Spirituality = sustainability
We are most certainly living in a period of time of the greatest importance for human survival in the twenty-first century. Even for non-environmental interested person words and terms such as global warming, sustainable development and sustainability has become mainstream; sustainability, for example, is today one of the most-used words in the English vocabulary. Google listed already in 2005 19, 6 million hits for the term, Google reports the average monthly searches on the terms with global warming highest at 450, 000; climate change at 165, 000, finally the term “sustainability” was searched 135,000 times per month according to Google in 2013. In addition the Spanish term for sustainability (desarrollo sostenible), German (nachhaltige Entwicklung), Portuguese (desenvolvimento sustentável), Portuguese and French (développement durable) is used daily by millions of people.
Despite all the effort and energy used to promote, the road for survival in the next century our ability to change, rethink, renew and sustain lack behind. Is it possible to talk about sustainable development and economic growth at the same time? When we think of development, we usually think first of economic development to meet material needs, measured perhaps through growth in the Gross National Product (GNP), nevertheless, seldom hear about spiritual (happiness, wisdom, truth, compassion) growth?
We live in a time where people believe that the most fundamental human values can be fixed with money, however, it’s always been in any society a moral, ethical and/or spiritual dimension; humane values determine social interactions and cohesion. A restructure towards a more sustainable lifestyle has to start with fundamental values, throughout education, within the family, religion, school, various public spheres governed by values creating equity, not un-equity. How can we talk about growth as a good thing, when looking at the figures to be presented next?
The last twenty years of global growth
(Click and open the boxes below for statistics and graphic presentations)
The result of this enormous growth has (click below and open graphic presentation)
There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed. Mahatma Gandhi
In addition, the wealth of 350 billionaires equals the annual income of the poorest 45 percent of the world’s population. I can hardly imagine those who have less share our admiration and believe that growth is of any good for the planet, people or sustainable development. Our focus on growth has created a population of 2.8 billion that live on less than $2, with 1.2 billion of them barely surviving on the margins of subsistence with even $1 a day (approximately 7 minutes of parking in a European city).How can we still accept, vote, support and close our eyes for the reality that we actually are stealing all the common resources, pollution Earth right in front of 80% of the global population? Solutions based on growth that create benefit for a small group of people needs to stop. The party’s over!
Natures are extremely well balanced, dynamic and inter-connected. Living organism changing, moving, noting is static, The survival of plants and animals is interdependence, rapidly adaptable to various seasons, heat, storm and frost. The incredible dynamic of nature and its systems, the phenomena invite us to recognize, learn, feel and take part.
This relationship is described by many, however in Sanskrit this relationship, vibrant energy and visual feast is known as pramá, introduced by P. R. Sakar, it means dynamic equipoise and dynamic equilibrium. Nature is the finest factory. It produces no waste at all. Everything is recycled, all life forms, plants. Animals have its place, position and function.
Nature does not need transportation of materials to build. So why do we absolutely believe economic theories telling its best and less expensive to produce, for example, oranges in Spain, instead of growing it in my back yard? If nature decided it would grow it closest to where I will consume.
“Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler”. Albert Einstein
There are two fundamental obstacles we must overcome before we are closer to a real solution on global warming and develop a true sustainable society. First, humans tend to over complicate solutions; we need simple solutions, keep it simpler. Second we need to move away a financial way of measuring human well-being, and find a non-monetary new way of measuring wealth. We cannot measure nature financial; we cannot talk about a monetary circular based economy. However, we can talk about continues happiness, nature happiness and so on.
The move away from human well-being = economic growth has started slowly. The problem is, that unless we are willing to let go of old habits and speed up the road to sustainability will be a long and unpleasant journey for future generations. Our economic system today is basically built upon a circular consumption model, if the circle stop or slow down, the system will break, sustainability or sustainable product design will slow this model and is an enemy of the system as we see it today.
Nevertheless, the merry goes around will eventually stop sooner or later as with time, the stock of natural resources gets lower, or runs out. We can of course wait and pretend that everything is ok and the try to solve as it occurs?
Fortunately, there are visionary people with a mixture of old and new ways of thinking that can help the speed up. The next post in this series will discuss how to increase human wellbeing through spiritual growth and the need of leaders to develop higher potentialities through self-actualization (similar to Maslow in his model of humanistic psychology) in orders to help people realize their true potential. We need transcendent warriors at work, in the community and streets. Don’t believe I am talking about old introvert “hippie ism”. At the level of self-actualization, individuals with stability, physical and psychological needs taken care of, they are close enlightened.
The activity at this level is pure spiritual, only in a trans meditative condition is it possible to “reset the mind” and realization of human potential are enormous. The potential is to be shared, and has always in any religious system, tribe, etc. with guidance been a part of the community. The positive energy for a global change is here right now. However, we are blinded because of ignorance and scare of let go. A spiritual warrior can help people, a group, a society, company, or nation to move towards universal humanism, greater wellbeing.
Human well-being = economic growth
Wealth = money
Success = salary (money)
Promoting GNP monetar
Human well-being = happiness growth
Wealth = knowledge (education)
Success = grade of sharing (knowledge, goods, services)
Promoting GNH (gross national happiness)
- The Bridge at the Edge of the World, Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability by James Gustave Speth. Published 2008 Caravan book
- Figures and facts: The United Nations Environmental Programme’s GEO-2002 (UNEP, 2002)
- Factor Four and Sustainable Development in the Age of Globalization Ernest Ulrich Von Weizsäcker
- Sustainable Development in Practice: Case Studies for Engineers and Scientists, edited by Adisa Azapagic, Slobodan Perdan and Roland Clift 2004 John Wiley & Sons
- Briefs in Well-Being and Quality of Life Research, Bjørn Grinde Division of Mental Health Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Springer 2012
- Spiritual activism
- Post What is Happiness?