Beyond Sustainable Economy: The Animal Instinct and the Human Spirit in Economy

Published: 10.08.2017

Spiritual despair versus understanding and consciousness

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

Egoism versus altruism

One of the great teachings of Buddhism as well as Advaita Vedānta, is that of non-separateness. Independent existence is an illusion. Whatever we do influences all. The idea of an independent, separate ego is a concept which is devoid of truth. It is an empty concept. Therefore egoism is the great illusion, and the cause of all suffering. Altruism means that we are conscious of our interconnectedness, and of the fact that we cannot do anything for our so-called separate ego without disturbing the peace of truth – to which Nature reacts logically and automatically. This is called Karma.

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

Territorial instinct versus human brotherhood

When we were animals, as our bodies still are, territorial instinct was a necessity. 'Greediness' was an instinct to acquire our food and reserve sufficient place to produce and raise the next generation. Therefore, we grasped what we could, but not more than we needed. In cases of lack of space or food, animals may fight. But we are no animals, because we have a divine mind. For all practical purposes there may be borders and regions and variations of types in the human world too. But in a world of globalization, where every school kid can chat with friends at the other side of the world, and where also pollution and money know of no borders, we should realize that we are one humanity, living on only one "Spaceship Earth" and that it is right away ridiculous that we fight each other with mortal weapons. We have to live here together. Governments should not in the first place think of Indian economy, or American, or Russian, or European economy, but of global economy which is exemplified by ecology, to which national interests are secondary.

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

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

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


Title: Beyond Sustainable Economy
Author: Dr. Rudi Jansma, Dr. Sushma Singhvi
Publisher: Prakrit Bharati Academy

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Advaita
  2. Advaita Vedānta
  3. Buddhism
  4. Consciousness
  5. Ecology
  6. Fear
  7. Gandhi
  8. Globalization
  9. Greed
  10. Karma
  11. Mahatma
  12. Mahatma Gandhi
  13. Moksha
  14. Soul
  15. Space
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