Monday, August 27, 2007

COMMENTS ON SCIENCE RELIGION AND DEVELOPMENT

THIS IS THE TRANSCRIPT OF MY TALK ON SCIENCE, RELIGION AND DEVELOPMENT, DURING MY DISCUSSION WITH COLLEAGUES.

I have gone through this paper discourse on science, religion and development some aims and challenges… so there are two levels that we are addressing one thing is the scientific knowledge how it is applied in different ways whether it is applied for one’s own individual gains or for the common good this is one thing second thing is each individual how much aware he is on these applications which is related to the spirituality of an individual and at the same time looking at the society as a whole where the religion plays an important role in directing or leading the group or the social community for achieving the good things in society for all. Therefore I think we can start discussing on the role of individual, what is the role of an individual in influencing the society through his actions or through his work, or through the application of science and technology. How best can he contribute towards the common good of this society?

I think one of the issues we can discuss is on the spirituality of an individual, so the degree of spiritualism within an individual. It is not basically taught as part of subjects in childhood or it is not part of our jobs either but this is somewhat left to each individual to gather that knowledge or that understanding and there is not a means to standardize the spirituality of an individual, whereas science is definitely known, understood, principles, methods, proofs, so it’s application, results everything is seen. So this kind of intangible thing with the tangible thing how do we relate these two things. So there comes our difficulty in explaining each individual at community level or at different levels in making them understand the spiritualism or spirituality. So our efforts are in this regard definitely but the means to achieve that kind of level of understanding at each individual level are the challenges.

Apart from science I think it is also said in this paper about diversity. Diversity is as one thing as in a human body all cells which are different – different in their function, different in their own existence but they all work together to create a single human body so in the society also we deal with different types of challenges, people, developmental aspects all these diversities are there but at different levels and our application of science and technologies are also different say for a potter to make a pot is technology and a pot different but the spiritual element is the perfection that he would put into creating a beautiful pot. He will be literally meditating to create that particular pot. So we may not always say that spirituality means reading some scriptures or reading a kind of literature or understanding different religions but this is also something which we could call meditation or the dedication. If you are dedicated then the results would automatically come. So mere application of science and technology is not the result but trying to go towards perfection by using our diverse skills, diversity of materials and the knowledge’s that are existing and the innovations etc.

Yes I agree with one in this regard. The sustainability if you want to define it in terms of spirituality… in materialistic things it is the continuity of the product or the act say agriculture - so we continue to do the agriculture. But in the sense of spirituality, it is not that somebody would acquire spirituality to the top most level in a particular given time, it is not so even spiritual sustainability should exist to continue the materialistic sustainability. So both these things together - to say spirituality it can be called as a kind of persuasion (you can correct me) – a continuous effort that should go into every aspect that we will do. So that way the spiritual sustainability of an individual would definitely help in the materialistic sustainability also.


One more thing is the human heart and the environment. This is a critical thing if we see it in the context of environmental changes, global warming and climate change etc. The environment influences the human being and anything that happens in the environmental has definite impact on each individual and the community and also the overall ecosystem. How do we cope with these kinds of situations when there are so many negative things happening in the environment, do they really cause in our heart, in our actions, also certain negative energies influences. Therefore we need to think how we adapt to these changing environmental conditions without loosing our heart and as these environmental changes are not just related to the livelihood of humans but also to the existence of all life on this earth. Therefore with a positive thinking, spirituality and work towards improving the environmental conditions would also help the whole environment thereby we will have the positive energy.

Yes I agree with 1 and 2 in this regard but the thing is that that human needs and aspirations seem to be unlimited for a person who is not spiritual. All the materialistic things except food, water and air none of the assets, none of the things that he possess does not enters into his body. It is only spiritual satisfaction or his mental satisfaction that I have this much of assets, or this many people behind me, or this is my support … so this is a kind of a state of human being which tries to satisfy human needs which in fact are mostly his greed. So this is what is driving some of the humans they run for materialistic which in reality is only a matter which is never a part of the inner being of a human. So this realization should exist among all humans therefore once they start realizing these basic things then I hope the whole world and all the humanity will be more concerned and will be working for the common good.


I think now we need to discuss more about the application of the spirituality and the science and technology in the field level programs that we are doing. How do we bring the quality of results in the activities that we are into? So I think we can start with certain examples about how we are going about and what are the components that we would like to add on to the existing activities so that it would improve the over all quality of the program. So in our climate change program that is Vulnerability and Adaptability of Climate Change in the semi arid areas of India. It is basically we are trying to build the adaptability of the communities – adaptability has both, science and technology as well as strengthening the spirituality of the community because this vulnerability is a thing which is very critical for the communities to overcome and how do they cope especially during drought and other climate extremes -heat waves and including incessant floods which damage their natural resources, crops or their assets or their existing infrastructures etc. So I think some of our colleagues here who are also involved in the V& A program could also reflect on some of the activities that we are doing but how we are building the spirituality strengthening the communities or empowering them along with the introduction of technologies. Actually in this program what we have focused is more on the capacity building of the communities. This program is different from existing programs of AFPRO in away because we are trying to build the capacities through exposure, training, sensitization, awareness, networking, institution building and also through hands on experience in implementing certain pilot projects and programs so this way it is not just transfer of technology but also making people better cope with conditions of climate change, global warming and degradation of resources etc.

Yes I agree with one regarding the importance of this governance. The governance at different levels is also the cause of the present situation. The best example is global warming because some policies are right in a country and some policies are right at a level but there is no common policy for the developmental activity that we are doing. So each country or communities are behaving are developing using science and technology in their own ways and means and which is the cause for the present chaos that is all over the world therefore another important factor that comes into picture is the development for materialistic gains. Are we developing or are we using science and technology only for certain materialistic gains? If it is not profitable we might not be interested in that particular activity. And also gaining knowledge in a particular aspect is also more related towards the materialistic gains or financial gains or economic benefits. Therefore, the whole world is going towards certain aspects and not in the sense of true development as a whole that is called the holistic development. Therefore, in this regard there is a strong need to create awareness at all levels including at political and policy level so there is a through understanding of what is development and how do we go about it.


Yes as number 5 said this religion; we have to try to understand the definition of religion. Religion is the behavior of a group of people based on some scriptures or based on some principles or sects or some societies but we can see that there are so many religions all over the world and each religion is having some of the fundamental truths and beliefs which are almost similar there is not much difference as it is said in theosophy - each religion is trying to understand the truth. It is fine but presently the way the religion is molded by each group by each country to their own interest is also sometimes a cause of concern, therefore, within the religion also, how do you go and preach certain things which were not imagined when the religion was formed, especially the population growth and certain cultural practices in using the resources. How to go about this in population control? So there are so many things that are involved. Yes, some of the religions are definitely contributing towards literacy, empowerment, micro finance development, capacity building, training so they are involved in so many even philanthropic activities to. As Gandhi ji said even in politics also the religion should exist, then only it can become strong thing as a movement because only religions can bring the movement which we have seen in the entire world. Similarly in development also we do not take religion in the same sense as a religion. Religion is a common belief of common development a kind of understanding of how to live in the society; it is not Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. It is a universal religion that we are striving for, the universal religion which preaches how to use the resources in a sustainable manner, how do we live with one another, how do we achieve the common good. That is how it should be.


But I think in this regard it is very simple for God every being is same so God is trying to bring a kind of equity issue. He wants to resolve this equity issue in many ways. He had given equal opportunities but socially we have created certain barriers because of our loss, our principles and over a period of history this inequalities we have created. So in development what we are trying to do is exactly trying to create the equity that is between sharing of resources, between reducing the gap of rich and poor, empowering the gender issues, women, access to education for children. So ultimately what we are doing is what God wants in a society to be like. So we are trying to help in those aspects. If it is truly a materialistic world say a private industry they go by profit only, there equity issues are not directly addressed but in development definitely where we are working are the areas where there are gaps, where even the governments is also not able to fill up certain gaps there this civil society organizations have taken a role in addressing those issues which are not taken up by that materialistic world and also we are trying to help the governments in achieving this equitable issues. So this way I think already what we are doing in development programs is closer to the spirituality and closer to the subject that the God likes.


Actually we need to define this development sector. Yes as number 5 says development is not just the people who are working in the rural areas or in the civil society organizations it encompasses the government the most important, the private sector, public sector and the international organizations and the most important is the religious organizations too. As we are means the people who are discussing now are involved in the development of the communities at the grass root level especially in the rural areas, so our discussion is focused mostly on what we can do. So in this regard, we are sharing our concern of how we can go about this spiritualism / spirituality. Yes most of the development workers are the people, who are having very good qualifications, can compete and get twice or thrice the ….that they get but why have they chosen this path. Yes, there is some spirituality in them. Where Gandhi ji should have chosen that path there was spirituality and spiritual development within him too. So definitely this spirituality is helping us to work in this sector and to go and work with the communities and take a diff path and still we require by looking at the ongoing happenings around the world there is chance that the younger generations might get deviated. So this way we have to also build up within the development sector a kind of army who are spiritually well charged and who can contribute for the society in the future too.

Yes I agree with 1. Usually the religion and spirituality all these are related mostly with human beings alone, not with the other life that is existing on this earth. Yes, in the same paper we have read that from animal stage we have come to human in the evolutionary process. So the humanness has the spirituality element in to it and over a period of time we have become religious too, but we cannot imagine that this earth is created only for humans so there is other life which may not be spiritual which may not be as capable as human beings but there is equal right for all the beings on this earth. So if we see Buddhism, Jainism and other religions which also focus on environmental sustainability even the first civilizations in India they were worshiping the natural elements, had God’s and even though we are worshipping many such natural living things, so therefore this development should not sacrifice other ecological elements without them. Even the existence of human beings will be big questions.