties. I suddenly became smarter than Dad. I thought I knew better. The world had changed and Dad was “old school.” For the better part of a decade my father watched me make numerous mistakes that caused me much pain. Talking to him now, he knew the path that my choices would take me down. He’d seen it before. He made some of those same mistakes. He tried to warn me, but I made it obvious that I wouldn’t be listening. Remember, I knew better.
Then something happened. I turned 30. I remember the moment that Dad become “superman” again. I was having lunch with him one day when it hit me. He noticed my curious expression, tilted head, furrowed brow, and mouth wide open, looking as though I was in shock. “Wow Dad, you’re smart!” Overnight, my father became a “sage.” I realized that I could learn from his experiences and personal history. Even what he saw as his “past failures” where useful to me, showing me what could happen if I took certain steps.
I guess I’m describing a stance that is common to humanity. There’s this independence in us. “I know better. Don’t tell me what to do. Let me make my own mistakes. What do you know? I want to see it for myself!” Then, often through painful experiences, we start to open up. We start to look around and ask questions. We start to wonder if the answer is out there.
Well, my perspective has grown to not only learn from my father but to learn from all those who’ve gone before us. This is part of what I mean when I say “forward reminiscence.” I’m interested in looking back at yesterday, to make informed choices today, that will create a better tomorrow.
I leave you now with this Buddhist proverb, but will post more on this very soon.
“If you want to know your past,
look at your present conditions.
If you want to know your future,
look into your present actions.”