Spirituality and Social Change

By Dada Jinanananda (Congo-Brasil) Yoga monk
Translation of his presentation at the First Global Prout Conference in Venezuela, “Building a Solidarity Economy based on Ethics and Ecology”, July 7-9, 2011, Caracas.

Good afternoon, I would like to thank Dada Maheshvarananda and the other organizers of this conference for inviting me to speak here in Venezuela. I think this event is of the greatest importance for society’s current search to establish a more ethical and supportive human society that guarantees the progress of humanity. I would like to highlight the relation between the approach of spirituality and social transformation.

First of all, it is important to go beyond theory to talk about specific points regarding spirituality. This is not a utopia, it is not idealistic and it is not something only for people who have lost contact with earth and prefer to live in the stars.

On the contrary, spirituality is the link, the connection we have with the whole universe and which connects every existence in this planet to one another. A holographic image shows a how a piece of an apple recreates the entire rest of the apple. The view I want to share with you is cosmic spirituality.

It is important to distinguish it from so-called spiritualism or from the religions that I would qualify as “exoteric”. These are the lines of thought where consciousness is separated from the individual. In the outer world we need to be nice with people, and in the inner world the sense of spirituality or consciousness is intrinsic to people and throughout the universe.

The line I would like to talk about for now is the evolutionary one, which shows that nowadays our planet is about to mutate. After many transformations and changes, today we are in a moment in which both nature and the economy are in degradation, making it difficult for excluded people to obtainn their basic needs. Now I ask you: Where are we heading?

Let’s start this intervention with something regarding human nature. Thank God, today science has discovered that human nature is not only made up of the body, it also has the mind, the psyche, the nerves, and, above all, it has the energetic centers called chakras. According to Tantra Yoga, human tendencies and feelings are united and controlled by the chakras. This is exactly why the understanding of spirituality is important, because whatever we do outside in society has its roots within us.

When you see a human being, you are also seeing an animal, a reptile within the same being. In the long process of evolution, human beings evolved from lower species including reptiles. For example, a crocodile has no problem to eat its own offspring, it has no feelings, it’s survival is the most important thing to it. Higher animals also developed, through struggles and cohesions, the affective part of the brain. Finally human beings also have the neocortex, which is the area of the brain with all its connections and the one that takes the affective decisions in life.

There is interaction between the different parts of the brain. The economic and social crises we are currently facing are products of this evolutionary process. And if we want to overcome this process, we need to understand our own nature and methods of transmutation and a spot that exists within us: the consciousness.

To put it simply, the concepts of solidarity, ethics, cooperativism and cooperation are born within our hearts. They cannot just be stamped or imposed on people.

The reptilian brain, which only cares for survival, is where I believe capitalism originated, in which the individual’s survival is more important than the group’s. In the psychology of Tantra Yoga, this develops in the first and second energetic centers.

Capitalism supposes that human beings are selfish by nature, and if each person seeks their own personal benefit, collective benefit will be obtained, as if by magic, within a competitive environment. This is a utopia. We must see its consequences: intimidation, depression, humiliation, wars, violence, and all those situations that make life on Earth very difficult. And we also find, within superb buildings, human beings with very difficult life situations, and our environment facing serious dangers, despite our capability to travel beyond the biosphere.

This photo was taken when I was no longer in Africa, in which a child sits in an agricultural field beside a vulture waiting to eat it for dinner. Here we see the whole structure is corrupted. The human’s evolution process is achieved through feelings, and feelings originate in the third energetic center.

In Brazil, where I live and work, we can see on television that spirituality has succeeded up to certain point, but it is missing in the development of the human being and the society. The consequence of ignoring spirituality is the dysfunctionality of the human being’s inner world and collective world.

Thank you very much.
[Translated by Juan Pablo Sans Palacios]

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