Towards Dharmic Capitalism

The question of money and wealth is perhaps the most vexing of all issues confronted by those who aspire for a more conscious way of life. Money has a subtle corrupting influence even on the best of minds. It is for this reason that money is amongst the first things to be rejected by the spiritually inclined. Most spiritual disciplines celebrate poverty because of a deeply ingrained fear of money. But wealth is indispensable to life on earth and any spirituality that dismisses wealth will have to, by that very logic, dismiss the action of life itself.

According to the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, money is not just a medium of exchange but a powerful force at work on earth. This force can be harnessed and used consciously and creatively for human welfare and wellbeing, to generate physical, material and vital abundance for all humans everywhere; or it can be used for personal and collective aggrandizement. Being a force, money by itself is neither good nor bad: it is what we make of it and how we use it.

Sri Aurobindo said that the wealth force is essentially a divine force, a spiritual force, that must be used for the work of the Divine on earth. In other words, wealth is a force to be used for establishing Dharma. But, in the present scheme of things, this force happens to be under the control of the asuric or adharmic forces, forces ruled by greed and ego and opposed to Truth and Dharma. Those who have the money often do not have the consciousness of Dharma; and those who have the consciousness, often do not have the money!

In Indian spirituality, there are two dominant forces in the play of evolution: the daivic and the asuric. The daivic (from the word deva, meaning divine) represents the forces of Truth and harmony, unerringly aligned with the highest dharma; the asuric (from the word asura, meaning demonic) represents the exaggerated and unbalanced ego which typically needs to devour others to grow and thrive. While the asuric concentrates all wealth and power in its own hands for its own selfish use, the daivic distributes, circulates, shares so that all grow together, following wider and deeper laws of universal oneness and harmony. The asuric wealth is typically Kuber’s wealth, hoarded and jealously guarded, while daivic wealth comes from Mahalakshmi and must flow and circulate freely for it to return to her. Note that the very name Kuber, in Sanskrit, means deformed or demonic, whereas Lakshmi (लक्स्ह्मि, She-of-the-hundred-thousands) in Sanskrit represents prosperity, abundance and divine Grace (Lakshmi as shri).

The fact that the asuric forces rule the wealth force explains the present state of affairs in our world — the irrational imbalance of wealth, the inequality of distribution of resources, the rampant greed and corruption of spirit that marks most businesses and money making ventures. Because the forces controlling wealth are asuric in origin, the all round consequences are equally asuric — our entire work culture, based on a cultural obsession with making money at all costs, clearly sucks. Hardly anyone in our modern day corporate and business environment loves or enjoys the work she or he does. Most people work like donkeys, in dehumanizing and uncreative environments, for crassly utilitarian objectives. The objective of work should be creative fulfillment, the ananda or delight of creative and productive work that generates global prosperity and wellbeing. But few ever come to such delight of work in their lifetimes.

Consider the fact that we are living in a world where the richest 1% own 44% of the world’s wealth and resources [1]. If that’s not bad enough, consider further that adults with less than $10,000 in wealth make up 56.6 percent of the world’s population but hold less than 2 percent of global wealth. If this is what we have achieved over millennia of civilization and economic planning, then we seriously need to check our premises.

But this is precisely the result of asuric influence and control — distortion, exaggeration, imbalance, instability. Human societies are sitting on a powder keg. Such glaring inequality is bound to implode. It is a question of when. The socialist model in economics failed because human consciousness, dominated by the asuric ego, was not ready for it, and those who led the system were themselves unquestioning servitors of the asuric; the capitalist model too is failing because of the same reason: asuric domination. The way we work, earn money and live is a reflection and expression of asuric greed and insecurity: corporate systems and governance are based on mutual distrust, the corporate and social machinery is ruthless, exploitative and transactional.

Self-interest is the defining attribute of the asura, and it is self-interest that has largely defined us as communities, organizations and nations. We act compulsively out of self-interest, and this is what makes us and our systems exploitative. If we act out of self-interest, we will inevitably exploit each other. This is inevitable and we don’t need a Marx to tell us that.

In an ideal world, where the wealth force is possessed by the daivic and dharmic forces, those with a higher and wider consciousness would have access to the wealth force; only the enlightened would be given the power over wealth and resources. The most privileged would also be the most responsible, conscious and compassionate, and therefore the most grateful and generous. Generosity is the defining attribute of the deva, just as self-interest is the defining attribute of the asura.

But an ideal world will be created only under certain ideal conditions. The balance of forces will have to be restored, the asuric influences have to be replaced by the daivic, the generation of wealth will have to be aligned to Dharma — the True, the Right and the Just.

The first condition for reversing the balance of forces would be to ensure that those who are spiritually conscious are the ones who turn to generation of wealth. There is a cosmic law that governs the wealth force: wealth flows towards its votaries and not towards those who resist or reject it. This has been the great tragedy of our civilization for millennia, that those who should wield control over the wealth force are the ones who have deeply resisted or completely rejected it. This must change. The old idea of poverty as a condition for spiritual life must be rejected for what it is — a life negating belief; wealth is a divine force and must be used for the work of the Divine, and this can best be done by those who seek the higher Light and Truth in their own lives. The Truth of Life is not to be found in forests and monasteries but in the active field of life. Wealth is not a thing to be rejected but to be possessed by the mighty in spirit and used for the welfare of humanity.

The ancient Indians did not reject human desire or wealth in their pursuit of spiritual Truth and liberation, they harmonized and synthesized fulfillment of desire, generation of wealth, pursuit of dharma and spiritual liberation in a wide integral embrace of the whole field and scope of human existence. Kama (desire), artha (wealth and the generation of wealth), dharma (the order and harmony of all existence) and moksha (spiritual realization and liberation) were interwoven in the very fabric of everyday life in the world. This is the principle to which our modern civilization must return, for this is the true resolution of all our conflicts and crises.

The second condition would be to bring back the sage and the Yogi to the centre-stage of our collective life. We need to discover amongst ourselves the votaries of the higher Truth and not the votaries of money and power; we need to find and value those men and women of consciousness, those enlightened masters, who can be our new thought-leaders and role-models. We must collectively realize that possessing wealth, power and fame do not mean anything if one does not possess consciousness, wisdom and compassion. We must collectively understand that the rich, the powerful and the famous are not necessarily the true and the wise; on the contrary. We must insist on the values of consciousness, integrity and responsibility and must collectively and vigorously reject the self-indulgent, the false and the hypocritical; we must, with great vigor and passion, reject pettiness and falsehood and celebrate truth and wideness; we must learn to recognize the most conscious amongst us and honor them, value them, celebrate them.

A lot of us everywhere must now begin to speak up like the little child in the fable who publicly asked why the emperor was not wearing clothes. We must learn to see truly, without filters; we must learn to stand for truth, whatever we may possess of it; we must learn to speak for the true and the right, call a spade a spade, and live with integrity and courage. The poverty of consciousness must end, and we must grow rich in mind, spirit and body. The old division between wealth and spirit must go. The next generation should learn this invaluable lesson: that to possess the true wealth force, one must possess the true consciousness.

These would be the first conditions for establishing the next capitalism on earth — a conscious and enlightened capitalism created and sustained by groups of conscious and enlightened thought-leaders wielding the wealth-force; and this then will open the possibilities of a new and enlightened socio-economic order. Only such a conscious and enlightened capitalism based on Dharma, or a dharmic capitalism, will bring about the crucial changes in the way we collectively work and live on this planet. A dharmic capitalism will naturally encourage the principles of justice, fair play and equal opportunity as much as the values of hard work and excellence. Unfair wealth generation, crony capitalism, unbridled greed and corruption do not make for a healthy and sane society, and the aim of wealth is to create a healthy and sane society. This is a deep spiritual truth. Let us reflect on it.

Originally published on the Satyameva website

Healthy living and Technology

The old age “health is wealth” could not be more fitting than it is today. Rising lifestyle-related health issues all over the globe has forced people to get that heart pumping more than before. While the benefits of a healthy lifestyle are known to everyone, there are several factors, direct or indirect, acting as an obstacle to leading a healthier lifestyle.

The entire health sector is undergoing a massive change and the technological advancements can be used to enable people to make positive changes for a healthier life. According to a report by World Health Organization (WHO), premature deaths from non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, cancer and respiratory conditions can be prevented with the help of health systems which help to identify and monitor factors such as poor diet and inactivity. Numerous structured diet and physical activity interventions have demonstrated success in preventing and/or reducing chronic-disease risk. The use of health technologies has expanded exponentially in the health care industry; there are a number of consumer-based technologies yielding health information to the individual users. The explosion in technology use provides an opportunity for broader dissemination of health care services and products.

To become a society focused on preventing illness rather than simply treating it, we must use technology to stimulate individuals to take more personal responsibility for their health. It is difficult for people to implement changes in their daily routine- technology can enable them to do so. Currently there are more than 100,000 health applications that people can download on their mobile devices, tablets, etc. which measure physical activity and provide health-related suggestions on improving it if needed.

The data amassed from wearable technology is a smart way for consumers to harness and fully utilize the power of data. The data can be used to analyze and assess where the individual is going wrong and how to improve the fitness level. This encourages them to be less sedentary and instigates them to make behavioral changes as well incorporate changes into their lifestyle.

In addition to this, Genomics, a study of the structure, function, evolution, mapping, and editing of genomes, combined with technology can result in increased life longevity. A genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA, including all of its genes. A major part of genomics is determining the sequence of molecules that make up the genomic DNA content of an organism. The genomic DNA sequence is contained within an organism’s chromosomes, one or more sets of which are found in each cell of an organism. The chromosomes can be further described as containing the fundamental units of heredity, the genes. Technology coupled with genomics has made it possible to determine the sequences of your chromosomes, and this data can be mined for genetic mutations that cause disease and affect drug response. We can also now interrogate the whole human exome, which reveals which genes are actively being converted into their protein products at a particular time or under specific conditions (such as healthy vs. diseased states). Such technologies have facilitated the advent of a whole new field of human therapeutics. These “advanced therapy medicinal products” (ATMPs) offer significant promise for the treatment of diseases and injuries that currently have no cure.

Today, we have the power to prevent diseases by making healthy lifestyle choices. With advancements in technology happening at breakneck speeds, we should take advantage of the resources at our disposal and live a healthy and blissful life.

References

https://www.philips.com/a-w/about/news/archive/blogs/innovation-matters/how-smart-technology-can-lead-to-healthier-lives.html

https://www.technologynetworks.com/genomics/articles/how-genomics-is-shaping-advanced-therapeutics-314665

https://www.genome.gov/19016904/

How Robotic Surgical System is changing the world of healthcare:

The arrival of big data, artificial intelligence and Internet of Things have impacted every industry to its core, and the healthcare industry is no different. It, like many other industries is going through a technological revolution of late. Applications used in the healthcare industry are getting smarter day-by-day thanks to real-time data, fast super computers and integration of data analysis. One of the breakthrough technologies that the healthcare industry has witnessed is robotic surgical systems. Although it is in a nascent stage of its development, it has practitioners all over the world with its efficiency.

A company named Intuitive Surgical Inc. has created one such robotic system named da Vinci® Surgical System which is designed to facilitate complex surgery using a minimally invasive approach, and it is controlled by a surgeon using a console. The whole system consists of a console operated by the surgeon, which has hand and foot controls, with 3D, high definition view of the surgical field; a patient-side cart with four thin interactive robotic arms: three of which are for tools that hold objects and to act as scalpels, scissors, bovies or graspers. The robotic arms have an advantage of exceeding the natural range of motion of a human arm resulting them to be more precise. This system significantly improves conventional laparoscopies, as in those procedures, surgeons often need to operate while standing and using static hand-held instruments and have to constantly look at two-dimensional low-resolution video output of the anatomical area which is further controlled by a patient-side assistant, thus creating some chances human error as compared to the robotic system. From the patient’s perspective, they encounter less pain, blood loss, scarring and a shorter recovery time.