Core Values of Prout
DEVELOPMENT IN THREE SPHERES
P. R. Sarkar, who formulated the Progressive Utilization Theory (Prout), wrote in 1985:
“All expressions in this universe are divided into three strata – physical, psychic and spiritual – and not a single stratum among them is unimportant or negligible. For the integrated development of this world, we want all three of these strata to be properly developed, and their speed to be accelerated.”
Prout’s economy is based upon this understanding of the universe—the idea that every object and entity is composed of these three strata or spheres, whether expressed or unexpressed. Human existence is also composed of three layers—our bodies, minds, and spirits. Satisfying the needs and longings of each one defines human life. In the physical stratum, we require proper and sufficient food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and other basic requirements. In the psychic or mental sphere, our minds need opportunity to expand and develop knowledge, creativity, emotional intelligence, intuition, and other higher faculties. Spiritually, we yearn for a deeper connection with ourselves and the universe and to achieve a lasting inner peace and happiness.
Any economy which caters primarily to only one or two of these strata results in unmet human needs and an imbalanced society. In our current material-oriented world, many people are not even able to meet their physical needs, let alone achieve mental and spiritual advancement. Through a coordinated development in all three strata—an integrated development—Prout aims to build a healthy, harmonious society capable of satisfying all human needs.
In modern society, progress is often measured by advancements in the physical or mental strata of our life. We consider greater material comforts, newer technologies, and more intellectual knowledge as signs of progress. However, these types of improvements are usually accompanied by secondary effects.
For example, plastics were viewed as materials with incredible possibilities in the 1960s but today many countries are banning these products, which have become an environmental hazard. Although the internet has transformed our world, we are now having to deal with hacking, screen addiction, phishing and malware, and a host of other problems that challenge our sense of privacy, decency, and security. And, in spite of improving our material comforts, we face higher levels of psychological stress and disorders.
Prout views progress as a movement towards greater inner peace and happiness. It involves a spiritual unfolding, an expansion of our consciousness, a realization of our inner self. Individually, we can accelerate this movement and collectively we can build a society that enables everyone to fulfil their deepest need for self-realization. What makes this movement different from physical and mental development is that it does not produce secondary effects and hence it represents true progress. It is not a two steps forward and one step back; rather it’s a continuous moving forward.
However, as noted in the above section, the three strata are interconnected and so progress depends upon a balance between the three. Without a healthy body and mind, we cannot properly develop our subtler, internal potentialities. Continuous improvements in the material and mental strata will assist in accelerating our progress towards self-realization. Hence, although true progress lies in the expansion of our consciousness, society needs to develop its physical and mental resources in a way that reduces negative secondary effects while assisting us to achieve inner happiness.
Neo-humanism, also known as “universal humanism”, is a worldview that extends the love for humanity to include all living beings. Following in the tradition of native peoples, the neo-humanist vision views all life as sacred and all beings as manifestations of one, integral whole. This vision fosters a relationship with the world based on universal love, respect, and concern for all beings. It is fundamentally spiritual in nature, because it acknowledges the inherent unity in all life and the spiritual essence at the core of all beings.
Neo-humanism clearly rejects all -isms and dogmas that divide people from one another and from nature. It provides analytical tools and consciousness-raising practices so that we can identify the sources of classism, racism, sexism, gender prejudice, religious intolerance, speciesism, and other forms of repression and exploitation in our society in order to eradicate them.
Prout’s neo-humanist vision recognizes that all human beings are collectively the stewards of the earth and its resources. This is our universal birth right as well as our responsibility. Sarkar termed this concept our “cosmic inheritance.” These resources, these commons, belong to all, and hence society must develop policies and laws to protect these commons and to utilize them in a sustainable manner for the wellbeing of present and future generations.
“According to PROUT, human society is one and indivisible. Human society is just like a garland that is made of different types of flowers, woven together by one common thread. The overall beauty of the garland is dependent upon the beauty of each flower. Likewise, each strata of society must be equally strengthened if we are to maintain the unity and solidarity of society.” – P R Sarkar