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Intellectual Content

By Karmayogi

Friends World College in New York was a college with a new ideal started by the Quakers. Some twenty years ago it was in trouble. Its President was a Quaker and a Vice-President of the American Management Association. The President invited us to help the management of the college with some useful ideas. When their brochure arrived in Pondicherry, friends here exclaimed that their office and other places needed a good dose of cleaning. Some Americans took exception to that statement on the plea that American business premises were always spotlessly clean. They had no idea of our standard of cleaning. One of our members visited New York and met their President. He was surprised that we could write so many suggestions just by seeing the brochure. He particularly asked, ‘‘How could you know the place was dirty?''

When organisations fail, they move away from their original Ideals. Friends World College moved away from its founding ideals and ran into financial trouble. A company that runs into financial trouble cannot be clean, as cleanliness goes with Prosperity. If it does so, in spite of being clean, its roots in poverty must be deeper than usual. Usually there will be betrayal of the original values. National and international movements generally start with an idea. It becomes the Ideal. As days pass, the practical dominates and the ideal goes to the background. The Indian National Congress started as an organsation that pleaded for good government. She espoused complete independence, purna swaraj, very late around 1930. As early as 1904, Sri Aurobindo declared that to be its ideal. But the organisation took a long time to officially accept it. As soon as independence arrived, CONGRESS found itself without what can be called intellectual content. Its absence was filled by careerism and later corruption.

To constantly renew the intellectual content of a movement is to renew its vigour. Had Congress defined what it meant by Prosperity and how it was going to achieve it, she would not have deteriorated within thirty or forty years after Independence. Nehru tried his best. He was the one among the world leaders who theoretically appreciated what development was. He told IAS trainees that DEVELOPMENT is development of consciousness in the people. He was unable to translate it into a plan of action, as at that time the world had no clear idea of the theory of development. Even now it is mostly missing. Any movement, national or international, will do well to fill its life with the needed intellectual content when it finds itself on a downward turn. That organisation will become dynamic if that content goes with a plan of action. Anyone who thinks of filling his life with both will see the SPIRIT moving towards him without his invoking it.
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