Balanced Development: A Prerequisite For Environmental Protection

Published: 09.11.2007
Updated: 02.07.2015

Message of His Holiness Acharya Shri Mahapragyaji

The wheel of development has been turning ever since the primitive days, however, in the earlier times its pace was very slow. It has gained unprecedented momentum in the twentieth century. We owe it to science. The storm of development has given rise to the problem of environmental imbalance. If we compare unbalance development to the flow of a river, we may say that we are facing the threat of deluge. Both the embarkments of human values and environment have broken. It is no longer possible to stop the flow of water. Balanced development is possible only when there is simultaneous development of human values and adequate steps are taken to protect environment. If these measures are adopted there will never be any threat to human existence. Economic ambition or what we call economic competition has neglected both human values and the protection of environment as a result of which ecological problem has arisen. Our attitude towards development is not right. It is affected by undue zeal and excitement.

Our visible world is a museum made of two elements-animate beings and inanimate beings (jivachha shareer and jiva-mukta shareer ). Whatever is visible to us is either the body of a conscious being in the present or was the body of some conscious being at sometime in the past. Hence we can call creation of living organisms. Man is himself a living being therefore he is a part of environment. To him the entire creation is environment. The man who pollutes environment is causing a threat to his own existence since he is not different from it. Any threat to environment is a threat to man himself. I would like to make a statement based on this very perception.

The first point to be discussed is development. There are no two opinions about development. However there is a difference of opinion as regards the extent or limits of development. Unbiased thinking and intelligence free from external influence can take the right decision. In the event of undue excitement and zeal both thinking and intelligence become inert and inactive. The development nurtured by this sort of criteria will never prove a blessing for human civilization and culture. Some problems have already been solved by industrial and economic development. It has now been possible for most of the poor people to have an access to bread, butter and cloth. The problem of housing is also still unsolved. Even then there is no hesitation in saying that the economic development has resulted in the increase of poverty and prosperity simultaneously. In the present the sources of consumption and wealth are monopolized by a minority of people. The majority are still deprived of them. Consumption of resources by the developed countries is more than what the developing countries possess, and the underdeveloped countries have little or no resources at all. The complexity of the experience of poverty and dissatisfaction generated by it was not of so much magnitude in the past as we have today. The dissatisfaction stems from the flagrant violation of the laws of nature. Every one wants to be rich by hook or by crock. In such a crazy environment forests are being destroyed. The waste of factories which is disposed off into the rivers is polluting their water and limitless mining has been going on. Anything can be done for the sake of prosperity and all that which should not happen is happening. Unless the problem of unrestrained desires is solved we cannot even dream of solving the problem of immorality and lack of integrity.

The solution of the problem of immorality must precede the solution of ecological and environmental problem. Explosion of population is in itself a great problem. Since we need big industries to satisfy the basic needs of every one, no limit of development can be determined. No one will deny the reality hidden in this argument. Let us consider the other side of the problem. Greed is an acute form of passion. It becomes imperative for us to limit the concept and dimension of development aroused by greediness. We are of the opinion that in a state of unrestrained passions and unbalanced development the very conception of living in harmony with nature is distorted. What is needed to be done today is that we concentrate our energies on activating the powerful weapon of compassion, ahimsa and friendship to counter the lust of greed. Lord Mahaveer said: do not refuse to accept the existence of even the smallest living beings. He further said that we must not deny our own existence. He who does not accept the existence of other living beings, in truth, rejects his own existence. He who rejects his own existence in reality rejects the existence of other living beings. In essence we can say that only he who accepts the existence of other living beings can live in harmony with nature.

Some thinkers argue that intelligent persons tinker with nature and doing so is necessary for development. He also knows how to compensate the loss suffered by nature. Therefore the process of development can neither be stopped nor limited. Such thinking is not meaningless. If a source of energy is exhausted, its alternative sources can be found out. If forests are cut down, the loss can be compensated by fresh a forestation. Ways of making the environment pollution-free can also be found out. But is there any alternative to solving the problem of unbalanced emotions and degeneration of moral values? As the pace of development increases, man's emotional imbalance too increases. Our conscious mind was never afflicted with economic offence so much as it is today. Terroristic mentality has also increased. Will industrial and economic development be able to stop these negative trends? Unless countermeasures are explored, man will not be able to live in harmony with nature, nor will he be able to cherish and sustain the dream of mental peace and world peace.

University education has opened new avenues of intellectual and scientific development. Since we are satisfied with the thinking of the present age and with the availability of plenty of consumer articles, we are constantly occupied by the idea of advancing in that direction only. On the other hand, stress, fear, crime and the growing tendency towards the use of drugs is a clear sign of unspeakable inner dissatisfaction in man which is compelling him to be unjust towards nature. When both satisfaction and dissatisfaction are analyzed, our attention is attracted towards a new direction which we may call emotional experience. Is it not necessary to think in this direction? Lifestyle in its entirely has to be analyzed if we want to live in harmony with nature. Lifestyle embedded entirely in materialistic consideration doesn't provide a basis for living in harmony with nature. And a lifestyle based exclusively on a spiritual foundation does not prove adequate for the journey of life. In order to make our lifestyle complete in every sense we need a new outlook on life. A harmonious method of material, economic and spiritual development can be devised on its basis. Such method can never ignore the balance between intellectual and emotional development.

As long as we follow a lifestyle based on sensual pleasures, harmony with nature will not be able to influence the basis of reality, even though it might be the subject matter of seminars and conferences. If we rise beyond our senses and think, it will mean a change in our conception of happiness. Our spiritual baders have always maintained that sensual pleasure is not real happiness. Any pleasure the final outcome of which is not happy is in reality unhappiness. In this context it is noteworthy to quote what the eminent scientist David Bohm has said: “Indeed many scientists have noted that the validity of their sudden flashes or insight tends to be in inverse proportion to the amount of pleasure to which they give rise (and therefore to the intensity of the conviction that they are true) ….so it may seem in this way that there is often a true perception at a deeper level that cannot be translated into thinking. So that what is perceived is distorted and lost.”

There is no unanimity among thinkers and scientists as regards the treatment to be meted out to nature. Some thinkers are of the view that since we have the means of pacifying the fury of nature, menace of environmental pollution cannot hinder development. Others are of the opinion that we do not have full knowledge of the laws of nature and therefore too much tinkering with it is dangerous for the very existence of man and other sentient beings. Yet other says that we should not think of a return to the primitive age, but should develop a balanced lifestyle by controlling economic development and consumption.

The last opinion represents the Middle Path and Anuvrat and Anuvrat Anushasta Shri Tulsi wedded to the same pattern of thinking.

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  1. Acharya
  2. Acharya Shri Mahapragyaji
  3. Ahimsa
  4. Anuvrat
  5. Body
  6. Deepawali
  7. Environment
  8. Fear
  9. Greed
  10. Mahaveer
  11. Science
  12. TerapanthInfo
  13. Tulsi
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