New Literacy: In search of the adult

“Most people die before they are fully born. Creativeness means to be born before one dies.” – Erich Fromm

What is it to be fully born?

Raj was 15 and Herman, 35. They were walking home from the exhibition grounds, a very long walk to the Ashram where they stayed.  Herman was a priest. The boy frequented the Ashram whenever he could.  The boy was tired, falling into sleep and forcing himself to remain awake.  They entered the gates and lied down on the grounds, both of them gazing at the star lit sky.

Raj heard him asking “what is the meaning of all this”?

The boy had no answers. Silence prevailed, something sparked in the boy’s mind. “Someday, I will know”.  He never knew what was in store for the wish to come true. It was much later and getting himself burnt many times over that he knew that there is a price to knowing, the price that Oedipus had to pay for his insistence on knowing the truth at all costs.

Herman did not last long in the Ashram. He broke his vows and walked out. Raj came to know of it much later. His efforts to locate him were not successful.  Meanwhile many gods died very young for him. He had to pass through his personal omega point before he could come to a reasonable resolution of what he had hoped for on that starlit night, a journey of twenty six years.

I had fallen into a reverie of our conversation the previous evening while Raj was preparing the ground for one of his workshops, talking to the group about the ‘The Thomas theorem’- “It is not important whether or not the interpretation is correct. If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences”, a theory of sociology formulated in 1928 by two Thomases. He was going a step further proposing what he termed the Thomas Principle.

The ADULT is the sacrificial goat, when

Master and disciple,

Teacher and student

Coach and the coachee,

Consultant and client,

Counselor and counselee,

Shepherd and the sheep,

Pope and the faithful,

are stuck in their respective positions; cannibalism and slavery are the outcome.

Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. – Mathew 7.19

The disciple has to fail the guru but Thomas never failed, the  other adult in the ring of 13. The other Judas fell to greed and the rest failed to realize their adults much like the unhappy younger brother. When the prodigal son finds the adult, he returns to his father. In recovering the adult he had to let go of a father and the father recovers his very self. The church that Thomas went on to establish was built on the rock of reason unlike the other churches built on the rock of faith. Both work  but whereas one thrives on dialogue, creates adults and community the other relies more on fear, manipulation and aggression, creating a setting that  makes crusades feasible.

Dialogue is possible only among adults, where reason prevails.

Raj was stirring up a hornet’s nest. There was visible uneasiness among the group. I was thrilled to see that the group was approaching its omega point, which I define as the point of maximum sustainable confusion any group can withstand. The group will either break up or come to a reasonable resolution of the issues to form a community of practice for the rest of the programme. A few of them would form new alliances and bonds that would last a lifetime. I was here after two decades of our first meeting in one of my workshops.

Raj appeared to be relishing the confusion. We want to create an environment of community here for the duration of the programme, he continued.  Organizations are not for adults, community is. It is natural/imperative that the disciple fails the Guru – do a Judas- the mentee the mentor, student the coach, counselee the counselor. Peter fails repeatedly.  Thomas, the rationalist, is perhaps the only adult in the dozen and his bible, the only adult version of the story of transformation.  The church that followed him stood its ground   in the cradle of all religions against successive waves of Buddhist, Jain and the Hindu revival.  Disciples go on reinventing the master, do a Procrustus, and cut the cloth to suit their own different sizes.

A stage will come in every learning relationship – including marriages – when the travelers reach the fork on the road. when master and disciple turn adults or one has to let go of the other on grounds of greater love, if that is the only way the other faces the reality of the dynamics. Resolutions might/not happen. When the prodigal daughter returns she finds that there is no father or daughter.  In my father’s abode there are no husbands and wives, fathers or daughters/sons. The cheating wife is a product of this dynamics. She doesn’t want to cheat but has to cheat, destroy herself to rebuild herself. The other has to let her go even at the risk of her own death/suicide. Death is a normal risk to the human, but to die even before one is born is a greater calamity. Life will go on.

Hands were being raised. Raj paused giving in to the questions. He waited for all the questions before getting to continue with the conversation

The fifty year study of myocardial infraction is a recent example of the progressive decline in community among the Roseto. Probably we had better community prior to the beginning of settled agriculture among the hunter gatherer. So in one sense what we call progress was no progress but a decline and decay of community.

Perhaps the universe is perfect, says the digital philosopher, Rudy Rucker.  For the mystic the world is perfect beyond any uncertainty, he lives the connection with the whole and has repeated experiences of this connection which spills into his art, making it immortal.  For him nothing happens by chance, everything is a participative outcome of the grand design. Tolkien believed mythology to be the divine echo of truth. We don’t allow them to die. For them to die, we need to draw the principles they embed and realise them in our daily lives. In those days art deserts the museum walls, the opera and the cinema halls and occupy the Wall Street, virtual walls waiting to be painted.  Art is routine.

If myth is the measure of wealth, India is the wealthiest of nations. Weighed down by the burden of myths they labour more, asking more questions on Quora than others in the world. The wealth of their myths lies hidden like the Temple Treasure of Trivandrum. Unearthing hidden treasures could be opening the Pandora’s Box as the state in Kerala has come to realise the proof of the Matthew effect, (Matthew effect – Robert K. Merton) – the poor in spirit becomes poorer in health and wealth.

So what ?

Ask more questions !

More of fantasy is not the solution to the burden of our myths

To continue

The journey so far

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