Searching for Futures (Nat/PMA/2012/Trichy-India)
The Way Forward
People understand and engage with spirituality in many different ways. Spirituality is the basis of religion (not the other way round), religiosity and religious institutions. It animates religious life. It offers us an understanding of our place in the 'larger picture', our intimate dependent connectedness to the larger cosmos, to each other and to the 'transcendental'. It offers us a cosmological point of view. It gives us a sense of wonder and awe at Creation and its creative processes, and evokes humility in our Being. It encourages love and compassion as a sustainable state for all to live together in dialogue, peace and harmony...now and for the future. It is rooted in permanence, where we engage with the world by Being, not by 'Possessing' or ‘Having’. It is essentially a totalising experience.
Spirituality encourages a way with non-materialism and ‘non-materialistic development’, offering a different understanding and experience of engagement, achievements, accomplishments, ownership, involvement and adventure. The inner core of spirituality radiates an awareness of all-round sustainability -- our engagement with all living and non-living things, our personhood, our choices, our social and technology design drives, and our place in the universe (or an universe of multi-verses). To have a spiritual experience is to mindfully see ourselves in deep interconnectedness/ interdependence, to engage with the universe (or an universe of multi-verses) from that totalising perspective and to act from that self-consciousness.
This focus is beginning to dawn on many and is shaping the discourse around the world in various fields. It is a sure pathway to wean us from the “business-as-usual” approach to sustainable development, to re-cast the imperialistic profit-motive to one that grows a humane economy, to move away from monologues to dialogues to 'multi-logues', and to free us from structures of educational/learning short-sightedness that produce 'products' for the exploitation-based economic system to forming people who authentically care.
But in order to take this difficult path, we need to break away from our usual modes of thinking and feeling and being driven by crude materialistic worldviews and lifestyles of the Good Life in a Consumerist Utopia. For this pathway to shape our everyday life, the future generations and human civilization, we need not only to expand its presence as a culture of thinking-feeling-emoting, or Being, but also as a culture of creative, self-conscious institution-building, promoting sustainability-spirituality realities (or multi-verses) at the local and global levels.
The “business-as-usual” approach to sustainable development offers the world more discussions, debates, reports, technologies … and more disasters. Sadly, it offers a mindset to transform our disasters into commodities, camouflaging and consolidating the profit-motive, yet again. We talk about change because it is convenient. What we need to do is to trans-form, to change rules, to productively upset status quo and set ourselves a new direction. We need an approach to sustainability that is influenced by spirituality, i.e., a spiritually-engaged sustainability, which gives us a chance to offer future generations a life of creativity, growth, dialogue, harmony and authentic adventure with the universe and its fellow beings.