Philosophy of Neohumanism
Neohumanism simply stated extends the love of the human heart to embrace the entire creation, including all living beings as well as the inanimate world. In contrast to the view that the individual is alone in the universe and in competition with others for resources and status, Neohumanism promotes a vision of humanity as intimately linked with the fabric of the universe. It promotes an awareness of ecology in its broadest sense: i.e. the realisation of the inter-relatedness and interconnectedness of all things, and encourages respect and care for all living beings and the inanimate world.
Neohumanism covers the concept ‘holisms’ that has sprung up in the humanities, sciences, and social movements in recent decades, while more specifically being a set of principles for living based on the ethic of universal love. As such it is part of the current reaction to the divisive and alienating effects of materialistic rationalism.
Its leading exponent is Indian philosopher, political activist and mystic, Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar.
Neohumanism as a practice
Neohumanism actively promotes practical transformative ways to achieve a sense of deeper reverence, care and responsibility in us. We have to change in order to promote change. As human beings we are bound to explore our own potentiality, to expand our understanding of who and why we are. At the moment this prime directive is distorted as we are taught to compete with others for limited resources. If we work from a deeper sense of our selves with benevolence we find that everything changes. We no longer need to compete with others; in fact our development as conscious beings is linked to our relationships. Our awareness of our interconnection with others enables us to harness the power of benevolence as we turn from being self-serving beings to beings of service.
Neohumanism is synthetic in character and allows for no distinction based on race, gender, religion or even species. It links morality to this rational process in order to make the mind pure enough to function without bias, and the heart strong enough to embrace all in the endeavour to forge one single humanity. This includes an appreciation of historic contributions to human society from all people and promoting the ethics of society as ‘one universal family’.
The Principle of Social Equality and Sense of Justice
Recognising social equality leads to the practice of goodwill and service towards others as life principles, as well as the acceptance of the inter-relatedness of all life and the responsible role that human beings play in the universal structure. Contrarily, the Principle of Selfish Pleasure is where one pursues one’s own pleasure and success in life regardless of how one’s actions affect others. Persons following the Principle of Selfish Pleasure ignore the painful sufferings and deprivations of other entities on the planet. Persons following the Principle of Social Equality fight for justice.
Liberation of Intellect, Rationality and Awakened Conscience
“Knowledge must be disseminated throughout all sections of society. You must create opportunities for all people to judge everything in the light of truth. Liberate the intellect of each and every person. Human intellect is now bogged down in a marshy quagmire. Let people enjoy the sweet taste of intellectual freedom.” – P.R. Sarkar
A Neohumanist agenda is a liberatory agenda. It places great store on human rationality and critical thinking as a tool in overturning all forms of limiting views, dogma and prejudice. Through awakened conscience, one learns to think in terms of the welfare of all. Awakened conscience is the mental process of studying, applying rational mentality and the principle of social equality. One discriminates which aspects of rational knowledge are worth pursuing by measuring them against one’s conscience. Conscience is a faculty, which considers whether or not an idea is for the benevolent welfare of all.
NHE pedagogy applies the philosophy and principles of Neohumanism. Educators aspire to exemplify these values in their personal lives, in the classroom, and in their interactions with the students, colleagues, parents and the community.
These principles include:
– Holistic Personal Development
– Cardinal Human Values and Universalism
– Neohumanism and Universal Love
– Astaunga Yoga
– Applied Learning – Knowledge of Self and the World
– Individual Evolution, Movement and Motivation
Revolutionary Social Change
Regarding implementing any changes in life there are different strategies one may adopt. First is the reformist. Such an individual would like to see change over a very gradual period. Often this dilutes the process of change so that it becomes ineffective. Secondly is the reactionary, who does not want to see change at all. Third is the pseudo-reformist who speaks in favour of change but actually doesn’t really want to see change. Lastly is the revolutionary, who works for positive change in the shortest possible time. A neohumanist, after analysing that an aspect of social change is for the collective welfare, pursues it with dynamism and revolutionary zeal. PROUT is the socio-economic expression of neohumanist approach to society, politics and economics.
The Five Fundamental Principles of PROUT
by P.R. Sarkar
Idea and Ideology 1959
- No individual should be allowed to accumulate any physical wealth without the clear permission or approval of the collective body.
- There should be maximum utilization and rational distribution of all mundane, supramundane and spiritual potentialities of the universe.
- There should be maximum utilization of physical, metaphysical and spiritual potentialities of unit and collective bodies of human society.
- There should be a proper adjustment amongst these physical, metaphysical, mundane, supramundane and spiritual utilizations.
- The method of utilization should vary in accordance with changes in time, space and person, and the utilization should be of progressive nature.
Fighting Against Pseudo Culture
Neohumanist educators value the multitude of cultural expressions that make up the whole of humanity, fostering indigenous languages, arts, and other cultural expressions. “Pseudo-culture” – the homogenous music, films, and television shows that are designed not to uplift the human spirit, but to gain short term profits for their makers are finding their way into every corner of the world, and eroding local cultural expressions and sentiments. Neohumanism wants to counter this raging current of cultural products by working to develop local art and craft forms, by media literacy and the development of a critical social and political awareness. Neohumanism fosters the creative transmission of cherished local and universal values to future generations through literature, the arts and other forms of cultural expression.
Food for Thought: Questions from the Training Course at Ydrefors
1. “Human beings have yet to invent the way of methodical thinking, and methodical meditation based on the location of different cells,glands,and subglands, and their secretion of the requisite quantity of hormones. ” Explain