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A NEW ECONOMIC PARADIGM FOR A CULTURE OF PEACE
|We hope you find these recent articles listed as supplementary material giving information on the state of the world economy a useful material for you to take appropriate actions in your own life.|
Introductory Suplemental Materials
New Economic Model
This ambitious name is temporarily used because it helps to illustrate the nature of this project. Any attempt we can make to modify the status quo of the economic system in place, whether successful or not, is worth the effort. It might not offer any significant contribution, but may be a source of inspiration, or even show another road that should not be traveled.
In any case it is undeniable that contained in it should be a message that needs to be spread. The increasing level of violence is becoming the language of the economic power, and is growing in direct proportion to it. Real PEACE will be attained when ahimsa, non-violence, becomes a major component of it. Non-violence is the maximum expression of love and compassion; they are values of the soul. Non-violence should be understood as non-injury at the physical and mental levels, that means, in action, word, and thought.
Violence is rooted in the struggle for survival. Its obvious expression is the "Law of the Jungle," operating in the animal kingdom, and unfortunately transposed to the human realm under different disguises. The struggle for survival in the human species takes place at different levels, the lowest being those suffering from malnutrition for lack of resources, and the highest, amongst the ones struggling for power to be attained through their financial resources. Whether it is the lack of resources or the excess of them, it is the capacity for acquisition of resources which is the source of the struggle and it inevitably ends up being translated into economic terms. It also means that the economy more and more determines human behavior and is shaping society. For this reason no societal transformation or improvement of the human condition can be expected without factoring in the economic impact on individuals' lives.
It is fair to recognize a deepening dichotomy between economic theory and practice. A quick observation of the different religions shows a similar trend. As time goes by the original principles and values that were upheld by such religions become slack and a process of corrosion seems to take place and the practice moves farther and farther away from its original inception to the point that it cannot even be recognized, and on the contrary, it becomes a source of erosion and destruction of societal principles, instead of elevating or supporting humankind in its efforts to improve their condition. Therefore there seems to be a need for periodically revisiting and reinstating fundamental principles, thoughts, and ideas in order to offer an opportunity to coalesce those sectors of the population who are able to maintain their ideals and are willing to join their efforts for the improvement of society.
An economic model based on spirituality needs to emerge to bridge the gap caused by failed political, economic, and religious experiments done so far. Spirituality doesn't mean the dogmatic blind faith belief system characteristic of most religions but rather refers to the spirit within the heart of every single being whether an atheist, convicted criminal, or recognized saint. This spirit tries to express itself through every heart: it is our mental, psychological, and emotional constraints which thwarts its message, translating it into a selfish, violent, and unkind expression. But we have repeatedly seen that all the original messages of the spirit, as it has happened with most religions at their inception, resonates in the hearts of people who heed the call, and they work hard to overcome their limitations and commune in an effort to live those ideals. A spiritually based economic model therefore will only be accepted by the majority at a time when human beings, despondent from the social, economic, and political conditions, begin questioning themselves and searching for answers beyond the materialistic frame of reference, the source of all dissatisfaction. That time seems to be approaching closer and closer. The new model, though, should be designed, tested, and propagated long before its time of implementation.
What are the fundamental elements that need to be revised?
Given that Capitalism is the prevalent system, we will take it as our point of departure. Its main construct, competition, should be replaced by cooperation; separation and isolation, that are the result of competition, are not compatible with human nature. Cooperation, that brings union and warmth, is a more human and divine approach, which leads to unity. Unity in diversity is an ancient yogic dictum. But cooperation, to be truly significant, must be based on the most ideal and highest ethics that can come of the human soul. For example, a gifted individual should have enough awareness and compassion to shoulder a heavier burden than those who are lacking. Selfless action should be the motivation that replaces the so-called "incentive". One of the main propellers of many economic models, the "incentive" is greed stimulating and totally opposed to the virtue of selfless action. The human beings highest self should be the propeller of actions. Michael Lerner in Spirit Matters (7) gives an excellent argument in favor of this approach. Dr. Monzer Kahf (6) in The Islamic Economy gives us a picture of Islamic society's approach in this matter, not only in the motivation for the action but of the nature of the action itself. It says: "First, products which deprive the human being of his moral values as established in the Qur'an are prohibited. Also prohibited are all types of industrial activity and relations which degrade the human being or make him party to vices for the sake of economic gain." Cooperation, therefore, will develop a society based on ties of love, respect, compassion, and understanding amongst fellow human beings.
The principle of scarcity that gives origin to competition and degrading practices for the survival of the fittest should be replaced by the principle of abundance, where a fair trade based on people's capacities will tend to level to meet the fundamental needs of the majority of the people that, once satisfied, could offer opportunities for challenging endeavors to satisfy the demand of the more apt and daring.
Therefore, an economic model ideally would include all the different aspects of human existence, looked at from a spiritual point of view, so that the result of its implementation brings about the satisfaction of material needs without any kind of discrimination against any human being. The frame of spiritual values will give the human being the opportunity to fulfill its role in creation.
In the Western world there are two main economic systems: Capitalism and Communism. At present it seems that Communism has lost its ground and shows continuous decline. Capitalism is the prevalent system; it is the source of tremendous discrimination and unyielding use of power, and consequently the cause of widespread suffering of human beings. It is this economic system that is reshaping society and establishing patterns of behavior that are, as Gandhi says, based purely in materialism, and are undermining spiritual values, which guarantee the existence of a noble society.
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It is not necessary to analyze the Communist system since its lack of spiritual content invalidates it as a means of living man the opportunity to fulfill his role in creation. As stated by Gandhi, again, Capitalism is very successful in satisfying materialistic conditions, unfortunately at the expense of human and spiritual values; Gandhi's perception is well presented in his grandson's account, Legacy of Love (5), of practical lessons given to him by his grandfather. A simple observation of the basic tenets of Capitalism can demonstrate Gandhi's assertion. As said before, the principle of competition, equivalent to the survival of the fittest - clearly the law of the jungle - is adequate for the survival of our brothers in the animal kingdom who haven't reached the state of human existence. Similarly, the principle of "incentives" stimulates greed, while that of "scarcity" stimulates fear, hallmarks of the animal nature.
Globalization, with its inherent component, mega-transnational- corporations dehumanized by their only-for-profit shareholder owners, are constantly demonstrating the application of the law of the jungle with its devastating consequences. Paul Hawken graphically describes the effect of corporations on society. Capital, used as a source of power, i.e., the capacity to impose, and eventually translates into the use of military strength.
Fortunately, some extraordinary thinkers, entrepreneurs, and concerned individuals have been dedicating time and effort to create a vision of a better world (with which we must identify ourselves); they have repeated once and again that a new vision and a new economic model are needed. Their work provides an invaluable background and innovative ideas that can serve as the foundation for such a new economic model. Some of those ideas are being presented in this document, from which hopefully an outline can be drawn to develop the model.
We start with Paul Hawken's Dreams of a Livable Future (1), a very passionate picture of the present situation, with simple and clear language which leads to reflection, and aims to stir the conscience of the people. Then, Fritjof Capra's book The Web of Life, (2) which provides a basic framework, with the concept of "Deep Ecology-a new paradigm"; as the title of the book says, it covers all aspects of life, economics being amongst the most important ones. It turns to nature's wisdom as the source of a template for societal models. The speech of Jerry Mander to the World Affairs Council (3) illustrates the concept sustained by Fritjof Capra, that "a major clash between economics and ecology derives from the fact that nature is cyclical, whereas our industrial systems are linear...": also it expresses the need for redefining values as the means of attaining a new paradigm, and reports on a growing movement that could be recognized as "Deep Ecology", reflected in the international meetings of the international Forum on Globalization (IFG). The report of the Worldwatch Institute 2003 (4) says, "Failure to meet the needs of the worlds poorest citizens threatens long-term global stability," which confirms all the aforementioned assertions.
From the academic world we include the examples of the work being done by Stephen Marglin at Harvard, introducing Behavioral Economics (8), and Jeff Gates, president of Shared Capitalism institute (9), who seems to be borrowing the concepts of Deep Ecology as a blood transfusion to sustain the Capitalistic model. William Easterly in The Elusive Quest for Growth (10) confirms how the academia believe they are really concerned about poor people's conditions, yet - though recognizing the failure of the present systems - divert the blame onto factors which are part of the system, but are absolved by redirecting the responsibility onto the "subjects" of the experiments.
These last commentaries are not intended as a "put down" to academia but rather to confirm Fritjof Capra's saying: "Ecological literacy includes the knowledge that both sides of a conflict can be important, depending on the context, and that the contradictions within a community are signs of its diversity and vitality, and thus contribute to the systems viability." We also have James Weaver, Michael T. Rock, and Kenneth Kusterer's Achieving Broad Based Sustainable Development (11) approach, which seems to be pioneering the "sustainability concept of Fritjof Capra, and translates it so pragmatically into a usable model for the organization of society.
Since peoples' main concern is with survival, and satisfaction of "materialistic" demands as a result of the present economic system, they are not drawn to reflect or ponder on the reasons for the present violent state of the world. To draw people's interest away from purely materialistic concerns and more into vital matters for the condition of society, "New Age" thinkers such as Da Vid of the Light Party (12) use a fundamental notion for the birth of an ecological community, a matter that is drawing peoples attention and concern, and that may -·as it usually does -guide people into developing further interest, not only in themselves, but in their surroundings as well. That is the topic of health, and it's corollary, consciousness.
Many more individuals are certainly contributing with their ideas based on the same or similar ideals; what is important is to continue building alternatives that can lead to a better world. A new economic model can certainly be a step in that direction. This document is intended to be a source of inspiration and a starter to plant the seed for such a model.
The documents included in this paper are exclusively for the purpose of this study. Any other use of them should be authorized according to copyright rules.
Supplemental Material No.1 - Introduction
The new findings that are part of this document have been a great source of surprise and satisfaction. Initially intended to reiterate the obvious defects on which the capitalist system is operating, and providing new elements like the Law of Sacrifice (13) as support for the new vision, one after another piece of information started sprouting up, mainly related to actual work that is being done by different organizations and individuals. The Ethics of Globalization: a Bahai Perspective (14) , taken from a speech by Professor Suheil Bushrui, was the first insight that led to the work being done by the Bahai community as shown in Sustainable Development and the Human Spirit, (15) (UNCED) all of which seems to come from A Bahai Perspective on Development. (16) Similarly the article The Economics of Social Responsibility and Spirituality (17) led to PROUT-Agenda for a New Age (18) which on its turn led us to What Is An Indicator of Sustainability?, (19) with all the related information that the PROUT organization provides.
Rescuing Hope, (20) from the international conference Ethics and the Culture of Development: Building a Sustainable Economy supports the notion that there are a significant number of human Interest groups working on the same direction with more and more clarity over context and scope of the work that needs to be done.
Inspirations that come from Mahatma Gandhi, On Economics and Bread Labour, (21) and others, such as Spiritual Vision for The New Era, (22) complement the practical approach of Jubilee Research @ NEF (New Economics Foundation) (23), along with An Unusual Meeting of Bankers and Believers (24) or In Europe, Business People Apply Spiritual Insights To Economic Problems, (25) and the very effective actions taken by Co-op America (26). In sharp contrast, a piece that stimulates a sense of urgency for a unified approach to a new economic vision is A New Economic Model (27) by Alasdair Murray, corroborated by the recent decision of the EU to cave in to the pressure and accept the imposition of the USA to allow GE products. We see how that would greatly increase the chances of the EU meeting its highly ambitious goal of becoming the most competitive (aggressive, greedy) and dynamic (roll over the rest even at the cost of human lives) in the world by 2010 Europe is being pushed into traveling the same road from which we are trying to divert.
As a closing remark, from a yoga perspective it seems pertinent to include some excerpts from the book Handbook to Higher Consciousness by Ken Keyes; it will help us to understand the role that the chakras, or Centers of Energy, or Centers of Consciousness, as he calls them, play in the present behaviour of society. It is also becoming more clear that the time has come to raise the level of consciousness to a Higher Consciousness Human, as described by Ken Keyes. For that, these concepts, that are also part of the Perennial Truth, or Wisdom of the Ages, or Ageless Wisdom, as they are variously referred to, must be incorporated in the new vision explicitly, in a way that the relationship between societal behavour, and individuals operating on the three lower centers, becomes obvious, as does the need to work from the fourth center in order to align economy with the higher level of consciousness of humankind.
Ken Keyes says:
Millions of years ago when our animal ancestors had to survive in the jungle, it was necessary to have an instantly effective fight or flight mechanism. When a tiger was about to spring, an automatic emotional response was a life saver. A nervous shock was needed to squirt adrenalin into the blood so that muscles became jet powered. Emotional alarms were needed to command full attention. When a tiger was ready to jump, there was no time to admire the beautiful sunset. As a jungle survival mechanism, our ancestors were programmed for automatic dualityautomatic feelings of otherness, threat, and paranoia. Survival required instant domination of consciousness to meet the perils of the jungle.
We are the pioneers in the evolution of human consciousness. It was only about 10,000 years ago that our ancestors built the first cities. As civilization grew, survival no longer depended on the instant fight or flight of the jungle. Survival and happiness now depend on tuning in to the overall situation involving ourselves, the people around us, and the total environment of the here and now. Perceptiveness, wisdom, and oneness are now the ingredients of effective and happy living. But our biocomputers are still programmed for jungle fight or flightfor a fast release of adrenalin into the blood stream, and for rapid heart beatfor automatic anger and fear. In our social interactions, our consciousness magnifies molehills and makes them into mountainsand this constant distortion destroys our energy, our insight, and our ability to love.
Thus survival in the jungle meant that we had to be programmed for instant paranoiainstant fearinstant angerinstant perception of duality. Survival in our world today means that we must have instant perceptions of onenessof loveof compassion with everyone and understanding of everything around us. When we learn to cut through our paranoid jungle programming, we are on our way to higher consciousness and happiness.
Evolution is now working to remedy this primitive jungle alarm wiring in our brain that tends to hold us on lower consciousness levels. Paranoid, dualistic individuals who cannot love themselves and others tend to get heart trouble, ulcers, other psychosomatic diseases, are accident-prone, etc. Perhaps in 100,000 years, through the ruthless survival of the fittest, humans may have nervous systems that are automatically structured to produce instant insights that facilitate love and oneness. But that doesnt help you and me
We have escaped from the domination of instincts (inflexible learned behavior) that guides animals through their daily life situations. Since the young human is not provided with a full repertoire of automatic fixed responses, we are unable to independently cope with life for a number of years after birth. This long period of plasticity and openness to learning complex life guidance patterns helps us avoid fixed preprogrammed behavior. For example, this long nurturing period lets us learn complex language systemsand our flexibility is such that we can learn to communicate in Swahili as easily as in English or any other language.
Instead of a complete pattern of animal-type instincts to provide survival responses to life situations, the young child uses ego mechanisms backed by hair-trigger emotions to develop security, sensation, and power magnification of the moment-to-moment sensory inputs. Our personal development into fulfilling, happy lives (as well as the progression of civilization beyond the dangerous power consciousness) depends on our getting free of our ego-backed, subject-object, me-them, security-sensation-power hang-ups.
It may be helpful to see this progression of consciousness in outline form as follows:
|ORGANISM||METHOD OF PROTECTING
AND ENHANCING THE ORGANISM
Relatively fixed life style based on instinct or
|Lower Consciousness Human||Ego-directed, subject-object, emotion-backed,
security, sensation, and power consciousness (increasingly involving the
rational mind) that makes us inflexibly guard and protect habitual folkways
and personal patterns.
|Higher Consciousness Human||The ego-driven negative emotions have been
replaced by wide-ranging insight and deep intuitive understanding giving
full flexibility to flow in mutually supportive and loving ways with no
inflexible folkways and personal patterns.
|The biocomputer with which you
are equipped is the most remarkable instrument in the universe. Your only
problem is to learn to use it properly. It is capable of handling two million
visual inputs and one hundred thousand auditory inputs at any one time.
Your biocomputer operates continually throughout all of its parts and is
capable of making millions of simultaneous computations. It operates with
enormous power primarily on unconscious levelswith only a tiny portion
of its activity rising to the level of consciousness. The conscious level
of your biocomputer is analogous to the print-out of the man-made computers.
Your journey into higher consciousness is a matter of your learning how
to properly program your remarkable biocomputer. When you really learn to
operate your exquisite mechanism, you will be able to fully realize your
potential for a happy life.
A wonderful thing about life is that it is naturally good. Life is set up to workto produce love, fulfillment, and happiness continuously. However, various situations during your first years of life conditioned you in the methods of consciousness which continually generate unhappiness in your life. Yet every current experience can aid you in your growth toward higher consciousness if you know how to use it
Most of us, said the cosmic humorist, go through life not knowing what we want, but feeling darned sure this isnt it.
Over 99% of the people in the western world live on lower consciousness levels characterized by trying to find enough security, sex, pleasant sensations, ego rushes, prestige, money, power, and status. This endless struggle yields lives of constant resentment, worry, suspicion, anger, jealousy, shyness, and fear. Everything people tell themselves they must do to be happy ends up yielding more frustration than joy. The more successful a person is in making money, collecting skills and possessions, developing exciting sexual relationships, acquiring knowledge and degrees, and achieving positions of status, power, and prestige, the less loving, peaceful, and contented he may find him or herself.
And yet it is not these things in and of themselves that create an unhappy lifeit is the internal mental addiction or desire for them that minute-by-minute keeps one from enjoying life. Addictions (or emotion-backed demands) bring fear of non-fulfillment; jealousy that someone may steal our source of fulfillment; anger when someone thwarts us; cynicism if constantly undersupplied; paranoia if constantly threatened; boredom if were making no progress toward satisfying our addictions; worry if we cant see a steady supply; anxiety if were worried about being worried; and unhappiness when the outside world does not supply us with whatever we are addicted to. Since the nature of life is such that we win some and lose some, an addicted person has no chance of living a happy, loving, peaceful, conscious, wise, and effective life. And the addictive programming is not necessary to find and enjoy that which we prefer in life.
You are ready for growth into the happiness of higher consciousness when you realize the utter futility of trying to live a beautiful life by your efforts to rearrange or change the world of people and things outside of you to fit your addictions and desires. You will find you have only to rearrange your own personal, automatically programmed responses to life situationsmost of which are childhood hangups.
As you work toward higher levels of consciousness, you will find that you have always had enough to be happy. It is the patterns in your head that make you unhappy, although you usually blame the people and conditions outside you for your unhappiness. Your journey into higher consciousness can enable you to be loving, peaceful, wise, and free of a constant barrage of unpleasant emotional feelings...
Understanding the connection and the need to work with the fourth center is what will facilitate implementing the new vision that has been so well expressed by so many different authors and organizations.
Last but not least, Economia con Rostro Humano can play the role of an eye opener because of the pristine and scholarly way in which the failure of capitalism in Latin America illustrates what is being replicated in the rest of the world. Our thanks to Dr. Bernardo Kliksberg for such a wonderful gift for the progress of humankind.
Washington, D.C., Nov. 27, 2003.
13) The Law of Sacrifice, by Mrs. Annie Besant, from Laws of the Higher Life.
14) The Ethics of Globalization: a Bahai Perspective. Professor Suheil Bushrui, June, 2003.
15) Sustainable Development and the Human Spirit, from The Most Vital Challenge presentation to UNCED, Earth Summit, 1992.
16) A Bahai Perspective on Development. Article from www.bahai.org.
17) The Economics of Social Responsibility and Spirituality, by Dada Maheshvarananda, in The New Renaissance, Vol. 10, No. 4, Issue 35, Winter 2001-2002.
18) PROUT-Agenda for a New Age, from www.PROUT.org.
19) What Is An Indicator of Sustainability?, from www.sustainablemeasures.org
20) Rescuing Hope, by Dr. Juan Antonio Blanco, at the international conference : Ethics and the Culture of Development: Building a Sustainable Economy, 1998.
21) On Economics and Bread Labour, by Mahatma Gandhi.
22) Spiritual Vision for The New Era, www. Intuition-in-service.org
23) Jubilee Research @ NEF (New Economics Foundation). www.jubileeresearch.org.
24) An Unusual Meeting of Bankers and Believers. www.onecountry.org.
25) In Europe, Business People Apply Spiritual Insights To Economic Problems. Ibid.
26) Co-op America. The 2003 Year-End Report to Members of Co-op America.
27) A New Economic Model, by Alasdair Murray.
Supplemental Material No.2
The very successful meeting of March, where our four invited guests, Dr. Alfredo Sfeir-Younis, Professor Tarik Yousef, Professor Arun Natarajan, and Dada Vimalananda graced us with their knowledge, has been a source of inspiration to all. More material also has become available that we are now sharing with you.
The key element of scarcity in the present system, that leads to selfishness and competition must be looked at very carefully. In contrast, we have the concept of the new we that Jaap Westerbos speaks of in his illuminating article (28) We Are Here; it brings not only a breeze of optimism but gives a serene vision of an emerging consciousness heralding the advent of a new world, that is a significant evolutionary step for humankind, entering, as he calls it, the age of world citizenship.
Lester Brown in (29) Blueprint for a Better Planet, also gives his share of optimism in a more practical approach, offering options and ways to build an economy that does not destroy its natural support systems, a global community where the basic needs of all the Earths people are satisfied. To build an eco-economy, he says, would more effectively undermine the spread of terrorism than a doubling of military expenditures.
Paul Hawken says, in (30) Toward a Restorative Economy, The Industrial Age is dead. What must be erected is an economy based on restorative development. In different words, Dada Vimalananda, one of the presenters at our Multi-faith based Approach to Economics meeting, expressed the same concept from a broader perspective. As he puts it, humankind is experiencing another evolutionary step. Initially, brute force was required to comply with the demands of the physical plane; once that evolutionary step was completed, the Industrial Revolution took place, that liberated man to a certain extent and gave him the opportunity to use and exert his mental capacities. That stage has also been completed, which is signaled by the cybernetic revolution, where a task that used to take six hours can be done in ten minutes, thanks to computers. That means that man will have still more free time on his hands, so we are passing from the mental to the contemplative stage people will have more time for meditation, as we can see happening.
We can see these two seasoned thinkers and spiritual messengers espousing a similar concept of a new evolutionary phase. The challenge now is, how is that extra time going to be used by taking the higher road of meditation, to raise the level of consciousness, or is it going to be used to continue the materialistic tendency of accumulation, profit-making, and selfish satisfaction? An economic model based on spiritual principles may facilitate taking the higher road.
Hawkens good news is that the transition from the Industrial age to his new economy has already started. The technology is available. As he says, The train is already leaving the station. In the section Redesigning the World, Hawkens gives clear parameters for this process; we are in a transition period he explains; the process is already happening, but he emphasizes that the paradigm still needs to be changed. In the section, The Intelligent Product System, he describes the process that is taking place.
(31) Beyond Greed and Scarcity gives another example of the process taking place the building up of the new paradigm. Bernard Lietaer, interviewed by Sarah van Gelder, editor of Yes! Magazine, talks about the possibilities of a new kind of currency, better suited to build community and sustainability.
Greed and scarcity are evidently the source of Jean Zieglers cry (32) Hunger is a Man-made Massacre. He is a UN special rapporteur on human rights and has voiced his accusation at the September 2003 gathering of the General Assembly of the United Nations. He argues that when you treat food as merchandise and follow the business approach, a failure in the system will result in the death of thousands of millions of people.
The report from India about the (33) World Social Forum 2004 is another indicator of the stirring of sectors of the population looking for solutions to the economic problem. Parts of the Common Dreams article are included which ask for an equitable global economy.
In (34) Spiritual Vision for the New Era we see again the expression of individuals reaching out towards the spiritual realm in search of solutions for what they describe as a world in crisis.
Muhammad Al-Shahimi, in his work (35) Christianity, Islam, and Socio-Economic Development in Ethiopia, provides a good background as to the common ground for both religions and their influence in different aspects of human endeavor, the economic realm included. An economic model based on spiritual principles and which incorporates all the commonalities shared by religions will benefit from a better chance or being universally embraced.
Last but not least it seems it would be good to assign a name to the project to identify it amongst numerous New Economic Models that are being developed. My suggestion is a Sanskrit word, a good definition is given by S.S. Varma, in his publication Yogic Practice. Aparigraha is the fifth yama in the yoga system of Patanjali:
Aparigraha, non grasping, involves also curbing the tendency to accumulate and be greedy. The tendency to accumulate is so strong that it may be considered almost as a basic instinct. One has of course to have a few essential things for the maintenance of the body. Essential and non-essential being relative terms, each person must decide the limit for himself. In addition to necessities, people want luxuries, only to increase their comforts and enjoyments. Not content with this, people continue to amass wealth and objects which serve no other purpose than satisfying their childish vanity and desire to appear superior to others. There is no limit to such accumulation.
Apart from the complications this causes in society, for the individual it means spending time in accumulating things and using his energies in maintaining and guarding them. The worries and anxieties of life increase in proportion to the accumulations then there is the fear of losing them. A serious practitioner of yoga can ill afford to spend his energies thus; he must therefore remain satisfied with what comes to him in the natural course of the working of the Law.
However, it is really not the quantity of things by which we are surrounded but our attitude towards them which matters. For there may be only a few things in our possession and yet the possessive instinct may be strong. On the other hand, one may have great wealth and yet be free from the sense of possession, be ever ready to part with it all without the slightest hesitation. Though this is possible it is not easy. Hence one would do well to cut out all unnecessary things and learn to live the simple and austere life. The cultivation of the virtue of aparigraha ensures a state of mind free from attachments and disturbances.
Practical hints: a is a negative particle, pari means round and graha means grasping: thus the virtue consists of releasing hold of all things around one. Although ultimately the number and quality of things one has does not matter, a beginner must reduce what he possesses and uses. He can be sure that he has no attachment to them only when he has given up their use. Wants should be reduced, and a life of austerity adopted. Wants should be seen as pertaining to the personality and checked as if they belonged to another person.
--from Yogic Practice, pp. 14-15. By S.S. Varma,
As we can see, aparigraha is a notion that may encompass one of the meanings and purposes of this project, which is to compare the notion of scarcity, that leads to hoarding, with abundance, that leads to sharing.
Victor (Vyasa) Landa
Washington, D.C., April 19, 2004
28) We Are Here, by Jaap Westerbos
29) Blueprint for a Better Planet, by Lester Brown
30) Toward a Restorative Economy, by Paul Hawken
31) Beyond Greed and scarcity, by Bernard Lietaer
32) Hunger is a Man-made Massacre, by Jean Ziegler
33) World social Forum 2004
34) Spiritual Vision for the New Era
35) Christianity, Islam, and Socio-Economic Development in Ethiopia, by Muhammad Al-Hashimi
Supplemental Material No.3
Peaceculture and Agriculture are two stepping stones for the advent of another evolutionary step of humankind. As our guest from PROUT Dada Vimalanandas rendering sustains, the brute force was the characteristic of the initial stage in which man had to work physically to take care of its needs. The Industrial Revolution marked another stage where machinery replaced the physical work, to allow the human being to be more occupied with mental endeavors, and develop its mental capacities. The mental intellectual stage gave rise to the development of cybernetics where computers now perform mental activities reducing significantly the time needed for those tasks therefore freeing the human beings for higher pursuits than the purely mental, and opening the possibilities for spiritual pursuits. It is said that this new evolutionary period is for the contemplative stage, and with it comes the awakening of higher creative powers of the soul.
As Robert Sardello puts it in the introduction of his book, We are entering the age of soul consciousness and that the soul can not be confined to being a substrate of human consciousness, a limitation leaving the outer world prey to the literalisms of science, technology, and economics, which in spite of all their benefits to the world, if left on their own, will not only eradicate individual soul life, but also bring world destruction. He explains that The need now emerging is both deeper and broader than history, tradition, and culture, and that need is love. I do not mean that soul needs to be loved but that love is the very essence of the soul.
The teachings in Yoga, state that the essence of God is Love, that means the spirit which is the essence of the soul is that Divine Spark emanated from God. Spirituality therefore is recognizing that both God and true love are one and the same. But before we are able to experience true love we must go through the process of learning by preparations as he calls the different forms of love that we experience in our human existence. As R. Sardello explains:
When love first emerged in the human world, it did so in the form of blood ties. This form of love is no longer effective, and in fact, if now enacted is harmful because it dims the fact of true individuality. When romantic love originated, it brought about the possibility of caring for a stranger as strongly and as completely as if the other person were of ones own blood . The approaching end of this millennium may signal the end of love as we have known it in the past the birth of fully consciousindividual love has already started. But this new birth will take a very long time and will not happen automatically .The passing of one form of love to another did happen in the past, not without struggle, but inevitably. Romeo and Juliet, for example, depicts the passing of love from blood bonds to romantic love, something that could not be prevented.
For every advance in the domains of science, technology, and economics, two steps are needed in soul work to keep from loosing sight of the soul. Science must be met by equal disciplines of careful research and observation of the inner side of things in order to complement knowing through the mind with knowing through the heart. Technology must be met at every step by an equal interest in how soul can actually function in the world, the challenge of practicing soul work in the world (Karma Yoga) , Economics must be balanced by learning care of the soul so that meaning does not come to be equated with outer possessions.
Left to itself technology determines the meaning and essence of the future. Left to itself science determines what counts as valid consciousness-that which is quantifiable, measurable and can be seen. Left to itself economics determines what happens in the world, and indeed defines what makes the world. These powers of the world are so strong, and so pervasive that very fundamental reflections of the soul such as tradition and culture can not balance them and will be lost . Only the very essence of soul as love, worked out in concrete and specific ways, can balance these world powers.
One final paraphrase of this great exposition is: Soul logic can be recognized by the fact that it synthesizes rather than analyzes. The breakdown of the institution of marriage can be seen as another movement of the soul towards Universal Love, the preparation for cosmic love or true love. Until it regains its strength and direction, the bonds then to be established are not to be based anymore in external manifestations, but rather in true expressions of the soul.
R. Sardello introduces us to the thinking of R. Steiner who is the originator of the Three fold Society, succinctly described by Edward R. Smith in the Document I-88 The Threefold Social Order (36), that considers the 3-Fold Being as:
The 3 Human Organisms
Christopher Schaefer in his article Nine Propositions in Search of the Threefold Social Order, (37) expands the concept and makes reference to seven social laws that govern social life, such as the one formulated by R. Steiner in 1898, The Basic Sociological Law, and in 1905 The Fundamental Social law that says: The well-being of a community of cooperatively working human beings is the greater the less individuals demand the proceeds of their work for themselves, or in other words, the more they make over these proceeds to their co-workers and the more their needs are met not by their own work but from that of others.
A beautiful example of the implementation of this law can be seen in the Camphill Movement examples of which are all over the globe. We are very well acquainted are the ones in Pennsylvania, Camphill Soltane, and Kimberton Village with whom we have had a business and friendly relationship for over six years.
The author commenting on this law says: this complex and awkwardly phrased law is concerned with motives, suggesting that when labor is a commodity and self-interest becomes the motive force of economic activity, suffering, poverty, and want are the result. He goes on to describe the principle of the Threefold Social Order interpreting them on his own words as follows:
The health of a group, institution or society is the greater the more
it works with principles of freedom in cultural life, equality in the
sphere of rights and responsibilities, and brotherhood and sisterhood
in the area of work or economic life.
C. Schaefer stresses the importance To note that there is an inherent tension within each sphere: in economic life between service and efficiency; in rights life between rights and responsibilities; and in cultural life between individual freedom and a set of cultural norms or institutional goals. An inner balance between the polarities is essential for health.
The document also refers to experiments that are being done with these principles and draws some startling conclusions. One example could be illustrated by a report from the New York Times that talks about the relationship between health and inequalities in income between two groups, rich and poor with the result that the more the inequality the higher the rate of physical and mental illness in both groups. This can very well support the principle in the PROUT system to establish a maximum proportion between the highest and the lowest salaries.
Terry Boardman in Third
Millennium Third Way (38) give us some historical references on the
movement, its spiritual sources, the state at which the movement is at
and the dilemma or threshold at which he sees it standing. This threshold
seems to be the place where humanity stands now, it can be perceived in
all the different movements that are concerned with the direction in which
humankind is moving. It seems to validate the notion that all the different
impulses are responding to an historical demand pregnant with an evolutionary
step, that since inevitable it demands the right attitude and actions
to see that it completes its term, with all the
On another note, Michael Albert is interviewed by Kate Redmond on the subject of Par Econ, The Participatory Economics Project (42), Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel an economist who teaches at American University are the authors of two books: Looking Forward, and Political Economy of Participatory Economics. Based on similar concerns about the prevailing economic system, they offer a system that as the interviewer mentions resembles the socialist, M. Albert points out the difference, basically that it does not mean state ownership, and that there is no room for an elite to control the system. An interesting approach is the substitution of the free market , how they produce the opposite of solidarity and empathy but market competition requires that everybody be greedy .. It also proposes the disappearance of institutions that presently have strong influence in the economic system.
The People Centered Development (39) offers a message of hope and invitation to action, dealing with the collective crisis by cooperation of civil society groups around the world to replace the corporate and capitalist system with a planetary system of living economies. It says: It means reorganizing the economic life to produce more of the things that people need - like food, shelter, clothing, education, and healthcare - and less of the costly things we do not - like military hardware, pollution, traffic jams, and crime. Hope for the human future rests, therefore not with institutions of power, but with the millions of individuals all around the world who are awakening as if from a deep sleep, to the reality of our collective crisis.
David Korten, founder of the People Centered Development Forum introduces
us to BALLE, Business Alliance for Local Living Economics, with his keynote
address to the second BALLE annual conference. Balle
and the Renewal of the American Experiment (40) shares a very
optimistic and inspiring observation by observing the parallelism between
the uphill battle that the founders of this nation faced when they issued
the declaration that launched the American Experiment and our present
situation. He says:
Reading this passage I could not help but draw another parallelism with
our NEM group which may arrive to the conclusion and decision that the
capitalist system needs to be replaced. Even though we are not alone in
the realization that the capitalist system in its present form does not
work for the common good, there are less voices who proclaim total replacement
of the system making the magnitude of the enterprise as daunting as what
On the other hand D. Korten leads to accept the realization that We have been a plutocracy since the founding of our nation. More than that he is challenging to face the again seemingly insurmountable challenge of the 5,000 year old institution of Empire. He says our long term work is to bring that Era to an end, evidently the evolutionary step is being heralded by all who are working on finding economic alternatives. We can ask why we do not include those who are working for Social Justice or for Peace? Evidently they are all interrelated and equally important, the main difference is that at this junction the economic power has taken so much control that it has become increasingly the source of all the other maladies that afflict the planet: environment, poverty, violence etc. The time has come to propose a different approach to that area of human activity.
As D. Korten says: We are facing an epic choice between organizing ourselves as a global empire or a global Earth Community. It is a choice between money or life as our defining value. It is a choice between the force of military domination and ruthless competition between global corporations, or cooperation and partnership among peoples and nations.
D. Korten shares our perception of the present when he says: All over the world people are waking up to the reality of the need for deep change and embracing the challenge of what Theologian Thomas Berry calls the Great Work BALLE, WHICH IS BIRTHING THE NEW ECONOMY OF THE NEW ERA IS A LEADING EXAMPLE.
Then he makes a very good point. Empire monopolizes the stories that answer the basic questions. How do we create prosperity? How do we create security? And how do we find meaning? With their stories they define and control the political debate to advance their imperial agenda. The elitist story will carry the day until we are able to counter it consistently and convincingly with a coherent prosperity story.
The question we should ask ourselves is can we provide our part of the story? Is this the challenge for NEM, to provide our part of the story?
Once more it is necessary to point out how our effort to make spirituality a key element in the formulation of the NEM addresses this evidently fundamental aspect of the story.
In his concluding remarks, D. Korten points out that: True prosperity,
security and meaning are all found in the life of vibrant interlinked
communities that offer every person, without exception, the opportunity
to contribute their creative energy through joyful, creative, engaged
relationships with one another and the Earth to Creations search
for ever unfolding possibilities. Life in community is essential to the
realization of our humanity
For this is the moment when we are
being called by the deep forces of creation to awaken to a new
As mentioned in our opening sentence Agriculture is one of the two stepping stones in our evolutionary process. D. Korten in a luncheon presentation to the Annual Conference of the Community Food Security Coalition held in Seattle, October 7,2002 spoke about The New American Agriculture (41). In it he praises their work for demonstrating that we do have choices:
Your work is at the forefront of the global effort to displace a corporate
dominated global suicide economy that destroys life tomake money for the
already wealthy with a planetary system of life-servingeconomies devoted
to meeting the basic needs of people, strengthening
D. Korten explains:
It could well have said we are standing at the threshold of another evolutionary step of the planet earth.
Then in a very compelling argument he says:
Individuals and societies differ as to which one of the compelling tendencies- domination or partnership- is more prominent in their lives, but both tendencies reside in each of us. So we ask: where liestruth? Is the world inherently hostile and dangerous or inherently caring and compassionate? The answer is it depends on us - on we the people of planet earth - because we have the knowledge, technology, and organizational capacity to create the world we choose. We need only the vision to see the possibility of a caring and compassionate world and to choose to live it into being.
NEM can provide the economic vision, with the confidence of the great potential that our group has in itself and its capacity to tap into extraordinary resources in this field.
He also gives a warning:The further along we are with getting the foundations of a new world order of Earth democracy in place before the final fall of Empire the less tragic the consequences will be.
I would go on to say the goal of NEM should not be to reform the Capitalist system but to replace it, amongst other reasons, a very important parallelism can be established between Education and Economy in the following context.
Our friend professor Clopper Almon explained in his presentation to our group that one of the more developed areas of action of the Antroposophic Community is the area of education, with Waldorf Schools established all around the globe. The reason for the emphasis in education was that the existing system was limited to the development of skills and income generation. Therefore it is a castrating system that bypasses the possibilities and needs of the soul for development, with the additional negative effect of lop-sided development of the brain, with its concomitant effect of curtailing the God given possibilities of human beings to prepare themselves to take the responsibility of facing the challenges of the impending evolutionary step that is rooted in spiritual values. R. Steiner therefore at the request from the workers of the Waldorf cigarette factory in Germany gave a series of lectures. As a result of them the management commissioned him to develop a system of education based on the principles given in those lectures. That is how it came to be known as the Waldorf system of education that is radically different from the conventional one. More clearly the essence of the conventional system is that it does not provide the necessary elements for the harmonious development of the whole human being but on the contrary it prepares it to function in ways that are in opposition to the soul natural tendencies, i.e. that is it prepares the individual to be self-serving and for rivalry as the main thrust.
The parallelism we find is that the present capitalist system, also has
as its fundamental tenets totally opposing principles to the souls natural
tendencies (as we have pointed repeatedly in previous notes), it seems
to follow therefore that the same kind of action is called for; that is
The need for a comprehensive system that provides the economic vision establishing basic principles and shared values, with enough room to allow different forms of expression in terms of various models of economic endeavor, such as the ones we have seen so far: PROUT, ANTROPOSOPHY, BALLE, etc.
Lets look at some others:
Evidence is also strong that there is a growing number of individuals and organizations that are concerned about the implication that the present economic system has as one of the main causes of the deteriorating condition not only of the environment but society as a whole, meaning behavioral, interpersonal, and international relationships. These individuals are not only trying to find alternatives but taking action and implementing them as we have seen.
Co-op America is dedicated to creating a just and sustainable society, by harnessing economic power for positive change. Its unique approach involves working with both the consumer (demand) and business (supply) sides of the economy simultaneously.
Co-op Americas programs are designed to: 1) Educate people about
how to use their spending and investing powers to bring the values of
social justice end environmental sustainability into the economy. 2) Help
socially and environmentally responsible business emerge and thrive, and
3) Pressure irresponsible companies to adopt socially
The members and supporters of Co-op America represent the largest association of responsible businesses and consumers in the world. They are creating the values, businesses and networks that are the economic building blocks of a sustainable future.
Amongst the many important recent achievements of CO-op America we can
Alisa Gravitz, Executive Director says:
You hold the trump card against corporate abuse of workers, community, and our environment. And it is time to play that card ever more powerfully and skillfully. As you know, we live at a time when corporate actions are at the heart of a growing list of social and environmental ills, from climate change to child and sweatshop labor to toxic chemical accumulation in our food, air, and water. Years of corporate cronyism and contributions in Washington have given rise to a political philosophy that worships deregulation and the so-called free market. It professes that what is good for the corporate sector is good for America, and that the government needs to be out of the business of solving social and environmental problems. Multinational corporations have also become increasingly strategic about evading national laws so even a legislative push toward protecting people and the planet is unlikely to be sufficient to ensure corporate responsibility. This means that at the end of the day, you, and I, in our economic roles as consumers and investors, hold the crucial (and perhaps only) power card to stop corporate abuse and demand business practices based on social justice and environmental responsibility. What is the card? Our economic power. It is what we choose-and refuse-to buy and invest in. Its letting companies know why we have made those choices. Think of it as casting your economic vote along with your political vote.
Of course economics and politics work together. To move forward into a better future, it is absolutely essential for each one of us to be actively engaged.
Co-op America Quarterly No. 62/Spring 2004
Now an example of educational efforts, similarly directed to the creation of the peaceculture, another way of responding to the evolutionary demand. We can see the interrelatedness in different areas of human activity. Aparigraha, or whatever we call the effort in the economic area should be a part of it.
THE PEACE BOOK:
The Peace Book offers a sound recommendation of how to go about promoting change, it has evidently learned from history that from the top down or from the bottom up isolated do not work. A message seems to be coming clearer and clearer, that double action is necessary, the grassroots movement is gaining momentum as we can see from the World Social Forum, the recent Another World Is Possible Conference and organizations like Organic Consumers Association (OCA) with 500,000 members representing 10,000,000 consumers. Political organizations like Move-On, Not In Our Name, etc. and political upsets like the ones that have taken place in India and Spain are clear indicators that there is a rising in consciousness taking place.
The Peace Book says:
The path of separation uses our differences to support the belief that some are better than, more worthy than, more entitled than, others. The outcome of such thinking is dominance; the vehicle is force; and the result is destruction. This view diminishes life, and condemns us to recurring cycles of violence, oppression, and struggle.
The path of unity uses our differences to support the belief that we are an interdependent whole, one family of life in this precious planet, able to thrive and survive only when we work together for the needs and dignity of all. The outcome of such thinking is a partnership; the vehicle is respect; and the result is peace. This view sustains life in all its rich diversity, and offers us endless cycles of creativity, freedom and hope.
WORK FROM THE BOTTOM UP AND THE TOP DOWN
Social change, to be lasting, must occur through the whole fabric of society. The motivation for change comes from two directions: either there is a compelling vision of where we want to go or there is so much hurt that we want it to stop -or both. Since the ones on top in any society rarely feel the pain, in a sincere way, of those without power, that motivation will usually come from the grassroots, or bottom up.
Change from the bottom up is even more effective when met by change from the top down. For true transformation, this meeting point is necessary. While the momentum for social change will usually come from the grassroots, still, in every powerful institution there are individuals who do have a vision for a better way and who do feel the hurt of the people. As they become more visible and credible much is possible.
* Find your grassroots allies for community action. Help articulate a
compelling vision for a better future, and express the pain of the current
situation in ways that can be truly heard and understood.
TAKE AN INTEREST IN WORLD AFFAIRS
Modern communication technology has brought the world into our living rooms. We can see whats happening on every continent. Some people turn off to this flow of information. It may seem like too much suffering, too complicated a picture of situations we dont understand in places that feel foreign to us. We can turn away, or we can turn toward whats happening around the world. When we turn toward it, we discover that what may appear as an endless progression of war, famine, corruption, and political intrigue is actually an exciting story of humanity addressing its challenges as best it can. Each of us is an actor, director, script-writer, and audience for this rich and inspiring drama.
Louise Diamond is the author of this book.
The idea of this present paper is to share with you an expanded view
of the possibilities of our endeavor and as a way of exploring possible
courses of action. Some of you have asked: if we end with some kind of
proposal with NEM what will we do with it? Where do we go from there?
The first answer is the group will have to decide. The second is my vision
for the following steps. Expose the proposal as widely and deeply as possible,
making it available by presentations to universities, schools of economics,
organizations that are working in the same field or related ones, organizing
forums, etc. This of course will follow the previous steps of testing
its merit by inviting panels of recognized economists to share their opinion
It seems very important to involve at some stage as many participants as possible so that we can all become aware of our interrelatedness and wake up to the potential that this interrelatedness offers to us. Everybody has something to offer. We all came to this physical plane with a purpose and this will become more evident as we allow every single human being to participate in all the spheres to which they feel attracted. It is a demanding alternative but it is what will show the stature of the soul who is capable of such compassion and understanding.
It must be clear that this paper reflects solely the opinion of the one who signs it, not the consensus of the group if and when that happens, it will be clearly stated.
I thank you all for your understanding.
Victor (Vyasa) Landa
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