Aparigraha


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Aparigraha

 a

New Economic Paradigm

 for a

 Culture of Peace

   

Only the right marriage of the

Masculine – Spirit – with the Feminine – Matter –

Will bring forth the right fruit.

 

(Swadhyaya -Know thyself)

 

Global Coalition for Peace

4217 East –West Highway  
Bethesda, Maryland 20814 USA  
Ph. 301 654 6759  
e-mail: gcfp@earthlink.net
 

 

Aparigraha  
A New Economic Paradigm for a Culture of Peace

 

Preamble

Introduction

Part 1: Foundations for Aparigraha a new Economic Paradigm

  •         Why redefine economics?

  • ·       Materialistic Economics

  •         Spiritual Economics

  •         Critique of prevailing Capitalist System

  •         Basic Tennets

  • i   Scarcity

  • ii Competition

  • iii Incentives

  • iv “Profit Maximization”

  •          ‘Capitalism contains the seeds of its own destruction’

  •         NEM Group Critique

  •         Albert’s Critique

  • i “Capitalism is”

  • ii  Markets

  Part 2: Towards a New Definition of Economics

  •        The Source

  •         Spiritual Science or The Perennial Truth

  •         World Religions  

                                                          I.      Hinduism

                                                          II.     Judaism

                                                          III.    Christianity

                                                          IV.    Islam

  •         Spiritual Economics

  •         Some Spiritual Models Of  Economics

                                                             I.      The Essenes

                                                             II.      Rudolf Steiner

                                                            III.      PROUT

  •         Common Definitions of Economics

  •         Creating a New Definition Of  Economics

  •        Concluding Remarks

 

  APARIGRAHA  
 A NEW ECONOMIC PARADIGM FOR A CULTURE OF PEACE

  We must not believe that any economic, political, military or any other system will bring peace and prosperity to the world; only a rising level of consciousness of humanity can bring about the transformation that will make this possible.

 

Nevertheless, an economic system that is designed in agreement with the Law-- not man-made law, but Cosmic Law, or “the One Law”--  can prepare the conditions for that elevation of consciousness.

 

An economic system that lacks the spiritual infusion leads mainly towards materialism. Materialism is by definition concerned with the finite, and consequently tends towards destructive mechanisms, that lead to degradation and stimulation of the baser instincts, like greed, violence, and abuse of power, among others.

 

An economic system based on spirituality—which by definition is concerned with the infinite, and thus sees beyond transient circumstances and advantages—which employs mechanisms that promote a different way of thinking, will  and cultivates virtues such as love, cooperation, and compassion, that are the foundation of higher levels of consciousness, will work in a way that can make materialism a tool for human development.

PREAMBLE

The APARIGRAHA ECONOMIC PARADIGM (AEP) working group is a collaboration of spiritual seekers interested in economics and economists interested in spirituality. Representatives have been attending conferences and other public forums to exchange ideas with others working in alternative economics, establish fruitful relations, and expand the group’s knowledge base. Our goal is to give a definition of the science of economics that incorporates universal principles and values as handed down from time immemorial, and set the bases for a new economic paradigm, using those principles and values as given in the Spiritual Science of Yoga. That is why Aparigraha—a term from the Yoga system meaning “non-possessiveness,” “non-covetousness” or “non-greed”, is the term used to identify it.

We hold that a planetary shift in consciousness is taking place, away from a linear, materialistic modality to a spiritual, eco-humanitarian one, and in establishing the framework of the Aparigraha Economic Paradigm (AEP)-–by identifying the main elements of this shift of consciousness—hope to support and prepare for the change to take place over the next several generations.

Our opinion is that the current problems of humanity have their roots in the way we view ourselves individually and in relation to our environment-- including fellow human beings, animals, plants and other resources. We must admit that most of our relationships today—including family-- are shaped by economics, and thus there arises a need for examining these relationships, and how the science of economics affects the expression of human nature and impacts our environment. Thus one of the first criteria the science of economics should meet is that it be based on the real, true nature of man and life.

           The long-term goal of our group is to produce a document  on the Aparigraha Economic Paradigm (AEP), comprising a) the principles and a description of the paradigm b) ideas for its implementation, and c) practical examples of how this paradigm is manifesting around the globe.  The present paper may serve as a basis for the first section of the proposed work. As for the third section, Vyasa, founder and director of GCFP, has made four compilations of practical examples of spiritual/alternative economics, which are available in hard copy on request. For more information on these volumes and on the practice-oriented programs of the Global Coalition for Peace, the parent organization of the Aparigraha Economic Paradigm (AEP) please see the note at the end of this paper.

 

INTRODUCTION

Our main proposition is that the way for humanity to solve its current problems is to respect and live by spiritual laws, basing our relationships with each other and the rest of Creation on them. Since in many ways economics dominates our relationships, it needs spiritual laws as guiding principals.  

 

We will be giving a new definition of economics, that can be considered as eco-humanistic, or ‘spiritual economics’. Part One presents, in abstract format, an overview of the paradigm--explaining the need for a new definition of economics; offering a critique of the prevailing materialistic/capitalist system; and summarizing the paradigm’s general principles.

 

Then, in Part Two, we will treat more in-depth the paradigm’s foundation, starting with a discussion of Spiritual Science.  We will examine the role spirituality plays in our lives, and, through a brief historical overview of the major prophets and teachers, give the key values of the “perennial truth—i.e., those elements which are identified in virtually all times and cultures as defining man’s proper relation to Self and Environment. We will then give examples of the main religions’ prescriptions for proper economic behavior. It should be noted that in our view spirituality and religion are not synonymous, spirituality being understood as inclusive of all efforts of the human ‘spirit’ to come closer to its Source; religion is understood here to refer to cultural-specific formulations of universal truths. Next we will explain the link between spirituality and economics-- attempting to connect what we can call, in micro terms, business with morals, or, in macro terms, economics with spirituality. This will entail discussion of early and recent economic models which are characterized chiefly by their holistic view of man, to see how they have attempted to solve the problems of economics. Finally we will look at current definitions of the science of economics, and state our own definition of Aparigraha Economics.

 

 

PART 1: FOUNDATIONS FOR APARIGRAHA, A NEW ECONOMIC PARADIGM

                                                WHY REDEFINE ECONOMICS?

The world is in a state of crisis. Economics is the thread from which the fabric of society is woven; bringing the colors and forming its body in finely interwoven patterns; economics is what gives expression to the social life, what either nurtures and clothes, or starves and leaves exposed a naked body. If we think this fabric is not ‘big enough’ each individual will try to get the most of it to protect himself and his family.

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.[1]

      MATERIALISTIC ECONOMICS

Although the study of economics has evolved substantially since its inception in the 18th century, classical definitions of the science emphasizing material dimensions of human life dominate mainstream discourse and practice. Thus a one-sided understanding of human welfare as consisting mostly in the fulfillment of material needs motivates the production and consumption patterns of most of the globalized world, in what is termed capitalism.

Market economies, operating within the modality of supply and demand, and competition for scarce resources to fulfill “unlimited wants and needs”, promote excessive consumerism and ever-increasing competition amongst individuals, firms, and nations. Centrally planned economies, which also are structured to provide only for material needs, tend also to produce negative patterns such as corruption and abuse of power, that end up in what is called state capitalism.  Greed has been the driving force in both systems, creating an overt or covert suppression of personal and collective freedoms, and turning modern societies into economies of war. In spite of significant world-wide gains in many growth indicators since the 1940’s, and important technological progress, the overall trend is for more inequity and poverty in the world, both materially and spiritually.

  SPIRITUAL ECONOMICS

While sustenance for the body is indisputably a human being’s first requirement, his or her mental, emotional, and spiritual needs must also be fulfilled in order to attain Self-Realization. Self-Realization means the actualization of the total potential of a human being (i.e., his physical, mental, and spiritual capacities), and from the dawn of philosophy and religion has been recognized as the supreme goal of life. An economic system based on spirituality is needed to replace these failed economic systems. Spirituality refers to the spirit within every single being whether a convicted criminal a recognized saint, or an atheist.

 The shift in consciousness required in the proposed system necessitates replacing key notions of the prevailing systems which would promote liberation and evolution—not, as is the case, exploitation and degradation; human suffering and environmental destruction which should not be the result of economic activities. The new paradigm upholds respect towards all sentient being and all aspects of creation.

The ultimate purpose of Aparigraha Economics is to support the process of self-realization for human beings, which is only possible if both material and non-material (mental, psychological, emotional and spiritual) dimensions of people’s well-being are met. Many attempts and important contributions have been made to develop economic models different from prevailing systems.

  CRITIQUE OF PREVAILING CAPITALIST SYSTEM

Below follows a brief discussion of how the basic theoretical foundations of capitalism create fear, which fuels competition,  source of violence in a “fight for survivalbetween individuals, firms, and nations. Needless to say, this “downward spiral” thwarts individual and collective spiritual evolution. We turn now to discuss the Problems Inherent in Capitalism.

   a.) Basic Tenets

iScarcity: The notion of scarcity, the most important concept in capitalist theory, implies that the Supreme Intelligence, or God, did not provide this planet with everything necessary. Thence comes the false notion that “scarcity” is a basic condition of human life.[2]If stimulates fear based on the notion that there will not be enough, survival being threatened there is a tendency to violently grabs what is necessary to ‘survive’ a tendency to hoard ensuesthus a state of individual, collective, and national ‘greed’ is created. [3] Numerous studies have shown that the world produces abundant food for all people—the problem is non-distribution of the food, because of man-made (economic) scarcity. [4]

ii. Competition
            The classical capitalist belief is that competition produces the best milieu for production, which benefits consumers, who get only the item that was good enough to make it to the market for sale. However, in a globalized economy ruled by Northern multi-million dollar corporations, there is no longer any real competition-- medium and small businesses in developing countries have little hope to survive. Multi-national Corporations often obtain tax exemptions which position them better in the market while getting away from compliance with international labor and environmental standards. At the national level, competition is unfair for medium and small-scale enterprises because monopolies and oligopolies maintain control over markets producing higher levels of value added. This institutional, organizational and personal behavior is supported by greed. Settings dominated by fair or unfair competition not only produce more “losers” than “winners” but also establish an egocentric modus operandi.

             But even the hypothetical “perfect” competition has fundamental drawbacks. [5]The psychological and social damage caused by competition have been scientifically verified[6], and it has been demonstrated that competition brings out not a person’s best, but an inferior performance.

            Creativity and courage thrive in a nurturing atmosphere of cooperation, whereas competition instills fear and aggression-- the fight for the survival of the fittest, best suited for animal but not for human behavior.

            iii. Incentives
            The concept of incentives in capitalism stimulates greed, selfishness, and a mercantilist mentality; it smothers any aspiration of the soul towards generosity, sharing and self-motivation. It stifles creativity by forcing one to comply with a predetermined frame of reference. It is totally opposed to the principle of selfless action.
            In the notions of scarcity, profitability, competition, and especially incentives we see that self-serving is constantly stimulated in the capitalist system. The notions of doing good for its own sake, of selfless service, are not only missing but are virtually antithetical. We hold that unless and until certain spiritual and human values are upheld in the practice of economics as ‘priceless’ economics will be more a source of harm than helpfulness in the world.

              iv. Free Market:
             The free market stands on the theory that it will operate as an organic self-regulating being--this is anathema, and is again a pretense copy of nature that can not function as such, since it is devoid of the essence of nature:
Life.

            
It promotes incessant growth, and allows manipulation by cartels and changing of the rules that make it a fair ground for the big fish to eat the smaller ones. It is a reflection of what Lord Keynes proclaimed in 1930[7]. “But beware the time for all this is not yet. For at least another hundred years  we must pretend to ourselves and to everyone that fair is foul and foul is fair, for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still. For they can only lead us out of the tunnel of economic necessity into daylight.” Under this rules it is no surprise that the present economic system with its involvement in all aspects of human interaction, has been undermining the positive impulse of the soul towards good and fraternity amongst human beings.
             
This paradigm advocates neither free market nor absolute government regulation of markets, but a modality that strengthens cooperation and reinforces the proper distribution of wealth and goods. It promotes establishing a real cost of goods for fair trade. Appeals to the higher nature of the individual for its relationship with its fellow human beings and the benefit of all parts involved in a Solidarity Based Exchange.  

                v. “Profit Maximization”:
                    Take the second part of the classical definition of capitalism [8] “A type of economy based on -- (1) private ownership of most resources, goods,…(private property); (2)
freedom to generally use the privately-owned resources, goods, … to get the most wages, rent, interest, and profit possible; and (3) a system of relatively competitive markets.” (emphasis added.)

            This goal of getting as much profit as possible stimulates a mind-set of increasing the bottom-line at all costs, while proffering no notion of accountability as to how one’s costs are cut. Thus this perspective opens the way to worker’s rights abuses and environmental degradation, which are prevalent today.

Also putting ‘profitability’ as the main goal of firms contributes to distortions in economies of scale, where a bushel of wheat may be priced at $5.00—the same price of a single aspirin in a private hospital. Thus prices become divorced from actual costs in human and environmental terms.

             Technical economics usually takes ‘utility functions’ as a given, without questioning them. Then it is assumed that “more is better than less” in material terms, which permits the building of simplistic, materialistic mathematical analyses. However, it would be worthwhile to construct utility functions that include spiritual values, which may not at present be so easily quantifiable, but are nevertheless indispensable for assessing individual and societal well-being. [9]

 

 b.) Capitalism Contains the Seeds of Its Own Destruction’:

            The truth of Marx’s statement is even more evident today, as aptly shown by world-system theorists and deep ecologists.  ‘Expansion’ cannot go on indefinitely, for two main reasons.
             In the language of deep ecology, nature works cyclically, with “closed-loop” systems of production and consumption, wherein all waste is recycled and becomes productive again. The present capitalist production system is mostly linear, however, producing enormous amounts of waste which is either unusable (eg., toxic waste) or is not recycled because appropriate technologies are not being pursued. At some point such a production system will simply exceed the earth’s carrying capacity. Moreover,  unless ways are found to reuse the natural resources already in circulation, the supplies will be exhausted.[10]  
             For a critique from world system’s theory, we quote Immanuel Wallerstein: “Capitalism as a historical system is defined by the fact that it makes structurally central and primary the endless accumulation of capital….I believe that a number of trends have today at last reached points where they threaten the basic functioning of the system…  [Increasing profits from production has] depended on finding new areas to dump waste and new sources of raw materials whose previous sources are being exhausted. With the steady expansion of the areas included within the capitalist world-economy and the steady increase of the rate of their utilization, the globe is running out of replacement locales.” [11]

 

       c) NEM Group Critique[12]
                       Members of the NEM working group gave the following critique: 

Capitalism:

  •          Inequitably distributes goods

  •          Often fails to produce economic growth or

  •          What growth it produces does not reach most (number of poor rises, income
        gap widens)

  •          Has failed to guarantee an adequate standard of living for the majority of the
        world

  •          Harms the environment

  •          Creates economies based on war

  •          Erodes family structure—many members have to work long hours

  •          Does not meet the basic needs of most people

  •          Is based on consumerism

  •          Human consciousness is not part of the capitalist system

                     d) Albert’s Critique         

According to Mr. Michael Albert, who has developed the ParEcon (Participatory

Economic) Model with Robin Hahnel and is cited in the NEM compilations:[13]

i. Capitalism is”:  

  •         “theft” (enriches a few at the expense of many)

  •          “alienation and anti-sociality” (individual is motivated to advance self at
        the expense of others; money is worth more than human life)

  •          “authoritarian” / anti-democratic (most employees have no say over their
        output, conditions, or purpose of work)

  •          “inefficient” (squanders human and natural resources—treats humans
         like machines; produces worthless things at great expense)

  •          “racist and sexist” (“This is not intrinsic to the relations of production, but
         occurs because under the pressure of market competition owners
         inevitably exploit racial and gender hierarchies produced in other parts
         of society.”)

  •          “violent” (puts nations at odds, even to war)

  •          “unsustainable” (markets propel short term calculations and make
         dumping waste on others easy and unavoidable, polluting the
         environment and harming living beings.)

           

ii. Markets: Of markets, one of the three defining elements of capitalism, Mr. Albert 
    says they:

  •       “destroy equitable remuneration by rewarding output and bargaining power” instead of hard work and social values

  •       “subvert solidarity” “by forcing buyers and sellers to try to buy cheap and sell dear”

  •       “produce dissatisfaction as an aim” to keep people buying new things

  •       “misprice transactions” only valuing impact on immediate buyers and sellers—not valuing environmental and social costs

  •       “create a competitive context” where workplaces have to try to cut costs
     and seek market share—adversely affecting workers

 

 

PART 2: TOWARDS A NEW DEFINITION OF ECONOMICS

  THE SOURCE

  Throughout the ages, and in every culture, a body of essential truths has emerged,  which has been called “the perennial truth.” Though expressed in slightly different form according to time and place, the unity of these teachings, which form the core of every major faith tradition, has been recognized by more and more thinkers. Their influence on human endeavor, including the economic realm, is increasingly being acknowledged.

Some of these laws have been adopted as precepts or principles for this economic paradigm: the underlying assumption of which is that human beings are the Stewards of creation, with the duty-- by virtue of brotherhood--of making its wealth available to all creatures so that their sustenance and evolution is possible. Also that economics has the fundamental purpose of providing for the essential needs of as many people as possible, including future generations. This  implies environmental stewardship (managing natural resources both for the sake of future generations and because of the inherent worth of animals and plants) and a clear distinction between material needs, which are finite, universal, and satisfiable, (food, clothing, shelter); secondary needs (education, work, wholesome recreation, and so on) [14] on the one hand, and ‘wants’ or desires (which are not necessary.)

 

SPIRITUAL SCIENCE OR THE PERENNIAL TRUTH

The web of life speaks about the interconnectedness of all forms of life, between them and with the rest of creation, the universe and the cosmos. This interconnectedness can be seen as an organism, a reflection of which is our own body. As any organism it operates in a cyclical rather than linear manner. Since economics has become the fabric of society it follows that to maintain harmony with creation, economics should follow the same pattern.  

This paradigm proposes that to connect better with each other and the rest of creation, the universe and the cosmos we use the resources provided by Spiritual Science.  

For example, we can say that the members of our group are men and women, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers; or we can say that they are nurses, lawyers, teachers, musicians, or business people; or we can say that we are South and North Americans and West and East Europeans. These are all true descriptions, but they divide us. To find the characteristic which is common to us all-- a unifying characteristic. We must learn to find ‘Unity in Diversity.’ Feeling united, we feel connected. And feeling connected gives us more trust in others, so our relationships may become true and honest. In our search for that which unifies and truly connects us with Nature, we must turn to Spiritual Science.

 

Spiritual Science or the Perennial Truth also known as The Perennial Philosophy is the teaching known from time immemorial valid in the past, present and future since the essential nature of man is unchangeable. Based on that solid foundation is that Spiritual science addresses all aspects of Creation and the relationships amongst its parts; as well advises us how to live a fulfilling life. Thus it is the most holistic of the sciences-- it is in fact the basis for all other sciences. All of the addressals of the greatest teachers of humanity were interpretations of the laws of this science. These core teachings are recorded in the Torah for the Jewish people, in the New Testament for Christians,  in the Qur’an for Muslims, and in the Bhagavad Gita for Hindus. Unfortunately, these laws and their interpretations become distorted over the ages as men try to bend them to their convenience, and thus from time to time there arises the need for a great Master to come and help humankind to interpret them again in their true light. Thus, all the world’s religions have their basis in these teachings.

 

From the time of Zarathustra, 7000 B.C., through Moses, Buddha, Jesus the Christ, Mohammed, the Prophets in the Old Testament, Krishna, Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Sivananda, Paramahansa Yogananda, Rudolf Steiner , Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov, to our current times, the Dalai Lama, Sathya Sai Baba, Mother Theresa, Mother Meera, Eckhart Tolle and many others, beings across all ages and continents who comprehended these laws transmitted their Truth to us, which, as mentioned earlier, has come to be called ‘the perennial truth.’ All these Masters essentially state the same message:  that when man adheres to spiritual laws, he lives happily, and when he violates these laws, he suffers. A proper understanding of these laws is thus necessary to be able to know ourselves and all life, and to be able to design a social and economic system that is in compliance with them.

 

The primary teaching of spiritual science is that man is not just flesh and bone-- he has a spirit, which gives life to him, and that that spirit is eternal and perfect. The teachings hold that the spirit has been given to man by the One, the Absolute, or God, of Whom man is a part.  They also state that man’s primary work should be spiritual, i.e. that the goal of life is to manifest the spirit’s perfection in the material world. The teachings also stress the brotherhood of all humankind. They stress the importance of living virtuously, i.e.,  practicing non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, humility, duty, and reverence to God and Creation. Violence, oppression, lying, stealing, arrogance, selfishness, negligence, forgetting God or abusing creation, which are the opposites of the virtues, are strongly condemned because they are destructive to life’s foundations and smother the spirit’s efforts to manifest itself. [15]

 

Contemporary Teachers state that the highest virtues are, first and foremost, cooperation; then liberty; happiness, which is giving up desires; honesty; humility, in which one expresses that he is a part of the whole; love, which is the life of the soul; peacefulness; respect (one respects oneself by respecting others); responsibility; simplicity and unity. Based on the discussion above, we can truly appreciate the definition of a contemporary spiritual Teacher, who says that spirituality is the love and commitment towards truth and goodness. He also states that the highest vice is spiritual ignorance.[16] Mahatma Gandhi started his movement for non-violence based on these teachings also, and on his own belief that violence-- be it active or passive-- is destructive to humans and all forms of life, and that humanity must overcome it. Another contemporary Master says that the “Truth is only discovered in the spiritual life”.[17]

 

As mentioned in the discussion of brahmacharya, many today have an erroneous and dangerous understanding of what freedom is. The belief that freedom is attained when one can do whatever one wants, whenever one wants, without respect to his own self or environment, results in many alienated, lonely, and egoistic beings, who do not know that the search for freedom specifically concerns the spirit’s finding full liberation, and is reached-- according to spiritual science-- when one is able to express the spirit’s natural perfection.

 

So far we have shown how the Aparigraha Economic Paradigm (AEP) is based on the perennial truth; we will now show how it is also based on the fundamental teachings of the world’s religions. To do so we have chosen to give excerpts from the scriptures of Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, as we could have done from Jainism, Shintoism, Buddhism, the Ba’hai faith, and many others not named here. 

 

 

 

WORLD RELIGIONS

  “Every religion has its own ‘Economic Ten Commandments’.”

                                                                                         ~ Dr. Monzer Kahf

 

This statement and the examples below serve to show that there has always been a need for spiritual guidance in human economic relations. Following are selections from major faiths on ethics in socio-economic practice.

 

Hinduism (from the Bhagavad Gita, commentary by Sri Prahbupada)             

Chapter 16: “The demoniac man knows no limit to his desire to acquire money. That is unlimited. He thinks only of how much assessment he has just now and schemes to engage that stock of wealth further and further. For that reason, he does not hesitate to act in any sinful way and so deals in the black market for illegal gratification. He is enamored by the possessions he has already, such as land, family, house and bank balance, and he is always planning to improve them…Anyone who comes into competition with such a demoniac man is his enemy. There are many demoniac people, and each is enemy to the others. This enmity becomes more and more deep—between persons, then between families, then between societies, and at last between nations. Therefore there is constant strife, war and enmity all over the world.”

Chapter 2: “If economic development and material comforts could drive away one’s lamentations for family, social, national or international inebrieties, then Arjuna would not have said [no kingdom could make him happy.]”

Chapter 16: “Fearlessness, singleness of soul…[an] opened hand [i.e. charity] And governed appetites;” are virtues belonging to the good man.

Slaves to their passion and their wrath, [evil men] buy Wealth with base deeds, to glut hot appetites; Conceited, …Stubborn and proud, dead-drunken with the wine Of wealth… These My blasphemers.  The Doors of Hell Are threefold...The door of Lust, the door of Wrath, the door Of Avarice.”

            There are at least seven such more condemnations of the accumulative tendency.

 

Judaism (Torah, Writings, & Prophets):

Ex. 22:25 “If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor…thou shalt not be to him as a usurer, neither shall thou lay upon him usury.”

Deuteronomy 15: 7-14: “If there be among you a poor man…thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him…for this thing the Lord God will bless thee…For the poor shall never cease out of thy land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide to thy brother…”

Psalms: 10:2: “The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor…”

                           82: 3 “Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.”

Proverbs: 17:5 “Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker…”

(There are 188 more such references on man’s duty to the poor in these books.)

            Deut. 17:17: …neither shall he [The King] greatly multiply to himself silver and gold…”

                        25:15: “But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure…For all that do unrighteously, [unfair business transactions] are an abomination unto the Lord thy God.”

            Psalms 19:10: “More to be desired are they [the judgments of the Lord] than gold, yea, than much fine gold…”

            Ezekiel 7: 19: …their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord: they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels: for it is the stumbling block of their iniquity.”

            Zephaniah 1:18 [almost the same quote].

 

Christianity (New Testament):

            Matthew 19:23 “Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly [i.e., with difficulty] enter into the kingdom of Heaven.”

            Luke 6:20 “Blessed be ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”

                     14:12-14: “ When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not…thy rich neighbors…but when thou make a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the blind, And thou shalt be blessed…”

Matt 6:24 “Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.”

            Luke 3:11 “He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat [food], let him do likewise.”

            Matt. 22: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

           

Islam (Qur’an):

            Surat 106:2-3 “Woe to [he] who pileth up wealth and layeth it by, thinking that his wealth would make him last forever! By no means!”

21:73: “Give just measure and cause no loss [to others by fraud.] And weigh with scales true and upright. And do not withhold things justly due to men…”

30:39 “That which you lay out for increase through the property of (other) people [i.e., interest] will have no increase with Allah; but that which you lay out for charity…will increase; it is these who will get a recompense multiplied.”

2: 110: “And…give Zakat [2% of all net income/assets which goes to the poor and needy]…”

2: 177 “It is righteousness…to spend of your substance, out of love for Him [God], for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, the wayfarer, those who ask…”

3:134 “Those who spend freely, whether in prosperity, or in adversity [will be rewarded by Allah].”

64: 15-16: “Your riches…may be but a trial…Spend in charity for the benefit of your own souls. And those saved from the covetousness of their own souls—they are the ones that achieve prosperity.”

 

Judaism, Christianity and Islam:Charging interest was prohibited by all three major religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Today, only Islam enforces this rule (hence "Islamic banking", which is banking where interest charges are replaced with other types of fees).” [18]

 

These guidelines from some of the world’s major faiths make it clear that people are to behave in a certain way in their economic relations. Mainly they show that those who have more resources are responsible for sharing them with those who have less; that hoarding or excessive accumulation is a very negative quality; that the state of the soul after death will be determined in part by one’s economic behavior; and that people are advised to conduct business ethically. As we see these teachings are unanimously advised for all who live on this planet.

 

SPIRITUAL ECONOMICS  

 We have now listed many of the virtues that spiritual science and the major religions advise men to develop; these also come to be the moral guidelines of many societies and thus guide even those people who refer to themselves as atheists. Atheists might not accept the notion of spirituality or a guiding authority such as God, but generally accept certain ethical codes from a humanistic standpoint. This is the main reason for law making. Unfortunately however man-made laws are only as good as the society itself; in reality they truly mirror the level of development, or in spiritual terms, the average level of consciousness of the particular society. In contrast, the basic spiritual laws are true from the beginning of time till the end, thereby helping people to aspire to and comply with the highest Truth.

                                                                                               

We would like to summarize now what the basic spiritual laws are that underlie the science of Spiritual Economics and from which one Law they originate. All teachings state the following, more or less: “Men have three powers (capacities); might (will-power), wisdom and love. Out of these three, the highest power is Love.” [19] Today we live in the world of intelligence, which is one aspect of wisdom, and many of us strive for perfection based on the knowledge we have. This is especially true if we belong to that group of people who were educated mainly via the intellect. It is important for all, but especially for this group to understand this teaching: “..striving for perfection imparts strength to our being and to our personality. But our value for the world must be seen to lie wholly in deeds of love, not in deeds done for the sake of self-perfecting…” and later in the same teaching we read “…of the wisdom he (man) dedicates to the service of the world, only as much takes real effect as is filled with love.” [20] This is an advice Steiner gives to those who are “endeavoring to follow Christ by way of love of wisdom.” If we evaluate the world of economics as it is today based on this teaching, we might understand why we have not attained major progress in the thousands of years since this teaching was given. If we truly want to see wherein true efficiency of human activity lies, then we ought to perform our actions according to this law, the Law of Love; “the only Law ” as St. Paul stated.

 

Now we will turn to a similar teaching from the Hindu religion-- the main principle of the Bhagavad Gita, which advises us to “perform all actions without any expectation for the fruit of them.” This is the basis of dharma, as discussed in the first part of this paper. It means we are to act only on the basis of what is right, not because of any expected outcome. This is related to another Hindu concept called “karma.” Christian teachings contain the same teaching: “As you saw, so shall you reap”, which has also become an adage of folklore. The Hindu and the Christian teachings are very similar and in essence they state that we create our own future based on our past actions—karma-- which ultimately means that we are solely responsible for all what happens to us, and it is advisable to act out our best.  What is meant by “our best”  is then elaborated in the teaching of Dharma. This is one of the main spiritual teachings in any culture, and thus is a priority for our model also: “for a human being to live well, we must live in accord with divine values.”

 

We can see the connection between the two teachings—Love and Dharma--, since when we serve the world with love, and not for any particular personal benefit, economic or otherwise--that is, when we Love to serve the world-- we are performing our actions purely out of that love, and not to get any desired result. This can simply be expressed by another teaching, which states “Those who love the world serve it….they must work completely for others! That is what will make them most happy.”[21] The following questions arise then: do we truly love the world or do we only love ourselves? Is our love expressed in our economic relations? And the main question for the science of economics to answer is: How do we express our love for the world, and for all of Creation, in our economic relations?  

  The answer is found again among the statements of the many highly developed and in the sacred scriptures. Below are excerpts from scriptures, and Peace Prayers composed by Mahatma Gandhi based on the texts of the major faiths:

 

Do not only love your neighbor, love your enemy as well,” and “Always treat others as you would like them to treat you.”

Jesus the Christ, the Gospel of St. Matthew.

 

Praise be to the Lord of this Universe who has created us and made us into tribes and

nations…Give us wisdom that we may know each other and not despise all things. We shall abide by thy Peace.”

Islamic Peace Prayer

 

I desire only the deliverance from grief of all those afflicted by misery. Oh Lord, lead us from the unreal to the real; from darkness to light, from death to immortality. May there be peace in celestial regions. May there be peace on earth.”

Hindu Peace Prayer

 

And we shall beat our swords into ploughshares and our spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

Jewish Peace Prayer

 When we read these prayers, we see here love and peace connected in the teachings of all religions. The opposite of peace is violence. This leads us to understand the significance of the work of Mahatma Gandhi, a spiritual leader who brought the notion of Ahimsa (non-violence) to the world’s attention and showed how it can work in real life. His life and teachings are an inspiration for all of us. Gandhi and his collaborators-- most notably Badshah Khan, a Muslim who fully embraced the ideal of Ahimsa and dedicated his life to peaceful reconciliation of Muslims and Hindus—and their followers teach us an understanding of violence and non-violence which earlier could only be understood in spiritual communities. They make this teaching available for ordinary people and show how it can help in world politics, economics, and one’s personal life.

 

Thus learning what violence and non-violence are, we start to understand how Ahimsa relates to love, the highest teaching. The root of the word “violence” in Latin means, “to pervert some object, natural or human, from its ‘natural’ course of development” and ”to exceed some limit and norm.”[22] There are two kinds of violence: active and passive. When we apply the above definition of violence to our everyday life with respect to economics, we see two related phenomena, which contribute to the world’s problems. One is wasting resources, as abundance does not mean that we may have more than we need, i.e. exceeding norm. The other is covetousness--a desire to have more than we need, i.e. exceeding norm. Both thus are forms of passive violence, and are against the Law of Love.

 

One can simply say that the sign of love is peace, and the action of love is non-violence. Non-violence is not impotence; it is a peaceful action which is based on love, respect, reverence, patience, courage, and understanding of all. Some say, “non-violence is in most likelihood the most positive and intelligent force in the universe.” Thus through ahimsa-- non-violent actions in economic relations-- we work towards peace and express our love. Hence the name of the model: Aparigraha (non-covetousness)– A new economic model for a culture of peace.

 

One more principle  merits separate discussion because of its special importance in the Aparigraha paradigm—that is cooperation.  “Cooperation, to be truly significant, must be based on the most ideal and highest ethics that can come of the human soul.” [23]Cooperation creates unity; it involves sharing, trust, respect, love and faith, and tends to generate more of the same, while competition, which “requires some people to fail so that others may succeed,” causes “separation and isolation” and comes from greed, based on fear that is generated by the notion of scarcity, and easily expresses itself in acts of violence. [24] Thus cooperation is clearly the basis for true economic ‘efficiency,’  (i.e. the best use of our abundant natural and human resources) and may be called the modality of spiritual economic relations, encompassing all the humanitarian and spiritual—or divine—tendencies which the world’s spiritual, religious, and social laws uphold.

 Having now reviewed the core values of human spirituality--as reflected both in mystic and orthodox religious traditions-- and their relevance to Spiritual Economics, we will now see how these general principles are expressed in various economic models.

  SOME SPIRITUAL MODELS OF ECONOMICS

The science of Spiritual Economics is to be based on a definition and precepts that support the human being’s developing himself along the lines of his own true nature and that of his environment. We give the next three examples of economic models with such a basis in mind.  

  THE ESSENES

 

The first example comes to us from a two thousand-year-old document where economics is classified under domestic values as “the best employment of values for the wants of life.” Now here the word ‘values’ might not only refer to material values, but also to intangible moral ones, in which case we can form a completely different picture of what economy is to comprise than in today’s materialistic economic relations.

 

This same document-- written by the Essenes, who preserved and transmitted the original teachings of Jesus the Christ—also states that “ the Law alone is sufficient to render man happy”. What this means is that if we have found the proper basis for life, and live accordingly, we shall be blessed with happiness. In the Essene Law, three categories of virtues are given (individual, domestic, and social), which are considered necessary for a healthy society to exist. Among the individual virtues are included prudence and wisdom (which they call “science”); sobriety and moderation (“temperance”); physical and mental courage and strength; proper activity or employment of time, or love of labor; and purity of body, dress and habitation. Domestic virtues include various forms of love, e.g. paternal, filial, conjugal and fraternal. The principal social virtue is justice, as expressed through charity, probity, sincerity, generosity, simplicity and modesty.[25] These virtues echo the spiritual principles of the Aparigraha paradigm, as given above, but from an ancient Western tradition.

 

RUDOLF STEINER (ANTHROPOSOPHY)

 

The second model we introduce is taken from the work of Rudolf Steiner, who stated the following regarding social life and economics: “The health of a group, institution, or of society is the greater the more it works with the principles of freedom in cultural life, equality in the sphere of rights and responsibilities, and brotherhood and sisterhood in the area of economic life.” In this model, man is a three-fold being and similarly society has three pillars: economic life, rights or responsibility life, and cultural life.[26] Christof Lindenau, a German sociologist, has formulated these principles in more detail. Concerning economic life, he states, “The meeting of human needs within a group, institution, or society of cooperatively working human beings is the greater the more it is based on the practice of brotherhood and sisterhood.”[27]

 

Now, this model presents economics from two perspectives: one from point of view of the individual and the other from that of the community. For us, the second is more interesting here; it is concerned with “how it (economy) can work best for the benefit of all people, and in such a way that sufficient is produced for everyone, everyone receiving what they need.” The model states that “in economic production we must work out of altruism, out of brotherhood.” Altruism and brotherhood here however are not based in ethics or morality, but on efficiency—“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.”[28]

 

This sheds a new light on one of the principles mentioned earlier which is so vitally important in the Aparigraha Economic Paradigm (AEP), cooperation: “A gifted individual should have enough awareness and compassion to shoulder a heavier burden than those who are lacking,” so that  “the satisfaction of material and spiritual needs [may be realized] without any kind of discrimination against any human being.”  This principle is beautifully illustrated in practice in Camphill Villages, intentional agricultural communities based on Steiner’s philosophy. Here disadvantaged individuals—especially people with Down’s Syndrome—are invited to live and work, partaking in all aspects of community work and recreation. Thus rather than being marginalized, or limited to interactions within the immediate family, these souls are given the conditions to become fully contributing members of society.

 

The Steiner model also explains the value of capital from the point of view of the society : “an excess of capital comes about when there is more than is needed for the healthy development or maintenance of the economic process.” This model recognizes that there is a contradiction in the economic sphere between individual egoism and economic altruism and states that “this contradiction cannot be solved by the individual enterprise but it should be dealt with by an organ that has a consciousness and sense of the needs of the whole.” Such an organization would be an “economic association”, advises Steiner, where individuals work together in order to reach beyond the interest of individuals to that of the whole.[29]

 

  PROUT (PROGRESSIVE UTILIZATION  THEORY)

 

Our third example is a complete social system called PROUT (Progressive Utilization Theory), which states in its definition for economics that “meeting the needs of human beings is the reason that economy exists…. the primary economic goal of PROUT is to maximally utilize and rationally distribute the resources of the world…. within the carrying capacity of the planetary eco-system.” The model establishes minimum necessities, discusses what they are, and how they develop as society develops; as well, it states a limit, a maximum on amenities. The PROUT model discusses that in the physical and psychic realms movement toward the satisfaction of human wants and needs should never be ending… that the hunger of the human being will never be satisfied.. ..and that it can only be satisfied in the spiritual realm.”  (emphasis added).

 

In PROUT, one has an intrinsic right to the fruit of one’s labor, and –instead of political democracy, economic democracy serves as the basis of society, which has four requirements: the minimum requirements  for people living in a certain time and place; conditions such that people will have increasing capacity to purchase goods and services; that local people must have the right to make all decisions in regards to the local economy; and all outsiders must be prevented from interfering in the business of the local economy. Economic decentralization is essential to this model, as is also cooperation among the local people to meet the common goal of economic self-reliance. This model divides the economic sector into four levels, each of which is governed by its own rules. The levels and their governing bodies are peoples’ economy – local government, commercial economy – state government, general economy (including banking sector) – federal government, and psycho-economy – psycho-economists.[30]

 

 

 

COMMON DEFINITIONS OF ECONOMICS

 

Some might argue that the 2000 year-old definition of economics as given by the Essenes, which employs a scale of virtues encompassing the individual, family, and society, may not be relevant anymore in an era when multinational corporations and regional institutions govern economic relations. We believe, however, that though the scope of economics has broadened, the integrity of those linkages—individual, family, society—still holds, with economics shaping those relations at every stage; thus economics must always be based on spiritual values. We will carry therefore carry this notion into our search for a definition.  We will now cite various definitions of economics and state our opinion on them.

 

Marshall says of economics:

 

..economics is on one side the study of wealth; and on the other, and more important side, a part of the study of man.”

 

Unfortunately it seems that what Marshall considers the most important side of economics-- man himself, is not dealt with in most cases acceptably in today’s economics.

 

We see that Marshall’s definition includes two main elements-- the study of wealth and the study of man. We propose to interpret the concept of wealth as including all the aspects that enrich human life, i.e., not only the material but also and especially the mental, emotional, psychological and spiritual aspects. Similarly we propose to interpret “the study of man”  as encompassing his life’s meaning in relation to his fellow human beings and his role in Creation. Economics therefore should essentially provide the normative elements that will allow human beings to attain the ultimate goal of happiness and avoidance of suffering by satisfying all the aspects of their being.

 

 

Another commonly known definition says:

 

Economics is the study of how individuals and societies choose to use the scarce resources that nature and previous generations have provided.”

 

This definition introduces the concept of scarcity not only from nature but also from previous generations. As discussed in the first part of the paper, we consider the concept of ‘scarcity’ not only erroneous but also misleading. It is erroneous since the generosity and abundance of nature is proverbial; a simple proof is the output that for thousands of years the soil has provided to nurture the entire world population at any given time, except when, due to mismanagement, or undesirable practices, such as cultivating without a break, the soil has been exhausted. It is misleading since the market-based capitalist system, built on the notion of scarcity, stimulates fear, one of the most negative traits that human beings need to deal with. This creates the condition for the fight for survival that leads to the most violent expressions. Scarcity can be artificially created and becomes then a most valuable weapon and a tool to manipulate and exert control to obtain self-serving benefits.[31]

 

Another says:

 

Economics is a social science that studies the allocation of limited resources to the production of goods and services used to satisfy consumer's unlimited wants and needs.”

 

 

Many other concepts follow from this definition, on which today’s prevailing science of economics (free-market based capitalism) is established. The phrase “unlimited wants and needs”, as explained briefly in the first part of the paper, needs very much to be revisited. There is much confusion in society in general, and in economic policy in particular, regarding needs and wants, which is evident when we compare the goals and actions of an individual living in a so-called developed country with those living in a poor country. We need to develop a clear understanding of what needs and wants are for human beings to solve their current social and economic problems. It is necessary to make a clear distinction between that which is truly necessary-- a requisite and priority for a dignified life, that we call “needs”-- and that which is convenient, secondary, or might be nice to have-- which we call “wants” or desires. The distinction between these two terms must again come from a holistic view of man, being based on an individual’s true needs in the context of his environment.

 

Needs”can be thought of as physiological and biological requirements for maintaining life, such as air, water, food, shelter, and sleep. Some may include education, work, sex and leisure.  These needs or ‘legitimate’ requirements to stay alive may be contrasted with materialistic, mental and emotional wants or ‘consumerism’-- desires which an individual may consider ‘necessary’ to make life more enjoyable. According to consumerism, individuals and societies become ‘happy’ by supplying materialistic wants, which tendency-- when in excess-- is called greed. Yet, ‘wants’ are defined as ‘insatiable’ both in today’s economics and spiritual science. It seems then that by definition, ‘happiness’ [32]via consumption is a project doomed for failure since materialistic wants and desires cannot ever be fully satisfied.

 

Economics without the spiritual component reduces the hearts and minds of humans to slaves of production and consumption, supply and demand. It makes people believe that to be happy is to have, to possess, which, as said, leads to greed--an attribute of the lower nature of man. The opposite notion is that happiness consists in being content with what one has and sharing it with others, through cooperation (combining resources). This is an attribute of man’s higher nature. 

 

As discussed earlier, in Aparigraha Economics, needs are defined as what the individual, family and society must have to live in dignity and to reach the next level of development. Dignity concerns not only a certain level of material attainment, and has nothing to do with nationality, profession or family name—it means having enough physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual resources to feel self-respect. The concept of  “next level of development” also cannot be viewed as merely something material; we may recall the definition of dharma, given above, as “the rule of …life… best calculated to aid [a] particular soul in its next highest step of development.” We might then say that an individual’s needs are the material, mental, emotional, and spiritual resources required to fulfill his dharma. Naturally these will vary case to case; equity, not ‘equality’, is to be aimed for. Thus, we see that on one side, economics must play the role of providing more for those who need more; on the other side, there must be mechanisms to curb excessive consumption. Indeed many people, from great individuals like Mahatma Ghandi to ordinary people involved in the ‘simplicity’ movements in the West demonstrate that sometimes, materially, ‘less is more.’

 

   

A NEW DEFINITION OF ECONOMICS

 

By looking at earlier definitions of economics we saw how the definition itself establishes certain undesirable notions that generate unnecessary fears in us, making it hard to live up to the higher nature when dealing with others. Therefore our definition should use terms, notions and concepts that speak to the higher nature of the human being. Thus in our definition:

First, we will treat the human being as a continually evolving physical, mental, emotional, psychological and spiritual being, that is part of all Creation.

Second, we replace the notion of scarcity with the notion of abundance for we believe that our planet provides all that is necessary for everyone; that any scarcity is man-made, i.e. it is the product of our own limitations-- thus there are not true limitations of time or resources. We have all that is needed to deal with our problems both in terms of know-how and tools; we just need to start the work.

Third, we will aim to satisfy, in the sphere of economics, the basic needs of each individual, as a first step, and only after complying with this will we aim to satisfy the next level of needs as they become more important in human evolution.

Fourth, the way we go about satisfying our needs must be in compliance with previously mentioned spiritual values, thereby minimizing the manifestation of the lower traits of the human beings.

Fifth, as a support for the teaching or law of love we propose that cooperation be the mode of economic relations, replacing competition, as a basis for true efficiency in the economy. Cooperation implies acting in a spirit of service, doing the best possible action in a given circumstance—i.e., dharma. The new definition of economics would read:

 

Economy is a normative Social Science for managing this planet's abundant natural, human, and manufactured resources in such a way as to guarantee that first and foremost the essential ‘needs’ of all beings on the planet (i.e., food, shelter, clothing, means for subsistence, -including, for animals and plants, a sound habitat--) are met. As the human being is made up of more than the physical body, the physical, mental, emotional, psychological and spiritual well being and the means for evolution must be ensured. It is recognized that diversity implies that the essential needs are different in each case, ‘needs’ should be accessible to all to attain a dignified life. The human being, endowed with intellectual, reasoning and linguistic capacities, has a privileged position in the context of creation which carries the responsibility of stewardship of the planet, and it is through economics that this should be accomplished.

 

The fundamental purpose of economics is to provide the means to attain a productive, happy and meaningful life; the economic system should not contain any elements destructive of life, not only because they are an inherent contradiction in the system, but because they will bring about its collapse.

 

 The means employed in this science must be consistent with the end, i.e. must be sustainable, ecologically sound and respectful of the inherent worth of all life, based on cooperation and dharma (the rule of action) or ethical responsibility. The main principles on which this economic paradigm is based are Ahimsa (non-violence), Brahmacharya (self-restraint) and Aparigraha (non- greed).

 

 

CONCLUDING REMARKS

 

 

This paper is the first approach to what we envision as a new paradigm for the science of economics. Even though this seems a very ambitious goal, it is a manifest necessity. As far as we know none of the prevalent systems contains an element of spirituality, without which they will never be able to offer a real solution to mankind’s essential problem—how to attain happiness.  Most of the suffering and confusion in the world is due to this type of “avidya” (ignorance)—i.e. not recognizing the soul within oneself and others and taking care of the soul’s needs.

 

We have tried to give an overview of the new paradigm, giving its core principles, a critique of prevailing models, and explaining the basis of Spiritual Economics and how its precepts reflect the core values of humanity. Based on these values we offered our own definition of Aparigraha Economics. We hope that this framework will provide inspiration for others, both at the individual and community levels to think through what economy is about. We have tried to give it an all inclusive perspective, and we invite the participation of as many different lines of thought as possible.

 

Ultimately, we are one community, sharing all the beauties of this Planet. Therefore, we should all abide by these core values. How to adhere to these values in our actions is prescribed in the Earth Charter[33], which may serve as basic guidelines for individuals, families, communities, nations and regions to help us all attain peace and contentment

The issue of implementing these ideals in daily life is an important one--trying to convince people of spiritual truth is better accomplished by allowing them to experience it, to live it rather than to grasp it intellectually. The implementation of a new paradigm—which directly speaks to the needs of a total being-- will offer this opportunity. The four compilations Vyasa has made provide many examples of a new, spiritual/eco-humanistic mode of economic relations.

As mentioned in the introduction, a long-term goal of the group is to produce a document which socially-conscious members of all the major faiths, and individuals from a broad range of disciplines and different walks of life will feel comfortable embracing,  to use as a tool for education and practice, seeing their own spiritual and humanistic values reflected in it.  The group hopes to disseminate this document for use by university professors, social action groups, civic groups and any concerned individual as a theoretical base and source of informative examples of Spiritual Economics. It will be geared towards those seeking to change the way they and the world’s economic bodies build and wield economic power.

We are aware that at present the proposal of this paradigm sounds like a utopian proposition, but if we look at it within a historical context-- considering the cyclical nature of Universal and Natural Laws-- we can see that an archetype/blueprint, based on ancient knowledge, needs to be identified as an alternative to the current system, towards which the efforts for change should be directed.

There will never be a perfect solution, only improvements; change as radical as that proposed will take time. What is necessary is to keep track of the surging movements that are already giving expression to the notions presented.

Co-op America, for example, brings together not only co-ops, but businesses in general, the common denominator being-- as their mission statement says—‘To harness economic power- the strength of consumers, investors, businesses and the marketplace, to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society’. They are the originators of the Fair Trade Alliance to prevent sweatshops, fair price for producers etc.

Simplicity Matters is another movement striving for a way of life that identifies needs and wants in order to bring balance to the high-pressure, fast-paced rush for acquiring senseless materialistic objectives.

This paper is limited to proposing a framework for the new paradigm. The praxis will be the result of further study, to which this group is committed, and will have to encompass other areas of human activity as well.

The NEP is a project of the Global Coalition for Peace (GCFP), a group whose mission is to bring more peace to the world via traditional spiritual methods (such as the Sequential Meditation for World Peace); practicums/programs (including intensive gardening and the Women’s Self-Reliance Project); workshops (eg., Non-violent Communication); educational programs (Peace Meals), publications and mailings (copies of brochures and pamphlets?? Available upon request) ; and organized protest.

Much of GCFP’s work relates to economics, since economics has tremendous potential to either help or harm life. To access the four-volume compilation of materials on spiritual/humanitarian economics, please go to: http://home.earthlink.net/~coalition4peace/neweconomicmodelcover.htm.

The Women’s Self-Reliance Program, for example, is a simple program which works directly with groups of impoverished women to improve their food supply, literacy, and earning power, by teaching them a system of gardening (Intensive Square Foot Gardening) which grows a large amount of produce using very little earth, water, and labor. This program is currently operating in the Peten region of Guatemala. Starting with fifteen women in one village, the program has grown to include over ninety women in three villages, as well as partnerships with ProPeten and Trees for Life. We encourage you to learn more about this extremely effective and rewarding program by visiting our website: www.globalcoalitionforpeace.org, or http://home.earthlink.net/~coalition4peace/globalapplicationsforselfreliance.htm

 

Aparigraha- Glossary

Natural and cosmic laws are explained in what is termed the Perennial Truth, or Perennial Philosophy, that is a body of knowledge from time immemorial that has been in possession of mankind from the beginning of time.

The Perennial Truth

The Perennial Truth is the common origin of all religions, which accounts for why the same truth can be found in all of them, differences such as dogma having been established by man - made laws. Most of the knowledge about the perennial truth has come down to us from the mystics of the different traditions like Kabbala (Judaism), Sufism (Islam), Yogis (Rishis) (Hinduism), Fathers of the Desert (Christianity) etc.

Natural laws

Natural laws are those laws that are ‘discovered’ by science, as the law of gravity, the law of conservation of energy etc

Cosmic laws

Cosmic laws are the originators of all the different levels of laws, they are the primordial laws that determine the creation and operation of all the universes, such laws are known by mystics and  ‘discovered’ by genius, that is by scientists who have been able to expand their level of consciousness. I.e, The Theory of relativity.


[1] From Louise Diamond’s The Peace Book, cited in the NEM.

[2] Vyasa, NEM, pp.1-2, and pp. 44-6.

[3] See Bernard Litaer’s Beyond Greed and Scarcity, NEM p. 124.

[4] Jean Ziegler, Hunger is a Man-Made Massacre, NEM, p. 131. 

[5] See Vyasa’s discussion in the NEM page 3.

[6] NEM, p.1. and Dr. Alfie Kohn’s book No Contest.

[7]Small is Beautiful” E.F. Schumacher, Hartley & Marks 1999, page 12.

[8] http://www.amosweb.com/gls/

[9] See the Indicators section of the NEM, and Dr. Bernardo Kliksberg’s Book, Economia con Rostro Humano.

[10] See Capra, NEM, p. 11, and Vyasa’s 2nd commentary.

8 "A Left Politics for the 21st Century? or, Theory and Praxis Once Again" by Immanuel Wallerstein. Also for a more in-depth discussion of this point see Vol. [?] of the NEM.

  [12] Over the years of working on this project, the title has changed from new Economic Model (NEM) to   

    Aparigraha Economic Paradigm (AEP.)

[13] See the NEM for the complete text on ParEcon.

[14] For a discussion of wants vs. needs please see Annex 2.

[15] See Annex 1 for full discussion.

[16] Oscar Basurto, a contemporary spiritual Teacher.

[17]Daily Meditations” based on Master Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov’s oral teachings.

[18] http://www.transaction.net/money/glossary.html

[19] Rudolf Steiner “Love and its Meaning in the World”

[20]Ibid.

[21] Mother Meera in  Andrew Harvey’s  ”Hidden Journey.”

[22] Michael True’s essay in “Strength Through Peace” edited by Colman McCarthy.

[23] Vyasa, in Aparigraha—A New Economic Paradigm for a Culture of Peace, p. 2.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Edmond Bordeaux Szekely “The Essene Code of Life.”

[26] Rudolf Steiner “Towards Social Renewal” 1918-1922

[27] Christopher Schaefer: Nine Propositions in Search of the Threefold Social Order, included in NEM supplemental material #3

[28] Rudolf Steiner, The Fundamental Social Law, quoted in the NEM.

[29] Michael Spence, Freeing the Human Spirit, pages: 78-91.

[30] Prout Economics at http://www.prout.org

[31] NEM Commentary, document #14a.

[32] In spiritual science true ‘happiness’ is not excitement based on sense gratification, but is the natural state of the soul, which does not depend on any sense experience and can be experienced through spiritual training.

[33] For more information on this excellent document, you may visit the website: www.earthvharter.org

 

                           

 

 

APARIGRAHA

A New Economic Paradigm for a Culture of Peace

Stage II

                                                                                                                       

 

 

…….A world with hunger is a world without economic justice….

..  without economic justice there can be no peace ……..

 

GLOBAL COALITION FOR PEACE inc.

4209 East-West Highway  Chevy Chase  MD, 20814

(301) 654 6759

e-mail; gcfp@earthlink.net

www.globalcoalitionforpeace.net

 

Table of Contents

 

“…By their fruits you shall know them….”                  “The seed of violence can reap

                                                          Matthew 7: 20              Only a harvest of desolation..”

                                                                                                                                                M.K. Gandhi

 

 Introduction
Problem Statement

       1. Toward a New Definition of Economics

              a)  The first economic principle to be revised is “Scarcity.”

        b) The second fundamental principle to be replaced is that of “competition.”

              c)  The third fundamental principle this paradigm replaces is that of “incentives.”

              d)  Finally, is replacing the so-called “free market” for ‘fair trade.”

 

       2. Parameters of this Approach   

Chapter I – Life      

      1.
Survival - Quality of Life 
         Food and Health 
     2.
Agriculture—Rightful Basis of Economics  
         Historical and Contemporary Views 
         Agriculture: the Foundation

 

 Chapter II – Land

1.       The Restitution of the Commons

                 Relative Ownership

 

 Chapter III – Money

  1. A New Religion

  2. Money-- a Tool for Good

  3. Local currency – economic independence

Chapter IV  - The Vision

  1. Importance of Subtle Forces for Survival and Quality of Life

  2. The Paradigm Shift

  3. Yoga: Metaphysical Basis of the Paradigm and Catalytic Element

Chapter V - Practical Application of New Paradigm Principles  

   
   1. 
 El Remate, Guatemala   

         Sattwic Peace Gardens: Agriculture and Microenterprise

          Abundance  

  1. Cooperative Games 

   3.   Spiritual Food for the New Millennium.

         Spiritual Food CSA

         Mail Order Service

 

  4.    Community Land Trust Southern Berkshires Inc.

  5.    Berkshares – Local currency  

Glossary of Sanskrit Terms  

  INTRODUCTION

  Problem Statement

It is clear that so far we human beings are not managing the world very well. There is something wrong somewhere. It seems difficult to find anyone to blame but ourselves. We have a planet which continues to roll unerringly upon its appointed path. The seasons follow each other with faithful regularity. Upon this revolving home we can find everything calculated to give us our hearts’ desires. Infinite beauties and infinite delights are ours for the taking. There are just enough difficulties and varieties to keep us stimulated. There is sufficient space, sufficient nourishment and sufficient occupation for all.

 

We human beings have amazing bodies, whose natural state is that of joyful health and energy. We have mental powers whose possibilities are immeasurable and creative ability which is allowing us to master all the substances and forces of nature one by one.  We have had throughout our history a succession of leaders and teachers who have bequeathed to us doctrines and laws which, although quite simple, would ensure an ideal social life.

 

  What have we succeeded in making out of this wonderfully generous heritage of ours? Has generosity begot generosity in our hearts, or beauty aroused thankfulness? Has strength flowered to further strength, and opportunity led to wisdom? The picture before us of human quality and human achievement is kaleidoscopic, showing closely intermingling facets of beauty, of worth, of genius, of bestiality, of idiocy and of crime. It is difficult indeed to pronounce judgment upon this jangled pattern, to discern whether its greatest trend is towards the light or towards the darkness.  We have made our world a patchwork of disconnected bits and pieces. Our most obvious lack seems to be that of coherency.

 

Within this world of plenty we have produced want. In the face of the ordered march of nature we often produce disorder, disharmony, discord, disconnectedness. Capable of creating beauty, we seem content to dwell mostly in conditions of hopeless ugliness. Of this magnificent body we make on the whole a travesty. Our mind, as an actual potent instrument, we usually ignore altogether. We set self-preservation as our goal, yet bend all our efforts and wits to the production of conditions which result in wars, disease, and other methods of self-destruction. Our mental life must habituate itself to a code of contradictions, conflicts and inadequacies which inhibit coherent thought.

 

In many ways the present life of humanity presents quite a mad spectacle to the unbiased eye.

 

Yet withal, we can say that the average human being desires supremely to live happily and safely, to enjoy beauty and comfort and good-fellowship, and the stimulation of achievement.

           

  Where, then, is the missing link between man and his desires? What is the hidden error which dislocates our life?

 

  IT MUST BE FOUND. Until it is discovered and recognized we will continue to wallow in the quagmire of confusion and destruction into which it we have plunged. When powerful nations treat other nations, without apology, to anarchy, robbery, slaughter and persecution and the only remedy which can be found is further slaughter by those who would keep peace (!), it is indeed no longer a world in which anyone can shirk the urgent responsibility for putting things straight, and for establishing a new and a better order.

 

  For it must  be the past apathy and unconcern of every man which has brought the world to the terrible impasse that exists today.  Our leaders can only act as public opinion or public strength of character allows them. Dictators can, and do in part, mould public opinion, but alternatively they can be molded by it. Most strong men are both potential tyrants and potential benefactors. The issue is largely determined by the desires of the people around them—their ‘environment’.  Only a definite social condition allows a certain type of leader to come to power. It is our mentality—made up of the mentalities of yourself and of myself—which rules the issue. The responsibility lies largely at our door.

 

  If this is so, then there is but one remedy for present world chaos. It is for each one of us to begin at once to do our share of thinking, and help to make public opinion an entirely new and courageous and clear and omnipotent thing. Then, and only then, can we deserve and expect a new and splendid world in which to live—a splendid world which is there all the time, but from which we shut ourselves out simply by lack of thought.

 

  We suppose each of us believe that we do think. Yet we fear that almost all of us are quite incapable of real thinking. Our first step should be to realize this dangerous defection and start to remedy it.

 

 Wise men have always declared that there is nothing the human mind cannot learn, without books, purely through a system of scientifically controlling the mind. This art is practiced either consciously, subconsciously, or in part by anyone who produces an original idea or creation”.

 

 

 

For this introduction we have taken the words of Vera Stanley Alder in her book The Fifth Dimension, with just some minor changes besides changing to the personal tense. It is an objective assessment of the condition of our planet and the role we have played in creating it presents a challenge. We believe that challenge is being met by our proposed paradigm shift, the subject of this paper.        

 

She concludes: “In order to properly estimate our habitual lack of thought the best procedure is—to think!” That is why we felt motivated to offer a shift in .economic thinking and have worked on formulating “Aparigraha, a New Economic Paradigm for a Culture of Peace.”

 

Economics is so intertwined in the fabric of society, dealing with almost every aspect of our daily life, that surreptitiously designs our patterns of behavior in our interpersonal, inter-communal and international relations. 

 

 

Toward a New Definition of Economics

 

Our new definition of economics, that is the first stage of this project, is based on a significant paradigm shift of the fundamental principles of economics:

 

1. The first economic principle to be revised is “Scarcity.” This precept induces fear, stimulates hoarding and leads to violence. As E.F Schumacher says, scarcity is more a matter of “cornering,” in other words, the artificial creation of scarcity to manipulate prices increase profits and allow the “invisible hand” or the “deceiving  hand" to determine the outcome in the “free market.”

 

Our proposal replaces scarcity with “Abundance”. We will come back to this point, so please keep it in mind, especially the notion that we are creators -- that we still are not aware of the potential of our minds to manifest destruction (translated as scarcity), or create abundance (translated as positive thinking). Abundance promotes confidence and trust that lead to altruism and true generosity.

 

2. The second fundamental principle to be replaced is that of “competition.” By its very nature competition is divisive, since there is always a loser.  Losing creates resentment and consequently courts violence. What is termed competition is nothing less than the law of the jungle, “survival of the fittest, ” where the large conglomerates eat the small businesses one at a time.  As erect standing apes we, the so-called human beings, who claim to have intellectual capacities beyond that of our “irrational brothers of the animal kingdom,” should certainly be able to exhibit a different kind of behavior.

 

In our definition we replace competition with “cooperation.”  Cooperation promotes union, larger outputs with less effort.  It means higher efficiency and leads to camaraderie that brings about happiness and love. Union is also the definition of Yoga, an ancient body of wisdom whose disciplines and teachings inspire this approach, providing the framework for a truly humanistic and spiritual view that distinguishes the human being from other species.

 

3. The third fundamental principle this paradigm replaces is that of “incentives.” Incentives stimulate greed; activities are motivated by self-interest that supports egoism which is the root of the breakdown of society. What society needs is to recognize and appreciate the higher call of the individual, concern for the well-being of humanity and the rest of creation, rather than self-centered egoism. We propose “human altruistic motivation, ”a sense of responsibility or “Dharma” to replace incentives. A good example of this is offered by the humanitarian effort of the Cuban Medical Doctors, today working in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, and innumerable countries in Africa.

 

4. Finally, is replacing the so-called “free market” for “Solidarity Based Exchange” The free market stands on the theory that it will operate as an organic self-regulating being--this is anathema, and is again a pretense copy of nature that can not function as such, since it is devoid of the essence of nature: Life.

 

It promotes incessant growth, and allows manipulation by cartels and changing of the rules that make it a fair ground for the big fish to eat the smaller ones. It is a reflection of what Lord Keynes proclaimed in 1930[1]. “But beware the time for all this is not yet. For at least another hundred years  we must pretend to ourselves and to everyone that fair is foul and foul is fair, for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still. For they can only lead us out of the tunnel of economic necessity into daylight.” Under this rules it is no surprise that the present economic system with its involvement in all aspects of human interaction, has been undermining the positive impulse of the soul towards good and fraternity amongst human beings.

 

This paradigm advocates neither free market nor absolute government regulation of markets, but a modality that strengthens cooperation and reinforces the proper distribution of wealth and goods. It promotes establishing a real cost of goods for fair trade, or Solidarity Based Exchange

 

 

Based on these concepts, our new definition of economics states:

 

Economics is a normative social science that seeks means to provide for the satisfaction of universal, finite needs and specific, limited wants. This is in order to ensure the happiness of all human beings based on their spiritual, physical, mental, emotional and psychological make-up.

Economics as a spiritual and material science guides the allocation of the planet’s abundant, natural, material, manufactured and human resources to enable people to act as responsible members of society and stewards of the planet.  It establishes a priority for the satisfaction of finite needs, amongst which are a) Food b) Shelter c) Clothing.

 

 Parameters of this Approach*

 

We propose an approach that leads to the means to fulfill this definition. We have used the following parameters for its design:

 

1. No economic system intended for the benefit of the collectivity can or should be

    imposed. It needs to be embraced by the majority of the people based on the content  

    of its message.

2. It needs to prove that its assertions are viable and demonstrate that it can
    deliver the envisioned results.

3. It needs to rest on historic background and be bold enough to sustain a vision

    that walks unthreaded paths.

The first parameter will be determined by history, the second will be covered at the end of this document and the third is what we now present.

 

Chapter I

 
               Life
               

“… I believe as an ecologist that we will not get any of our economics straight unless we recover a sound metaphysical basis.”  E.F. Schumacher

 Our new definition of economics is based on the premise that the human being - endowed with capacities beyond other physical beings - has the potential and responsibility to become a co-creator and steward of the planet. To fulfill that role (Dharma) he must be assured of conditions necessary for survival.  

1. Survival - Quality of Life  

From the moment we are born, what becomes most important is to stay alive. The second most important thing is the quality of life. A good quality of life will allow us to develop our full potential, capacities that are presently dormant but are universally recognized as prerogatives of the human species.

 

Economic activities, therefore, should be geared to attain a quality of life that will allow us to explore and develop our full potential, to understand the purpose of life so that life becomes a meaningful endeavor and the source of present and permanent happiness.

 

The quality of life depends on health, understanding that health refers to all aspects of human well-being: physical, mental, emotional, psychological, and spiritual.

 
Food and Health

 

Survival, or the capacity to stay alive from a physical point of view, depends under normal circumstances predominantly on food, a concept not fully appreciated yet, even though we know that all the tissues of which our body is made depend for their constant replacement (at a cellular level) on the raw material that is provided by food.

 

Productivity, therefore, is a function of the quality or working capacity of the human mind/ body vehicle, which as mentioned entails not only the purely physical aspect of the vehicle, but also the mental, emotional, psychological, and spiritual. Again, this capacity may be equated with the state of health, which depends largely on the quality of food taken in.

 

The spiritual aspect should not be confused with religious conditioning that traditionally has been the cause of strife and violence amongst human beings. Spirituality refers to life and existence, embracing all aspects of humanity and its relationship with the cosmic forces that make life on the planet possible. We are talking about the effects of the Sun, the Moon, and the elements, Water, Air, Fire, Earth and Ether, without which existence would not be possible.

 

The interplay of these elements is fundamental to building up the body of the plants that will nurture our body-mind vehicle. We are speaking now about agriculture which is the relationship of man to nature as its source of life.  This is the starting point from which the operation of the body/mind vehicle depends, and will have a strong impact on all aspects of the human being.

 

This determines then the first fundamental NEED which human beings must satisfy—Food; it becomes an indicator or a parameter of the priority of allocation and use of resources within this economic paradigm.

 

 

 

2. Agriculture—Rightful Basis of Economics

 

Since Biblical times, working the land and communing with nature has been the source of right livelihood and fulfillment of the Law of which the human being is the manifestation. Agriculture changed the nomadic way of life to a settled one, thus propitiating the synergy of the earthly and cosmic forces creating another link in the process of spiritual evolution. Such a reduction of mobility and identification with the surrounding environment is conducive to the necessary interiorization for self-knowledge and self-realization.

 

 

Historical and Contemporary Views

 

The wise men of old, the Essenes left for us a testimony found in the Dead Sea Scrolls and archives of the Vatican.  It reads:

 

“…Man is an integral part of nature. All the laws and forces of nature govern him. His health, vitality and well being depend upon his degree of harmony with earth forces; and that of every individual, every nation and the whole of humanity will always be in direct proportion to man’s observance of terrestrial laws.

 

 Universal history shows that every nation reached its greatest splendor by following the great law of unity between man and nature. Its vitality and prosperity flourished when the people lived a simple natural life of cooperation with nature. But when the nation or civilization deviates from unity, it inevitably disintegrates and disappears.

  Unity with nature is the foundation of man’s existence on the planet. It is the foundation of all economic systems, of all social relationships between groups of people. Without it the present civilization, like those of the past will move toward decline and decay.”

 

This law of unity was held by the Essenes to be the guiding norm for the daily life of man in the material universe.

 

 

And many centuries later, Daniel Webster wrote:

"Let us never forget the cultivation of the earth is the most important labor of man. When tillage begins other art follows. The farmers therefore, are the founders of civilization." 

 

                                                                                                

As E.F. Schumacher says in his book Small is Beautiful:

“…small–scale operations no matter how numerous are always less likely to be harmful to the natural environment than large –scale ones, simply because their individual force is small in relation to the recuperative forces of nature…“  

David Servan –Schreiber, a contemporary French psychiatrist, says:

 “You have to have a medical degree to be brainwashed enough to believe that food does not have a major impact on physical and emotional health. For most people, its importance goes completely without saying. Nonetheless, during my studies I only spent four days studying about nutrition: We learned that eating too much makes you fat, that too much salt gives you high blood pressure, that you should eat less sugar if you have diabetes and that if you have high cholesterol you need to cut down on fat. This is where the teachings on nutrition ended, despite the fact that the World health Organization (WHO) now states that the No.1 cause of death worldwide is chronic illness. And what is the main reason behind chronic illness? Poor nutrition.”

 

He is in serious discussions with the French health ministry explaining that changing the dietary patterns is the very best economic investment that could be made. “No other method will more sharply ease our society’s financial burden. When historians look back and analyze the history of 20th Century medicine I

 

am convinced that the second most important turning point discovered will be that nutrition is the most important cause of chronic illness, certainly in Western Society.”[2]

 

 

Agriculture: The Foundation

 That agriculture be given first priority in the allocation of resources is the main premise in the implementation of the economic paradigm, not only as a necessity to provide for the most basic need -- that is, enough food for all human beings on the planet --, but because the quality of the food, -- a result of the conditions under which it is grown --, is reflected in the behavioral patterns of society.

 

The second premise is that providers of the agricultural services should be encouraged to:

a)  adopt cooperative organization

b)  maintain limited size

c)  prioritize local service  to develop local economy.

 

There is frequent reference to the developed nations taking interest in the problem of hunger and poverty in the world, but the bottom line is, if the resources are used in the military/industrial complex for manufacturing of weapons, and the accelerated pace of technological development continues to endanger our physical well-being, the obvious consequence, as we are seeing, ends up in chronic illness of body and mind.

 

The meager percentages that are allocated to deal with the issue are worse than a band-aid; it is like crumbs thrown to hungry dogs who will end up fighting over them for their survival. Of course, this increases the sale of weapons and we would like to believe that this is not intentional.

 

For these reasons, it is imperative that we focus the allocation of resources on agriculture.  Otherwise we will continue to tread the downward path.  

 

 

 

Chapter II

Land  

Since agriculture is totally dependant on the availability of land, society should take provisions to assure the maintenance and sustainability of agricultural lands and their ownership.

 

Cities are encroaching on agricultural land with the concomitant effect of raising real estate prices, thus threatening the survival of farms, especially small farms. Parallel to this phenomena is the destruction of the soil by farming practices that exhaust the land, prompting its abandonment or sale for other uses, a tendency that is affecting the overall needs of agriculture in general.

 

With the present trend, the prospect is very bleak for the future of agriculture. Since our proposal’s main premise is to establish agriculture as society’s number one priority, it follows that the land issue, directly related to it, should rise to the same level of importance.  

1. The Restitution of the Commons

 

If anybody were to claim ownership of the Sun and of the Air, we would think the person had lost his or her mind. Imagine a world where everybody would have to pay for the right to breathe the air. For hundreds of years now, however, the process of privatization has been underway. It started with land ownership. Now there are efforts to privatize water. Why, then, would we be surprised to learn it may happen with the air and sun?

 

Land, water, and air therefore should not be treated as commodities, but as the inalienable property of the people, for whom they are fundamental to life. This is not a question of individual or collective ownership. The right to use of land, water and air should be based on the general interest of society as a whole. Land for agricultural use, therefore, should have precedence over any other use. Agricultural land should be preserved for that use, with the right granted only for sustainable, not destructive (synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, etc.) methods of agriculture.

 

There is only one way to reverse the current process: go back to the very beginning and start with the restitution of the land to its true owners: “the people of the land.”  Our proposal entails what we call a “relative ownership” which we will explain below.

 

This proposal could not be suddenly implemented without creating chaos. Therefore a step-by-step approach would be taken, by first securing the federal and local, state or community owned land. This land would not be available for sale under any circumstances. It would only be available for lease. The land not presently being used should be put to use by compensating the owners, buying it at market value. Finally, land presently owned by individuals would no longer be subject of inheritance, but would revert back to the local authorities or governments, the rest of the land privately owned and in use, as it becomes available, will again be bought at market value from the present owners.

 The LOCAL authorities in this case would be the geographical entity responsible for public affairs, i.e., the local government, understanding that all local governments operate under the same principle.  Land would never be bought or sold. Only the right of use would be granted (leased) under certain conditions. When feasible, land trusts would be encouraged as a transitional measure. Land management would be trusted to an especially created entity elected by the residents of the area.  

Relative Ownership

 

Land not reserved for agricultural or recreational purposes would be available for urban development i.e. residential, commercial, or industrial use as needs are assessed. The decision on the use of the land will be a prerogative of the user in accordance with zoning codes that will be determined by the corresponding authority. That is, for example, the person who is occupying a certain lot for residential purposes, and is owner of the house may decide to replace it and build an apartment building, if allowed by the zoning code. When that person decides to sell the selling price will reflect the value of the building, not the land. The new owner then becomes a relative owner and would then have a say in the community concerning zoning decisions, when necessary, representing only one voice within the community. In general the value added to the land either by construction, farming, landscaping etc. will be what belongs to the “relative owner” and subject to market prices, the value of the land will not be subject to sale since it will be owned by the community.  

The revenue from the leased land, whether agricultural or urban will be distributed amongst the state, county and city governments or their equivalents, proportionate to the responsibility for the services provided to the community in question.

 

Chapter III

 Money

 

Money came to existence as a means of facilitating transactions that is, as a useful tool in the exchange of goods and services. What was not considered was that it may be a source of evil or a source of good.

 

1. A New Religion

 

The more “educated” people are, the more they reject religion, and for a good reason too. Educated people who know how to read and write can learn from history that conflict amongst nations and peoples has been stirred and fed by so-called “religious people.” The familiar image of religion as a source of  bigotry, intolerance, dogmatism and fanaticism, is thus well-founded, even though no true religion teaches any of these aberrations.

 

Yet there is now one religion, which, unlike the others—where dogmatism, bigotry, and the rest were not part of the original teaching, but perversions of it by misguided leaders—actually enshrines these destructive elements as its founding principles. The religion we are talking about is the one that replaced the  immanent God—common to the teachings of all religions, by a tangible God—Money. We are talking about the new religion that, being based on destructive principles as said before does lead to and teaches these aberrations in disguised form, in the same manner that it’s god is not called God—just “money.”

 

The concept of good and evil,  so ingrained in peoples’ minds and damaging because it does not allow for understanding, has been translated into “economic” or “uneconomic”,  meaning profit-making or not. In this new religion “uneconomic” is being equated to what some people call mortal sin and  “economic” as doing good, no matter if it is the cause of poverty, or destruction of property or the environment. To propose a non-profitable endeavor, even if it is for the health or safety of human beings is eschewed, whoever dares to propose it will be subject to demonization.  Looking objectively at the way economics is practiced; it is not difficult to see it has become a religion of sorts. We say religion of sorts because originally the term religion comes from the Latin religare, meaning “to tie back”, that is, the human being going back or being tied back to its creator. In the case of this new religion it ties man to the new god, “money”, or material possessions.

 

 The interesting thing is that in a sense it leads also to an immanent value, that is “power”—ultimately what starts as merely proving oneself to be capable of playing the game of acquisition ends up in a struggle for “power” which proves ultimately the spiritual nature of the human being. You cannot physically touch power with your hand, you can not weigh it with a scale, nor measure it with a measuring tape, which are the basic tools of scientific materialism. In reality the ultimate struggle for power is to become God-like, and its method is deceit and violence.

 

The difference then between one religion and the other is that true religion is a path that leads the human being towards an integral evolution as a complete entity, body and soul, into acquiring the higher state of divinity to which everybody is entitled. By “divinity” is understood the accessing of the highest potential of the human being, that of cosmic consciousness which will probably be considered “supernatural”. It is well known that we are using a minimal part of our potential; even science recognizes and accepts that we merely use 5-10% of our brain capacity, this New Economic Paradigm intention is to provide the space necessary for such a development.

 

The new religion then, by negating outwardly the spiritual nature of our being-- even though in practice, and without knowing, it is recognizing it by striving for power--leading man to a stray path where the power acquired is not a constructive holistic one that would lead to a supernatural condition, but a destructive one that leads to an abyss where anger, frustration, fear, violence, and so on are the daily fare, until total destruction occurs, and death requires its payment.

 

We are referring mainly to capitalism, with its churches that are the banks, with its basilicas that are the financial institutions, its cathedrals in the stock markets and its infallible power of the “free market”.

 

This religion whose practices are the worship of materialism and its supreme authority “money” has accomplished in the words of E.F. Schumacher in three decades, what conventional religions have not been able to accomplish in more than 2000 years, that is the conversion conscious or unconscious of the majority of the population of the planet. Unconscious because deceit is the preferred tool for its practice.

 

2. Money-- a Tool for Good

 

But that does not need to be the case; on the contrary money could be a tool to build a more humane society, where the center is the human being and not  lifeless matter. Economics therefore should be the science of the proper use of money for the betterment of society.

 

Within our paradigm then reorienting the use of money from the development of technology and non-essential products to those that will tend to the basic needs of the individual is a key element.   Since agriculture is posited as the foundation at this time, then true compensation for the real cost of food should become the primary goal. That means we should be prepared to pay proportionately more for our food than for gas, or TV set, or luxury or unnecessary objects, at least until all the basic needs of all the human population are satisfied.

 

3. Local Currency - economic independence

 

The purpose of the local currency is to function in a local scale the same way that national currencies have functioned on a national scale—building the local community by maximizing circulation of trade within a defined region. The currency distinguishes the local businesses that accept the currency from those that do not, building stronger relationships and a greater affinity between the business community and the citizens of a particular place.

 

The people who choose to use the currency make a conscious commitment to buy local first. They are taking personal responsibility for the health and well being of their community by laying the foundation of a truly vibrant, thriving local economy. Their use will help strengthen the regional economy, favoring local owned enterprises, local manufacturing, and local jobs, and reducing the region’s dependence..

  

Chapter IV

The Vision

 

Such a substantial change in the economic sphere is not feasible, however, unless a catastrophic situation forces the issue, due to mother earth trying to bring balance to our system. So our proposal is not an immediate remedy for the troubles of this world, but rather a vision sustained in the clarity of the wisdom of the ages, contemporary thinkers and folk wisdom, at the point where they meet and offer lucid alternatives to the present chaotic, unjust and violence-provoking conditions in which the world is struggling.

 

Our proposal aspires to add to the stream of positive thinkers who are truly concerned with the benefit of humanity rather than self-interest or fear and insecurity born out of the lack of faith not only in the capacity of the human race but of the subtle forces that now more than ever are being revealed to those in the cutting edge of science.

 

1.  Importance of Subtle Forces for Survival and Quality of Life

 

It is no longer possible to negate the existence of forces beyond our limited sensorial capacities. Science has repeatedly demonstrated (x rays, gamma rays, laser etc.) that our senses can not tell the whole story.

What is still difficult for some to accept is that there is intelligence behind the forces that operate in the universe, even though something as simple as the human body attests to that intelligence. The chaos in which the world is wallowing is proof that we are not operating in harmony with the rest of creation; we are endowed with unparalleled capacities, but are not even scratching the surface of our potential. Because of our fear of dealing with such forces,  we deny ourselves the opportunity of reclaiming our real condition of stewards of creation with the capacity to make this world a place where Peace and Joy are the way of living, instead of the anxiety, fear, violence and anger that so pervades the planet.

 

2.  The Paradigm Shift

 

Therefore the third premise is that this process is not a vertical one, that can or should be imposed by government or any kind of authority but, to be authentic, must come from the inner knowing of the majority of the inhabitants of this planet.

 

It will not happen at once, at least not until the critical mass is reached which may take generations.  At present many islands or pockets of concerned individuals or communities with conviction and similar approaches are working to put it into practice. As they coalesce the transformation will take place.

 

Having said that the basic necessities of life and for life should have priority in the new economic paradigm we must accept that no matter how much food you stuff into a dead body, you will not be able to restore it to life. Therefore we must recognize that there is an inherent element or essence that animates matter made out of the same substance, if we could call it that way, as love, compassion, or sense of existence. We have therefore gone back to the beginning of our paper that LIFE is the most important aspect of existence, and now we see life in a different context it is an aspect that is inmanent or spiritual, that means that its level of densification is not such that can be perceived except in the mental field once that mental field has been developed to that level.

 

The perception we have of love, altruism, generosity etc. are not in any way or form materialistic in nature, they can not be weighed, measured, or touched, yet we accept them as part of parcel of our earthly sojourn there is no reason then to deny spirituality as a major component of our existence. 

 

This paradigm shift therefore aims at integrating both aspects physical or materialistic and spiritual or ethereal.

 

3Yoga: Metaphysical Basis of the Paradigm and Catalytic Element

 

This inner knowing is, as we will see, the effect of the practice of Yoga, that is currently spreading over the world. Fortunately its potency is still not understood-- people see it and use it mainly as another fitness program.  That is not bad because the physical body is a vehicle for our accomplishments and we need to take care of it.  In due time the realization will come to all those engaged in the practice that, in order for the vehicle to function as it was intended, attention to the raw material that is ingested to manufacture all the components of the vehicle must be of such a quality that allows us to attain the special characteristics to develop the extraordinary capacities and potentials that are inherent to the human being. 

 

Asanas (sustained physical postures) and Meditation, which respectively develop external and internal capacities are two of the eight pillars of yoga. When all pillars of yoga are practiced with dedication and skill for a long time,  energies are summoned that, like all energies,  can be beneficial or destructive, unless harnessed-- for this reason we say it is fortunate that people are working only on the fitness aspect.  These energies provide  the internal force to tap the above-mentioned extraordinary capacities lying dormant in.  everyone.

 

 However, as stated before, this will not happen unless and until human beings recognize and accept that there is an intelligent source of all positive inspirations towards true development or evolution.

 

Once this understanding dawns and is rooted, a new energy will flow and awareness of the connection between the physical and spiritual worlds will engender a new perception of our internal and external realities Eventually, when  this process has occurred in enough people the whole world will have the opportunity to implement one or another code of conduct similar to the five yamas* and the five niyamas*-- the Raja Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga code of values ( as compiled by Maharishi Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras )-- on which our work is based. It seems a long and protracted process given the heights of the accomplishments expected i.e., a world based on peace and love, but as technology shows us, the pace of development tends to accelerate once it picks up a certain rhythm, and we will see exponential growth in these capacities as they become part of daily human experience.

 

We are not claiming that Yoga has the exclusive recipe. The yamas and niyamas are similar to other codes of conduct from different cultures and teachings. That is why in the first stage of this work,  we give examples from the different religions which are off-shoots of the Perennial Truth, (unfortunately often watered down and misinterpreted), to show that the truth is one and it can be expressed in many different ways. Our way is Yoga, but we believe in and respect all traditions and practices that lead to the same end.

 

The science of Yoga offers an opportunity to address the subject of morality or ethics or right conduct or Dharma without the religious connotations; being based in scientific arguments and proof, it allows the individual to explore his inner being in the light of demonstrated effects that will validate values which lead to a better and more humane  world.

 

More than that, conventional science finds itself at the point of convergence-- quantum physics has raised questions which are still unanswered and will remain so until the nature of the spiritual realm is brought into play. This is where the Spiritual Science of Yoga can play an important role, providing the means, techniques and methods for those who want to tread the path that will bridge that gap.

 

We  will see now how the main principles of this paradigm are supported by some of the yamas and niyamas of the Raja Yoga system

 

ABUNDANCE (as opposed to scarcity)

Abundance in this model is the concept that the Universal Consciousness has provided everything that all the beings on this planet require.  It is opposite to the capitalist tenet of ‘scarcity’. We would see this concept realized if only an equitable distribution of wealth within countries and across borders were achieved.  Abundance also addresses the ‘unlimited wants and needs’ notion of capitalism—for the Law of Abundance only holds true for the satisfaction of true needs—including emotional, mental and spiritual needs, which if met, combine to form the conditions needed for a human being to live with dignity.

 

Another issue this concept addresses is that of equity vs. equality. No two individuals have exactly the same mental, emotional and spiritual needs—an artist has different needs than a baker—but this paradigm holds that material needs are limited, are basically universal (food, shelter, work, clothing) and can be satisfied, with them comes the emotional, mental and psychological well being, if properly correlated the spiritual need will also be taken care of.. It is also a fact that no further development can occur in a human being unless these basic needs are met—so it is incumbent upon this world-family to meet these needs for all its members. Then successive needs can be addressed.  Practical extensions of this principle might include—a gradual increasing shift to vegetarianism as the world diet , freeing up vast amounts of grain for human consumption; and a shift to renewable resources, of which there will never a shortage if properly managed. Brahmacharya - self-restraint is the key yama for this purpose.

 

COOPERATION (as opposed to competition)

Cooperation is the pooling of resources in a respectful manner, working together for a common goal. It follows on the concept of abundance because if there is enough for all to go around, there is no competition for scarce resources, hence there can be cooperation. Competition tears apart and leads to separation and destruction; cooperation brings together, uniting or building.

 

Competition only brings an overall inferior level of wealth for the society; in contrast, cooperation promotes creativity and productivity among firms and workers. Often, a nurturing atmosphere of cooperation brings the people together whereas competition creates an environment of fear and aggression. Cooperation is critical for expanding the “ripple” (multiplier) effects of appropriate technological development when this is made widely available, particularly in poor economies. It can also generate greater ‘backward’ and ‘forward’ linkages by supporting the use of more cost-efficient technologies in the generation of resources for production and in further developing products. Because cooperation among firms and between industries has the potential to expand the economic capacity of societies, poverty can be turned into a matter of history. Ahimsa – nonviolence is the key yama for this purpose

 

RIGHT MOTIVATION (as opposed to incentives)

Mahatma Gandhi, and Dr. Martin Luther King are the best examples the behavior that should animate all levels of society in their respective activities, roll models that inspire and elicit the qualities of the higher nature, sense of responsibility, sense of self respect, satisfaction of the right action, gratitude towards creation and life as a whole. Dharma – right action is the answer.

 

 

SATISFACTION OF NEEDS    

The assumption of this Paradigm is that economics has the fundamental

purpose of providing for the essential needs of as many people as possible, including future generations. This  implies environmental stewardship (managing natural resources both for the sake of future generations and because of the inherent worth of animals and plants) and a clear distinction between material needs, which are finite, universal, and satisfiable, (food, clothing, shelter); secondary needs (education, work, wholesome recreation, and so on) [3] on the one hand, and ‘wants’ or desires (which are not necessary.) Aparigraha – non greed is the practice.

 

           

DHARMA (‘THAT WHICH UPHOLDS’, ‘THE RIGHT ACTION’)

  “The rules [of the Islamic economy] themselves are derived from the conceptual framework of the community in relation to the Supreme Power, life, man, the world, creation, and man’s ultimate destiny.” [4]

 

This statement gives us the motive for participation in a spiritual

economy, that is dharma. “Dharma is the rule of action and life best adapted to the requirements of the individual soul, and best calculated to aid that particular soul in its next highest step of development.” “ It is because of this law that the family, society, the nation, and the entire universe continue to exist…”[5] In these quotes we see the link between two important ideas--doing that which is right, and dutiful. One who performs his dharma does that which is best for himself, but it is always a dutiful action, and so has an element of selflessness in it. One does the right thing for its own sake, and in so doing, is rewarded.

 

Each individual has its own Dharma, a function of his place in life both from a material and a spiritual standpoint, i.e. a young person’s Dharma would be to dedicate himself intensely and completely to studying, in order to prepare for facing the responsibilities of the adult life. Depending on the relative intellectual capacities, the Dharma of a brilliant student would be to obtain the highest qualifications, while the Dharma of a not-so-bright student would be to obtain the highest qualifications with more limited resources. Similarly, a student with a more highly evolved soul than one who has not reached that level would be expected to be more dedicated and less distracted by worldly attractions.

 

From an economic point of view the individual’s duty is to support himself, contribute to the community, and bequeath something of value to future generations. Contributions may be made in the form of capital, labor, or any capacities one has to offer, with the understanding that every human being has some role to play in making the world better. The society’s dharma is to ensure that every one of its members is in a position to support him or herself and contribute to the whole.

 

Dharma stands in contrast to the capitalist notions of profitability, incentives and possession as the motivations for production and consumption.  In the Aparigraha Economic Paradigm (AEP) the motive for participation is selfless service. It also means that economic agents are not essentially ‘owners/possessors’ but stewards of capital, helping to circulate and multiply it for the provision of all.

 

AHIMSA (NON-VIOLENCE)

Non-violence is the maximum expression of love and compassion. It is

understood as non-injury of another sentient being, at the physical, mental and spiritual levels, in thought, word and action. Often in economic practice the ‘end’ (profitability) is used to justify violent ‘means’. Economic agents often argue that limited access or tenure of resources or wealth, budget constraints, or the need for survival (as a consumer or a firm)—justify employing violent means to produce or acquire goods. This behavior is commonly seen in international lending institutions and groups of nations in determining economic policy. It must be understood that forcing a nation to cut funding for subsistence programs in order to repay onerous foreign debts, a policy which often directly results in starvation of thousands of people, is violence. [6]

 

In a spiritual paradigm, the means are always consistent with the end; the

fundamental end of economics is to sustain life, therefore no destructive mean may be used. Real peace will be attained when Ahimsa (non-violence) becomes a defining component of economic activity.

 

BRAHMACHARYA  (SELF-RESTRAINT )

Generally interpreted as ‘celibacy,’ this Yama[7] is really an enlightening 

prescription for sound economics. It is the practice that leads to  Aparigraha (non-possessiveness.) The erroneous interpretation of ‘freedom’ as the ‘right’ to do whatever we want to-- without any consideration for the detrimental effects our actions have on other sentient beings or the planet-- is the main contributing factor to the destruction of society. We see the havoc that the so-called ‘free’ market has wreaked in the global south—‘free’ being a euphemism for ‘unrestrained.’ As applied to economics, the principle of brahmacharya has two facets—curbing excessive consumerism, and curbing the production of unnecessary products.

 

Brahmacharya leads us towards  “true freedom,” meaning the capacity to do

whatever we need to do, in agreement with our Dharma. [8] The principle of Abundance—i.e., using our abundant natural and human resources for satisfying everyone’s essential needs, can only be realized if brahmacharya is employed—putting ‘needs’ ahead of ‘wants’.  Brahmacharya can impact economics not only in changing patterns of consumption, but patterns of production as well. For example, in the Islamic economy “goods” must actually be “good”—they must “bring about the material, moral, and spiritual betterment of the consumer.”[9]Objects that do not meet this criteria, but just indulge the baser propensities, eg., alcohol and pornography, are considered economically useless, and are not produced. (ibid.) [10]

 

APARIGRAHA (‘NON-POSSESSIVENESS’, ‘NON-COVETOUSNESS’, ‘NON-GREED’ )

Aparigraha “involves…curbing the tendency to accumulate and be greedy.”[11].

According to mainstream economic theory, economy seeks to satisfy human beings’ “unlimited wants and needs”. The perennial philosophy teaches that the  theory of ‘unlimited wants and needs’ is a distortion of a spiritual truth. [12] The soul’s desire is towards the infinite—aspiring to be one with the Supreme; ignorance or illusion tricks the mind into thinking material objects can satisfy this need. Since the need is not material but spiritual, material objects can never satisfy—hence an “unlimited” grasping ensues. Material needs are finite, universal, and can be satisfied. As Maslow claims, they also must be met before any ‘higher’ needs can be addressed, and thus the primary function of economics should be to first fill these needs for as many people as possible. However, unlike Maslow’s theory, in this paradigm spirituality does not come at the top of the needs pyramid, but rather permeates the whole. Emotional, mental, and spiritual needs are to be addressed simultaneously with the material. 

 

As mentioned in the discussion of dharma, an economic system based on

aparigraha also replaces the notion of ‘ownership’ with ‘stewardship’.  A practical example of this principle is that in most indigenous cultures, and in the Islamic system, natural resources cannot be privately owned—they are considered gifts from the Universe to all beings. Modern writers have also promoted this virtue in shaping a new economic paradigm.[13]

 

Finally, Satya - Truthfulness and Asteya - non stealing, are the clear complements to the fore mentioned practices that will herald a renewed society embracing peace and happiness for all its members.

 

 

Chapter V

 Practical Application of New Paradigm Principles

 

This are some examples that are being implemented as part of the work of personal development and enhancement of the sense of responsibility in the case of those united by the common bond of the School of Life of which Global Coalition for Peace is a non-profit offshoot. There are also other examples from another organizations.

 

1.  El Remate, Guatemala

 

An invitation in 2004 created the opportunity to test the feasibility of our line of thinking.

 

Sattwic Peace Gardens: Agriculture and Microenterprise

 

The invitation was to put into practice the Women’s Self-Reliance Program (WSRP), a project of Global Coalition for Peace designed by its Director Rose (Mirabai) Lord, in El Remate, a village in the Peten region of Guatemala. The program has three components: Nutrition Education, Intensive Gardening and Microenterprise, the overall objective being to empower women as the center of their families to become independent and self-sustaining

 

For the purpose of this paper at this point we will focus on the gardening aspect.

The first visit to the region in January 2005 proved it to be an excellent test site, since the ground on which the village sits is basically limestone where no vegetables grow; this was reflected in poor nutrition and its concomitant result of poor health.

 

The “Sattwic Peace Gardens,” as Mirabai has named them, proved a gift from heaven. They are an adaptation of the square foot garden designed by Mel Bartholomew.

The women brought soil from low-lying areas of the village in wheelbarrows and pails to fill up the 4’x4’x10” quadrants built for each family, planted the seeds, and in six weeks they had their first salad.

 

Abundance and the generosity of the “Paccha Mamma” or Mother Earth is once more proven proverbial.  So much benefit with so little effort is one example of Abundance, a guiding principle in the new definition of economics.

 

The project started with fifteen families, one year later there are ninety families benefiting from it, and the health of the population has significantly improved.

 

But abundance has multiple effects. Families who have lived in close proximity for many years barely knew each other.  As a result of working in cooperation they got to know each other to the point that they decided to form “El Grupo Femenino de El Remate”, had democratic elections and a council to direct the activities of “El Grupo” which continues expanding benefits to members.  For example, they now have goat’s milk for their families, a resource that they foresee will be a potential source of income. This was the result of the women teaching the gardening technique to other villages in exchange for the goats.

 

The benefits do not stop there: they recently planted 600 fruit trees donated by “Trees for Life,” a highly effective NGO; they have created a sewing and a catering business and anticipate more enterprises to come. Building on the micro-credit endeavor being started locally, the women will be substituting the crafts and brick-a-brack manufacture for wealthy tourists for consumable goods to satisfy the “basic needs“ of the community - food, clothing, shelter, health, etc. They are in the process of developing a local economy.

 

This is not a new phenomena; many such projects are now being implemented around the world.  What is important is to maintain a clear focus on the paradigm shift that needs to happen in order for these changes to take root and bear fruit.

 

We envision school children all over the world learning the Sattwic Peace Garden techniques as a way of growing, fostering the total acceptance of the bounty of mother earth, a new generation with the notion of abundance clear in their minds, with no fear or distrust.

 

Abundance

 

We must clarify here that abundance is many times equated to excess or over-abundance, that is unlimited availability of the resource in question. We must remember that nature has the capacity to maintain a bountiful continuous supply, as long as the management is adequate, and respectful of the needs of nature. The concept of satisfaction of unlimited wants and desires has been developed, that is not in agreement with the concept of abundance.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need but not for every man’s greed “  
                                     
                                                                                                           M.K Gandhi

  

2. Cooperative Games

 

The notion of cooperation is better learned from early childhood; education of values forced on youngsters usually fosters a negative reaction, a more gentle approach is that in which the value is assimilated rather than imposed. For that reason we make available and promote the use of Cooperative Games, where the main difference with ordinary games that favor separation and where there is always a loser, is that in these games if there is cooperation everybody wins, if there is no cooperation everybody loses.

 

These games are not limited to early childhood; there are different ones for all ages and preferences, as well as many suitable for bringing a range of ages together, which favors

intergenerational relationships. The importance of this is that everyone can learn the benefits of cooperation in a setting that does not involve any risk, but on the contrary it invites using leisure time in a constructive way.

 

For example:

 Harvest Time, first gardens are planted.Then everyone rolls the special die to do the harvesting, before the winter comes, that will happen if everybody cooperates! (for ages 3-7).

 New America, related to economic and social problems, in which players act as Research & Development teams try to redesign North America’s Social Economic system before it is too late.

Focus is on Energy & Resources, but all fields are explored. (older teens to adults.)

Earth Game, is a peace game!. Players look after Fictional Nations, managing resources and solving the emerging problems, dealing with rapidly changing circumstances. Solutions include Consultation, Trade Agreements, Training and deploying Peace Armies, Economic Communities, Planetary Meetings etc. The game is lost if you allow a World War to break out. (ages 10 to adult)

 

4.      Spiritual Food for the New Millennium  

 

A thorough evaluation of the quality of the food led us to choose the Biodynamic food, grown according to R. Steiner’s form of agriculture, as being better than other systems. Even when the organic producers were at their best, that is before the organic standards were watered down to the point they are today. Biodynamic food by far surpassed the quality of others. But one of the main assets, if not the best, is that this form of agriculture is based on the premise that the soil has to be healed and made healthy in order for its product to fulfill its true purpose. The Biodynamic preparations, a kind of Homeopathic remedy for the soil, has great relevance in the overall system.

 

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

 

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a modality by which a group of individuals get together and make an agreement with a farmer who will grow for the group during the whole growing season, in return the group pays in advance for the food to be delivered through the season, and runs the risk with the farmer if the crop fails, or enjoys the bounty if there is a bumper crop.

 

This CSA pre-dates Global Coalition for Peace but has been a great experiential opportunity to test a different economic relationship. This CSA has been working with Biodynamic farmers since its inception in 1998.

 

Mail Order Service

 

The limited accessibility to this kind of food, and the fact that it is not as well known as food from other sources nor that words can express the difference in taste and the perceivable effects that it has in the body motivated us to offer the opportunity to people to try the food and have their own experience. The mail order service covered this option by shipping food all over the country.

 

This is done sometimes directly from the farm of origin in other cases from a central location, this helps reduce the cost of transportation. This system is not limited to one farm that would be the case with the CSA, but is allowing the participation of Biodynamic farms all over the country, and in some unusual cases from foreign countries as well.

 

 

4.      Community Land Trust Southern Berkshires Inc.

 

The Community Land Trust is a non-profit organization made up of members throughout the Southern Berkshire Area. Anyone living in the area may join simply by paying a $10.00 yearly membership fee.

Homes, barns, fences, gardens and all things done with or on the land should be owned by individuals, but the land itself is a limited community resource that should be owned by the community as a whole.

 

The CLT primary function is to buy or accept gifts of land and lease it back to members under a 99 year lease that is automatically renewable and inheritable. Through the 99 year land lease, the trus removes land from the speculative market and facilitates multiple uses such as affordable housing, agriculture and open space preservation. Part of this process is to determine—in conjunction with land-use planners, local government, and the community at large—the most appropriate use or uses for a given parcel of land, be it a wildlife refuge, a group of houses, a managed woodlot, a commercial development, or vegetables grown for the local market.

 

5.      Berkshares – Local currency

 

Berkshares are a local currency designed for use in the Southern Berkshire region of Massachusetts with issue by Berk-Shares, Inc. a non-profit organization working in collaboration with the Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, participating local banks, local businesses, and local non-profit organizations.

 

The purpose of the local currency is to function in a local scale the same way that national currencies have functioned on a national scale—building the local community by maximizing circulation of trade within a defined region. Widely used in the early 1900’s local currencies are

again being recognized as a tool for sustainable economic development. The currency distinguishes the local businesses that accept the currency from those that do not, building stronger relationships and a greater affinity between the business community and the citizens of a particular place.

 

The people who choose to use the currency make a conscious commitment to buy local first. They are taking personal responsibility for the health and well being of their community by laying the foundation of a truly vibrant, thriving local economy. Berkshares will not, and are not intended to, replace federal currency. Their use will help strengthen the regional economy, favoring local owned enterprises, local manufacturing, and local jobs, and reducing the region’s dependence on an unpredictable global economy.

 

This information was provided by Berk- Shares Inc. along with the form of implementation already in place, and being used in that geographical area. The details of it will be included in the larger document of this project.

 

 

Glossary of Sanskrit Terms

 

Aparigraha: “Non-possessiveness”, “Non-covetousness,” “Non-greed.” Literally, “non-grasping.” The fifth niyama in the system of Raja Yoga.

 

Asanas: The fourth limb in the system of Raja Yoga, as outlined by Maharishi Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. Physical postures which strengthen the body and render it healthy, supple and calm, enabling effective meditation.

 

Dharma: Often translated as “Rule of Action,” “Righteousness” or “Duty”, literally means “That which upholds”, i.e. is the foundation of the order of the universe. Dharma varies according to an individual’s stage of life, capacities, occupation, etc. There are also collective dharmas. Acting according to dharma is the key to living in harmony with the universe.

 

Perennial Truth: Also known as Perennial Philosophy revealed from the begining of time by seers, sages, saints, and prophets. Source of most philosophical, religious and folk wisdom.

 

Raja Yoga: Ancient, comprehensive system of spiritual and psycho-physical conditioning, the ultimate aim of which is unlocking of total human potential.

 

Sattwic: “Lightness”, “Purity”. One of the three gunas (constituent properties of the universe). Is opposed to rajas (activity) and tamas (darkness, inertia.)

 

Yamas and Niyamas: Principles in the system of yoga, the first limb of Raja Yoga, as outlined by Maharishi Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. Yamas: Ahimsa (nonviolence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya ( self-restraint), Aparigraha (non-greed). Niyamas: Saucha (purity), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (austerities), Swadyaya (self-knowledge), Ishwara Pranidhana (surrender to God).



[1] “Small is Beautiful” E.F. Schumacher, Hartley & Marks 1999, page 12.

[2] Ode magazine July/August 2006

[3] For a discussion of wants vs. needs please see Annex 2.

[4] From Dr. Monzer Kahf’s Islamic Economy

[5] Pandit Rajmani Tigunait in Seven Systems of Indian Philosophy.

[6] See “Hunger—a Man-Made Massacre, by Jean Ziegler in the NEM.

[7] The Yamas and Niyamas are the ethical observances of Hinduism, as given in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

[8] See the difference between ‘wants and needs’ in annex 2.

[9] See Kahf, p. 23.

[10] Ibid.

[11] See pp.14-15 in Yoga Practice by S.S. Varma, The Theosophical Publishing House

[12] See annex 2.

[13] See Bernard Litaer’s  “Beyond Greed and Scarcity”, who suggests a new kind of currency, better suited to build community and sustainability.

 


 

   

 

 

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