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The Role of Ecology and Spirituality in Development

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The Role of Ecology and Spirituality in Development

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“We will have time to reach the Millennium Development Goals – worldwide and in most, or even all, individual countries – but only if we break with business as usual.

We cannot win overnight. Success will require sustained action … . It takes time to train the teachers, nurses and engineers; to build the roads, schools and hospitals … we must start now. And we must more than double global development assistance over the next few years. Nothing less will help to achieve the Goals.”

– United Nations Secretary-General

 

Under the heading of Millennium Development Goals of the United nations we find the following statements

Ensure environmental sustainability:

Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs; reverse loss of environmental resources.

 

Develop a global partnership for development:

Develop further an open trading and financial system that is rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory, includes a commitment to good governance, development and poverty reduction— nationally and internationally.

The dire fact is that now, halfway the 15-year plan of the UN, we are not only behind on schedule, but the situation is actually worse than when the millennium began.

 

 

 

Mahatma Gandhi said that economy and ethics were completely reconcilable, and that ethics was even conditional for long lasting economy.

Nevertheless humanity at large in its present state does not adhere much value to ethics, least of all in practice. Hereafter we will discuss why this is so. Whether we like it or not, we have to take into account when developing our system of economics.

 

The United Nations in its Millennium Development Goals mentions: to “Develop further an open trading and financial system that is rule-based.”

 

Because humans are not yet gods,  laws and rules are necessary to guide our behavior. Though freedom is our highest goal, no one would agree to give criminals the freedom to steal and murder and cheat. Freedom includes freedom from fear, from avoidable danger. To regulate our society we have made laws and rules, not to suppress our freedom, but to guarantee it.

In the same line the world community should be guaranteed to be free from fear of robbery, violence and poverty. To live is our most fundamental birth right. For living, food, water, shelter, safety and opportunity are essential, as well as a degree of happiness. These, we should take care, must be available for all because of the fact that she or he is a human being, unconditionally. There is nothing in the universe that does not have a function.

In the 20th and 21st centuries we have accomplished more than in many centuries beforehand. But we are facing problems, so huge, that we may not even survive the present century. Therefore we will have to have a set of laws, rules, and regulations.

 

 

Ethics

 

When we study the many religions of our world we repeatedly find a number of core terms

 

Religions’ core terms are:

Nonviolence

Compassion

Love (your neighbor)

Mercy

Altruism

Unselfishness

Sacrifice

 

In our time we could add:

Harmony with our planet

Endless sustainability of our life and the planet

 

Bipolarity of consciousness:

In every human being, and in every society and even so in Nature we recognize a bipolarity of consciousness, which pervades all our actions and thinking. This bipolarity, or duality within Oneness, we may express in many ways, such as good and evil, attachment to the past, or progressive longing for a better future.

Basically this duality derives from the two sides of Nature, the material and the spiritual. Therefore we can divide our personal psychology as well as humankind and society according to this artificial division into spirit and matter.

 

According to religious-philosophical teaching we have just some millions of years ago entered the second half of our kalpa, also called a day of Brahmā, which in total lasts, according to Hindu calculations, 4 billion and 320 million years. The first half represented the descent or involvement of spirit in matter, the second half, our half, represents the return towards the spiritual, in which matter becomes enlightened by the spirit.

If we, put somewhat in black and white, these two sides next to, or opposite each other, in application to our present world, we may set up the following table of human tendencies:

 

 

Materialist Violence due to subconscious spiritual despair* Spiritual Nonviolence due to understanding and ultimate confidence
Greed Generosity
Passion Moderation, indifference to impulses
Self-directedness (egoism)* Other-directedness (altruism)
Power Knowledge
Dominance Humility
Territorial instinct* Non-separation, brotherhood
Instinct to self-preservation Using instinct with wisdom
Fear for physical  harm Indifference to physical harm
Fear for Death Believe in immortality of the soul
Short-term thinking* Universal (global, holistic) thinking
Confused understanding Wisdom
Indifference towards the whole Caring for the whole
Interest in money Interest in values
Competition Cooperation
Mleccha (not interested in spirituality) Arya (yearning for spirituality)

*  Will be discussed hereafter

 

Non-duality

Non-duality means the understanding that things are not independent, nor do they come into existence independently. Good and evil, light and dark, materialism and spirituality are relative, just as night and day are but two aspects of the property of sunlight. No materialist is without a spiritual spark within, no spiritual person can do without matter, of which his body is formed, and all that goes with it (food, procreation, etc.). No political, social or whatever system is entirely good or bad, but is a mental reflection of Truth – which is beyond duality.

Perennial philosophy, reflected in the diverse religions, teaches that humans are two-poled, i.e. they are co-evolving, composed, symbiotic beings, the one side being an animal, the other a god. This distinguishes humans from animals, plants, etc.:  the human mind alone was awakened and under continuous stimulating influence of the divine “sons of mind,” known in Sanskrit as Manasaputras (sons of divine mind) of Brahmaputras (sons of the creative (expanding) universal mind). Our animal body, feelings, instincts, impulses were developed in the past; our higher nature, the ruler of ‘our’ animal is in beginning development at present and will continue in all human future.

 

As a result, there is unavoidably (at this stage) continuous internal struggle in each individual as well as external struggle between individuals and groups. The human being is a “battlefield” as described in the Bhagavad Gītā. Because the spiritual has not yet finally conquered in humanity, rules, regulations, laws and systems are indispensable for the “god” in us to contain the “animal” in us.

Also in Nature we see a spiritual side and material side. The first is represented by its beauty, beneficence, technical intelligence, inspirational power; the second by its passions, instinctual greed, survival instincts, competition – which are indispensable and therefore “good” for the functioning  of the subhuman kingdoms. Nature existed before self-conscious humanity existed, and therefore is often regarded as emanated (and created) by a God or divine beings far above humans.

 

Spiritual despair versus understanding and consciousness

Though our first as well as ultimate interest is happiness and fulfillment, we do not know how to reach that state. The ultimate goal of life and therefore of economy is satisfaction of our consciousness. Not satisfaction of greed, possessiveness or power. These things we can not take beyond our grave, and they do not add to the nobility of our eternal soul. Inwardly we all know this. But because we see with our eyes only the material world, concepts like “God” “Moksha” and “the Unseen Greatness of the Universe” have become vague for us. We also know that all religions of all times have taught about such things. Spirituality, immortality and clarity of insight are our inborn goals. But doubting these things makes us crave for immediate satisfaction in material things. Loss of material things makes us unhappy, and we despair and are ready to fight in fear for loss of our attachment to temporary goods. Personally I tend to think that this is the root of our suffering and materialism. Our pursuit of temporary illusions rather than universal and eternal values, while we know inwardly that these can not satisfy us, make us insecure. Why else would we fight wars and quarrel about what we are attached to? Eternal values need no attachment and are infinitely provided by nature. So why worry?

 

Egoism versus altruism

One of the great teachings of Buddhism (or of Hinduism when we regards the Buddha as the 9th avatāra of Vishnu) is that of non-separateness. Independent existence is an illusion. Whatever we do influences all. The idea of an independent, separate ego is concept which is empty of truth. Therefore egoism is the great illusion, and the cause of all suffering. Altruism means that we are conscious of our interconnectedness, and of the fact that we can not do anything for our so-called separate ego without disturbing the peace of truth, to which Nature reacts logically and automatically. This is called Karma.

In the field of economy this means simply that self-interest and self-enrichment will not serve the wholeness of society or of the universe, and will ultimately turn against us. Such a statement I can make because I am in India. It is the message of India to the world. Mahatma Gandhi taught us to spin our own cotton. But even more we should spin our own noble thought system. This will be at real service to the world, in the long term. It may not immediately be apparent today. India should not sell its soul to a Western economic system. Though I do not deny that much can be learned from western efficiency, reliability and straightforwardness.

 

Territorial instinct versus human brotherhood

When we were animals, as our bodies still are, territorial instinct was a necessity. But we are no animals, because we have a divine mind. For all practical purposes there may be borders and regions and cultural variation. But in a world of globalization, where every school kid can chat with friends at the other side of the world, and where also pollution and money know of no borders, we should realize that we are one humanity, living on only one “Spaceship Earth” and that it is right away ridiculous that we fight each other with mortal weapons. We have to live here together. Governments should not in the first place think of Indian economy, or American, or Russian, or European economy, but of global economy, to which national interests are secondary.

Of course there are differences in interest between individuals and groups, countries. But such differences should be settled by diplomacy and commissions rather than by threatening and weapons. We should leave these stage in human development behind now. It belongs to the old age of pre-global-communication. But we still have to go a long way to break down our thought habits and weapons systems. But it is possible, if first we specialize in defense and reduce our force to attack, so that we can in mutual confidence reduce our weapons. It is difficult, because the interests of short-term gain of economies based on weapons production is powerful. But it should be accomplished. Why waste time and most of our economic means? Why maintain a world of fear where there can be confidence and happiness?

It is of absolute need that governments openly put the world’s interest above national interest, and pronounce that also. We are not served by presidents talking about the “American interest” of the Indian or Asian or whatever interest. There is only human interest, global interest, the interest of all living beings, including animals, forests and whatever lives and evolves and has consciousness. When we talk about the problems of global warming, we talk indeed about a GLOBAL problems touching all of us. Then why do we immediately start taking the position that WE should not pay? We will pay, perhaps with death. Every plan should first be evaluated against its global interest and feasibility. Then we must see whether we have the courage and altruism to bring sacrifice for our fellow human beings of different races, habits, religions and life styles.

India should bring international proposals into United Nations or other globally accepted forums concerning such matter. Rajiv Gandhi strove for a nuclear bomb free world. Mahatma Gandhi for non-violent and respectful conflict resolution. India should take the lead in ethical and global approaches. India should specialize in technology which serves global wellbeing and helps to solve the ecological and climatological problems in this century. This is the technology we need most in the near future. Then India will be the real leader of the world, though perhaps not the financially richest.

 

Short-term thinking versus Universal (global, holistic) thinking

It has been said that we have this world only on loan of our progeny. I wish our descendents to live in a war free, pollution free, harmonious society in which wisdom rules in stead of greed and fear. We also have to fill our stomach today, but not at the cost of tomorrow.

 

Economy and ecology

 

Both words are derived from the Greek “oikos,” i.e. “house” – referring to one “house.” Our common house is our complete earth (or universe), including humanity. Therefore economy can only function in the long term when it is in harmony and at one with “Gaia,” the Earth (within the universe) as ecosystem. In other words,  economy – which is naturally based on human thought and understanding – can only be sustainable if we bring it in line with a deep understanding of living ecology, and when we allow the divine ecology to supersede our passions, greed, survival instincts, and drive to competition.

Many of you may have heard about the Gaia hypothesis, developed by a British scientist, James Lovelock. On basis of his measurements of the atmosphere over our planet and biological knowledge he came to the conclusion that even the smallest micro-organism unknowingly maintain the prolonged existence of life on earth. As humans we must knowingly helps to maintain the prolonged existence of life on earth, as well as play our positive role in mental and cultural evolution.

The experts in the philosophy and knowledge in economy and ecology should work together, not as opposing parties, but as partners for global well-being. Laws should be based on their combined insights. It is outrageous that we cut our forest which produce the very air we breath, or that we can not even drink from the rivers which are sacred and divine in origin according to Indian mythology.

 

Lower (conventional) economy Ecological (spiritual) 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

 

Nature provides us, for example, unending solar energy: warmth, light, electromagnetism; near infinite sources of healthy air, water, and land to live on; examples of near infinite generosity in the form of (vegetarian and mineral) foods which do no effort to avoid our use of their bodies but make themselves freely available; materials for shelter, entertainment, for training of our skills, our mind, our intelligence (by investigation), expansion of our knowledge by showing us its superhuman technological, chemical and psychological accomplishments and processes, its inexhaustible playfulness and diversity in evolution, and in providing us a body to live in; and last but not least the possibility to recognize the divine, in the form of beauty, its mystical moods, and the pure soul essence in each living being.

So our economy should only use natural energy, provided by the sun, the earth (gravity: streaming water; and warmth), the moon (tides, and its influence on plant growth, etc), we should use the land, but not exploit it (Jainism and Aboriginal Australians, for example, forbid digging in the ground out of respect for mineral lives and for the earth, or for the Mind who “dreamt” her, as the Aboriginals say. From this point of view, mining and oil distraction should be rejected as a means for acquiring energy.

Trusting Nature’s wisdom also in the field of our physical health we should use natural food only (without killing insects or disturbing the soil’s clay-complexes with fertilizers, and without gene manipulation which hampers the natural way of the plant souls), and in much smaller quantities – just what our bodies need. In other words, food in which no violence is involved. We should also try to avoid artificial factory-made food mixtures, as well as food in excessive packing materials. Also unclean foods caused by hygienic indifference should be avoided. A natural way of living improves our physical, psychological and mental condition, prevents very much suffering in the animal kingdom, and almost all diseases. [It may well mean the downfall of the pharmaceutical industry which thrives on our unhealthiness, on animal experiments, big financial interest, and which is very polluting to the environment and detrimental to the natural restore capacities of our bodies. Pharmacy is violent because it suppresses the natural process of what we label “disease” and kills the germs fulfilling their task.] Our body has of its own more wisdom than our doctor.

 

Does it destroy the economic balance?

We are aware that many of the good things of the world, such as wireless communication and the near absence of famines have been accomplished thanks to the development of our economic systems and the great thinkers who designed the groundwork for it. We do not want to go back to a world of isolation and ignorance, we don’t have the diseases without cure of former centuries, nor feudalism dictatorships, power structures and wars as in the past. We do not want to return to a society based on a caste system or racial inequality and slavery. We have accomplished much.

However, if we would turn over to a nonviolent and ecologically sound economy according to our highest ideal today, the whole system would collapse. The facts is that we are greedy, that we do believe deeply in our ego, and many other things. An economy can not be sound without taking human psychology into account. Merely preaching ethics does not erase the presence of our animal impulses and desires which are so deeply engraved.

But we can replace polluting industries by nature and human friendly industries. We can replace weapons industries by industries making wonderful instruments for scientific research. We can gradually turn away from emphasis on allopathic medicine towards a nature-based health care system, and prevent diseases rather that operate them. Healthy foods are at least as economic as unhealthy foods. And how much loss suffers the global economy due to unnecessary illnesses of people who could normally work?

 

Ethics of business

The ethics of business should change: instead of “competition” the mantra should be: “service.” In Islam, products are defined as economic if they are beneficial, but as without economic value if these product are not allowed or not beneficial (such as alcohol in the Muslim world). Greed should be deemed unethical in all business schools. Service means service to the buyers as well as service to the Earth. The Vedic concept of yajñā means the balance between giving and receiving, physically as well as spiritually. Commerce should serve as the intermediate factor without self-interest beyond the personal necessities of life.

 

Respect for Nature

Many lectures, writings and “philosophies” point to productive companies (especially the big) as culprits for pollution, climate change, inequality, suppressing and poverty. However we are all consumers and therefore fellow culprits. Trade is unavoidable even if we limit ourselves greatly to nature-given provisions, though the scale could be brought down. Production is also unavoidable. Also private initiative, inventiveness and research are beneficial for the development of the mind and the culture. However economy should be an integral and harmonizing part of the whole. Instead of criminalizing companies and capitalism it would be better to take on a more enlightened view. Just as criminals are people are a product of our value system and their private education or lack of it, or victim of private psychological frustrations, who can often be re-educated and gain a higher type of happiness in life, the same can be done with people who are caught in the materialistic mind-stream. As on the individual level there are laws forbidding murder and theft sanctioned by punishment, so should commerce be given a limit to profit, and the sanctioned prohibition to transgress defined ethical codes.

 

Technology

A world without modern technology is unthinkable. Our period is a paradise compared to previous centuries when there was no medical and communicational technology. The discovery of the use of electricity, of electromagnetism and transformation of energy has changed the world forever. For the first time in millions of years we had to learn to handle and control a form of Agni or fire of undreamt of power, and that in less then two hundred years. We may suppose that this is only the beginning. We are like a child which strikes its first match. He may burn himself at first, or even put everything on fire. But there is no way back.

Technology is there for our benefit, not for destruction, just as a match helps us to keep us warm and cook our food. Let the development of technology always be for the benefit of humanity and all other beings. Let every intellectual technical idea be preceded by heartfelt compassion and awareness that it is in service of the wholeness of our planet and our society. And let us abandon every technology born from less noble motivations.

Let us implement firm restrictions on polluting and harmful technology. The technology of nature produces the sweet smells of flowers and the very air we breath. Nature is our educator if we listen and look to her. Let human technology be equally delightful and beneficial.

 

Education.

One of the major causes of poverty, suppression, inequality, terrorism, and inefficient and harmful behavior of individuals and groups in the society is lack of education. To those who can not read one can tell any story. They have no possibility to compare. If the things told to the illiterate would be honest and genuinely meant for their wellbeing, spiritual elevation and general awareness, the situation would be better than it is. But regrettably hosts of corrupt officials and tradesmen serve themselves by telling lies to the ignorant, so that they remain not only ignorant, but also are deceived and cheated. But even if the more educated would serve the benefit of the uneducated, they would still be deprived of all information that is not directly given to them by mouth, and they are deprived of every decent function in society as well as the possibility to intellectual development and access to philosophical and spiritual ideas. How many great potential professors, doctors, functionaries, teachers, technicians, leaders and other great people are missed by the society and the global community because society did not give them the opportunity to self-development by withholding basic education? What does it mean for people to yearn for knowledge, understanding and development, but to find every door closed because they can not find the information ?!

Another educational activity is to teach people to eat healthy, live healthy (perhaps with the help of exercise, yoga, meditation etc.), practice cleanliness and basic health care.

Selfish competition within the education should be abandoned. At present even the smallest children get marks at school (and therewith praise, presents and pocket money) and can compare themselves with others, which leads to greed, judgment of others, haughtiness, fear and psychological suffering even up to suicidal frustration. It prepares children for a society where everyone fights for himself, if necessary at the cost of others.

Instead, school children should get a much more individual approach, and the educators should be taught to have an eye for each individual’s needs. Children should be taught to share and to help each other, each according to his own inherent qualities. Of course a child can “fail” to be strong in a particular subject, but in that case he or she should receive extra attention, or helped to develop what is his potentially strong in his character and individuality. Stimulation is always better than punishment, except when a particular (probably exceptional) character is stimulated or strengthened by punishment, which should in any case be a just approach. In the West quite a few experiments in this vein are already done. Apart from reading, writing, math and geography, sports etc. children should abide in an environment which is free of competition, verbal, psychological or physical violence, where teachers are helpful and understanding.

Compulsory subjects should be:

Information and discussion of ethical values of various cultures

Giving each other attention and support or help

Friendliness towards people and other living beings as homework

Nature experience

Fine music and arts

Nonviolent conflict resolution

Learning to understand other’s points of view

Basic knowledge about the essences of religions

Meditation or reflection on the well-being of all beings on earth and in the universe.

 

Something for all

In a healthy society there are no extremes. Nobody should have to worry about basic needs of life. It is the responsibility of governments to provide every single individual with food, shelter, education, information, health education, self-healing methods and access to medical care. And above that some money, which is needed for other basic things according to the individual’s choice, and to give him or her opportunity. Independent research should advice the quantity of money needed for each individual. By these few simple things, if well organized, the suffering of poverty could be abolished in the world, and when poverty disappears, industries will see their number of buyers increase by millions.

 

Redefining poverty

In the present global society, mere existence as fundamental right is no longer enough. Above the conventional rights as defined by the UN, every citizen of the world should have continuous access to external sources of information, especially internet, provided by the government, and thus have access to a wide set of programs for self-education. In this way every world citizen can collect the information he or she needs and wishes for and develop him or herself according to his potentials. Governments should take care to provide the necessary information even for illiterates, so that local (and large scale) corruption will be minimized. Freedom of expression through means of communication should be guaranteed.

At the same time we should take care that poverty is only one of reasons for human suffering. Money alone does not make happy, and many times too much money makes unhappy. Also we must prevent to stigmatize poverty as something that is “low” or “wrong.” Dignity is of much more value than wealth.

 

How to finance such plans? Because there are hundreds of millions of poor people in the world, even small measures will cost huge amounts to the state. Companies and the rich are usually, for whatever reason,  very reluctant to give to the poor. Nevertheless giving is the only solution in the present world situation with its already long history of making the rich richer and the poor poorer.

 

Maximum to benefit

Internationally it should be discussed and recognized that unbridled self-enrichment of individuals and companies does not serve humanity at large. Paradoxically India, with his hundreds of millions of poor and uneducated people is home to the richest man in the world, and a few of the nearly richest. This is a shame for the nation. These tremendous amounts of money also give huge material power to monopolize.

Therefore a social tax system should be implemented which is progressive, as is already existent in many developed countries, and this should ultimately be on global agreement, or include a group of nations as large as possible. The money acquired should entirely be used for the raising of the poor.

I think the European would agree to such an idea. Their governments are in favor of setting some rules. America is usually against international binding rules, but that should not withhold the others. America is also an intelligent think-tank of new ideas, which many times have proven to be of benefit to all.

Of course such a system will never be perfect, and we have to tolerate a small margin of misuse. But it is our responsibility to keep that margin small and to work to make it smaller. Every labor a person performs lifts him immediately and significantly above the so-called “poverty line,” but in no circumstance can he never fall below the poverty line.

When a particular limit of profit is reached, such tax would be 100 %. But I propose that the tax should never reach a compulsory amount higher than 90 or 95 %, so that nobody would be forced to zero profit. Of implementing a plan like this is complex, because persons or companies might choose another country and deposit their money in some tax paradise. Each case should be on its own, and internationally approved. Many will not like the idea of any limit to gain and freedom, but it puts a limit to greed – and that has become an absolute necessity if we do not want to overburden or even lose our planet. Moreover, in the long run, this serves the total economy, because the even the poorest will become consumers. In a country like India this can be understood. Traditionally the wealthy donate huge sums for building temples, for charitable projects and other noble purposes. This generosity can become the general tendency of the society, if we can democratically agree on a system that implements rules. Freedom of enterprise and making profit is essential in our society where materialism and selfishness are predominant. For many this is the only stimulus. In ages to come, compassion and altruism may be enough developed to make such laws and regulation unnecessary, but at present there seems no other way. Further profit would go to charitable funds or projects under democratic control (full openness of books and activities).

 

Democracy

Though democracy has increased tremendously in the last centuries and even in the last decades, and the most industrialized countries promote and defend democracy, the power and behavior of big private companies is largely outside our democratic control. As consumers we decide what to buy, and that is our “vote” for the company. But we have hardly any control over the ethical, environmental, and social behavior of such a company. Naturally companies will show a smiling face, but what is behind the smile is difficult to know. Companies should be screened concerning their behavior according to strict laws and rules, and the results publicized.  Therefore there should be globally accepted laws, rules and regulations, based on awareness and genuine care for human well-being and all beings on the earth. Nor should companies and individuals have the right to exert power by lobbying, bribing, “personal contacts” or “family relations” other then the normal one man – one vote democratic procedure. All lobbying can be done through the free press, public discussion and democratic decision taking.

 

List of industries and their scores

A list could be made of industries and products and investigate their value for human welfare, including general benefit, and environmental, social and ethical impact. This will lead to more wisdom in our choices. Also the legal possibility to punish companies for wrong behavior should be developed (such as by black-listing and publication)

 

Rules and regulations

In the present state and stage of development of humanity its seems that we need rules, regulations, laws and systems, even religions. We can design an (undogmatic!) highest value system and base our laws, rules and regulations on it. This has been done many times in history, but in our days of transition we need to think and develop our thinking for the future, hoping that generations after us will live with less tensions, insecurities, struggles and fears, and can occupy themselves with the development of more useful aspects of their being.

 

Compulsory self-limitation

Some products should be limited by strict rules. Cars, for example, are responsible for about half the world’s green house gasses. This simply means that not everyone can have a car. Just as in the case of weapons, there should be a license system for cars, quantity of fuel use per motorized vehicle, further restriction of car use in pollution prone areas such as big cities. At the same time research should be done to good alternatives. Especially to not yet fully developed countries like India and China and Africa should meditate on this, and global agreement should be reached in which these countries sacrifice more than the industrialized countries. This should be maintained until a pollution-free car is invented and marketable. This should not just be on basis of promise or good intentions, but be fixed in international agreements. The concerned countries naturally won’t like the idea, but the earth and the global community would be extremely grateful if these great as well as large communities would introduce the practice of self-sacrifice into economy. We all know that, realistically, the earth will not be able to bear universal use of fossil fuel driven vehicles.

Cars is just one example. The world over there are activities which harm global well-being and cleanliness, probably no country in the world excepted. The scope of this lecture doesn’t allow us to work other examples, but if we will, it can be done.

 

What governments can do

Governments should sit together, with global interest in a higher position than national interest. Perhaps each country represented in the United nations should add a “global ambassador,” whose sole task it is to think about values, measures and laws which are above national interests. They should design rules, and a system to implement and maintain the rules. Rules are now, in the present stage of the world an absolutely necessity, as much as a penal code for environmental transgressors and those who disturb the wellbeing of the global community of living beings. No more global warming or destruction of natural resources and creation of suffering of parts of humanity and the living world at the profit of others. Freedom may be our greatest good, including freedom of enterprise, but nobody may be given the freedom to destroy or cause harm to others. Our systems of communication are now sophisticated enough to maintain a global system of discussion and monitoring, ecologically as well as judicial. No longer can we use money to pot it up or for powerful lobbying activity, convincing or bribing governors for self-interest. There is, in the service of the global community, no reason to keep our assets secret.

Freedom is not the freedom of addiction to matter, but freedom of thought. It is freedom of evolution of what is within the deeper layers of our being. The freedom to reach real happiness, the freedom to gain what never perishes – the True the Just and the Beautiful, as Plato expressed it.

Governments of countries and of the world should create think-tanks of people of high intelligence and ethics to look at the problems from all sides, and steer the society with law and regulation.

There should be rules for behavior and laws to implement that behavior.

–                      A limit to financial gain

By means of a progressive social welfare tax system.

A democratic procedure determining the use of such money, for which a parliament representing the government as well as non-governmental organizations are represented. Companies will be allowed to create foundations, funds, or well-fare organizations, donations to which should be (at least partly) be tax-deducible. The chosen government has the final say and proposes regulations according to the nations’ democratic system.

–                      Exclusion of poignant poverty for ever world citizen.

Every human being should receive the means to live and develop:

Every individual should be provided basic needs where and when necessary.

Every individual should receive a minimum income.

Every individual should be provided access to modern means of

communication

  • As a matter of principle no license should ever be given for industries producing environmental, landscape or sound pollution or other forms of pollution or destruction. Industries should abide by strict rules which have been defined from a heart of genuine respect for the planet, all living beings, and human dignity. Best is if the rules are agreed upon globally, or else as many countries as possible, and leave no room for compromise concerning ethics and environmentalism.

–                      A practically applicable penal code should be designed for transgressors.

–                      For very project intended by the government or the private sector a independent scientific and uncompromisable report must be made relating to the effects for the local environment as well as large scale impact for the earth and all living beings.

–                      Global monitoring system as to behavior of producing industries.

–                      The global community must have the right to put sanction, for example by international boycott agreements towards transgressors, and by complete openness and clarity of behavior regarding rules. International penal taxes can be given according to strict laws on products of the transgressors.

–                      Government should initiate a discussion among defense specialists to investigate the possibility to develop systems of defense, but with less power of offence.

–                      It is not possible or desirable to sanction governments or countries. Even if it takes time, governments will ultimately choose to follow a sane policy in the general interest. But sanctions could lead to suppression and revolt, even war. Nations are ruled by the mind, not by interests, whereas economy is based on interests of which the mind is made servant.

 

Rules and laws should never become dogma’s. Continuously they are discussed, refined, and adjusted, however without ever losing the original object. For this, a universally recognized constitution would be very desirable, expressing the highest yearning of the human heart.

 

* * * * * * *

 


Parasparopagraho jivanam:

 

This famous more than 25 centuries old principle of the Jains we find translated in two ways:

All living beings are dependent on each other

All living beings are there to help each other.

 

This in itself forms the basis of a healthy economy as well as ecology. No discussion, conference, report, study is more valuable than such simple religious principles. Contemplation and meditation on such principles (see religion’s core terms) should be part of any educational system.

 

 

Vows for a healthy, ethical and sustainable economy

 

1. The Right Concept of Development

a) I will adhere to the balanced concept of development.

b) I will practice a non-violent life style.

c) In education I will strive to a balanced emotional development.

 

2. The Right Attitude towards Wealth and Consumption

a) I will abstain from earning such wealth and from such a level of consumption that these [potentially] create social problems.

b) I will abstain from earning such wealth and from such a level of consumption that these [potentially] create reactive violence.

c) I will abstain from earning such wealth and from such a level of consumption that these [potentially] bring forth poverty and hunger.

d) I will abstain from such use of money and a pattern of consumption that give rise to social disparity.

e) I will refrain from engaging myself in such occupations and consumption that lead to pollution and destruction of the environment.

3. The Right Attitude of Consumption:

a) I will refrain from unnecessary consumption.

b) I will exercise self-discipline and discretion even in necessary and essential consumption.

c) I will try to reform criminal mentality.

 

(This article is also posted under ‘Science>Economy’)

 

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  1. Paper prepared for a lecture at Anna Centre for Public Affairs, University of Madras, Chennai, 24 January 2008 by Rudi Jansma. [<<]