In this world, today, everyone has an opinion. Not only that, everyone is convinced that they are correct. This is because there is research, data and evidence to prove anything. There is also research, data, and evidence to disprove what has been proven. Consciousness is separate from the body and mind. There is evidence to prove this. There is also evidence to prove that we are merely composed of chemicals. Another example, abortion is not wrong as long it is done appropriately. There is evidence to prove life starts only after certain time period. Then again, there is research to define life in a totally different manner. My point is there is research to prove and disprove anything. All we have to do is pick sides, gather some information and articulate it in a way that is most convincing…there…you have a winner!!
This phenomenon is more prevalent today because of the advent of personal computers and internet. Anybody can go online, do some amateur research and come to the overwhelming conclusion (rather illusion) that they are correct. Then all they have to do is present it convincingly. At this stage, the person with the most charisma, language command and data savvy can win the audience. To simply put, the concept of neutral research does not exist anymore, if anything sparingly. I have serious doubts today if indeed research/data does lead to unbiased conclusions, perhaps in newly emerging fields with little political ramifications.
How then to distinguish right from wrong, information from misinformation? In the days of yore, during vedic periods, the person speaking is scrutinized as much as the information presented. In other words, the character of a person plays a dominant role in who should speak and who should not. Today, the character of a person is not very important. Why…because no one has good character. Everyone is after economic development and social enhancement. So one who is poor wants to become rich and one who is already rich wants to become powerful to exercise his social capital. Of course what is poor, rich and powerful is defined relatively based on time, location and people. The bottom line – the goal is - glorification of one’s own socio-economic status relative to others. In my view, modern day religion and politics is also within the paradigm of social and economic status for I believe religion and politics is also used to advance one’s own social and economic status.
So as long as one is driven by this passion to excel socially and economically, true knowledge cannot flow through his brain and mouth. Anything this person will say cannot be accepted regardless of how much convincing he is or how much data he presents. Unfortunately, 99.9% of the world population is like this. Henceforth, today we live in an age where one can do anything and prove that he is philosophically correct. For example, on the aspect of killing animals for food, personally I must have heard like ten different arguments on why it is correct and when people speak to me they are convinced they are absolutely correct. One may ask how meat eating is related to social and economic status. Meat eating may not enhance one’s social and economic status but one who belongs to a particular social and economic status eats meat so in that way it is connected. In fact everything is connected in that way.
Without rambling, my point is one should study the character of an individual before we can accept what he speaks as knowledge. It takes lot of self discipline and sacrifice to live a simple, austere and honest life free from duplicity, hypocrisy, and selfishness. I am 36 and so far I can honestly say I must have met like five people who fit that bill of good character. Therefore till we can cultivate good character, let us follow in the footsteps of those who already have good character free from any tinge of selfishness or selfish agenda. From such a person all knowledge flows and we can benefit from such knowledge but not from one who is seeking to enhance his social and economic status (gross or subtle).