FlowerBeing spiritual means different things to different people, and the term spirituality is also variously defined. However, it is widely accepted that the ultimate goal of spirituality is a transformation within individuals: an inner transformation which reduces our sense of ‘I’ and makes us less self-centered, less greedy, more loving, and more generous, kinder, and compassionate beings. All religions are different pathways towards this goal. Apart from religious pathways, there are various non-religious pathways to achieve this goal. Some of the non-religious spiritual pathways widely known in the Western world include spiritually oriented professional services such as psychotherapy, counselling and coaching, music, charity and service activities, meditation, meditative reading of spiritual literature, attending spiritual talks and conferences, and taking part in spiritual workshops. Latest findings in neuroscience, neuropsychology, and transpersonal psychology reveal that our sense of ‘I’ is not real but an illusion that can be reduced by religious as well as non-religious therapeutic means. Currently they are developing such means. Some modern scientists, philosophers and spiritual teachers consider spiritual transformation as the next step of the human evolution in which we shed the last remaining animal-traits in the mind and become true human beings.

                    Spirituality is not a popular subject among professionals and its potential value for maximising productivity and sustainable growth is not much known. What is widely accepted is that the sense of ‘I’, the self-centeredness and greed are necessary to motivate us to work hard and to raise productivity. It is true that self-centredness and greed motivate us to produce more goods and services. However, it is also the very same things that block our access to the creativity, wisdom, intelligence, self-confidence, self-esteem, inner peace and bliss that are hidden deep within us. Spiritual transformation makes our sense of ‘I’ weak, giving us access to these inner capacities, which could maximize our productivity. Studies on spiritually oriented community development projects worldwide have revealed that spiritual transformation in individuals remarkably has remarkably increased their productivity. World’s great people who made great scientific discoveries and technological breakthroughs have admitted that great ideas emerged into their mind at the times the mind was extraordinary calm and. the sense of ‘I’ was weak or absent. As the sense of ‘I’ diminishes, the higher qualities such as loving kindness, compassion and generosity begin to grow which will eventually motivate us to work hard for the well-being of all.

                    The long-term unsustainability widely evident in most economic activities can be attributed to our short-term vision. Being self-centered beings, we are more interested in short-term personal gains. This applies not only individuals, but also companies, corporations, and governments. While each company or corporation concern only about making short-term profits, each government set target for the next election. Hence, we all tend to exploit natural resources without considering tits long-term impacts on environmental sustainability. Furthermore, being self-centered beings, we do not mind to fulfil our needs and wants even at the expense of others’ happiness. If the prevailing circumstances permit us to do so, we do not mind to exploit others for our well-being. It is the exploitation of one human being by another that widens inequality and crates social conflicts, causing stress on social harmony and sustainability. Hence, as long as we remain self-centered and greedy, any material growth we achieve cannot sustain on the long-run. Therefore, spirituality, as a mean to reduce our sense of ‘I’, self-centeredness and greed, is a valuable ingredient for maximising national productivity as well as sustainable growth.

 Warwick Smith/ Fairfax NZ