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SUSTAINABLE TO ENLIGHTENMENT DEVELOPMENT

We have come to a time, for Ariyaratne overall then, that we have to think in terms of not sustainable development, but enlightenment development. As such, he dwells initially upon the non-material dimensions of rural transformation. These "technologies" firstly ensure the psychological and physical security of the member of a community. This is what he terms the preservation of human rights and promotion of human duties as inherent ingredients of social consciousness. Without this kind of security, securely based on one's own psycho-spiritual edifice, it is premature to talk of employment and income generation. In fact rural communities look at their spiritual goals, moral relationships, cultural life, social conduct and economic pursuits as a whole, and this set of ideas can be transferred to an urban setting.

In contrast, if we look at the rubber and coconut industries, the tea plantations and tobacco cultivation, whatever transformation has been brought about through these agro-businesses and technologies has not resulted in a sustainable and spiritually enriching life style for the communities living either within these plantations or on their peripheries. We have not learned the lesson that it is not the technology or the market economy that is the fundamental determinant of well-being, but rather the human being himself within his socio-cultural milieu and the bio-region he is living in, acting and inter-acting together as one physical bio-entity. The culture and the geography of the region become much more important for sustainable development than markets and technologies.

No human community or even an individual can exist without technology. In the same manner, whether we want it or not, transformation will always take place within ourselves in mind and body and also outside of ourselves in everything that exists both living and non-living. The recurring problem with human groups from the beginning of our evolution is how best to integrate these two. In recent years, when one looks at the kind of thinking pertaining to technology and development, according to Ariyaratne, one cannot help but perceive a highly manipulative exercise on behalf of political and economic interests. The slavish submission of our "developing" world to their "developed" – Western – world has prevented the former from developing its own technologies and goals.

LAWS OF DEVELOPMENT

Development then, for Ariyaratne, is an awakening process. It involves much more than bringing together factors of production for the most efficient utilization and management of resources for the benefit of society. Awakening involves ideals and thoughts, and a vision that the noblest human consciousness can absorb. The ultimate end of this vision should be the highest joy of living for the individual as well as for the society as a whole. There needs to be, moreover, a consistency between nobility of ends and means – in Sarvodaya such means being non-violent, truthful and self-sacrificial: now in 15,000 villages in Sri Lanka.

The fundamental problems pertaining to conflict, poverty and the environment have not been solved in the course of the 20th century. Development is first and last about human beings. When human beings have become alienated from themselves and their environments, something has gone radically wrong. Instead of the human mind and its aggregate consciousness controlling and guiding in the right direction the processes it has generated, the opposite happens, and human beings are no longer able to guide their own destiny. Development goals, then, should change from material ones to promoting self-realization. Everyone should be asking: "Who am I?" (Grounding); "How did I come to be?" (Emerging); "Where am I going?" (Navigating); and "What makes me happy or unhappy?" (Effecting). Furthermore, "What is my role in my community, nation, and in the whole world?" In planning for awakening or development, moreover, we have to be conscious of the limitations placed upon us by the bio-sphere, eco-system and psycho-sphere.

Buddha, 2,600 years ago, talked of Cosmic Law pertaining to Seasons (Utu Niyama); Cosmic Law pertaining to Biological Order (Bija Niyama); Cosmic Law pertaining to Natural Phenomena (Dhamma Niyama); Cosmic Law pertaining to Mental Phenomena (Citta Niyama); and of cause and effect in the Moral Conduct of Human Beings (Kamma Niyama). We cannot planning realistically without recognizing the interactions between all of these laws.

BUDDHISM IN THE 21 ST CENTURY

Today we observe how the world is in search of a meaningful development theory and practice. Development conceived purely along economic lines has not been able to do away with the poverty present throughout the world. The international institutions, for Ariyaratne, such as the World bank, IMF and UNDP have failed miserably. The socialist façade has virtually crumbled and the capitalist world is gradually realizing the contradictory nature of its own development. The thinking few in the West are questioning the sanity of their own theory of development.

In this context, for the Ariyaratnes, Buddhists should evolve their own theory of world development. Since Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and now parts of China are becoming developed countries, it is appropriate for Buddhists in these countries to look back critically at their own pasts and try to give the rest of the Buddhist world, the poorer Buddhist countries, the benefit of their experience. Their leadership in this area as scholars, entrepreneurs, publishers, journalists, economists and so on could be greatly appreciated by the Buddhist world. They could become the guiding lights for the less economically developed countries in Asia in the new millennium.

Such an emerging Buddhist agenda should include, for Ariyaratne:

• a clear establishment of a universal Buddhist identity for all Buddhists based on common Buddhist theory;

• encouragement of existing Buddhist scholarship;

• drafting a Buddhist theory of development and an action plan for promoting Buddhist communities to meet poverty, powerlessness, violence and disease, and the degeneration of moral standards;

• with the leading Buddhist counties, playing a lead role economically in creating a new and more humane world order.

We now turn from the "South" and the "East" to the "North", and from a pre-emphasis on culture and spirituality to technology and society.

 
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