Counter-Culture

By Swami Dr Snehananda Jyoti on 20-02-2014

Culture relates to training and development of moral and spiritual values, shared religious beliefs and attitudes, aspirations and hopes, rites and rituals, and social customs and manners in a given society, and transmission of these learned practices and their theoretical under-pinnings from one generation to another.  Most people in a culture go with the flow. The old saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”, encourages all to be in conformity with the culture of the place one lives in. Frequently cited sayings such as “Nadodumpol naduve odanam” (When the whole village runs, run in the middle), “Chera thinnunna nattil cherayude nadumuri thinnanam” (where rat snakes are eaten, eat the main part of the snake) in Malayalam also promote culture. The great leaders and sages that changed the world for the better belonged to the counter-culture whereby they challenged the establishment and its guardians to create a better and more equitable world for its inhabitants. These extraordinary leaders were Gautam Buddha, Jesus Christ, Sri Narayana Guru, and Mahatma Gandhi, to name a few. They are masters of humanity, and can be claimed by all on account of the broad, all-inclusive, universal values they stood for. They all had to swim against the current, and pay the price for the values they stood for.  Buddha coming from a kingly background became a mendicant renouncing his immense wealth and power to liberate people from the clutches of unhappiness. Christ, the best example of counterculture, challenged the powerful religious leaders, scholars, and lawyers of his time to free the oppressed, and to establish the Kingdom of God. Narayana Guru preached the religion of humanity to uplift all from the tyranny of caste system and social and moral degradation. Gandhi dismantled the immoral foundations of a mighty colonial  empire preaching equality of persons and amity of nations.
The counterculture movement started in the 1960’s paved the way for the end of an immoral Vietnam War, the desegregation of races, and the establishment of civil rights for African- Americans in the USA. The same counterculture movement brought women and other deprived sections of society to claim their legitimate rights in society. The counterculture persons with the right-thinking moral people helped to banish discriminations that we abhor today but were the norm of the day in an earlier unenlightened era. Speaking of myself, I was always in the fringes of society conforming just enough to get by. I remember in the early 1980’s I went for a badly needed job interview in the USA for an important position in a hospital as a clinical psychologist. With my long hair and long flowing beard with a suit jacket with no tie I was not conventional. I always felt uneasy about tying something around my neck.  My well-wishers were not too positive about my appearance. I did get the job, and all along I did manage to set a minimum socially acceptable dress code for myself. In all things in life one has to find one’s own compromises as well as one’s own bliss.Non-violent counter culture forces that respect everyone’s freedom and right need to be urgently unleashed in five fundamental areas that glue our society together so that our society can be  radically reformed and transformed:1. Currently religions suffer from lack of ethics and professionalism. They need to come together so that they can develop a strong and healthy spirituality that would purposefully guide and serve the entire humanity  and the One God of the universe.2. Politics presently are in disarray as they are without principles. Political parties, while they have distinct world-views, need to abide by basic human values and serve all instead of whipping up emotions of people to serve vested interests and particular communities.3. Present education unfortunately is not geared to impart a value system and thus train and develop the best moral, ethical, spiritual, conscientious, and humanistic person. It teaches its trainees to be the best manipulators. Its motive is profit and production of wealth and getting the best jobs in the market economy of the world.4. The medical field with all its fine and praiseworthy advances is out of control, and does not benefit the vast majority of people. It frustrates the poor that cannot afford its expensive services. Prescription of expensive and unnecessary tests and procedures has become the order of the day. Recently a very close friend of mine suffering from dengue fever and was on the verge of death due to dramatic drop of platelet count was going to be wheeled for C. T. (Computed Tomography) Scan at the mere mention of a  headache. Were it not for the timely intervention of her well-informed husband, she would have lost precious time needed for stabilizing her platelet count. Not long ago person declared to be clinically dead, but kept on the respirator, was stopped in time from being taken for dialysis by his relative. All these happened in well-known hospitals in Kochi. We have also become victims of drug companies and physicians who are patronized by them.5. The entire legal system is spinning out of control with anachronistic procedures and unnecessary technicalities. Justice is denied by undue and indefinite delays and prohibitive costs. It is not for revealing the truth of the matter at hand, and meting out justice but for a tool to aid the unscrupulous rich and powerful to delay through spurious law-suits the legitimate rights of the ordinary person.
I have indicted all the pillars that support our culture. Obviously there are many honest and conscientious persons in these systems. But they do not have the guts to bring about the needed changes. I see only a non-violent, conscientizing counterculture movement as the only answer to create the critical mass for change.

About The Author

Swami Dr Snehananda Jyoti

Dr. John K Thekkedam (Swami Snehananda Jyoti) spent most of his life as a clinical psychologist in USA. He began his public life as a Jesuit priest. Quite attracted in distinct philosophies, he left the society and founded 'East West Awakening'.