Chapter 01: Contemporary Views on Spirituality
Chapter 02: Spirituality Re-Examined
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.
Chapter 03: Spirituality: Development Perspectives
Development practitioners perceive spirituality as religious practices, beliefs, rituals and traditions of the people whom they perceive as others and whom they are supposed to develop. The first section of this chapter shows the inadequacy of this definition and re-defines spirituality as a process of reducing our self-centredness and greed for material wealth and explains the relevance of this definition to development.
The rest of the chapter is devoted to elaborate spirituality as establishing right relationships and as transformation of human mind. As long as our mind is driven by self-centredness, our relationships remain exploitative. Reduction of self-centredness improves our relationships with fellow human beings and with the environment. This is what we need for sustainable development.
This chapter concludes with outlining the changes that occur within us as we grow spiritually.
Chapter 04: Identifying Global Socio-Spiritual Classes
As an attempt to analysing the global economic system from socio-spiritual perspective, this chapter identifies global socio-spiritual classes. At the first step of the identifying process, the world’s total population is divided into two groups according to their key motivations: motivated by inner peace and by material gains. The former, identified as ‘the inner-guided people’, are spiritually developed. The latter who are self-centred and greedy and therefore spiritually underdeveloped are divided into four classes: (1) The elites – global elites, national elites and local elites; (2) The overconsumers – materially rich urban dwellers who serve elites’ interests; (3) The poor– living below the poverty line, and (4) Dissatisfiers– living above the poverty line but not satisfied because they aspire to live like overconsumers.
Chapter 05: Global Economic System as a Product of Greedy Mind
Chapter 06: Global Economic System and Conventional Development
This chapter argues conventional development is a project initiated by global elites to maintain and further expand the global geopolitical landscape they had established during the colonial era to satisfy their greed and points out self-centredness and greed is the prime reason for the failure of most economic theories in real world.
In theory, free trade and democracy should positively contribute to development and well-being. But, as this chapter reveals, due to the self-centredness and greed in people who control it, free trade cannot benefit rich and poor nations alike; it is not actually free for the poor. It also explains why poor nations cannot afford democracy and how democracy in rich nations sustains poverty in the rest of the world.
Contradictions between spirituality and conventional development are highlighted.
Chapter 07: Poverty and Inequality
Chapter 08: Environmental Unsustainability
This chapter argues that the root cause of unsustainability is our self-centredness and greed for sense pleasures. Pleasure, unlike true happiness, is essentially short term and therefore our pleasure seeking makes us short-sighted and ignorant of long-term consequences of our actions. As individuals our concern is our own pleasure during our life time rather than the well-being and happiness of future generations; for policy makers, it is short-term political gains; and for corporations, it is short-term profit.
For pleasure we need material wealth, and our self-centred approach to wealth generation makes our relationship with the environment exploitative; we fail to perceive ourselves as an integral part of the environment. This chapter argues that as long as the root cause remains unchanged, no amount of investment in reforms and technologies in the name of sustainable development will make it a reality.
Chapter 09: Unhappiness
Chapter 10: Spiritual Growth and Economic Growth: Conflict or Synergy
This chapter analyses spiritual growth from a psychological perspective and explains, with the help of empirical evidence, how spiritual growth and economic growth contribute to each other. When the level of economic growth is too low and inadequate to meet our basic survival needs we physically suffer and are unable to act for spiritual growth. Therefore, to the extent that it is necessary to meet our survival needs, economic growth can be considered as a prerequisite for spiritual growth. On the other hand, most of the qualities that grow within us as we grow spiritually, such as creativity, work-efficiency, self-esteem, self-confidence, honesty, cooperation, trustworthiness and commitment to work and so on, positively contribute to economic growth. Thus, spiritual growth and economic growth are mutually beneficial. Scientific evidences are provided in support of these arguments.
Chapter 11: Spiritualizing the Global Economic System
As already pointed out, absence of spiritual basis is the root cause of the failure of conventional development. Therefore, if it is to succeed, conventional development needs to be based on spirituality, which is the inner change in which our self-centredness and greed is replaced by selfless love. As this spiritual transformation unfolds, a form of development based on spirituality will emerge spontaneously. It emerges when spiritually developed people (inner-guided people), motivated by selfless love, take initiatives in various ways to reduce poverty and inequality, to achieve environmental sustainability and to deliver happiness to all. It is love in action and a form of selfless service. This chapter describes how spirituality-based development emerges as people grow spiritually and provides evidence to show that it is already emerging worldwide.
Chapter 12: Towards a World of Abundance, Equity, Sustainability and Happiness
EPILOGUE: Changing Ourselves to Change the World
As discussed in preceding chapters, self-centredness and greed are not basic to us but temporary symptoms of our spiritual underdevelopment. Hence, any social system based on self-centredness and greed fails to yield long-term sustainable happiness and well-being to people. History reveals the fate of such systems as feudalism, imperialism, capitalism, socialism and communism. On the other hand, what is basic to us is selfless love. This is declared by all great religions, agreed on by most great philosophers and confirmed by scientific evidence. Discovering what is basic to us is spirituality. Therefore, it is sensible to suggest that only a system based on spirituality can yield long-term sustainable well-being and happiness to the humanity. This study suggests, with the help of empirical evidence, that such a system is forthcoming. The best way we can contribute to this is to change ourselves.