“Aparigraha as a new economic paradigm for a culture of peace” by Victor Vyasa Landa

Víctor “Vyasa” Landa
“Aparigraha as a new economic paradigm for a culture of peace” by Victor Vyasa Landa (Peru), founder of the Shanti Yoga Center for Harmony and School of Life. Watch the video. Listen to the English audio file or audio file in Spanish. Read the original Spanish presentation.

[Translation of his presentation at the First Global PROUT Conference in Venezuela, “Building a Solidarity Economy based on Ethics and Ecology”, July 7-9, 2011, Caracas]

Thank you very much. Good morning, brothers and sisters. It is an honor to have the opportunity to address such a beloved assembly of enlightened souls. Not that I think that all of you have reached enlightenment, but whoever puts the benefit of the community ahead of their own has reached a certain degree of enlightenment, a higher level of awareness.

PROUT’s main goal is collective welfare. All of us gathered here today share a burning desire to use the principles of love, compassion, truth, and non-violence to make this world PEACEFUL; a world in which all human beings without exception have the inalienable right to experience the beauty of the spiritual world, as well as to enjoy the material welfare that we are all entitled to.

We’d like to thank the PROUT organization, especially brother Maheshvarananda, Mr. José Albarrán, and all the members at PROUT for keeping our message alive through this initiative.

Our project, Aparigraha, a Sanskrit word we have translated as “non-possessiveness”, is the fifth yama or rule of conduct in Maharishi Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. We have chosen this name for our project because possessiveness is the very fuel of Capitalism. Unfortunately, when one has not learned the practices of self-control, any wish one might have keeps growing until it becomes unrestrained avarice, like a tumor that thrives and consumes society.

We seek to raise political and spiritual awareness in the masses, which have remained unaware and blinded by the deceit of materialism, a deceit permanently fueled by Capitalism’s presence in the media. That is why this project is essentially educational and purposely simple. We offer arguments that enable constructive dialogue with those who have not come to recognize the failures in Capitalism, while believing and endorsing it. We must find unity, not cause for difference. We must find a way to transform that powerful financial, military, media force using the equally (or slightly more) powerful forces of truth and love.

We would like to bring this undertaking to everyone’s attention so it can be spread as widely as possible, to make it a topic for discussion, so that this afternoon we can analyze it more closely. Whoever feels like sharing it may do so, in whatever way they find appropriate.

Our organization, Global Coalition for Peace, is based in a suburb in Washington D.C., the seat of the Capitalistic Empire. Therefore, the project starts by demonstrating how this nation’s presidents, because of their position and what it allowed them to see (the monster in the making, a monster which is actually a perfected and augmented replica of the sinister empire they were trying to free themselves from), had the courage to tell others. In our presentation, we will provide the names and quotes of these presidents.

An important point we cover, which will be explained further, is that we must demonstrate how the basic, fundamental principles of Capitalism are inherently and essentially destructive. Not just for the environment, but for the human conscience, which makes it even worse. We are living a true tragedy. Yet, thanks to our brothers and sisters at Ananda Marga, there is a multi-faceted solution in the making.

As further proof, we would like to point out how economists not only contribute to ensure destructiveness, but also deepen it; how lies and deceit are not just encouraged as part of their education process, but how they are a relevant part of it. We find that in John Maynard Keynes —considered to be the father of modern Economics—, when he affirms that lying is necessary and useful, while truth is useless. We will read his actual words. I believe spreading the word is vital. For only when the truth is out there, when people know how this system originated, will they start thinking on their own.

We show how those fundamental principles of Capitalism we just mentioned (scarcity, competitiveness, incentives, and free market) are essentially destructive and must be replaced. This is why we propose abundance, cooperation, rightful action, solidarity exchange instead of those principles. If we think about it, free market goes right up against abundance. When there is a large tomato production, tomato prices fall. When tomatoes are scarce, their price shoots up. So, what do we really want? Fewer tomatoes for more money. It is devastatingly logical, but true. This is what we are doing when we apply free market. We are penalizing abundance.

Mother Nature is clearly generous. In our presentation, we feature an orange tree, loaded with oranges. Its branches are so heavy that we need to support them so they do not snap. If a person has an orange tree in their backyard, they will not be able to eat them all; they will have to give some away. This is one aspect, but what about the seeds? Each orange has a number of seeds, as Nature intended. Nowadays, they try to eliminate seeds from oranges, but each piece of fruit has them. Each seed is a tree, and each tree has a number of oranges. How can we think of scarcity? There is only bad management, misuse, poor intention, because —as people say— speculation forces a decrease in production, in order to make prices go up.

Our purposes are based on spirituality, not religion, and that we will explain very clearly. Religiousness is often confused with spirituality, just like sentimentalism is mistaken for spirituality. Spirituality is not that, it is nothing but true love; you do not need anything else.

A new paradigm entails a new way of thinking. It requires focusing on the challenge that humanity will have to face very soon, and we must prepare for it; we know we have to.

In that line of thought, we would like to propose a series of guidelines to reach this position, starting by satisfying all human basic needs, without exception. Of these, the most important one is hunger. Thus, we have chosen agriculture as the basis of our economic system. But we mean proper agriculture: working with nature, not against it. We propose an agricultural system that guarantees the world’s rehabilitation and ecological defense. There are extensions of land that are almost completely destroyed.

The most valuable instrument we can count on for awakening and elevating people’s level of consciousness is the practice of the Spiritual Science of Yoga. It is the path through which we will attain our goal because of its great transformation power. Our personal development, through the practice of meditation, will allow us to experience the inner peace we wish for the entire world. That peace that, once established in a person, will irradiate everything around it, and benefit each and every single individual that approaches to it. What better proof that what the brothers and sisters at Ananda Marga have accomplished. We are fortunate enough to have them and their experiences here with us today.

And while we are discussing this, I would like to say that Hatha yoga is the practice that will open the doors to spiritual science. In this regard, we have a chance to use the far-reaching instrument of television in order to contribute to a positive end. We propose, then, to approach official channels and offer daily shows about some of the basic asanas. Hatha yoga is a discipline very useful to raise the level of consciousness. It has spread all over the world, at least because of its physical benefits, but only for those who can afford it. So, we have to make an effort to teach yoga to everyone, free of cost, in order to transform people’s awareness.

These are our practical proposals. Next, we would like to advance our proposals for the transition period towards the awakening of people’s political and spiritual awareness. This is a way to face the dreadful imperialistic goal of Capitalism and a way to affirm the need of switching to a spiritual Socialism and a truly democratic system, based on the principles of solidarity. We would like to add special emphasis on the fact that the spiritual element is indispensable in any instance of human affairs; without it, there is no future.

Finally, we believe that this project can introduce and prepare the ground for the arrival of PROUT in every Spanish-speaking town in Latin America and America.

The first step towards that, as we have mentioned to brother Maheshvarananda and brother Albarrán, is an invitation for organizing a conference similar to this one in the very heart of the Empire, in Washington D.C.

The CIEC Organization (Centro de Investigaciones Económicas de Córdoba), based in Argentina, has a program of biannual congresses that take place in a different Abya Yala1 country each time; hundreds of economists attend these events. The next one will be held in Washington in 2014, and we have been asked to take charge of the organization. Their activity falls within the framework of Economic Humanism, which is why we believe that PROUT, as a project, would be a valuable contribution to the solutions they seek.

With PROUT’s experience in this and other meetings, we could organize the Washington DC congress, and seize a precious opportunity to let those audiences who have not found a way out of Capitalism become acquainted with PROUT’s project. Such a wide-ranging audience would allow us to reach a large number of active economists and teachers with a desire to change.

That is another key aspect in the necessary transformation, because the average citizen will be able to find a more receptive mentality towards dialog with those who are familiar with the subject today.

Well, this is our proposal. I would like to thank you for your patience, and once again I would like to thank the PROUT organization for this meeting.

Thank you very much.
[Translated by Arianna Ruso]
Panel 4 questions and answers.