Sarkar and Social Change
Sarkar and FuturesEvocative
My futures work is inspired by the socio-spiritual philosophy of Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar (1921-1990). He described life and social process in terms of struggle and developed a form of pragmatic spirituality that empowers people, organisations and groups to redefine their purpose, goals and aspirations. Sarkar’s starting point in this process is the assumption that all of us are seeking happiness and fulfilment. He recognised that this basic drive has been distorted by the hyper individualism and economic rationality of our modern world.
His solution was to expand the debate over what is the rational way to live by positing that spirituality is not other worldly but actually about developing our sense of belonging. To be rational in this sense is not about looking after number one, chasing profits for one’s share holders or educating our young to survive in a dog-eat-dog world. To be rational is to find ways to rethink human potential, redefine economics and reinvent schooling so that we generate sustainable futures that maximise individual and collective, as well as ecological possibility.
Futuresevocative is committed to fostering this kind of rationality by seeing thinking as a form of activity:
• social process is a form of thinking
• social learning is about seeing possibilities and striving to realise them
• social being is about rediscovering the creative potential of the group as the horizon of one’s own expanded potential
• social imagining is about becoming all that we are individually and collectively capable of
This vision of life as process and society as the context for our learning is based on a layered understanding of mind. Such layering allows for multiple rationalities and for the deep and the common-place to all have a part in our navigating of the world. The following image captures this understanding. It is based on Sarkar's theory of the kosas (layers) of the mind. As the image suggests, meditation is key to unlocking our human potential.
“Humanity must get salvation in all spheres of life, without any exception. All humanity wants salvation in the social sphere, they want salvation in the economic strata, they want salvation in the realm of intellectual liberty, and they want salvation in the spiritual sphere. These are the minimum wants of human beings.”
P. R. Sarkar