- Introduction to Prout Studies
- Tantra, Spirituality and Social Change
- Macrohistory and World Futures
- Transformative Economics
- Neohumanism, Policy Making and Contemporary Issues
- Frontiers of Science
- Gender, Spirituality and Coordinated Cooperation
- Education for Liberation
Prout studies, constituted by eight units, can be explored unit by unit or as an integrated whole. As a whole, the eight units comprise the Certificate in Prout Studies.
Introduction to Prout Studies articulates the epistemology and methodology of Prout.
Tantra, Spirituality and Social Change links inner change with external change. A spiritual worldview is foundational to Prout's vision of a preferred world.
Macrohistory and World Futures looks at the big picture. It explores grand patterns of history, and links these patterns with scenarios for the future.
Transformative Economics links spirituality with the real world of economics. What can an alternative to conventional economics look like? How might a cooperative economic system work? How can equity and productivity be progressively expanded? These and other questions are explored in this unit.
Neohumanism, Policy Making and Contemporary Issues takes Prout's ethical approach to identity and politics and applies it to real world policy problems. What is a Neohumanistic view on water futures? On climate change? On …?
Frontiers of Science explores the philosophy of science, the sociology of science and the futures of science. It develops a Proutist theory of science and technology.
Gender, Spirituality and Coordinated Cooperation explores the two poles of human history – that of domination and that of cooperation. Can patriarchy be transformed and a Neohumanist, gender balanced, cooperative society created?
Finally, while Prout gives us a vision, strategy and worldview forward, our systems of education remain locked in the industrial nation-state worldview. Can we create an education for liberation, for bliss? This unit develops the Neohumanist vision, theory and practice of education.
Taken together these units are intended to be part of humanity's response to the global challenge we face – they are intended to help us move from survival to ultimately bliss.
Prout is a social movement based on spiritual culture, a model of an ideal socio-economic system, a vision of the good society, and a practice – there is no road to Prout, it is the road.
Prout has five pillars: 1) spiritual practice, 2) Neohumanism, 3) the social cycle, 4) governance, and 5) socio-economy.
The first is spiritual practice. This means that there is an interior dimension to the external world – meditation and other practices are central to a successful Proutist society. This inner dimension flows through the other aspects of Prout – from ethics to economy, society to science.
Second is Neohumanism. Neohumanism is both equal opportunity legislation and inner mindfulness, an ethics that expands our identity from ego to family to territory to religion to society to humanism and eventually to all living beings. Neohumanism thus challenges geo-sentiments (nationalism), religious sentiments, divisions along ethnic lines, and even humanism, as it is inclusive of plants and animals. Spiritual practice without Neohumanism merely creates a type of enlightenment fascism – inner bliss without inclusion of the other. Neohumanism as well is predicated on coordinated cooperation – that is, transcending the current male dominator model in society and moving toward gender cooperation.
Third is the social cycle. Prout provides a theory of macrohistory and future. There are four stages of history and four ways of knowing – the worker, the warrior, the intellectual and the merchant. History is cyclical. However, we are not doomed to the cycle. There is a way out. At the centre of the cycle, argues P. R. Sarkar, are sadvipras – ideal leaders, who can access these four potentials and ensure that the cycle becomes progressive, that each wave of change continues the rotation of the cycle but at higher levels.
Four is governance. Prout works in a world governance structure. It imagines a federalist world system, and seeks to create global and local social movements that challenge the current world system. Along with the democratic system is the sadvipra informal social system – the network of policy boards that inform, guide the formal system. Prout thus reconciles the two grand traditions in political theory: democracy and wisdom, structure and agency.
Fifth is the socio-economic system. Prout challenges the current corporatist model, focusing instead on the cooperative model (along with private small-scale enterprises and state-run public utilities). A Proutist society provides a safety net with incentives for innovation. Prout in this way seeks a third way, progressively beyond socialist and capitalist models of ownership, and resolves the dichotomies of global and local. Economic units are local but of course become increasingly global – more flows of capital, labour and ideas – once equity and dignity of local environmental and employment concerns are met.
The modern world has died – we are in the midst of the postmodern – the era of multiplicity, the battle of ideologies and perspectives. Prout claims – working with social movements all over the world – to provide the epistemology, methodology and vision for a different future, and present.
In Prout theory and practice, issues of social justice and social transformation become lived and deeply understood in the context of spiritual practice. Thus, while Prout aims at improving the lived realities of people, animals, plants and the material universe, it is impelled to do so from a deeply spiritual reading of the world. This reading is essentially synthetic in nature and draws specifically on the Indo-Aryan tradition of Tantra for metaphors to inform experience, yet its language is equally rich in the mystic traditions that abound in and across cultures.
Part 1: Spiritual Phenomenology and Epistemology
Part one involves a personal and socio-historical analysis of participant's existential longings and cultural conditioning. The approach taken is experiential (phenomenological) and philosophical (epistemological).
This half of the unit aims at helping participants locate their own spiritual identity within the evolving wisdom traditions that we have inherited. Spirituality is explored both as a field of intellectual enquiry and as a field of personal praxis. Personal, local and global issues are framed within a spiritual discourse that is linked to various forms of "knowing" and "reasoning". The power of myth and metaphor to define and legitimate is linked to personal and metaphysical experiences of transcendence, the numinous and the divine.
Part 2: Spirituality and Social Change: Prout in Perspective
Part two looks at the spiritual roots of Prout and the tradition of Tantra that frames Prout's social, economic, environmental, political and personal terms of reference. Participants are encouraged to develop personal and professional pathways that demonstrate engaged spirituality as a resource for social change and sustainable futures. Practical questions of engaged spirituality are addressed that include developing indicators to measure the efficacy of spirituality within the social, assessing contexts for multi-lateral accounting and Proutistic community and social planning, and facilitating cultural creativity and social change through activated interiority, practiced stillness, spiritual leadership, focus and will.
3. Macrohistory and World Futures
Macrohistory is the study of the patterns of social change over large expanses of time. It is a lens of thinking about social evolution and process across scales from the individual, to the local and the global.
Macrohistory investigates the shape of the past and the future, and why institutions, nations and civilizations rise and fall. Thus it is looking for patterns from a comparative perspective and it offers a range of metaphors for thinking about social change, such as the pendulum, the wave, and the cycle.
Macrohistory offers those working in the present a set of propositions about the world and social process that can enable a deeper understanding of current problems and opportunities. A macrohistorical approach can provide pathways and alternatives to enrich decision making. It also offers multiple civilizational perspectives on the present that help us escape the dominant narrative of progress.
The unit will explore the macrohistorical thinking of P. R. Sarkar and his theory of the social cycle. It will compare this with the thinking of other macrohistorians such as Ibn Khaldun and Riane Eisler in order to better understand the process and nature of the social world. The unit will look at issues of governance, peace and conflict, and the future through a macrohistorical lens.
It is common to think of history and macrohistory as being primarily about the past, but this is far from the case. Both history and macrohistory are deeply engaged in thinking through present issues through a reflection on past events, predicaments and processes. Thus our study of Sarkar's macrohistory is very much committed to not just rewriting history but to rethinking the future through the lens of the social cycle. Different histories can lead to alternative futures.
Economics influences many decisions that we make in our personal, family, social and financial lives. Economic issues frequently dominate in the media, and economists are consulted on most issues great and small. Governments rise and fall based on their ability to manage economic affairs. All of which suggests that a basic understanding of economics is essential in today's world.
Transformative Economics provides students with an opportunity to develop a critical understanding of important contemporary economic issues. They will also explore new directions in economics, such as the cooperative economy, regional economic development and psycho-economics.
Key topics covered in Transformative Economics include:
1) Philosophical foundations of economics: Assumptions that an economic system makes about the human being. Human needs and their satisfaction. Neohumanism as the foundation of Proutist economics. The relationship between economics and politics, power and worldviews. Economics as a science. The distinction between political democracy and economic democracy.
2) Economics and community: The interaction of bioregion, culture and economics. The hierarchy of community from local to global. Social capital, trust, network connectedness and service psychology. The economic unit and the block as key concepts in the Proutist economic model.
3) The global economy: The positives and negatives of globalization. The positives and negatives of free trade. What to trade and how to trade? Does the nation-state have a future and what might replace it?
4) The local economy: The role of local economies in a globalized world. Prout's concept of economic decentralization and political centralization. Block-level planning and the principles of economic decentralization. Regional self-reliance with global inter-dependence.
5) Production, resource utilization and accounting: The role of cooperative, public and private enterprises in a healthy economy. Multi-lateral accounting – new accounting methods for different types of resources. National accounts and alternative economic indicators. The formal and informal economies.
6) The cooperative economy: The cooperative economic model and how it compares with the competitive model. The requirements for healthy cooperative enterprises. How to define the cooperative sector? The household economy and the not-for-profit sector.
7) Income distribution: The primary distribution of income versus its redistribution. The guaranteed minimum requirements of life – what are they? Minimum income and incentives. Taxation as social income.
8) Prices, money and banking: Free markets, managed markets and the goal of stable prices. The different forms of money. Managing the money supply. Cooperative banking and people's budgets.
9) Economic progress: How to define progress, growth and sustainability? The concept of a balanced economy in the Proutist model. The Five Fundamental Principles of Prout.
10) Psycho-economics: The human mind and economic behaviour. Economic exploitation – how and why does it happen? Non-monetary, non-material rewards. Collective psychology and its role in economic life. Advertising, the media and the internet as expressions of collective psychology. The knowledge economy. Future directions for economics. Economic cycles.
Neohumanism is a tool for rethinking how we live. It offers a reframing of narrow understandings of life that lead us to compete instead of cooperate; fear instead of love; see others as less than, inferior or outside the area of concerns. It challenges all forms of ego, group and ideological identification, and offers a new relational ethic based on clear principles of the value of other peoples, species and perceptions. It is critical of all things that divide the enterprise of life into parts and cause inferiority to grow in the mind. In short Neohumanism is a life-affirming and enabling action-based philosophy. It must be practised to be understood!
Policy is a tool of turning values into actions. If our world is dominated by narrow-beam values, the policies we develop to engage with contemporary issues will be limited. It is through policy that we can see how society is collectively working its way towards the future.
Current policy tends to be short termist and committed to the narrowly defined interests of the present. The policy world however is alive with debates about how policy is framed and enabled, thus we have discussions about cost-benefit and structural/class analysis; relevant time frames for policy thinking; elitist/nationalist versus democratic/global.
This unit invites you to think about such debates and the realities that frame them, and reframe these through a Neohumanist analytic. The kinds of questions we need to ask include: Is the policy equitable? That is, does it create more gender equity and cooperation? Does it foster the holistic activity that will create security for animals, plants and the environment? Does it move us away from narrow/religious identities to more inclusive planetary identities? Does the policy favour the interests of a particular class, group or ethnicity? Are future generations part of the policy dimension? Are policy makers aware of their worldviews and how they are implict in their policy decisions?
This unit will encourage you to think over such questions and examine your values and the values of your society and working context. It will prepare you for a more thoughtful engagement with social action and social transformation. Many of us want to change the world. Neohumanist policy making is one way to make a difference.
It is a cliche to say that science has shaped the modern world. But without doubt the power of science to provide us with so many conveniences has also provoked harsh criticism, soul searching and fear. This unit examines science in contemporary society from three perspectives: 1) the philosophy of science, 2) the sociology of science, and 3) the future of science.
1) The Philosophy of Science:
This part of the unit examines how scientists see themselves. What is "the scientific method"? How did it arise? Why does it appear to be so powerful? Is it fixed or is it an evolving paradigm? Concepts to grapple with are deduction versus induction, empiricism versus idealism, science and religion, hypothesis and intuition. Participants will examine important shaping principles such as the law of cause and effect, Okkham's Razor and Kant's "synthetic a priori". Students will also examine the contribution of philosophers such as Francis Bacon, Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend to our understanding of science.
2) The Sociology of Science:
This part of the unit examines how "others" see scientists. Participants will be expected to think deeply about and discuss the following questions. Is science the only justifiable source of knowledge or can it be viewed as another belief system? (And why does this issue generate such fierce and unscholarly debate?) Who decides what is scientific and what is unscientific? How have gender/culture/epistemology issues changed the way we think about science? Why is "evidence based" policy making contentious? Who decides what scientists actually study and how are they funded? What kind of people are scientists and what drives them?
3) The Future of Science:
This part of the unit investigates where science is taking us. The student may focus his/her studies on one of the following four topics:
1. The investigation of the very small: Modern physics is taking us down to smaller and smaller dimensions where the substance of the material world no longer appears to be "material". What is the ultimate nature of our phenomenal world?
2. The investigation of the very large: Cosmology takes us to the largest scale of the universe and back to the "beginning" of time. The student may investigate the philosophical, social and technological implications of modern cosmology.
3. Mind and consciousness: These were no go areas for respectable scientists up until quite recently. The student may investigate the mind-body problem – why is it a problem and the approach taken by modern neurophysiology and cognitive science to "dissolve" the problem.
4. Bio-engineering and medicine: Recent advances in molecular biology are bringing us close to the point where living organisms can be made to order. What are the ethical and social implications of such a technology?
The relation of gender to our global human society has by now been well documented, mostly due to the legacy of various historical and contemporary women’s and feminist movements. The impact of these movements has been such that there is hardly any discipline of knowledge and inquiry left where the influence of gender to the way we understand, theorize and live in this world has not been acknowledged.
Parallel to this, and throughout human history, there has always been some level of acknowledgement of gender diversity that exists among humans. Most commonly, this gender diversity has been understood as organized along the lines of two main poles: feminine and masculine. Different epistemological positions assert different relationships between these two principles. In a nutshell, two main perspectives have developed here also. On one hand, there is a hierarchical view that asserts dominance and superior status of either one of these poles, although most commonly in terms of the dominance of the masculine pole. On the other hand, there is a perspective of holism, including Neohumanism, that asserts the existence of and the need for complementing and balancing the nature of the two poles as well as maintaining their equal status, albeit on different terms.
The unit starts by investigating the claim that our contemporary global human society is one in which a particular gender imbalance and the dominance of the masculine pole exists. In addition, the unit will also focus on analyzing the assertions that such an imbalance has a huge (and mostly negative) impact on the quality of relationships between humans as well as in terms of human relationships with the natural world and other living beings. It will then use the lens of gender to investigate alternative human-human and human-nature ways of being, as influenced by spiritual eco feminism, Tantra and Neohumanism.
There is no more characteristically human task than education. Originally the province of family and community, education has become a profession driven by either a humanist desire to rise above the common concerns of humanity or the need of the state to generate economically viable citizens. Neohumanist education seeks to bridge this divide by combining theory and practice and anchoring both in a holistic vision of engaged living and learning. The focus of this process is liberation simultaneously of the individual and society.
This unit will focus on education as a theoretical field driven by practical concerns. How these concerns are framed determines how we think about pedagogical practice. Students will therefore need to consider how we teach for: 1) national economic development and citizenship, 2) jobs and careers, 3) self expression, fulfilment and actualization, 4) social, environmental and gender justice, 5) personal and/or social transformation, and 6) enlightenment.
The unit will thus open with a genealogical analysis of the main pedagogic traditions and the myths and metaphors that drive them. The tension between education that replicates the past, and is therefore passive and vulnerable to the vested interests of the powerful, and a libratory education that is actively engaged in exploring and extending human potential, will be critically examined in the light of Neohumanism and Prout.
The stance taken here will frame a critically spiritual pedagogy that challenges participants to rethink their educational assumptions and develop a futures oriented pedagogy of liberation.
In the light of these theoretical considerations, participants will be invited to creatively explore issues of professional concern and develop strategies that build sustainable and non-violent futures at both the local and global level. This part of the unit will highlight the intersection between personal and social transformation and work on methods to harness cultural creativity and spiritual engagement as positive responses to modern social and civilizational dilemmas.
Relevant to teachers of all ages, the course also offers insights and strategic interventions into building social and community capital, personal effectiveness, and personal and community empowerment for community leaders, business managers, government and council leaders, social activists, home schoolers, human relations managers and critically engaged citizens.