By T N Das
The funeral pyre of humanity and all living species on this planet has been lit. Each report on Climate change shows increased disruptions of the climate which will lead to widespread extinction of animals and human being in Pacific Islands and in tropical regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa. Each report on the mass slaughter of animal and plant species show that we are facing the 6th largest extinction of life in the history of this planet – except that this extinction is a man-made one unlike the previous ones. We cannot simply accept this burgeoning catastrophe, nor can simple panic appeals or simple reforms achieve anything substantial. Neither can attempts to reject industrial and agricultural lifestyles go back to the age of nomadic tribes living in the forest be of lasting use to humanity. What the Earth is crying out for is a new humanity — a dramatic elevation and enlightenment of the entire human species as a whole and its manifestation in action in the form of a new form of moral lifestyle.
The most simple truth is that we all are linked together in one Cosmic Family that includes not just all species on all planets but all so-called inanimate objects as well. This vision of the Cosmic Family is found in spiritual traditions all over this planet. To make this vision into a reality is the task of our time.
While individually some of us may have enlightened ideas and a few of us may even put them into practice – collectively we are not just unenlightened but in fact, sheer savages. The collective mind evolves slower than the individual mind and hence is mainly governed by the Crude Level of Mind which is called the Id in psychology and the Kamamaya Kosa (layer of selfish, crude desires) in Yoga. This crude psychology is behind our destruction of the natural world. Humanity as a whole must evolve higher levels of Consciousness and at the same time attempt to control and sublimate lower forms of Consciousness. Thus far yoga has evolved only to aid the individual mind to gain self-control and self-realization. Many religions even reject social life, since they preach the renunciation of the world as an illusion or as an abode of sorrows. This negative attitude to the natural world is at the root of the modern desire to conquer, exploit and then exterminate — both on this planet and now on others.
The Preceptor of Neohumanism, Shrii Prabhat Ranjan Sakar has revealed a new science of yogic bio-psychology to help control the individual and collective minds, and in addition has revealed the dynamics of the collective psychology. Based on this has evolved the mission of Neohumanism to love, cherish and protect each and every entity of this universe. Our organization for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Plants (PCAP) is one manifestation of this mission.
The cardinal human values which then must guide our collective life as a species are the same as those that govern individual life. They are known as Yama and Niyama. These are universal ideals found in many traditions all over the world. Yama are the psycho-physical practices that start from the realm of Consciousness and ideals in the mind or psyche and help maintain control over one’s actions. They were first known to be propounded in the Jain scriptures as the 5 Mahavratas or Great vows. Later they were incorporated by Yogi Patanjali into the Yoga Sutras which was a universal text not bound to any religious scripture or rituals. Patanjali added five more principles called Niyama which described ways of physico-psychic movement or of moving in such a way in the external world that it takes the mind in an internal or introversial direction towards Consciousness. Both balance each other, the introversion of oneself towards Consciousness leads to deeper realization of Consciousness and this leads to greater ability to experience Consciousness in external life and to live a life as per moral practices that serve and cherish all beings. It is this path upon which we must persevere collectively as a species – on this planet and on other planets.
The Yoga of Bliss (Ananda) does not give dogmatic principles to be rigidly followed, nor does it give abstract intellectual ideas. Rather it initiates us into different forms of spiritual practices to be realized in daily life. We have seen that in our collective life we are dominated by the crude mind (Kamamaya Kosa) pursuing the life of selfish pleasure without thinking about the consequences. The science of Yama and Niyama was created to regulate and purify the Kamamaya Kosa. Hence while other spiritual practices are important for the collective mind of humanity, this is the most rudimental foundation of all spiritual practices of the collective mind. As Shrii Sarkar states,
Spiritual practice in its very start requires mental equilibrium. This sort of mental harmony may also be termed as morality .(“Introduction”, A Guide to Human Conduct)
So morality is in fact, a state of dynamic mental balance and harmony. This is called prama’ rddhi in Sanskrit.
Now the question arises, how can we perform the yoga of the collective mind? In reality this cannot be done unless we exercise control and stop the crimes of others in the society. As individuals we may in a good mood, be loving to a dog and in a bad mood beat the dog. So individual morality implies using one’s good mental states to control and sublimate one’s bad mental tendencies with the power that comes from merging one’s mind in pure Consciousness. Similarly in collective morality one man may build sanctuaries for animals and plants but other men with more money and power may destroy 100 times more in a short time. So, collective morality demands that good people stop the crimes of anti-social actions and actions that harm other species and the environment. Other yogas seek to escape from this inescapable conclusion.
However the Tantra Yoga created by Lord Shiva from the beginning embraced the social responsibility of the yogi to fight for equality and justice for all beings rather than merely preaching it. In individual Tantra Yoga the spiritual aspirant has to fight against all inner vices and narrow states of Consciousness as well as to fight their manifestation in the society. In collective Tantra Yoga, a group of devotees (aspirants of mystical love) must create a powerful flow of love in the collective mind that will foster benevolent actions and at the same time fight against the crimes of powerful individuals who are destroying our planet. To refuse to fight is to refuse to live – it means to simply wait to die. To wait for ourselves to die is a vice but to watch others die and wait for our planet to die is a crime.
And this leads us to the first principle of Yama which is Ahimsa. In reality so much of human life is based on himsa. In our social life, in our personal life we see people engaged in destructive actions. The root of this destructiveness lies in the fact that people are enslaved economically and thus express their rage and resentment in the form of violence against other innocent humans and animals. The relationship between violence against animals and violence against human beings has been documented. Shrii Sarkar pointed out that unless the legacy of human violence against animals is ended, this violence is bound to take the form of violence against other human beings as well. Collectively even good people live in a society based on violence. Our money comes from society’s crimes against innocent human beings, innocent plants and animals and innocent rivers, mountains and air.
There is a famous story that Guru Nanak once refused to take food at a wealthy man’s house and when asked why, he squeezed the tasty food of the rich man in his hand and from that food, blood came – which was the blood of the exploited people who created that food. Guru Nanak then squeezed the humble roti of a simple peasant (Bhai Lehna) who lived in harmony with Nature and from that roti milk came. Today all of us have abandoned the honorable lifestyle of Bhai Lehna out of greed. So our food is drenched with the blood or himsa of the exploited victims of our capitalist society. So we may be vegetarian but our food is drenched with the blood of innocent animals and plants murdered by our corporate capitalist society. To take the collective responsibility to end this himsa, to have the courage to create a new society based on economic democracy and on animal, plant and Earth rights is the path of Ahimsa. This is the foundation of our ecological ethics or principles and practices for our human species to have a benevolent, loving relationship with other species on this planet. It furthermore is the foundation of our environmental ethics or principles-cum-practices for having a loving, cooperative relationship with rivers, mountains, the air and other entities of our natural world.
In this short article we have examined this first principle at length because of its importance. The other principles will be simply summarized by require deep reflection and meditation in action (karma yoga). The second principle of Yama is Asteya or non-stealing or not depriving others of what is due to them in our thoughts, words or actions. In reality so-called free enterprise or capitalism is simply nothing but freedom of corporations to steal. Mafias enjoy the same freedom in practice and when they become established then they become a corporation. As Jason Hribal has shown animals are the most exploited sector of the working class right from the rise of capitalism. There is no factory more horrifying than the factories in which animals are raised, crammed in cages to be killed so that other so-called evolved species can feast on their flesh. We are stealing them of their right to live their natural way of life. Capitalism is not simply the theft of a person’s life but the theft of the dignity as living beings. When miners talk about their suffering they described themselves as packed like chickens in a small room. As Alice Walker has shown, there is a very clear link between the enslavement of animals and the enslavement of human beings – both in the way the slaves are treated and in the culture of the enslavers. Enslavement is ultimate form of the theft of a person’s life. It is also a form of himsa. So to follow the path of collective Asteya means to end the system of capitalist corporate exploitation of plants, animals and human beings. This cannot happen without replacing this system of economic tyranny with economic democracy.
But why has this not happened so far in human history? The answer lies in the principle of Satya or benevolent truthfulness. This means speaking and thinking in such a way that does not harm anyone. In reality our society is all based on lies. We lie to ourselves that we care about animals and plants. We lie to ourselves to try to forget all the crimes done against them. This is because we do not want to face the Truth, so that we are not forced to face our responsibilities. To follow the path of collective Satya is to enlightening others to face the Truth about our violent, exploitative lifestyles and about our responsibilities to create a new society based on Truth and Justice. This comes only from inner purity and sublimity. When a person learns meditation (Iishvara Pranidhana), their subtle mental mind or rational mind (Manomaya Kosa) becomes full of the force of Truth. The spiritual power created by merging the mind in pure Consciousness makes one’s mind radiant with morality which is embedded in Truth which transcends the mind itself.
But why is it that we run away from the truth. The answer lies in our selfish grasping after petty pleasures. Capitalist culture seeks to break down communities, families and isolate people from each other to pursue selfish pleasure. This isolation helps to break down the natural types of love people have for other people and animals and trees in their community. The Sanskrit word graha means to grasp or grab. Parigraha means to grab completely like a small boy holding the ball in his arms and not letting anyone touch it and thus not being able to enjoy playing. Aparigraha means to completely renounce all grasping and grabbing. It means to keep only what is needed for basic dignified living. Most traditional societies followed the values of aparigraha and hence they are far less destructive to each other and to the environment than our so-called civilized societies. Hence with the spread of capitalist development, there has been increasing destruction. So the path of collective Aparigraha lies not just in talk about reducing our carbon footprint but in a new state of Consciousness so that we do not feel the urge to grab. In reality psychologists have shown that the addictions of our addictive consumer society arise from inner emptiness that is in fact nothing but spiritual hunger.
This leads us to the final principle of Yama which is Brahmacarya. This means to move while immerse in Absolute Consciousness. What is Absolute Consciousness or Bliss? Where the duality or existence of the external and internal, individual and collective, material and spiritual, selfish and selfless – comes to an end in one flow of infinite happiness, this is the state of Consciousness or Bliss in a nutshell. When we experience and radiate that bliss in all our actions and movements – this is Brahmacarya. In this state we will not just refrain from harming animals, and the Earth, rather we will help the evolution of Consciousness dormant both within all living beings and also in so-called inanimate objects like stones and soil. This then in most simple terms is the path of Yama or control that our species must become establishment if this planet and our species is to survive.
This experience of Consciousness in action will not take place without the drive towards Purification – both external and internal. This Shaoca is the first principle of Niyama. We see some cultures emphasize external purity in the form of clean cities and houses but have a lot of internal impurity due to materialistic nihilism. Similarly we see some cultures emphasize internal purity via meditation but have filthy and violent cities. Both these are distorted, cowardly forms of purity. To purify the mind and to purify society requires courage and commitment that people run away from out of fear of hardship. As a species we need to have the courage to purify our collective mind by evolving higher form of Consciousness and also we need to purify our society by fighting against those who pollute our minds and our planet.
The fear of hardship that causes impurity leads us to the next principle of Niyama of Santosa. This means to maintain cheerfulness and mental balance even during times of hardship. This is the foremost quality of a moralist and the foremost quality that we as a species lack. Collectively we have an adolescent mind running here and there in the quest to escape responsibility and indulge in petty, selfish pleasures. Santosh does not mean accepting exploitation. This is not contentment as it is based on fear and on lying to oneself. True contentment comes from experience of inner Bliss which gives one the capacity to fight against all odds without succumbing to defeat and depression.
And this capacity of Santosha is rooted in the next principle of Niyama of Tapah. This means to voluntarily accept suffering and hardship so as to liberate society from exploitation, suffering and internal degradation. This is the most crucial principle we need to develop as a species. Thus far our species makes other species sacrifice themselves for us. We sacrifice very little and boast to the skies about what little we do. We all know stories of individuals who have silently sacrificed to serve others, now we must have the courage to not just end the violence of our species but to create a new culture of huble service and silent sacrifice in human society.
But how is this possible? Is this not a utopian dream? The answer lies in the final principle of Iishvara Pranidhana. This means literally to run after the Lord. The Lord is not in a church or temple or in a forest or mountain. When we run within our minds, we come in contact with the flow of Bliss and Consciousness within. And the science, the ecstasy of how this happens is called Iishvara Pranidhana. This is a vast subject but it is the most crucial for the survival of our species and our planet. Ultimately, new moral practices and new moral values come from new spiritual practices freed from religious dogma. This alone will enable us to attain ecological and internal harmony that is the essence of morality and divinity and will enable the creation of a Cosmic Society. As Shrii Sarkar has said,
What is Neohumanism? Neohumanism is humanism of the past, humanism of the present and humanism – newly explained – of the future. Explaining humanity and humanism in a new light will widen the path of human progress, will make it easier to tread. Neohumanism will give new inspiration and provide a new interpretation for the very concept of human existence. It will help people understand that human beings, as the most thoughtful and intelligent beings in this created universe, will have to accept the great responsibility of taking care of the entire universe – will have to accept that the responsibility for the entire universe rests on them. (“Neohumanism is the Ultimate Shelter,” Liberation of Intellect: Neohumanism)
We have heard of some saints attempting this but we are bound to ask how is this possible. This brings us to the final principle of Iishvara Pranidhana. This means literally to run after the Lord. The Lord is not in a church or temple or in a forest or mountain. When we run within our minds, we come in contact with the flow of Bliss and Consciousness within. And the science, the ecstasy of how this happens is called Iishvara Pranidhana. This is a vast subject but it is the most crucial for the survival of our species and our planet. Ultimately, new moral practices and new moral values come from new spiritual practices freed from religious dogma. This alone will enable us to attain ecological and internal harmony that is the essence of morality and divinity and will enable the creation of a Cosmic Society. As Shrii Sarkar has said,
Human movement is movement towards ecological equipoise – towards the supreme synthesis. In the inner world, balance must be maintained as this leads to spiritual progress. Ecological order is not only for the earth but for the entire universe, and it must be maintained both within and without. The angular displacement of any celestial body may affect the human mind as well as the physical universe, so balance must be maintained between the internal and external spheres. In all aspects of human life this subtle balance must be maintained. This is ecological balance. (From “Water Conservation”, Ideal Farming)