Can spiritualism be independent of economics?
Lack of livelihood and starvation may not motivate one to seek higher pursuits in life. Vivekananda made it clear that spiritualism cannot be practised on an empty stomach. The Buddha had taken recourse to the ‘middle path’, realising that neither luxury nor deprivation is conducive to one’s spiritual development.
First, body and mind need to be in a healthy condition for one to be able to think beyond oneself. Inadequate nutrition and ailments may hinder the search for higher realities in life. If spiritual progress is to be attained as the ultimate objective, then basic requirements will have to be assured first. Hence, the right to work is basic to access minimum subsistence income.
At times the requirements, particularly in low-income households, can be much more than what they are capable of earning under prevailing circumstances and skill-sets. Hence, the concept of cooperation becomes indispensable. The benefits of growth being shared at the macro-level and surplus income at the household being distributed among the needy, are inter-woven.
Neither the Government can leave it to citizens to perform entire task nor citizens can shrug this off by assigning the responsibility to the Government alone. In many cultures, it is recommended specifically as to how individual income needs to be shared.
Some business houses are able to make extraordinary profits, and that is the reason why the principle of corporate social responsibility becomes so important in the contemporary context. How much wealth a businessman is able to accumulate is immaterial for society, if he cannot serve the needy.
By: Arup Mitra