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Five Minutes of Prout: First principle of Prout

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By Dada Jitendrananda

The propounder of Prout, Shrii P R Sarkar, first became known in  India in the 1950s as a spiritual teacher. His rational explanations of yoga and practical prescriptions were well received and he developed a growing following.  In the early ‘60s, he derived progressive economic principles from Yoga philosophy. In doing so, he created a watershed moment in spiritual and social integration – spirituality could no longer be separated from the practical task of creating a world of happiness and fulfillment. 

The First Principle of Prout states, “No individual should be allowed to accumulate any physical wealth without the clear permission or approval of the collective body.”

The first principle follows from the simple fact that the earth’s resources are finite. Without some regulation of wealth, the acquisitive tendency of human nature is encouraged to excess. Unchecked, this leads to over-accumulation. As a motivational force for society, material acquisition becomes entrenched as a norm. This operating system is a mismatch for the human condition. Acquisitiveness fails to reflect the synergy at the center of our evolution and the destructive effects of over-accumulation on psyche and the planet. 

Prout instills and draws on the norm of all-round well-being. As advanced beings on the evolutionary path, we are capable of a creative role in evolution. Allocation of resources is a first step. The constant effort to reduce wealth disparity through a wealth ceiling, sharing wealth through co-operative enterprise, a ratio that keeps upper income within a socially acceptable multiple of the basic income – all this eliminates hoarding and releases wealth for social benefit. This wealth will ensure affordable education, healthcare and housing, as well as the other public welfare programs. 

This sounds much like the current practice of progressive governments. The difference is that with a ceiling on wealth, a lot more is available. There will be a much greater abundance of community funds. 

Education will play a major role in turning the tide towards well-being. Sarkar was aware of this and placed an emphasis on early education.  The orientation of early childhood sets the operating system for the rest of our life. Here we can instill the liberating values of all-round welfare. For example, school charity drives to relieve suffering are empowering for children. They learn that they can create a better world.

We have another major idea of Prout to address from this first principle and that is ‘the clear permission or approval of the collective body’. Who gets to represent the collective body in the allocation of public wealth?

In our present reality, those who emerge as leaders often favour acquisitiveness over public welfare. This reflects a poor grasp among the electorate of the role of government.  Going back to the touchstone of ‘all-round welfare’, Prout anticipates councils at all levels comprising people with a track record of service and competence in promoting all-round well-being. Basic secondary education should include an understanding of the role of leaders as guardians of all-round well-being. A well-prepared electorate will have high expectations of progress and will vote accordingly. 

By increasing wealth in the economy, there will be more production, more jobs, better pay, and people will be able to purchase what they need. Public funds may also be abundant and boards of trustees of these funds can assess and allocate funds to applicants whose projects bring social benefit. Trustees will qualify for the position by community respect for their proven track record in working for a better world. 

In summary, the world is finite and we need to organise the use of resources to promote the well-being of people, animals and plants. This necessitates controlling how much wealth any individual can claim. When progressive policies are adopted, hoarded wealth will be available for public benefit. The allocation of this wealth is the purview of community members respected for their selfless example in working for social well-being. 

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