Dada Maheshvarananda in Maine - audio recording and presentation

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Social and economic ideals for a new society - Free Legal Forms

Author, activist, and yogi monk Dada Maheshvarananda introduced a new socio-economic theory, the Progressive Utilization Theory, PROUT, propounded by Indian philosopher and spiritualist Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar, to a local audience at the Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library last week (March 31). The 90-minute lecture, sponsored by the Boothbay Region Peace and Justice group, was entitled “Social and Economic Ideals for a New Society.”
Dada Maheshvarananda who wrote the 2003 book, “After Capitalism: PROUT’s Vision for a New World,” presented a chilling affirmation of what many in the audience had already witnessed-- the continued weakening of the U.S. economy, and the great economic and ecological crises facing the world today. Dada began the talk discussing the gloomy state of the U.S. economy. Specifically, he mentioned the national debt of $11.1 trillion, the budget deficit of $406 billion, the trade deficit of $726 billion, the federal government borrowing $2.4 billion per day, and the average American family credit card debt of $18,700. These contradictions cannot last and are unsustainable, he said, especially with nations servicing U.S. debt growing anxious at the devaluation of the dollar.
The speaker characterized the growth associated with greatly increased productivity with growing inequality and diminished purchasing capacity. He argued that while economic “growth” and the boom times of the economy have created some winners, a majority has lagged behind and has not shared in the prosperity.
In his opening comments, Dada Maheshvarananda pointed out the painful fact that half the world’s population lives, suffers, and dies in poverty. The current global economic system isn’t meeting the needs of the world’s peoples and new thinking is required to go beyond the values of maximum profit accumulation, selfishness, and greed.
Dada described the new ideas of PROUT: that a community isn’t a jungle free-for-all where the economic and social winners have no responsibilities. Rather, a healthy community is one in which people move together like a family toward a common goal.
Dada described Sarkar’s PROUT paradigm as one based in ideals of economic self-reliance, cooperative and decentralized industry, environmental balance, and universal spiritual values manifested in the importance of the welfare of all humanity. In short, the basic idea of a healthy society in PROUT’s system is one in which the world’s resources are shared in a rational way for the welfare of all. This is in great contrast, he said, to global capitalism where starving peoples are often ignored as surplus grains rot in warehouses.
Dada mentioned that human beings have fundamental rights, specifically the right to a dignified life, or as he called it, “the right to live!” Specifically, he noted the importance of the accessibility of food, clothing, shelter, education and medical care. According to PROUT’s view, people must have jobs with wages with which to purchase these minimum requirements, or society must make some arrangement for these minimum necessities to be provided. In summary he described PROUT not as a rigid mold to be imposed on society. Rather, it comprises a holistic set of principles “that can be applied appropriately by citizens and leaders to help their region or country prosper and achieve self-reliance in an ecologically responsible way.”
Beyond the theoretical assertions and aspirations of a new, more grounded, and balanced economy, Dada gave some concrete examples. Particularly, he mentioned a proposal in Illinois to redesign the economy so that money would not leave the local community. A task force has been formed to examine the potential for redirecting the purchasing capacity of Illinois toward developing its local industries based in the agricultural sector. He noted that Illinois spends $48 billion annually on food, but 98 percent of that food is imported, with that revenue leaving the state. The Illinois proposal recommends minimum purchasing allotments for schools, hospitals, and other government regulated institutions to purchase locally grown (in state) food. The move to purchase local products would grow jobs to support those in-state industries. There would be less pollution, less reliance on carbon-emitting fuels to transport food into the state, and a healthier diet. (more information at www.foodfarmsjobs.org ).
In 2006, Dada Maheshvarananda founded the Prout Institute of Venezuela, based in Caracas, demonstrating a model of PROUT in action. The institute assists the community in strengthening cooperative industry with training, education, and publications of national and international review of research, analyzing statistical information to assist in local level planning.