The world of academia does not resonate too strongly with many who walk the path of conscious and spiritual growth.
This is, perhaps, understandable when one considers that many entrenched academic concepts of institutional consensus, received wisdom and logical criteria for truth, can seem rather opposed to the trajectory of authentic conscious deepening. Not only that, but from a shadow perspective, it’s relatively straightforward to hijack the academic edifice. After all, if you can sequester the system, you can effectively steer all those who study under it.
In the West, the academic paradigm is still perceived as the ultimate hub for establishing scholarly credibility and continues to serve as the empirical arbitrator of accomplishment and consensus reality. Here in the US, I have noted that there’s still a great deal of fuss made about sticking Dr. in front of someone’s name. Billboards, TV and radio commercials, books and business cards are plastered with such academic titles. Dr Somebody is wheeled in as a talking head for some garish infotainment show, so as to offer an ‘expert’ view of politics, science, history or whatever. Many people buy it, hook, line and sinker. The alternative community is not immune to such occasional haughtiness either. Someone who got a PhD in Floral Management will leverage their title when publicizing their work in the Mysteries Of The Lost Aztec Kingdom. The irrelevance of their qualification does little to affect the credibility curve in the minds of many.
To put it bluntly, lots of people from many different walks of life believe that academic qualifications = authority. After all, who knows better?
Faith in the academic edifice is beginning to crack in some European countries, most notably England. The grandeur of someone’s bachelors or masters degree, or even doctorate, is not quite what it used to be. This is largely due to the fact that people have realized that the whole process of going to university and getting certain qualifications is getting easier and easier. In addition, the connection between one’s degree and the actual career path undertaken, is becoming increasingly divergent. For the last 40 years, successive UK Governments (Conservative and Labour) have resolutely pursued a campaign of getting more and more people into university and making sure they graduate. The annual charade of ever-escalating school and university pass rates is roundly derided by all with eyes to see. The result? Everyone and their dog has a degree now.
Speaking of declining standards in the US educational system, comedian George Carlin said: “They lower the passing grades so more kids can pass. More kids pass, the school looks good, everybody’s happy, the IQ of the country slips another two or three points and pretty soon all you’ll need to get into college is a fucking pencil.”
Perhaps academia has never quite been the glorious testament to human achievement that it presents itself to be. Even the most serious, free-thinking and well-intended scholars will often find themselves pulled into a vortex of insularity, prejudice and separatist specialization. It is the way of things in academia, particularly if you need approved funding for your work. You have to play the game, or else risk getting sidelined or even booted out. Collectivism is rewarded over independence; compliance over distinctiveness. Of course, this naturally balances out and improves over time, especially as the old guard fade away and the new crowd emerges, amongst which there’s always a healthy sliver of maverick and pioneering attitudes. But it takes a good long while to filter through. In the meantime, in such a rapidly changing and disinformation-saturated world, we cannot rely on academia to assist with our knowing. We have to do it for ourselves.