Integral Humanism Revisited

Integral humanism is not a quick-fix solution for electoral success nor is it a convenient strategy for capturing power. It is not even a political philosophy devised to promote and support any political party. It is a comprehensive world-view which originated in India as a result of the profound insight of generations of wise men who are known as the ‘Rishis’. It covers every spectrum of human life and its foundations are eternally sound and always relevant. It is from that rich philosophy that the great Indian culture evolved. Any truly nationalist movement can benefit from this all embracing philosophy. It is inclusive of spiritual as well as material progress of mankind.

P. Parameswaran

Continue from 1-15 August, 2019 Issue…

Integral Humanism will ultimately lead humanity to the threshold of a higher level of social evolution. As stated earlier Man is an evolutionary being and has yet to evolve further so that he could progressively manifest his Divinity. In Western paradigm he is called variously as a social, political, economic or national animal. He is all these but potentially much more. At present he is distinguished from other living beings by his rationality which has given him a good deal of leverage over every other creation. All the advances which he has made, which are the characteristics of the present civilization, are the outcome of his capacity to act in a rational manner. ‘Science and Technology’ is the flowering of this unique human faculty. It has worked wonders but simultaneously it has created problems of catastrophic consequences. In the utilization of his power of reasoning, it seems, he has forgotten the very purpose of this talent which he gifted with. Very often we find the present day civilized man acting in a way detrimental to the society, bringing about destruction of environment, extinction and endangering of innumerable species and threatening his own future. The hall mark of today’s much flaunted civilization is extreme vulgar consumerism. Today neither his rationality nor social or political thinking seems to guide him in the right direction. Economic motive is paramount but economy devoid of humanism motivates only consumerism. In many respects man whose next higher stage of evolution is to manifest his divinity, appears to be sinking below the level of beastiality, because animals neither act against their own interest nor indulge in pleasures beyond the permissible level.

Man has the capacity of discrimination to choose whether he should sink further down or climb higher up in the scale of evolution. What distinguishes as Man from Animal is Dharma. The old wisdom says that a Man devoid of Dharma is only an animal. The present critical stage demands a Dharma-based society. That is what integral humanism actually proposes. Every field of operation should be governed by the rule of Dharma, whether it is economic or politics. It is legitimate for man to earn money and enjoy happiness. But these should be on the basis of Dharma. The ultimate goal is Moksha. Man should live a full life, as an integral part of the society, responsible to the nation, and contributing for the welfare of the humanity governed his life by Dharma. When such a well balanced society is established wherein material prosperity and spiritual enlightenment go hand in hand, it can be stated that an ideal condition prevails. Such a stable Dharmic society will provide the conducive and congenial basis for future evolution. At that level Man will transcend the limitations of rationality and enter into a higher realm where the law of the spirit will operate. Shri Aurobindo calls it a ‘spiritualized society’. It is only at that level that the cause of the present maladies could be totally eliminated.To bring out such an era the condition precedent is the establishment of ‘Dharma Rajya’ or ‘Rama Rajya’. That is what Integral humanism aims at and we believe that it is the divinely ordained duty of Bharat.

As to the nature of a ‘spiritualised society’ Shri Aurobindo`s vision is as follows:-
“A spiritualised society would treat in its sociology the individual, from the saint to the criminal, not as units of a social problem to be passed through some skillfully devised machinery and either flattened into the social mould or crushed out of it, but as souls suffering and entangled in a net and to be rescued, souls growing and to be encouraged to grow, souls grown and from whom help and power can be drawn by the lesser spirits who are not yet adult.

The aim of its economics would be not to create a huge engine of production, whether of the competitive or the co-operative kind, but to give to men – not only to some but to all men each in his highest possible measure – the joy of work according to their own nature and free leisure to grow inwardly, as well as a simply rich and beautiful life for all. In its politics it would not regard the nations within the scope of their own internal life as enormous State machines regulated and armoured with man living for the sake of the machine and worshipping it as his God and his larger self, content at the first call to kill others upon its altar and to bleed there himself so that the machine may remain intact and powerful and be made ever larger, more complex, more cumbrous, more mechanically efficient and entire. Neither would it be content to maintain these nations or States in their mutual relations as noxious engines meant to discharge poisonous gas upon each other in peace and to rush in times of clash upon each other`s armed hosts and unarmed millions, full of belching shot and men missioned to murder like hostile tanks in a modern battlefield. It would regard the peoples as group – souls, the Divinity concealed and to be self-discovered in its human collectivities, group –souls meant like the individual to grow according to their own nature and by that growth to help each other, to help the whole race in the one common work of humanity. And that work would be to find the divine Self in the individual and the collectivity and to realize spiritually , mentally, virtually, materially its greatest, largest, richest and deepest possibilities in the inner life of all and their outer action and nature.

To be continued…

(Page no- 241-42, The Human Cycle The Ideal of Human Unity War and Self –Determination, Shri. Aurobindo.)