Education & the Internet
With the development of the Internet, the "Information Superhighway" which made its debut in 1969, more people have access to information and opinions than ever before.
By the same token, more people have access to Free Speech, and in a sense, more access to Free Assembly, through chat groups and other electronic forums, but especially through e-mail as a one-to-one global forum.
There are problems inherent within the Internet as there are through all mass media methods of communication; avoiding trash and porn sites, commercial exploitation, and of course, the occasional lunatic that comes out of the woodwork to spoil the fun of responsible Internet users.
Such problems can easily discourage people from using the Internet, feeling powerless and overwhelmed by the amount of garbage that is posted on the Internet, and not being trained in certain methods and geek-speak to know how to filter or block as much garbage as possible.
But the huge advantage of the Internet that simply cannot be discounted or underestimated is the power of privacy afforded through the Internet.
Before the advent of the Internet, if you wanted to hear a speaker discoursing upon a subject you found interesting, you were, in a sense, socially committed, and therefore "incriminated" - especially if the speaker or subject was considered controversial - by publicly attending the speech.
Even going to a library and perusing books might get you some strange looks from fellow researchers. Subscribing to magazines may invite self-consciousness regarding the assumed or guessed-at opinions of postal workers.
The Internet, on the other hand, allows people to do research, whether one is merely looking for a definition, or is seeking bibliophilic knowledge on a specific subject, and further, allows people to select and reject on an individual basis at the click of a button - without fear of social incrimination or stigmatization.
The only concern we have, then, regarding the quality of information found on the Internet - aside from political and religious trampling of the same benefits already mentioned - is simply remembering that the same standards must apply to the Internet as do to books, periodicals, editorials, etc.
People who access the service of the Internet, in pursuit of Thought and Education, must remember to utilize their own Thought and Discernment.
With the easy access of the Internet, virtually allowing a forum for every Tom, Dick, and Harry, one must remember that in the pursuit of Knowledge, that the "teachers" on the Internet ARE every Tom, Dick, and Harry, whether a Harvard scholar, an Indian Sanskrit, or a bozo from Clownsville, USA.
With this understanding, it makes discernment a little easier, because of the sheer democratic process inherent within the Internet. On the Internet, Every Man Is Equal - divided only by RAM space, communication and graphic skills, and the veracity of their "product" - even when that product is an idea.
Thus, governments, social organizations, academies, etc., are only as good, are only as effective, as the ideas they convey, and how those ideas are conveyed.
The most interesting ideas, of course, are original. When seeking information on the Internet, in pursuit of understanding a particular subject, it helps to be able to discern that which is information published as filtered through the mind of a thinking, questioning individual, rather than a mere regurgitation from an academic and dogmatic source.
This is, in short, the difference between a book report and an essay; a book report is that which recaps academic information within the rather narrow spectrum of time, place, and verifiable fact, whereas an essay is a compilation of information distilled by someone who has mentally and emotionally processed the available so-called facts and is now expressing an opinion based upon this information.
We would rather have an essay written by people with strong opinions as to what the facts might have been, rather than to read someone's writings who seems dedicated to reporting and upholding the forms of what we have been taught to believe are correct.
Dogmatic thinking is still a big problem on the Internet, as it is in all mediums of historic recapitulation. There are still too many people whose opinions are based on seven generations of people who were taught to believe that "fact" is not debatable. These are people who are chained to the idea of "So it is written, so it is true." Where they become unpardonable is when they cling to the belief that "the longer it's been written, the more true it must be."
Historians have always had a terrible time of it. With the manifold complications of "History being written by the winners that hanged the losers," and certain chapters of history being burned, stuffed in Vatican vaults, or buried in the sand or tossed to sea, the honest historian is truly daunted by the perceptions of Mankind in any age.
But, with the Internet (at least until the proverbial secret police that may threaten any society starts trampling Free Expression) we are still free to compare and contrast information, and if it feels right, then at least consider the information, and safely trust that verification will come at a later time.
Galileo was not burned at stake for having an opinion; he was toasted for claiming something was "true." It doesn't matter that he was probably right; it does matter that he learned to recant the same dogmatic thinking that he accused the Elders of possessing.
What is relevant to understand is that on the Internet, no one can claim superiority of knowledge or experience. They can only claim an opinion, based on facts, but distilled by judgment.
There are many mediums of expression on the Internet, and we are seeing an increase in - not only the types of forums - but expansion of methods as to how those forums are conducted.
With the Internet, people at large have a much greater latitude to speak from the truth of their convictions, asserted with a certain amount of accepted "fact", then directed to fairly logical conclusions.
One area we would like to see greater strength in is simply seeing more people expressing their beliefs in a relatively rational, non-combative way. Our idea of "rational" is not indisputable logic combined with flawless, verifiable "facts", but rather the ability to put forth an idea, draw conclusions, and support the conclusion with facts, logic, reason, and even inherent belief.
"Reason" is a concept debated by philosophers going back to the ancient Greeks, and revived heartily (and by some, viciously) since Descartes wrote, "I think, therefore I am."
Since then, people argue what it means to think, and what is a thought. It has been said in at least one metaphysical circle that, "Two percent of the population thinks; the rest merely have opinions about their emotions."
This does not mean to say that opinion-driven, or emotion-driven, people, are "wrong." It simply refers to the idea that very few ideas truly originate within a singular source.
How often has it happened to you that you had an idea which you thought was rather singular, and then in the space of weeks or even years, you came across a similar idea expressed in print, or through someone you know? Hence the expression, "Great minds think alike."
What makes a mind great is that it does think.
We would take that one step further to say that a great mind does not merely think, but also responds to that thought.
The adage "two percent of the population thinks..." refers specifically to the idea that in history it takes a continuum of mind and experience to manifest Thought. If Ben Franklin "discovered" electricity, then how many men before (and after) posited what electricity might be? Or the nature of Power - or power of Nature, if you like.
Ben Franklin started out with a thought, but until the thought was proved, it was an opinion. Once his opinion was proved, it became a fact. Yet, later scientists were able to prove and disprove various aspects of Franklin's opinions, and some of those have since become "facts", and some of Franklin's thoughts on the subject of electricity have reverted - scientifically speaking - back to opinions.
Perhaps later scientists and philosophers will take up some of Franklin's ideas, and with new information contributed by these scientists and philosophers, those ideas will take on new meanings and will be reassigned to Thought, rather than opinion.
Thus, we draw the conclusion ideas are not linear; they are geometrical, and depend entirely upon perspective and subjective experience.
Science - and much of the Internet - we believe, are at this time still virtually under siege by society's current need for absolute empiricism and objective reasoning. Our Age of Rationality says, "If we cannot see it existing, it does not exist." We would counter that - quite logically - with the idea that "One cannot say something doesn't exist until we have seen it not existing."
Is this empiricism, or sophistry?
What does it matter, as long as it's true.
Academic posturing, empirical fascism, and Socratic aerobics aside, we love the exchange and debate of ideas on the Internet. There is, literally, no other venue on this planet that allows humans of any nationality, age, and experience to have opinions and to be allowed to freely express them - and to learn without restriction or censorship. In almost any other medium, there would be at least the unconscious "filtering process" of determining one's "median" audience, etc., and tailoring one's speech accordingly.
But, there is one more thing... a higher step, an elevated purpose to the exchange of ideas on the Internet, that we would praise. This would be what we call exposure to Ashramic Consciousness, and the multiplication of awareness through individual and group cellular consciousness.
Take, for example, the difficulties of one person reading a book, and then passing that book around for select friends to read - yet knowing that no two friends would come to the same conclusions about the same book (at least within our limited circles.)
With the Internet, it is that much easier to find our like-minds, at an extended reach,
Let us say, for example, that we decided to circulate "Watership Down," a novel by Richard Adams. In America, at least, the book isn't as read as it should be because of the conception that the book is about "a bunch of rabbits." (Americans apparently have better things to do than to relate to rabbits.) How surprised Americans would be to find they would learn so much more about their own heritage and culture if they could see "through a rabbit's eyes," - at least as portrayed by Richard Adams.
Anyone who's read the book, and is somewhat "read" in the American and British literary circles, would recognize the importance of the phrase, as a review, as written by the London Times, "I announce, with trembling pleasure, the appearance of a great story."
In short, the "squarest, most up-tight" (but correct) standard of critical thinking, as held by the London Times, professes sentimentality, warmth, and deepest understanding toward a novel! of all things.
What must the world think?
But, we're not talking about seeing the world through a rabbit's eyes; we're talking about how - through the Internet - we can see the world through anyone's eyes.
And, more importantly, we can see the world through several pairs of eyes, simultaneously.
This is what we refer to as Ashramic Thinking; the ability of several groups of people to be able to perceive linear thought progressions, and then to filter and then distill those thoughts into - first suspicion of a belief - and then morphing that belief into an idea. From ideas, we have understanding.
With the Internet, it won't be as it was in Ben Franklin's lifetime - an idea strung out through centuries, with a necessity of a number of men to carry through the same ideas regarding electricity, and manifesting them simultaneously in America and France, in order to produce a "serendipity" of circumstance to make an idea readily apparently as Divine.
With the Internet, because of the simple multiplication of exposure of ideas - and minds receptive to those ideas - Humanity will be able to make geo- and extra-geometrical leaps of understanding. This is the quintessential "quantum leap."
What we hope for is that this quantum leap will not be confined strictly to the brain, but will also be exposed to the understanding of the heart. It is not enough to merely "know;" one must also "feel." Thus, the quantum leap we refer to is that which would apply to an appropriate bulwark of Humanity, say, as a battery source of power.
The Battery is seldom the font of knowledge, nor the essence nor controller of Knowledge; but the Battery is the independent, self-willed (when appropriate) group consciousness of all that energizes Consciousness and willed manifestation.
As the masses, or the Mass, as said in Catholic terms, we are a group of One, or at least subordinate groups of ones. The "ones" will multiply and be fruitful. We posit that it is Consciousness, not Density, nor the multiplication of Matter, that will multiply.
There simply is no better - nor seemingly more effective - method of finding those "ones" than through the Internet.
A riddle: To understand current, and positive and negative electrodes, then posit what Ben Franklin surmised about the nature of Sexuality and Power.
Perhaps the "shock" Franklin received at the end of a kite string and a key were not merely that currents flow in simultaneous and concurrently opposite directions.
Franklin stood in as a channel for a Higher Consciousness and Power than he was really aware of, at that time - even though he did so willingly and with full knowledge. Perhaps Franklin was standing in as a harbinger for the Mortal Mind, to let Men know that they could access higher consciousness, and that no elementary force would ever have the power to intercede between a man and his mind again.
Free Thought is a fairly new concept. It's only been legislated as a "right" since Thomas Jefferson declared the privilege in 1776. With the Internet, we haven't just claimed the privilege - we've embodied it.
Grasp what you can, and recognize the solitary idea when it does come through. Tapping into Universalism is the first step into finding out who you really are. You will find you are not so different. From an emotional, ego-based viewpoint, this is humiliating. From a sentient, thought-based orientation, it is a relief.
Then Think, and Be Free.