Spirituality and Sustainable Development


Spirituality and Sustainable Development

  CoverPage SpiritualityandSustainableDevelopment
by Rohana Ulluwishewa  
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Product Details

      Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
      Published on: May 2014
      Original language: English
      Number of items: 1
      Dimensions: .50" h x 5.90" w x 8.90" l
      Binding: Hardcover
      Pages: 203

In spite of heavy investments, development has failed to alleviate poverty and inequality, achieve environmental sustainability and deliver happiness to humanity. In his revolutionary book, Rohana Ulluwishewa shows that the root-cause of the failure lies within us. It is our self-centeredness and greed for material wealth. Conventional development ignores this truth, and attempts to change almost everything in the external world except ourselves. Of course, the changes it brings to the external world generate more material wealth, but as the selfishness within us remains unchanged, we fail to generate wealth in an environmentally sustainable manner, to distribute the wealth equally and to deliver happiness to all. While all great religions advocate the reduction of our selfishness, modern scientific evidence suggest that it is a temporary sign of our spiritual underdevelopment. As we develop spiritually, it is replaced by selfless love. Then spontaneously emerge a form of development driven by love which can eliminate poverty and inequality, achieve environmental sustainability and deliver happiness to all. This book concludes with policy measures required to promote the new form of development.

What is this book about?

Failure of Conventional Development

                     Development, which was once accepted by many as a panacea for most problems of humankind, is being seriously challenged. Despite decades of heavy investments in development activities in developing countries, poverty, inequality, hunger and malnutrition are still rampant. Further, many related miseries such as civil wars, terrorism and various other violent activities still remain in most parts of the world, perhaps on a growing scale. Development has clearly failed in its agenda to alleviate poverty and inequality, achieve environmental sustainability and deliver happiness to people. Therefore, it is argued that development has failed, and indeed, some even suggest that development itself has contributed to widening inequalities. Faced with the failure of development, some stress Eurocentrism, injustices and unequal power relationships in the practice of development as the major contributory factors for its failure (Ferguson, 1990; Rahman, 1993; Amin, 2009; Smith and Max-Neef, 2011), while others blame modernization approaches for being based on the uncritical transfer of science and technology from the rich to the poor countries (Peet and Watts, 1993; Escobar, 1995). On the other hand, writers of sustainable development highlight the ignorance of environmental sustainability in development practices as a key factor for its failure (Brudtland, 1989; David Reid, 1995; Overton and Scheyvens, 1999; Adams, 2001; Ikerd, 2005). In the recent past, numerous alternative models and approaches have been presented. Some often mentioned in development literature are bottom-up approach to development, people-centred development, people-led development, people-friendly development, endogenous development, indigenous development and a human rights approach to development.

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List of Figures
List of Tables

What is this Book About?
Are We Intrinsically Self-Centered and Greedy?
Organization of the Book

1. Contemporary Views on Spirituality
           Spirituality and Religion
           Spiritual but Not Religious
           Spirituality: Scientific Perspectives
2. Spirituality Re-examined
           Searching Common Grounds in Different Views
           Transforming Mind, Changing Values
3. Spirituality: Development Perspectives
           Spirituality in Conventional Development
           Spirituality as Establishing Right Relationships
           Spirituality as Transformation of the Human Mind

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Chapter Abstracts

Chapter 01: Contemporary Views on Spirituality

This chapter offers a discussion of the views on spirituality of three groups of individuals: (1) who are affiliated to religions, (2) who claim to be spiritual but not religious and (3) who approach spirituality through scientific means. The foundation of all views is the belief that there is a reality beyond the material world. While the first group call this reality spirit, God or soul, the second and third groups use non-religious scientific terms to identify it such as consciousness, the higher self and the quantum vacuum. Most contemporary writers recognize this reality as a unified field of energy which is love, and spirituality as a personal journey towards this reality. Though religions seem to be different from each other in beliefs, rituals and practices, they all represent different pathways to spirituality.

Chapter 02: Spirituality Re-Examined

This chapter explores common grounds underlying the different views on spirituality. To explore common grounds, they are divided into two groups: God-centred views and non-God centred views. While the former includes the views of most mainstream religions the latter includes Buddhist, non-religious and scientific views. The comparative analysis reveals there are more similarities than differences.

The apparent disagreement between the two groups on the existence on God is illusive. The source of disagreement is the use of different words to identify the same reality. Furthermore, both groups agree on the purpose of spirituality as inculcating love. But they disagree on what one should do to achieve the purpose. However, in-depth analyses show that though the practices prescribed are different, they all serve the purpose.

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