Prout: Part 6 - Personal Bliss and Social Development

"The perennial inspiration for the movement of human society is felt on the personal level as a state of composure, peace and happiness beyond decay. Such a state is beyond the scope of social theory. But it is this state of realization in personal life inspires morality and respect for all living being."

Collective Psychology: One of the most fundamental notions of Prout is that society has a collective psychological existence that arises from the totality of the individual minds that make up the society. Thus, human society is more than just an accumulation or congregation of individuals; it is a socio-psychological entity ruled by principles unique to itself. This collective psychology is akin to the "Zeitgeist" of Hegel - a term he used to describe "the spirit of a time."

The Six Factors of Development 

Human society is a dynamic entity having certain existential requirements. We discussed these above. Aside from its existence, the development and strength of its movement also depend on numerous factors. Amongst these, there are six that are the most essential. They characterize a developed and balanced civilization, capable of withstanding the weather of time.

1. Spiritual Philosophy encompasses the attempts at understanding the perennial questions of existence. Generally, philosophy is divided into ontology, cosmology, hermeneutics, ethics, and epistemology, and as such, provides a guide to all aspects of human life and existence. Ideally, spiritual philosophy should explain the underlying principles and the scientific laws of spiritual practice clearly.

2. Spiritual Practice encompasses the intuitional science that leads to Self Realization. It is the science of yoga, the foundation of spiritual culture. It includes all the processes by which one can move toward the state of blissfulness and self-knowledge. If a society does not possess concrete spiritual practices, only a select few will achieve the sublime mental states that all human beings seek. Intuitional practices help human beings live their lives happily and progress in the psychic and spiritual realms. In yoga (literally, to yoke the unit consciousness with the Cosmic Consciousness), these practices are understood as converting physical energy into psychic energy and psychic energy into spiritual or Self-Realization.

3. The Socio-Economic Theory shapes socio-economic life and structure. According to Prout, it must be based on maximum utilization and rational distribution and must adjust to changes in the relative factors of time, place and person. Insofar as people can not develop their higher potential without food, shelter, clothing, health care and education, the function of an economy should be to make these "minimum necessities" available to all.

4. Social Outlook is the underlying value system that shapes society. In the past, different values have predominated in the society depending on its leaders. They shape the social psychology of the day and give scope to the factors that influence and colour it. For ideal development, cardinal human values should be the foundation of social life based upon a universal outlook.

5. Scriptures are those authoritative writings, teachings, or books that profoundly affect society by their universal acceptance. Scriptures (shastras in Sanskrit) may be spiritual, philosophical, or social writings. A fully developed society should possess all three. Ideally, they guide and inspire social and individual life and require diligent study. The delicate question is what to accept as truth and wisdom and what is understood as an expression of a particular time and certain circumstances. Whether the Bible or the Little Red Book (of Maoist China), we cannot deny the influence of scriptures upon society. Society must accept such scriptures, which remain a constructive guiding force and reject those which have lost their value.

6. Preceptor: The impersonal entities which guide and regulate society are the scriptures and social codes, but the human heart is sentimental and often seeks a personal leader as a source of inspiration. It is at the root of the personality cult, and we cannot deny that society's unity and momentum are aided by this factor - whether positively or negatively. Most societies have possessed a preceptor; sometimes, it is a spiritual preceptor such as Christ, Mohammed or Buddha, or a social preceptor such as Confucius, Lenin, or Mao. The societies founded upon the legacy of a spiritual preceptor are much stronger and longer lasting than the societies initiated by social preceptors.

All of the above factors determine the structural solidarity and the inherent dynamism of a society and its civilization. For lack of these factors in the past, human groups, nations, and civilizations have perished. For example, the original Egyptian civilization could not withstand the impact of the dynamic and young Islamic Arabian wave. Likewise, the Americas' Mayan and Aztec civilizations were destroyed and absorbed by the expansive Spanish empire. In most cases, the stronger social structure with more dynamism can politically conquer the weaker one, having less strength or vitality and/or fewer of the six factors. However, younger civilizations with fewer factors have also been absorbed by older ones due to their momentum or dynamism. In such an example, the Mongolian empire was able to militarily and politically conquer China. However, the Chinese society was culturally much stronger and thus absorbed this wave within a single generation, gaining vitality from the warrior society of the Mongols as well. Likewise, India absorbed the impact of the Islamic Iranian invaders; so did the Greek culture transform the conquering Romans.

We will have to nourish all these factors on a global level to form a human society that is strong, dynamic and lasting. All the six spokes in a balanced state lead to a society that can resist any internal deterioration or foreign invasion; hence social progress mustn't neglect the development of any of the six factors discussed above. 

Personal Bliss As A Social Goal

Personal Bliss: Where there is movement, there must also be a goal. Without a goal, there can be no mention of progress. There can be no direction. The perennial inspiration for the movement of human society is felt on the personal level as a state of composure, peace and happiness beyond decay. It is called spiritual bliss (ánandam). Such a state is beyond the scope of social theory. But it is this state of realization in personal life inspires morality and respect for all living being                                   

                                                 "Liberation of Self; and Service to Society"

When the six factors of social progress indicated above are present and in a balanced state, the social movement will be toward this spiritual goal. The inner aspirations of the human mind will have a conducive social environment for full expression and realization, and a universalistic social outlook will develop.

Social Goal: When the blissful realization of ánandam is taken as the foundation for goodwill and benevolent treatment of all creation, the scope of humanistic love and kinship is expanded into a universal love that we call Neo-humanism. Neo-humanism is the guiding social outlook of Prout. It provides the ethics and principles for social movement toward the spiritual goal. In Neo-humanism, supreme recognition is given to the intrinsic existential value of every living being. Even inanimate objects are unique expressions of Cosmic Consciousness. This recognition of the intrinsic worth of every entity is the fundamental social outlook of a truly progressive society.

Existential Value: In our interaction with the environment, Prout places the existential value of all entities above their utility value. We cannot continue to treat this universe with hungry eyes, looking only at the value of things to satisfy our never-ending desires. Frequently we overlook the subtle value of things, as our limited understanding still hides it. Our obsession with turning everything into commodities prevent us from detecting the beauty and harmony in the world around us. As we come to understand and correct our past limitations, this world has the potential to become a paradise for all humanity, animals and plants.

                               A'tma Moksartham; Jagat Hitaya 'Ca

Further Reading :

PROUT in a Nutshell. Part Four of this series contains important elementary Prout material. In Part Three, a portion is devoted to the discussion of unity, security and peace. Finally, in Part Six, the article "The Future of Civilization," discusses Asti, Bhati, and Anandam, particularly the six factors.


(Edited extract from New York Writers Group Publication)

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  2. Great document. No school of thought has ever given all the six spokes of Progress (Trifarious Development) cycle at one place as given by Shri Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar in PROUT