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There is only one goal. That is to be whole again.

There is only one goal. That is to be whole again. How human beings live and work determines whether they remain whole or are split. ...

11/25/16

Modern economics puts self-interest at the heart of life--we are all supposedly guided by the law of self-interest above all else.

Gandhiji revolutionized economics by putting love at the heart of life, where it rightly belongs. Gandhiji said,

"It is my firm belief that it is love that sustains the earth. There only is life where there is love. Life without love is death."

If we find that we live in a society where love has been displaced by self-interest, we can do something about it.

We can love more. With more love we will find life once again invigorated and self-interest will fade away.
A note on methodology

We proceed in the manner of Gandhiji, experimenting with bold ideas, always willing to change them as they evolve with our experiences, applying the tests of truth and nonviolence at all times. Gandhiji said,

"There is no such thing as 'Gandhism', and I do not want to leave any sect after me. I have simply tried in my own way to apply the eternal truth to our daily life and problems."

Clearly, Gandhiji did not want us to blindly go about repeating what he said but rather to actively create new understanding with our own experiments and gain our own inferences from these experiments. So this blog is not an attempt to recount all that Gandhiji said about economics--that would be creating a sect, which is what Gandhiji clearly did not want. This blog is an attempt to share my expanding understanding of Gandhian economics as I live and grow and experiment over time. 

Therefore, the first principle of my methodology is personal experimentation under Gandhiji's influence

Furthermore, Gandhiji was interested in the creation of wholeness in life. Any study, any experimenting must be done in the spirit of wholeness. Gandhiji said,

"The whole gamut of man's activities today constitutes an indivisible whole. You cannot divide social, economic, political, and purely religious work into water-tight compartments."

So my study of Gandhian economics is a study in wholeness. I have found through my own experiments with life that the main problem with modern life based on modern economics is that we have been split. That basic split in our psyche can be made whole by living whole lives that are based on interconnections with others, meaningful work that allows us to be whole, a simple lifestyle that aims at self-realization rather than accumulation. 

Therefore, the second principle of my methodology is wholeness in living and enquiry



*Both quotes above are of Gandhiji. They may be found in Tendulkar's 'Mahatma' vol IV pages 66-67 and 212.

11/21/16

When times are hard our yoga practice becomes our sail-boat that helps us cross the stormy sea. Our yoga practice is not only the daily practice of physical postures known as yogasana or simply asana but also the daily practice of living our lives. 

When times are hard we feel fragmented. It is a great challenge to stay focused, to move forward with our lives. Such times demand that we make conscious use of our most precious resource, namely time. The ancients have given us three modes of being that, to continue our metaphor, allow us to cross uncharted waters in our sail-boat. Any one of these can take us safely across when combined with our asana practice. 

The first mode is known as bhakti yoga. This is the devotional mode. One dedicates every waking and sleeping moment to a cause, a deity, a principle, anything that one believes in whole heartedly. Bhakti yoga is very effective when you have something that you can single-mindedly focus on. That then becomes your meditation, night and day.

The second mode is known as gyan yoga. This is the mode of the intellect. One immerses oneself in the discovery of new knowledge, gaining a deeper and deeper understanding and perspective upon our subject of study. Gyan yoga is not simply book-knowledge. You study for your self the practical implications of that knowledge and act upon your understanding.

The third mode is known as karma yoga. This is the mode of work-for-the-sake-of-the-work-itself. The Bhagavad Gita defines this mode as follows: You have the right to your work but not to the fruits of your work. You simply immerse your self in your work with no thought of the results but simply connecting to the act of working as your meditation practice. The beauty of karma yoga is that anyone can do it in absolutely any kind of work that one is engaged in. You could be hand-washing dishes, working in a library, painting a house, directing a movie--all that matters is that you do your work with no ego-attachment to the results of the work. 

Which mode we pick depends on our personality and personal preferences. Joining any one these modes with our asana practice allows our sail-boat to stay afloat and cross the stormy seas. After all the word yoga means to join: we must join the practice of living and the practice of doing to create wholeness in our lives.

11/20/16

Economics needs to be redefined. We can easily demonstrate that the traditional definition of economics as the study of meeting unlimited wants by limited means is incorrect.

An important principle given to us by Gandhiji is

means = ends

After all, only truthful means can lead to truthful ends and only nonviolent means can result in nonviolent ends.

From the definition above we focus on the term "limited means." We must agree that

limited means = limited ends

If our means are limited our ends must by necessity also be limited. Furthermore if our ends are limited our wants can not be unlimited: After all a want is a desire for an end!

We can thus redefine economics as the study of meeting whole but limited wants by whole but limited means with the goal of creating whole and unlimited people.

9/27/16

What are we to do?

Life prompts us forward towards expansion. This is a very natural process. Evolution wants to happen, always and everywhere. I call this process the pulse

Often in our ignorance we thwart this process. We settle for a material existence created by great force. We possess things, have status, achieve things. But for how long? Before long these things, life itself, fades away. 

This is the problem everywhere in the world. There is so much turmoil both in the parts of the world where there is severe poverty and in the parts that have plenty. We can deduce from this that the problem is not simply a lack of material things but something much greater: a missing link to life itself. 

In order to regain our connection with life's promptings we must continually shed our possessions, our positions, our hard-earned status in society. We must become small and open to possibilities. 

It is then that we start experiencing the quiet promptings of the pulse and if we follow the pulse we move forward. 

9/24/16

It is difficult to apply truth and nonviolence to our daily life. That is because both truth and nonviolence are whole ideas whereas our lives are not whole. Our lives are split, reflecting the split in our selves.

I have found that simply noticing two related but split ideas in our daily lives is the first step to wholeness. The two ideas to notice are fear and greed.

When I am aware of my fear moment to moment, pay attention to it without trying to change it, I grow towards truth and nonviolence. When I am aware, however fleetingly, of my greed, pay attention to it without trying to be any less greedy than I am, I grow towards truth and nonviolence.

Friends, awareness precedes action. We must fully accept that we are split and deeply notice the manifestation of that splitting in the form of fear and greed. When we do so we take our first steps towards embracing truth and nonviolence and hence wholeness.

5/17/16

To heal we must become whole. We must lose our egos until we see that we are one. You are not just you as you think of and see yourself. You are also me. You are also your worst enemy.

As long as we cling on to our sense of 'me' we are limited. From this limited perspective the first step in consciousness is self interest. We recognize, in this limited state of being, the importance of self preservation and self expansion. 

With further development of consciousness we recognize other interest as our guiding principle. This is the second step in consciousness. It leads to acts of kindness. However consciousness does not stop here. 

In the third and highest state of consciousness we recognize that we are one. In this state of one interest there is no separation, only wholeness. 

Gandhiji described this state of one interest in his talks on the Bhagavad Gita at the Sabarmati ashram thus: 

It is in man's nature to do good for all selves are one. Since that is so, the apparent separateness of each self has no significance. When this is realized man's ego melts away. Man's essence, which is the atman, is all-pervading, because he who has realized it will not see himself as different from others, but will see all in himself. For such a person, therefore, doing good becomes part of his nature. When he seems to be serving other creatures, he is doing so not out of kindness to them, but is merely following his own nature. To us who are enveloped in maya, it might seem like he is practicing virtue, but in truth it is not so; he is acting only according to his nature towards all creatures.

What a contrast it is to compare Gandhiji's beautiful description of human nature to that of the modern economist. To have an economics based on the lowest level of human consciousness is to expect very little from ourselves. This is the state that modern economics finds itself in. And what a pitiable state it is! 

We must recognize that the teachings of modern economics are but the first step of human consciousness, that higher states of human consciousness are possible. With the growth of human consciousness into higher states it is possible to have higher states of economics. 

These higher states of economics are what I call Gandhian economics. 

5/16/16

What gives meaning to life? Not money, not getting ahead, not acquiring things, but consciousness alone. 

Individual consciousness (atman) wants to merge with the universal consciousness (brahman). Which is why we engage in the ordinary business of life. 

When we recognize economic activity as consciousness we create a whole new way of looking at economics. Then we ask ourselves how may wholeness be achieved in our lives.

5/10/16

Economics is commonly thought of as no more than an expression of the law of demand and supply. That is so but not in the narrow, split way, of modern economics. Let us look at the terms demand and supply with fresh eyes.

What is demand? Is it not desire?

What is the ultimate desire for? What is behind your desire of this or that? We do not desire things for their own sake. Rather our desires are expressions of a primary impulse, that is the desire for the darshan, or being in the presence, of God.

And where does supply come from? You may say it comes from this company or that government. But ultimately all supply comes from God.

So the law of demand and supply thus reformulated is the law of wholeness. It is a gestalt,  parts of God (us) seeking God (the whole) while God (the whole) offers its parts (us) a chance for a reunion.

When thought of as wholeness, demand and supply make a lot of sense. 

4/29/16

The Bhagavad Gita gives us a wonderful word which expresses what human beings must strive to be to realize God:

vitaragabhayakrodhah

I like this word a lot. Not only is my own name embedded in it but its meaning, according to Gandhiji, is "who are free from all attachment, fear, and anger," a perfect summary of the work ahead for each of us human beings. 

Instead of putting self interest at the heart of our economics, as does modern economics, what would happen if we made vitaragabhayakrodhah the heart of our new economics? 

I invite you to meditate upon this, then apply it, and affirm it. 

4/11/16

karma + vikarma = akarma

The Bhagavad Gita has given us this beautiful economics formula. You can see from it how different our conception of work is from that of the West.

Karma is action. We work, that is action. We engage in karma. Vikarma is how we engage our souls in our work. Our souls are simply our inner essence. Work without soul is mighty effort indeed! When we engage in work of that nature in our society we are proceeding incorrectly. Wrong work leads to exploitation. Tomes have been written analyzing the nature of exploitation. But friends, exploitation is only a reality when work is devoid of soul.

When work is done with the engagement of the soul one hundred percent something magical happens. Right work results in akarma, or unwork. Akarma can not be analyzed in terms of exploitation because there is none.

If work is the basis of economics it seems to me that we must start by understanding the nature of work. We would all do well to meditate upon the simple formula, the very foundation of our new economics and keep Krishna's wise words in our hearts, "By going there you will understand how utterly serene the mind can be while performing continuous service; you will understand how, though action rages without, the heart can be tuned to produce unbroken music."

Meditation: karma + vikarma = akarma

Exercise: How can I today wholeheartedly engage my soul in my work? 

Affirmation: I can separate my work from the fruits of that work, letting go of the fruits!

4/7/16

If we are to make practical inroads into ushering in the new reality that awaits us we must start with ourselves. I would suggest that we all work on the following elements within ourselves:

1. Harmony
We must exist in harmony before we can do anything in the world. Harmony is not the common image of the happy individual (happily) consuming a wide variety and large quantities of material and spiritual goods. Harmony has nothing to do with commerce. Harmony is an inner strength, and inner peace that must be earned. The only effective way that I know of to develop harmony is long and rigorous meditation.

2. Balance
This has nothing in common with the modern economist's conception of equilibrium. Balance can not result from opposing forces acting against each other, such as the case of supply and demand, which are mere inventions of modern economics. Balance comes from following the inner voice in each and every action that one engages in. It comes from right action without considering the fruits of the action.

3. Openness
Once harmony and balance become a way of life one naturally opens, much like a flower, to take in and express one's inner essence. Openness means never using history to make judgements, rather responding in the moment, improvising in the moment.

These, in my opinion are the preconditions for allowing the new economic reality to come into existence. Friends, it is hard work but what do we have to lose? Can we tolerate another year, another month, another day, another moment even of the reality that we live in?

I for one can not. 

4/4/16

Q. Can you explain how the idea of trusteeship can function in a practical way in our very imperfect world? It seems to me that everywhere people look to their own interest so that there must be policies that redistribute wealth and income to fight that tendency.

A. When you talk about 'a practical way' do you not assume that the fundamental nature of our economic organization can not change?

Q. I don't see any evidence that there is a natural progression towards sharing so I say that the redistribution must take place by the use of rules and regulations.

A. And yet we can not begin to talk about a new way of living or organizing ourselves until we do two things. Firstly, we must accept that our old ways of thinking have not worked and will not work in the future. Secondly, we must accept that each of us must go through a period of intense soul-searching, that society itself must go through such an intense period of soul-searching. What will result from that is a very different way of being and living and thinking about things.

Q. You do not accept the evidence of what is as the basis of the formulation of your new policies.

A. Not only that, I do not accept that the way things are are a reflection of human proclivities let alone human potential. The fact is that the reality that you point to me is the result of a profound splitting of the human being. When people are no longer whole their organization, their foundations, their very lives are no longer whole. What is simply points to the fact that we are split. Surely that can not be the basis of understanding wholeness.

Q. Would trusteeship, the idea that each may earn what they want to as well as keep it as long as they don't believe that they own that wealth but accept that they are simply trustees of that wealth provide a solid and sustainable basis to our economics?

A. Which economics are you talking about? If you plan to simply tack on this idea of trusteeship to all your other ideas such as self-interest, survival of the fittest, and so on that would be no firm basis for trusteeship.

Q. Then what is needed? What about human rights?

A. What is needed is a complete reinvention of the human being in its original and natural form as someone who is deeply connected to his inner voice, inter-relates meaningfully with others based on tenderness and duty rather than demanding of rights, and strives to be whole in all spheres of life. Such a renewed human being will be aware of many of his or her God-given talents, develop them fully with the cooperation of others, in turn helping others to realize themselves. The rights that you are talking about come about as a result of an integrated, whole life. They are not the starting point.

Q. Can this change happen in our lifetime?

A. It can happen in the blink of an eye. Right now, right this moment pledge to be kind, pledge to be whole, to live and work for universal oneness. Let go of fear, do your work, and don't always be looking to see if your rewards are on their way. Do this now and your life changes now! If you assert that life changes only when the results, the rewards come, you misunderstand the purpose of life. In Gandhiji's words, ours is simply to "do or die," and as the bhagavad gita says, "you are entitled to your work but not to the fruits of the work."

4/2/16

What do we seek? Some say we seek things, material goods. Others say we seek comforts, leisure. Still others point to religious and spiritual spheres as the ultimate things that we seek. 

But the important question is not what we seek. It is why we seek. And the pursuit of that question, why do we seek is really the most important thing. In answering that question we come to understand the nature of the human being. 

4/1/16

Thoughtfulness is how I define the standard of living. A group of people with plenty of material possessions but no thought for others is a group with a very low standard of living. On the other hand, a group of people with very little in terms of material possessions but great thoughtfulness towards each other is undoubtedly a group with a high standard of living. Kumarappa writes

We must bear in mind that the true test of civilization is not our material possessions or our manner or mode of life but the thought we bestow on the well-being of others. *

And what exactly creates well-being? It is certainly not the so-called consumption championed by modern economics. Consumption is a one-way street. It is a using up of resources. It is the least mindful and most thoughtless of actions. Well-being is created by a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging, a sense or responsibility and a spiritual understanding that we are One.

When we gauge our own lives or assess the life of our society we may confidently use the yardstick of thoughtfulness to measure the standard of living.

* Why the Village Movement by J. C. Kumarappa 1949 page 3. 

3/23/16

Here is a basic framework for Gandhian economic analysis when it comes to policy. When we are considering a project with largely economic dimensions, we must examine the means independently from the ends.

We can never say, "Well the ends are so lofty so we may accept the means, whatever they may be." Instead we must ask ourselves, "Regardless of the ends what is the nature of the means? Are the means the right action?" If they are, they will be consistent with truth and nonviolence.

Next we must examine whether the proposed policy leads towards wholeness or towards splitting.

Modern economics, with its idea of raising standards of living leads directly to the splitting of the individual. Work is not meaningful, it is wrongly seen as a "means to an end" and separates the worker aspect of the person from all of his or her self--moral, religious, loving, social, creative, earth-intelligent.

We must only accept policies that move us towards wholeness. Work that uses all of a person's abilities, that enriches their moral and social consciousness would be accepted while work that is demeaning, soul-less and self-defeating such as that under modern economics must be rejected.

This is just a start. But I challenge us all to start implementing it, starting right now! Only then can we see change in our lifetime.

3/11/16

There is only one goal. That is to be whole again.

There is only one goal. That is to be whole again.

How human beings live and work determines whether they remain whole or are split.

Modern man is split. That is obvious to anyone who inquires into the human condition. In spite of tremendous increase in measured wealth, in the so-called standard of living, humans are more miserable than ever.

So the question emerges, why are humans split?

Human beings are split because of their economics. How they live and work is generally profoundly disconnected to the natural order of things. In place of harmony and balance, most people, especially in the West, but increasingly in the East as well, live lives of meaningless, disconnected work and neglected family and community lives. There can not be a rich web of interconnections when the core is rotten. And that rotten core is the system of modern economics.

In an act of absolute violence modern economics split the means from the ends. This way of looking at life involved using whatever means possible, guided only by self-interest, to maximize tradable output. Instead of seeing people as inherently good, as responsible caring members of families and societies, modern economics emphasized the individual, that too one that only seeks maximum satisfaction. This way of splitting means from ends led to the justification of the use of horrific methods never before used or even imagined by mankind. Nuclear power, dependence on fossil fuels, global and constant war are all considered to be appropriate means.

This has gone on for so long that the sickness of split humans has spread worldwide and violence and war, greed and exploitation have become the norm. In the name of peace we wage war, in the name of feeding people we poison the earth, in the name of the future we destroy the present. Everywhere we create a race of obedient workers working meaningless jobs, blindly following their politicians and leaders, ignoring their children, families and community in their restless (and pointless) attempts to get ahead.

Modern economics can be summarized in the following schematic:

means-production-distribution-consumption-ends

Everywhere people are engaged in means that seek only to maximize production. Then there is an arbitrary and usually unjust distribution of that production. How else can we explain CEOs making billions while ordinary workers make less and less? The tax system is generally regressive in effect so that the poor are getting more and more destitute even as the rich get richer. Where I live the number of homeless people has easily multiplied by four times in the last few years while the simplest single-family house sells for well over a million dollars.

Consumption is the 'opiate of the masses.' By flooding the markets with cheap, shoddy goods and entertainment services, modern economics ensures that people stay too busy consuming to really question their lives.

This consumption is supposedly the ends of the whole corrupt, repressive, exploitative and splitting system of modern economics.

But there is an alternative--Gandhiji gave that to us a hundred years ago! Gandhiji said that means and ends are convertible terms, that there is no difference between means and ends. In other words

means = ends

and what follows from this equation is the total collapse of modern economics. For the system of

means-production-distribution-consumption-ends

can only exist as long as means and ends are violently and forcibly separated.

Once we are enlightened with the deep understanding that means are the ends and ends the means, we will never again use violence (means) to achieve peace (ends), never again work meaningless jobs (means) to support our families (ends), never again follow individual self-interest or greed (means) to achieve a meaningful and happy life (ends).

Instead we will understand that only nonviolent means will lead to nonviolent ends, only meaningful work will create meaning in our lives, families and communities, only doing things for the good of all or One-interest rather than self-interest will lead to wholeness.

Friends, I am as scarred as you are by the violence of modern economics. I have been guilty of being seduced by modern economics for much of my life. I have paid the price for that with a broken family, lost friendships, and the malaise of meaninglessness. I have been there and continue to struggle with many of these issues each day. I am not a saint, just a very ordinary human being who lost his way in modern economics and was saved by Gandhiji.

Will you join me today in building a whole life for your self? Even if there are just two or four of us in the whole world we can make a difference. The point is to start, today.

3/9/16

Modern economics is built on the three-fold model of production-distribution-consumption. First a society, it is asserted, must decide what to produce using available but scarce means. Next that society must decide how to distribute the fruits of all the effort that was put to producing things in step 1. Lastly, the society must consume the fruits of work in accordance with how those fruits are distributed, this consumption being the ends of economics.

Gandhiji said simply that

means = ends

so the whole three-fold edifice of modern economics collapses when we approach economics from Gandhiji's perspective. 

Then there is no production-distribution-consumption but only right action. 

As the Bhagavad Gita tells us, our work is to commit to right action in all aspects of our life without any attachment to the fruits of that action. We create by connecting with family, with neighbors, thereby creating a society. A real society is one where people's wealth is in the rich interconnections that they have developed with others through right action. 

We don't commit to right action to create wellbeing in society:

right action = wellbeing

That would be separating means and ends. Instead we commit to right action simply because that is the right thing to do:

right action = right action

That is the essence of Gandhian economics.


1/6/16

I = S - M

The modern way of thinking about economics has been

I = M - S

Where I is the I as in me, M is what is 'mine' and S is what is shared.

So we are brought up to think that we are what we have , what is ours (M) minus what is shared (S). Sharing in that formulation takes away from me (I). 

Gandhian economics suggests that we reverse this usual formulation to read

I = S - M

I am what is shared (S) and what is 'mine' (M) takes away from what I am (I). 

Wealth consists in our interrelationships. The greater and more wonderful our interrelationships the greater and more wonderfully do we share, enriching the 'I'.