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Economy can change

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Both the terms ecology and economy are derived from the Greek word oikos – which means house. Ecology means the science of our house – our environment, our planet. Economy means management of one’s house or household – management of the environment in which we live and planet in an on which we live and wish to be happy and wish to develop our better faculties. These two concern the same house, or planet, and should therefore be in harmony. The one gives knowledge, the other implies our practical behavior on base of knowledge.

The universe is built on two great principles, taught the Veda: ṛta and yajñā: order and giving. Grasping and hoarding are not mentioned. Every living being brings order in matter matter: a vegetable soul orders molecules into ‘giving-machines’, i.e. the produce and give oxygen producers, clean the air water and land, and they produce beauty; animals fulfill numerous functions: spreading seeds, pollination etc. Micro-organisms maintain the atmospheric balances of the whole planet, for example the methane level of it.

Materialistic, i.e. Western, philosophies, which have now become globally dominant philosophies, ruling economy and our consumptive behaviors have poisoned the world to the verge of extinction. The West has done away with order, with giving, with deities as well as high intelligences as active parts of ecology. The West’s dominant ideas are called by names as: Entropy (Nature, most of which is lifeless, strives to greatest chaos !), Darwinism (greed and competition is the basis of natural evolution – not compassionate and intelligent guidance over matter and psychology), Greed-based economy (one’s needs increase infinitely, and should be fulfilled), Dominance of the human species (Animals and nature are to be ruled and subjected by humans to their satisfaction).

As we are an inherent part of the whole universe, and every single atoms of our being remains for ever a part of that universe, either temporarily gathered around our center of consciousness called ‘I’ or ego, or following its own pathway. Grasping and hoarding are universal non-concepts.  They are illusions, based on the false notion of being separate.


Jains, among others, taught that nature is both giving and compassionate – expressed in the

myth of the kalpa tree; humble acceptance of what nature gives (or Allah has created for us – a Muslim would say) – expressed in the doctrine of the leśyas, i.e. bend of character. Jainism teaches non-grasping, and kindness towards all creatures. Jainism as well as many other religions taught the universality of life: including minerals, invisible deities and intelligent forces. In fact there is universal religion, a nameless one, superseding all others, which one can find in one’s one heart. Existing religions are but manifest reflections of universal truths. Economy should therefore – as a matter of principle – be based on truth, on support – as minerals do, on giving – as plants do, on fulfilling one’s needs to maintain one’s subsistence during life on the physical Earth – as all creatures do. In the West, the animal kingdom and nature have learned to regard us as enemies, devourers, rakṣasas. Man has become a creature to be feared. Jainism preaches peace, whereas the doctrines of many westerners preach war. Westernized – and I am afraid Globalized man – lives in fear for his own species, his neighbors, whereas Christ told the world to love them.

Economy can change. By understanding the ethical core of religions (and rejecting their dogmas), the real working of the universe and nature, practical and divine – – and this is the same as practicing universal ethics. The world over, think tanks can be organized as permanent advisory bodies for governments, United nations, lawyers and every thinking being. What are the  highest conceivable principles for a human being to be accomplished? What do we need, and what do we not (really) need? What is the psychological cause of greediness, and what its relation to human happiness? What would Nature expect of us when she were a goddess? How would we ourselves think and behave if Buddha or Christ or Mohammed with their immense knowledge and mercy would sit quietly in our room, watching what we are thinking and doing? – because these and others were the people or divinities who knew, not just theorized. How can we perform every action in daily life, in economic and political life with the background thought of giving, yajñā constantly in our mind, as our living mantram? Where can we set out limiting ourselves? The concepts of selfishness and selfish grasping should be philosophically, scientifically and emotionally proved to be illusions, leading to suffering and deterioration. Changing the human philosophy and outlook is crucial – it can be done, but not overnight. It is a continuous nonviolent struggle, in which either the most courageous or the most greedy will win. It will take time.

But at present we can not just do away with common reality of every day. Because this evokes the reactivity of those who are not ready for it, and such people become, knowingly or unknowingly, enemies rather than cooperators of Nature. We have to take into account that people are greedy, selfish, irreligious and violent in this phase of human evolution. That too is part of nature. It can not be denied. Perhaps a Third World War will come and kill billions by nuclear disaster, and too, we have to expect the ‘wrath’ of nature in the form of environmental calamities. But after such a war and other disasters (if they ever come), humanity will live on (hopefully). Though we ourselves may succumb – that may be our karma – we can even now, for our surviving grandchildren, ponder on better fundamentals for life, so that they find a basis to think about and life to in the 22nd and 23rd centuries. Therefore, in our times and long times to come, we should set, and maintain, rules of behavior: laws based on better understanding of our oikos, our planet and universe, should be introduced in our juridical system as prominently as non-stealing and non-killing on an individual basis already are. There should also be a penal code: for those people (and companies, government bodies) who transgress the general understanding and cultural status of the best among humankind. There should be ‘global watch dogs’ appointed by democratic governments, compared to that existing concerning nuclear non-proliferation. It should be forbidden to have billions on foreign bank accounts without obvious beneficial reasons. It should be forbidden to collect material goods and money above a set limit. It should be forbidden to perform any action impacting the environment, the planet and the world population negatively. It sounds unkind to those who regard attachment to matter as freedom, but ultimately they will open there eyes also. We should not – never – transgress  the law of non-stealing and non-killing with regard to Nature. Naturally almost everyone will understand such laws and be happy with them. But the few should be curtailed.

Where there is a will, there is a way.



Here below I have added a small table showing some of the differences between Conventional Economy and Aparigrahic Economy.


Conventional economy  Aparigrahic economy
Based on direct material self-interest Based on understanding of Nature and how it works
Careless about side-effects (environmental, social, future) Caring that all effects are beneficial for the Earth and all beings
Dominance over Nature Respect for and harmonizing with Nature
Seeing the Earth and elements as soulless Seeing the Earth and elements as (if) conscious living entities
Based on the concepts of insatiable greed or self-profit Based on the idea of infinite spiritual unfolding and human spiritual potential
Based on the idea that we can be happy at the cost of others’ unhappiness We can only be happy by adding to the happiness of all other beings
Wealth in contrast to poverty Sharing of what nature gives
Power by money “Power” by genuine respect
Power by money-based dominance “Power” by genuine insight (wisdom)
Investment in shares Investment in human happiness
Ruled by oligarchs Ruled by philosopher-scientists
Unlimited allowance of the use of resources Restricted allowance, not transcending the free provisions of nature.
Unlimited moral liberality Ethics above any other purpose



– Rajasthani

(Prepared for lecture on May 23, 2011 at Prakrit Bharat Academy at Jaipur, India for the seminar “Economic Aspects of Aparigraha.”)


<Economy – Table of Contents>