Dharma Aperto

Open Karma is an essay dedicated to the structured historical evaluation of the role that nonviolence, Gandhi’s universally guiding principle,has played (and continues to play) in some of the main trends of contemporary societies, first of which their nature of being network rooted societies, according to the definition developed by the sociologist Manuel Castells. The role played by the American Counterculture, marked from its beginning by the Beat Generation right up to the Hippy and to the Underground phases, is one of the focal points of the theme.

The analysis is carried out using an approach of cross-cultural shared memory, in the unveiling of the reciprocal influences between East and West which brought to nonviolence as a socio- political aspect and to the unfolding of its effects in contemporary global terms.

Focus is put on the endogenous factors of Nonviolence, invigorating expression of the human soul, according to a valid interpretation supported by Petri, of the psychological theories of C. G. Jung.

The Swiss psychologist, founder of Analytical Psychology and clearly influenced by Eastern Thought, allows his theories of the unconscious to become receptive to a systematic application of the traditional view of Nonviolence, that started to emerge in India thousands of years ago, mainly due to the Jain religion.

This religion, in which the cardinal principle is Ahimsa ( Nonviolence ), had reached Mahatma Gandhi via his mother. During his struggle for freedom and equality (in South Africa) and then independence (in India), he gave this concept new life: considering it not only as a salvation tool of individual freedom he transformed it into the principal means for fighting against social and political inequalities. This maturation was linked to the influences that important Western thinkers had on him, from Henry David Thoreau to John Ruskin, and also the less well-known influence of the English Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. The author of the first western nonviolent poem, The Mask of Anarchy , was deeply appreciated and often quoted by Gandhi .

On the other hand Shelley was very dear to the great artists of the Beat Generation: ranging from Gregory Corso, who wanted to be buried at the foot of Shelley’s grave in Rome, Ginsberg himself, up to the mysterious Hope Savage, Corso’s former lover and Ginsberg’s friend and of whom there has been no news since her journey to India in the 60s. Finally, Jung himself shared the Romantic poets’ vision, just as the scholar of Jungian thought James Hillman did while founding the branch of Archetypal Psychology.

On the trail of the inner vision of "Anima " and then "Anima Mundi ", respectively by Jung and Hillman, concerning the value of women for the human race, the book reaches its core outlining a parallel between Gandhi’s Nonviolence and the Indian Tantrism, which emphasizes the Femaleautonomy. Open Karma appears as completion of the analysis of the American psychologist Erik Erikson on Gandhi's Nonviolence (in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Gandhi’s Truth). While the latter is linked to Freudian thought, Open Karma approaches Nonviolence under a Jungian perspective for the first time ever. It is the relational factor, linked to the role of "Soul" that emerges as decisive for understanding Nonviolence as the heart of the of" Female value " in the human race, according to the truest meaning of the Nonviolent attitude .

Open Karma establishes a path where inner and outer identities, East and West, fiction and non-fiction continuously merge and hybridize. The journey starts from the Non-Catholic Cemetery in Rome, where Corso was buried at the foot of Shelley’s grave of and reaches India, the United States and Europe, tracing the legendary journey of the poets of the Beat Generation to India in '62 - '63. Through Ginsberg’s dreams on the banks of the Ganges in the city of Benares, the author captures the sense of a personal evolution that will lead the American poet to become the godfather of the hippie phase of American Counterculture and in particular the guardian spirit of Nonviolence.

With him, all the countercultural leaders of the time, from Gary Snyder (father of Deep Ecology together with the Norwegian philosopher Arne Ness) up to Ken Kesey (charismatic author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest ), were deeply influenced by Eastern Thought and by Pacifism. After them, an entire generation, precisely the hippies, will draw inspiration from them. Many years after, the Network Society and the revolutionary idea of the web will spring from this particular historical moment so full of profound ethical tension.

In his book, At the Roots of Romanticism, the philosopher Isaiah Berlin theorized that the Romantic poets are unknowingly the cradle of modern Western plural societies.

Open Karma suggests that the rise of the Network Society, in its most recent globalization phase, is essentially the unaware result of the role of the Beat Generation and Counterculture .

However, whom the author considers with greatest energy is the philosopher Karl Popper, author of the famous work The Open Society and its Enemies, evoked in Petri’s choice of the title Open Karma. The phase of the Counterculture as the new heart of that process towards a more open, tolerant, equal and pluralistic society, outlines once again the relationship between individuality and community as the 60s had done (even with the use of drugs such as LSD). This step is crucial in a discussion under the light of Popper's theory: every time humanity has managed to redetect the relationship between individual and community, the tribal society, where we all come from, has moved further and further away. Of course, the Network Society, despite its inevitable shadows, is the clearest and most obvious manifestation of this process, connecting individuals to the extreme but at the same time strengthening individuality .

In the shadow of some Jungian works, Open Karma examines the complexity of our present time and of the uncertainties that it inevitably arises. This awareness seems to be more urgent when considering nowadays the devastating destructive potential (above all nuclear weapons ), at the light of a change of our level of consciousness - in particular of the control of our emotions – which is necessary and can no longer be postponed .

Our challenge is then the awareness of the importance of Nonviolence, in order to avoid the traps that new technologies set and that can paradoxically strengthen tribal and egotistic attitudes.

Echoing Tiziano Terzani’s hopes, Open Karma suggests considering Nonviolence as the essential contemporary civic virtue.