"Fearlessness is the first requirement of spirituality. Cowards can never be moral." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Body, Mind, and Spirit: The Need for 'Developing Sustainability' and a True 'Humanity'

Body, Mind and Spirit (Thinkstock photos/Getty Images)
If someone were to ask me what "religion" I am, I would probably say "Transcendental Realist." While there is no such religion per se, there seems to be a recognition in all of the world's great wisdom traditions that there is a "transcendental consciousness" within each of us, although it is masked by the ordinary "self-consciousness" of the individual ego.

In cutting-edge science, there is also a   recognition of the fundamental and integral role  that consciousness itself plays in bringing the reality of our "ordinary" world into existence; a recognition that consciousness itself transcends the individual and forms (for want of a more ecumenical term) the Ground of Being. Hence,  I would say that  Transcendental Realism is the path I follow towards greater growth and insight into this higher consciousness.

The point that our fundamental 'humanity' (from the Greek, humus, meaning "ground") consists of the body, mind and a spirit (or consciousness) rooted in this Ground of Being, is clearly made in a recent article by Shri Shri Anandamurti in The Times of India. Anandamurti observes:
"Human existence is trifarious, a combination of three currents: physical, mental and spiritual. Most people may not transcend the limits of their physical existence: they get enmeshed in crude worldly pleasures, tormented by desire. Subtleties of life, expression and practice are perhaps beyond their reach. Their world is limited to their bodies and physical requirements.

There are others who are more concerned with their minds as they feel that it is the supremacy of mind that sets them apart. Their lives are guided by their desires for mental satisfaction. By virtue of their endeavours they create poetry, art, music and sculpture, for instance. They express the finer human feelings of mercy, sympathy, love, friendship and pity. They believe that the mind flows for the sole purpose of attaining the Infinite, and hence they focus their energies on the contemplation of the Transcendental Entity. They are spiritual aspirants. Drawn by the magnetic attraction of Cosmic Consciousness they speed forward and reach the stage which marks the end of mental existence and the beginning of spirituality. At that stage one is no longer a human being, one is a veritable god."
"It ought to be the mission of every person to achieve confluence of the mental and spiritual strata," Anandamurti observes, as this is, "the pinnacle of human progress." Unfortunately, as Anandamurti clearly sets out, this basic aspiration is not recognized by societies at the peak of their physical strength.

Anandamurti, steeped in Vedic tradition and India's history, recognizes that there is an epoch-long cyclical evolution of societies that witnesses the rise and fall of humanity's consciousness, but which moves us towards eventual enlightenment. When a society appears to be at its height, however, there is already a decline where the powerful few in search of physical wealth and power overlook the 'humanity' and bodily, mental and spiritual needs of the many.

"It is difficult to step down from the high position of the vainglorious to rub shoulders with the less privileged," Anandamurti observes, while "(t)he neglect of humanity (is) particularly acute towards the end of each era of the social cycle."

"Kind-hearted and philanthropic kings did exist," he notes, looking back at the vast expanse of India's history, "but very few, if any, met the psycho-physical needs of his people and opened the gateway to realisation of the Infinite. For self-aggrandizement and in a bid to conquer the world they invaded countries, one after another."

"Sustainable Development" or a need to "Develop Susrainability?"
"How," he asks, "could they afford to inquire into the tragic plight of the common people?"

While these observations may seem somewhat "apocalyptic" from a Western viewpoint informed by a Christian tradition of an eventual "Armageddon," from an Eastern outlook, steeped in the longer history of empires forming, rising ruling and inevitably declining in the inexorable but slow progress of humanity's evolution in consciousness, it is not. Rather, Anandamurti's view is optimistic regarding the inevitability of progress towards a broader 'humanity' that sustains the bodily, mental and spiritual needs of humankind.

More than anything, Amandamurti's article in the Times is an indictment of the "progress" made by Western civilization in the last 300 years - "progress" that has not provided for the needs of the largest part of the world's population - as well as an observation that the today's power structures are already in decline.

As such, the observations that humankind's mental and spiritual needs are not being met by our current power structures, even in this era of great physical accomplishments, is a warning that we should be concentrating not on "sustainable development," but on "developing sustainability" that encompasses a true "humanity" and addresses our physical, mental and spiritual being.

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