Desktop version

Home arrow Philosophy arrow Integral polity, integrating nature, СЃulture, society and economy

THE AWAKENING OF ALL

POLITICAL TO SPIRITUAL AWAKENING

Sarvodaya did not talk, from the outset, about welfare. Instead it talked about awakening. Awakening of the individual to his highest potential; awakening of human groups to their total potential; awakening of the nation to its highest potential. For rural people, such development had six components: firstly, a political element, in the sense of people having an opportunity to participate in decision making; secondly, people look at development as a process where certain social needs could be fulfilled; thirdly comes the economic sector.

These three sectors then, political, social and economic need to be combined with three others. Development is meaningless if it does not pay heed to moral principles. These are the cultural values that a society cherishes. These are also spiritual values which give meaning to people's lives. Therefore, if we are to integrate any national development effort six factors are involved: moral, cultural, spiritual, political, social and economic. Ariyaratne then turns to science, both Western and Asian.

WESTERN VERSUS ASIAN SCIENCE

Outer Directed versus Inner Directed

What conventionally goes under the name of science, for Ariyaratne, is a product of the West. The development of modern science and the expansion of the materialistic influence of the West on Asian society took place hand in hand. Western expansionism had a definite objective – limitless greed for wealth promoted through violence, untruth and so-called "science". The first definition of science Ariyaratne was given at school was: "science is the quest of man for a universal knowledge of nature."

The question is, for such Western science, is man himself included as an integral part of nature? In fact there is plenty of evidence, for Ariyaratne, of man and nature working at cross purposes. Man was trying to master nature as if he was not part of it. The story of development of science and technology is a sad tale, of man's insatiable greed not only to plunder his fellow man but also his fellow creatures in the animal kingdom.

Ariyaratne reminds us, thereafter, that the relationship between man's material planes of existence and his spiritual planes have an internal relationship and only this realization can save him from the mess into which human civilization has degenerated. According to the teachings of the Buddha, our human life moves around the central pivot of the mind-body combination known as numa-rupa, the five aggregates of which are:

• rupa – body

• vedana – sensation

• sannita – perception

• sankhara – volitional activities

• vinnana – consciousness

The world for ignorance or non-science is avijja and that for science is vijja. Buddha went on to explain that there is suffering in the world, which can be removed by the noble eightfold path:

• samma ditta – right understanding

• samma sankappa – right thoughts

• samma vacca – right words

• samma kammantha – right deeds

• samma ajiva – right livelihood

• samma vayama – right effort

• samma sathi – right awareness

• samma samadhi – right concentration

The Asian, or "Eastern" scientific method, then, is integral to the series of personality awakening processes which were liberated to bring about the cessation of suffering. It was not simply thirst after knowledge for the sake of satisfying curiosity or for improvement in production processes. It is with a view to attaining Supreme Enlightenment that knowledge is sought, leading to wisdom. This does not take place through objective instruments and formulation of hypotheses through controlled experiments, which are all impersonal and objective. Science, rather, is born out of inner discipline.

The scientist disciplines himself by cultivating respect for all beings, through the practice of selflessness, shunning evil and cultivating goodness. Such a development of science does not isolate the scientist from his discoveries, from himself, from others, or from the processes he has generated. There is no discontinuity, as such, between the natural laws of science and the spiritual laws which explain ultimate reality.

Transformative Action Aligned with Inner Harmony

Overall, for Ariyaratne then:

• Science has relevance to our modern problems only if it keeps in harmony with our highest spiritual aspirations.

• The scientific process and technology must not be alienated from higher wisdom.

• These processes should enrich our total personality.

• In releasing these processes, science should always be aware of the limits of natural resources.

• The institutions that are created for these purposes should be human scale; we must not become subservient to them.

The supreme goal of science is to discover, as such, those psycho-social laws and peaceful processes which will help us realize within ourselves as individuals, families, social groups, village and urban communities, national states and the world community the ways of awakening (Sarvo) one and all (Udaya). It is only when humanity is awakened to this realization that science merges with non-violence. Further, it would lead us to the realization that whatever we think, speak or do, that would bring about harm to sentient beings, and bring about imbalance in nature, is primarily unscientific. In other words, science becomes a manifestation of ignorance when it brings about violence on man or nature. On the other hand, if science helps us to live in nature, it becomes equated to a process leading to enlightenment.

What is it that stands in the way of such? The illusion called “self' takes hold of us, and all other mental evils such as jealousy, ambition, superiority and inferiority complexes. All of this leads to fear, and then to violence and a sense of self-righteousness. How then can we overcome all of this? Firstly, we need to accept that everything physical and mental is subject to continuous change – Anicca. Secondly, attachment brings about unhappiness – Dukkha. Thirdly that which is transient lacks permanence, as “self" – Anatta. The realization of all of the above leads one to seek true emptiness.

Village Studies for Development Purposes

Overall then, the scientific researcher as subject, for Ariyaratne, needs to be associated with the process of development, as object. You cannot have two separate personalities: one a researcher and one a development worker. In the development process, the development worker while getting immersed in development comes to occupy the vantage point of a researcher. The researcher prepares the path, the development worker makes the arduous journey: the research could always translate into action what is discovered via research through the development worker within. Sarvodaya's aim was to inspire the village people to discover their own scale of measurement and apply it to themselves.

Research is therefore valuable to the extent that it can be utilized to usher in development following the grammar of such development in a particular village. The villager, for Ariyaratne, should participate in research, in all its different phases, and also in implementing its findings. To the extent that they participate, so the research becomes practical, meaningful and ethical. Ariyaratne then turns form research and development in general to peace-making in particular, with which Sarvodaya has been intimately engaged, most especially through the influence of Vinja Ariyaratne, the son of the founder, for many years.

 
Found a mistake? Please highlight the word and press Shift + Enter  
< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >

Related topics