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Thread: Was Pre-Enlightenment Civilization Superior to our Epoch?

  1. #1

    Was Pre-Enlightenment Civilization Superior to our Epoch?

    Is it the case that our 21st century is one iota better, if not entirely worse, than the period centuries prior to both modernity and post-modernity?

    I dare to say this: we are elevated technologically and in some ways perhaps morally but for all that have missed out on our true self-identities. Not in the absolute sense of "I am the absolute" - but the provisional identities which we used to take much more seriously.

    What do you think? Back in the day, when religion, honor, and virtue were still living concepts, they actually meant something in real life interaction, so much so that people were willing to kill themselves rather than sacrifice their identities.... Where can we find that kind of valour and integrity nowadays? All is humor, and people's idea of "profundity" amounts to listening to a Beatles record....

    Perhaps I'm just receding as a person into the stone age, but somehow I feel I've got a valid point.

    The 21st century is conviction-less, and I don't pretend to be any different.
    How can I put this in a sentence? Try next time.

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    Re: Was Pre-Enlightenment Civilization Superior to our Epoch?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kismet View Post
    Is it the case that our 21st century is one iota better, if not entirely worse, than the period centuries prior to both modernity and post-modernity?

    I dare to say this: we are elevated technologically and in some ways perhaps morally but for all that have missed out on our true self-identities. Not in the absolute sense of "I am the absolute" - but the provisional identities which we used to take much more seriously.

    What do you think? Back in the day, when religion, honor, and virtue were still living concepts, they actually meant something in real life interaction, so much so that people were willing to kill themselves rather than sacrifice their identities.... Where can we find that kind of valour and integrity nowadays? All is humor, and people's idea of "profundity" amounts to listening to a Beatles record....

    Perhaps I'm just receding as a person into the stone age, but somehow I feel I've got a valid point.

    The 21st century is conviction-less, and I don't pretend to be any different.
    I'm not sure I buy into this idea that people in earlier times were terribly much better than we are. Even in ancient times there was no short supply of adharma, and Sri Krishna says that whenever there is a decrease in dharma and an increase in adharma he is born into the world. This suggests to me that things are cyclic rather than that the world is descending into godlessness. Case in point: how many hippies do you know? The age of the Beatles and easy spirituality are dying out; most Hindus I know, whether Indian or Western, know that devotion to God isn't positively correlated with how much pot you smoke or the number of meaningless platitudes you utter.

    What has changed since ancient times is that science has improved our physical lives. It is now possible to eradicate hunger throughout the world, the reason it has not been done has more to do with economics than our technological capabilities. I would strongly prefer to live in a world where I won't die of common infections, in which my phone can prevent me from getting lost, and where any information I desire about Hindu Scriptures is readily available online. Yes it's true that God rewards intense devotion and penance, but as far as I know he doesn't reward involuntary suffering. And the comforts we enjoy from our understanding of science gives us the ability to focus on spirituality and religion in a way people in ancient times could not, including taking on these voluntary penances. I think this is a far better time in which to live.

  3. #3

    Re: Was Pre-Enlightenment Civilization Superior to our Epoch?

    Quote Originally Posted by sanjaya View Post
    What has changed since ancient times is that science has improved our physical lives. It is now possible to eradicate hunger throughout the world, the reason it has not been done has more to do with economics than our technological capabilities. I would strongly prefer to live in a world where I won't die of common infections, in which my phone can prevent me from getting lost, and where any information I desire about Hindu Scriptures is readily available online. Yes it's true that God rewards intense devotion and penance, but as far as I know he doesn't reward involuntary suffering. And the comforts we enjoy from our understanding of science gives us the ability to focus on spirituality and religion in a way people in ancient times could not, including taking on these voluntary penances. I think this is a far better time in which to live.
    The thing is, there are far more distractions now than there were a thousand years ago, thanks to the admittance of so much new media. Before you may have been a simple illiterate peasant. But in a sense that was alright, because you knew yourself and you knew your God; you knew what was expected of you and you also knew others thought likewise: hence there was a unity of thought and feeling and duty which nowadays is all but nonexistent. Instead what you have now is a cheap humanism that means only the vaguest of things.

    Most of us look upon the past as ignorant and filled with brutality. But what I find even more brutal is the particularization going on now, the descent into self-centeredness and personally oriented pursuits which does away with any sense of honor, sacrifice, or selfless love. Relationships, for instance, are about nothing but pleasure these days and perhaps have been the entire past century. What loyalty exists, and on that foundation real love, is seen as more a myth than anything else.

    But that myth was a reality, long ago, when humans weren't distracted, but situated well within reach of the true Self.
    How can I put this in a sentence? Try next time.

  4. #4

    Re: Was Pre-Enlightenment Civilization Superior to our Epoch?

    Another example comes to mind: we live longer today, and this is seen as a good. Why is it seen as a good? I am serious. Longevity means the fulfillment of more goals, the enjoyment of greater pleasures, and so on. But if we are not the body, this can only mean one thing: greater reliance on and attachment to a false sense of ego.

    When people died earlier there was less reason to mourn because a spiritual reality reared its face and the Self shown unashamedly. Now we are ashamed that we even have a self, that we have an "I am" outside the bounds of bodily existence. In fact, it is seen as an illusion by many now.

    I sense that one's life is a success if one comes to know the Self, and that it is a failure even if one amasses oh-so-much knowledge of oh-so-many particulars.
    How can I put this in a sentence? Try next time.

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    Re: Was Pre-Enlightenment Civilization Superior to our Epoch?

    If hindu cosmology is anything to go by, things begin at an absolute peak, and deteriorate until the end of the kali yuga, at which point things return to the absolute peak, and begin to deteriorate again.

    By that measure, no century can possibly be better than the last, except for the 1st century of a new Satya yuga being necessarily "better" than the kali yuga preceding it.
    If you found out that you were god, dreaming a life for yourself, and that you were identical with the external world, you would ask yourself: "So, what would I have happen to me in my life? what would be my perfect drama?":cool1:


    You died, and death was complete freedom from suffering - bliss. But it very quickly got lonely and repetitive in bliss, so you decided to be born once more. You've been doing this forever.

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    Re: Was Pre-Enlightenment Civilization Superior to our Epoch?

    Vannakkam: What we know of the past is very little. there is a lot of guessing. Take democracy itself, and the sense that it was started in Greece. Yet Greece ran on slavery. So how do we know how much poverty, how much cruelty, how much disease, how much warfare, etc. Much history is, at best, a guess.

    So personally, I'm very skeptical. Just because some history book puts forth an idea of how a person imagined life to be doesn't mean its true.

    My intuition/gut says we're better off now.

    Aum Namasivaya

  7. #7

    Re: Was Pre-Enlightenment Civilization Superior to our Epoch?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eastern Mind View Post
    Vannakkam: What we know of the past is very little. there is a lot of guessing. Take democracy itself, and the sense that it was started in Greece. Yet Greece ran on slavery. So how do we know how much poverty, how much cruelty, how much disease, how much warfare, etc. Much history is, at best, a guess.

    So personally, I'm very skeptical. Just because some history book puts forth an idea of how a person imagined life to be doesn't mean its true.

    My intuition/gut says we're better off now.

    Aum Namasivaya
    At the same time, this cuts both ways. How much anxiety, misery, hopelessness and despair do we really know there existed in older times? We simply do not have a real gauge of the internal state of inner beings to judge too definitely.

    And yet, my own gut tells me its the other way around. But I'm comfortable with contradictory realizations.
    How can I put this in a sentence? Try next time.

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    Re: Was Pre-Enlightenment Civilization Superior to our Epoch?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kismet View Post
    A
    And yet, my own gut tells me its the other way around. But I'm comfortable with contradictory realizations.
    Vannakkam: As am I. It could also be both. The cultures were far more independent from each other back then, so there may have been some whop hardly knew ahimsa, yet others in different places that hardly knew himsa.

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: Was Pre-Enlightenment Civilization Superior to our Epoch?

    Pranam

    i can not but marvel at yuga gone by, off course i can not verify what they speak about it in the shastra but the poetry and culture trace that has been left do indicate to me, that back in them days were glory days.

    if i want to base my own experience, i pity the childhood that today children have when i compare it to mine some 50-60 years ago. i much rather have that then today, civilization is in a mad rush and what is the yard stick of success? how much money one can make. children as young as two are sent to preschool why, because they can have a head start. this one is a rat race, winners take all, except they are no winners.
    when i came to Britain in 70, i could buy a news paper without the vendor present, where is the honesty? we can guess just one example, it is not a progress but a regress just as shastra warns us that it will get worse.

    Jai Shree Krishna
    Rig Veda list only 33 devas, they are all propitiated, worthy off our worship, all other names of gods are derivative from this 33 originals,
    Bhagvat Gita; Shree Krishna says Chapter 3.11 devan bhavayatanena te deva bhavayantu vah parasparam bhavayantah sreyah param avapsyatha Chapter 17.4 yajante sattvika devan yaksa-raksamsi rajasah pretan bhuta-ganams canye yajante tamasa janah
    The world disappears in him. He is the peaceful, the good, the one without a second.

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    Re: Was Pre-Enlightenment Civilization Superior to our Epoch?

    I cant say much about the yugas that have gone by , but we have recorded history for the past 2k+ years. If I go by that , we are definitely living in a better age.

    - A child born has a better chance of surviving
    - Oppression of women has greatly reduced
    - Slavery is abolished to a larger extend
    - knowledge is disseminated far more easliy

    I can go on and on...

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