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 Five Minutes of Prout: Ownership

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By Dada Jitendrananda

Most people share values of fairness and justice. We want everyone to be able to lead a happy and fulfilling life. The reality for much of the world is that people struggle hard just to make ends meet. Even in advanced economies, stress greatly affects the quality of life. While we have developed an advanced capacity to extract and process the resources of the earth, we must ensure that it leads to well-being, happiness and fulfilment, before we can really call it progress.

We’d also like to live well in a way that allows our fellow non-human travelers – the animals and plants – to thrive.  Prout is a set of ideas and practices that empower us to make the transition into a happy and thriving world.

Today, we’re looking at Prout’s view of ownership. What does it mean that I own a pen? I have exclusive rights over its utilisation. But if I misutilise it, if I stab someone with it, people around me will take it away from me. Ownership isn’t an absolute value. The well-being of people is a more fundamental value that places conditions on ownership. Throughout history, humanity has evolved systems that try to balance common good and ownership rights. Capitalism, the system most prevalent today, has largely freed ownership from the constraints of common good. This has led to a crisis of existence. Vast wealth is hoarded in a few hands, resources are depleted, and the ecosystem collapses under the strain.

At the other extreme to Capitalism lay utopian ideals of common ownership. Communism in practice fails to cater to the scope of human needs, abilities and aspirations. 

Prout offers a way of enhancing both individual and common good. Every life, at its core, feels prompted towards all-round well-being. Where does our urge towards well-being come from?  That prompt is embedded in consciousness. Prout draws on both spirituality and science to establish consciousness as the commons, the matrix of all existence. In infancy, we bask in this commons. Our well-being is ensured by the mother’s care, a surrogate expression of the urge towards well-being inherent in consciousness. As we grow, we set out on a journey to shape our external reality according to our inner prompt towards well-being. Our efforts towards happiness are guided by concepts of reality. If these ideas construct our world as solely a material reality, then our happiness will depend on material acquisition. If our reality frame opens to consciousness, consciousness in tireless benevolence, as the origin and matrix of life, we can conceive of life as an internal awakening to the source of love and life. 

This understanding provides depth and authentication to life that a material view cannot. It takes the pressure off the limited world of materials to provide happiness and fulfillment. It enables us to conceive of the universe as a commons – a common ground to be used and developed in line with the underlying intent of its existence – for the good and happiness of all. In the same way as we recognise an author’s ownership of their work, we recognise the universe as the property of its originator – undivided consciousness, consciousness at large.

When we add to this view of cosmic ownership the inherent intent of all-round well-being, we have a natural basis for regulating the utilisation of physical wealth. How might this look in practice? At a global level, it prioritises access for all to the basic necessities of life and the ability to keep improving those standards. Access to food, clothing, shelter, education, and medical care must be the priority of economic planning. In the case of land, when well-being supersedes profit, the long-term viability  of ecosystems is incorporated into regulations governing land use.  Permaculture and other approaches to sustainability have shown that incorporating food production within natural design, such as food forests, is the most effective method of providing food and moderating climate extremes. Where land has been taken over by outside interests, it may be gradually returned to local people who are ultimately responsible for its proper utilisation.

In summary, our happiness and fulfillment rely on internal adjustments of our consciousness in response to a growing identification with its source. The physical wealth of the universe provides an arena for this play of consciousness. Proper utilisation of the physical wealth means recognizing where true ownership lies and seeking to bring about ever-increasing happiness and well-being for all beings. This is the ‘progressive utilisation’ that underlies Prout and informs Prout principles and policies. 

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Gourav saha


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