AGNI YOGA WEB TV
INTRODUCTION TO AGNI YOGA“
The New World: New Order of Economy and Labour
Ladies and Gentlemen,
welcome to a new Broadcasting.
We continue with our description of the society of the future. We shall be addressing a topic that today plays a great, perhaps too great a role in our lives: economy and labour.
Formerly it were the church towers, today it is the office towers that shape the image of our cities. The economy is the most powerful force of our time.
Our life is almost completely determined by our professional work, to which we devote the vast majority of the time and energy that is available to us.
When we meet a fellow man, the most important question is about his job. Most of us define our identity by our profession: I am, you are – a lawyer, a baker, a doctor etc.
1. Old Order of Economy
El Greco: Christ driving the Traders from the Temple
Our economy has completely lost sight of its real aim: The provision of mankind with the necessities of life and the work for progress, for the improvement of the living conditions.
It has fallen under the spell of moneymaking. It is characterized by speculation and striving for personal profit. Mammon is the god it worships.
The economy is devoting itself to the cult of our time: The satisfaction of the desires of the lower self. It no longer serves the common good, but personal ambition, the striving of the individual for wealth, pleasure and power.
The economy produces a tremendous amount of goods that are not really needed at all. It is necessary to advertise them at great costs, in order to create a demand for them which otherwise would not even exist.
The production of worthless objects is an offense against the people. (Brotherhood 300)
We condemn wastefulness. (Agni Yoga 223)
Capitalism irresponsibly plunders the treasures of nature.
Political economy should be based upon an understanding of the values of nature and their wise use; otherwise the state will rest on sand. One must persuade people to conserve their own treasures. The most miserable person on Earth is often a planetary plunderer. The New World, if and when it arrives, will manifest love for the treasures of nature. (Fiery World I, 320, 321)
It is right to turn one’s thought to the task of cooperation with nature. It is right to recognize that to plunder nature is to squander the treasures of the people. (Fiery World I, 530)
Everything, even help for the neighbour, is turned into a business which must yield profit.
Life has been turned into a business, but who of the Teachers of Life has ever been a businessman? (Fiery World I, 83)
The money-makers and speculators must disappear from the face of the earth.
I show the path of battle against the profiteers of this world. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden I, 28 )
You know the great symbol of driving the moneychangers out of the Temple; but is not Earth itself a Temple? (Fiery World I, 83)
This task, so vehemently pointed out by Jesus (Matthew 21, 12 ff), remains unfulfilled up to today.
The expulsion of the merchants from the Temple is a symbolic warning, but the Temple should also be in the spirit. This means that profit-making must be expelled from the spirit. No one can forbid the exchange of daily necessities, but merchants must attend to their business in the light of the fire of their heart. Thus all the basic foundations of life can be enlightened by the light of good. (Supermundane 168)
The spiritual foundation of the current market economy is the thesis that the striving of the individual for profit ultimately serves the common good. This theory is outdated. It is already doubtful whether it applies in the purely material sense. In the spiritual sense, at least, it is surely devastating when a whole society is guided by the principle of the greatest possible egotism.
Our unspiritual economic order leads to a commercialization of the whole human life, which makes our existence nearly unbearable. The spirit of profit-making and overreaching poisons human relationships: Doctor's practices, law firms, hospitals, retirement homes, shops, banks, insurances and government offices turn into places of horror:
There you are looking for food, clothing, justice or cure. But what do you find? The cold-hearted commercial exploitation of your needs.
2. New Order of Economy
We need to create a new order of economy and labour that is characterized by the following five principles:
1. Service to the common good instead of profit-making
2. Collaboration instead of merciless competition
3. Simplicity in the sense of restriction to the necessities of life
4. Subsidiarity of consumption and work for money, priority of self-production
5. Production methods according to ethical standards
Let us now look briefly at each of these five points:
1. Economic undertakings must serve the common good. In the second place only they are to enable the entrepreneur and his employees to make a modest living.
The desire to serve will dominate the desire to acquire. (Teachings of the Temple Vol. II, Lesson “The Foundation Stones of the Spiritual Temple”)
2. The old attitude of competition must disappear. We have to work together in order to improve the world, instead of outmanoeuvring or even destroying one another. Together we can achieve much more than when we fight each other!
Where the consciousness is wild and unrestricted, there competition leads to mutual destruction. Envy nests around competition. It leads to the most subtle crimes. Cooperation must bring balance to misunderstood competition. Therefore, it is best wherever possible to replace the concept of competition with that of self-perfection. (Fiery World II, 134)
3. Our life must become simpler and more goal-fitted. In order to lead a fulfilled life, we do not really need most of all that what the economy imposes on us. On the contrary, the energy and time we have to spend in order to acquire, house, maintain, care for and defend all these more and more complicated things distracts us from the essential: the growth of our soul.
Only goal-fitting simplification can bring dignity to life and safeguard the natural resources. (Agni Yoga 427)
4. The community of the future will produce itself as much as possible of what it needs, or will procure it by way of exchange with spiritual friends. This is much more creative than to consume what others have produced. In addition, only thus can we stay in control of the production process of the goods we use.
The best turnover of goods is by direct exchange of products; or in the extreme case they can be allowed to be exchanged into money to be reconverted immediately. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 292 )
Overreaching will be replaced by natural exchange.
The cooperative is not a business but a cultural institution. There may be also trade within it, but its basis must be one of enlightenment. Only along such lines is it possible to apply cooperation to the new life. Such unity is not easy: people have been accustomed to combining commerce with greed. Such an error is difficult to eradicate. But undeferrably, by way of school education, should the significance of healthy exchange be explained. (Community 271)
In such an economy there is not much left that has to be bought. In order to procure these few things, the New Man will not be required to spend too much of the day working for money. Half-day work will generally suffice. The acquisition of material goods will only be a side issue in a spiritual life, but no longer the meaning of life.
Soon the machine will enable people to be at leisure a considerable portion of the day. One must ask oneself for what this free time is to be used. (AUM 500)
We can change our lives to the effect that the essential work is done selflessly, that means, without pay.
5. Where we are working for money, we will make every effort to ensure that only meaningful, necessary and ethically acceptable goods are being produced.
If this thinking becomes widespread, it will have a major impact on the economy as a whole: Fewer products will be produced because the immortal man no longer needs the abundance offered today. Higher quality, simpler and, above all, more durable goods will be in demand.
And every business enterprise that is looking for employees or customers will have to prove that it meets ethical standards: Regarding its use of resources, its production methods, the treatment of its employees, including their salary, and the price it demands.
3. Economy without Money
At the horizon emerges the vision of an economy without money.
In the period of the abolition of money it is urgent to replace its power by the realization of the spirit’s power to help. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 310 )
People remembered the legend about gold as the source of evil, but they hastened to transform it into a fairy tale. Each great Teacher revolted against gold. (AUM 324)
Now comes a most decisive point: What do we need money for? In order to allow the individual to evaluate his contribution to the wealth of a community (gross national product) with a higher price than the contribution of others. Therefrom he derives the right to claim for himself a greater share of the wealth which all have created together. This is an unspiritual concept which is incompatible with the principle of selflessness.
To serve one’s selfishness is forbidden; to exercise prerogatives is forbidden. (Fiery World I, 359)
In a community of high, selfless spirits, everyone will claim only those goods which he absolutely needs. The competition among them will be about how to claim as little as possible!
The distribution of the basic material goods will result from an understanding of the highest truth. (Agni Yoga 29)
The decisive point is: Spiritual brothers can dispense with evaluating the services that are contributed to and those which are claimed from the community. In a true community, the question does not arise whether the performance of a doctor or that of a baker is to be valued higher. The one makes medical treatment, the other makes bread available free of charge. Because both receive what they themselves need also for free.
In the Brotherhood each one works as much as he can. Each one helps in accordance with the measure of his forces; each one lets no time escape, for it is irrecoverable; each one is ready to lend his strength to a Brother; each one displays his best quality; each one rejoices at the success of a Brother. Are these principles too difficult? Are they supernatural? Are they beyond human strength? (Br I, 282)
You see: People have to change to make the world a better place. Only with the New immortal Man can this vision of a world without money become a reality. The flourishing of a community presupposes that each individual member strives to contribute more to than to consume from the common wealth.
4. Old Order of Labour: Abuse of Labour
Is the work that you are doing every day under the existing economic order still justifiable from the ethical point of view? This question is becoming ever more urgent:
For an accountant of a company that uses valuable, irreplaceable resources to produce redundant goods; for a baker in a bread factory, which is aiming not primarily at the making of high-quality food, but at the lowest possible production costs; for an employee in industrial livestock farming or the entertainment industry; for a lawyer, tax consultant, auditor, advertising expert or business consultant who assists such businesses with his advice; and for many others more.
We could continue the series of examples endlessly. The commercial thinking has captured all areas of work and infected them with its egotistic spirit. It now permeates all levels and institutions of society. It corrupts people without that most of them are even aware of it. We have transformed our profession – our vocation! – into a business for profit!
Faith was suffocated by gold. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden I, 265 )
Currently, money-making is being placed higher than everything else. Every shame is lost. Things that you normally would never do are being accepted in the interest of maximizing profits. The "job argument" justifies the most repugnant practices. What the father legitimately forbids his children in the evening, he carries out himself at work during the day.
It is inconceivable that the interests of work and cooperation should be guided by the hands of the ignorant and ruled by egotistic profit-making. (Words of Guidance for a Leader, 15)
The forces of men are being abused for purposes that are not worth it.
What wonder at the revolt of the individual man or woman who has been partially awakened from thrall to things – to imaginary national, social and family requirements, when those requirements are seen to be but the results of the prostitution of all the higher instincts and ideals.
I say truly the prostitution of all higher instincts and high ideals, for wherein does the difference lie between the courtesan who uses her body for the gaining of gold, and the man or woman who uses brain and soul for a like purpose when the proceeds of their shame is used for self-gratification ?As in a treadmill, goes race after race under similar conditions, similar aims, impelled to similar efforts. (Teachings of the Temple, Vol.1, Lesson 138 "The eternal Tragedy")
It has come to the point that for the spiritual man in need to work for money hardly a decent, let alone a meaningful field of activity remains open.
You can scarcely escape this problem. In the social and health care professions, the question of meaning has not arisen in the past, since they naturally serve the benefit of the neighbour. Today, however, even here, more and more, profit-making, the quasi-industrial mass processing of patients, is gaining ground. This prevents the workers from recognizing and combating the true, often spiritual causes of suffering.
5. Responsibility for Work
We all have to earn our daily bread with our own hands. Nobody can expect others to provide for his needs.
Nevertheless, we must not close our eyes and avoid the question: Whom and what purposes are we serving with our professional work? History shows: It is no longer good enough simply to do one’s “duty” as defined by the employer. We cannot leave the responsibility for our actions to our superiors. The locomotive driver, who drives railway carriages with Jews to Auschwitz, cannot justify himself with his service plan, the necessity of an income, and his impeccable conduct as father of his family.
Where do ye belong? Are ye warriors of Light or of Darkness? (From the Mountain Top, Vol. 1, Lesson “Which of the three?”)
Today, everyone must ask himself: Is the work I am doing, the project I am serving, necessary, meaningful, or at least useful, and in any case ethically justifiable?
The only condition is that the work be useful. (Brotherhood 125)
Here on earth, a struggle is going on between good and evil. You must not support the wrong side! It is of no value to work for employers who serve the idols of wealth, power or pleasure.
The war is on ‘twixt right and wrong, ‘twixt heaven and hell, and you must choose your side. (From the Mountain Top, Vol. 1, Lesson “You must choose”)
Work is Satan's service when it furthers materialism. This must be clearly said to those who wish to stick, under today's conditions, to the work ethos of the past. In a society without God, labour is worthless because it aims at results that are not worth the effort. It is even harmful because it contributes to still increase the evil in the world.
On the other hand, any, even seemingly insignificant work, can be service to God, if only it is directed at achieving His objectives on earth.
How to affirm the quality of your deeds? If your deeds benefit humanity, then their essence is good. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden I, 350 )
6. New Order of Labour
The New World must strive for the organization of dignified and meaningful work. Will it not be a higher and more satisfying task to help create truth, justice, and beauty than to support the many worthless personal projects of any paying clients? Will it not be more worthwhile to serve the higher world and its principles than the egotism of a fellow man or institution?
If work is dedicated step by step to the Supermundane World, it will cease to seem abstract and enter into life. It should be remembered that all one’s earthly labor can be dedicated to the Supermundane World. (Supermundane 775)
An example: The entire day-to-day work of thousands and thousands of people employed in the field of law – from lawmakers, judges, attorneys, public prosecutors, clerks, secretaries, telephone assistants down to messengers and even the cleaning personnel – is spiritualized, ennobled and transfigured if only it serves the high goal of creating justice on earth.
Will not that be the real improvement of the quality of our work? It would not matter where one stands, whether at the top or at the bottom. Everyone who is a link in the chain of those working for justice takes part in the dignity of this service.
Whoever contributes to establishing justice works for God, for the realization of the Kingdom of God on earth – even if he delivers his performance under earthly conditions to other men.
The one who fights for justice is like a luminous spirit. (AY 215)
The same applies to all areas of work: Every profession is sanctified if it serves the common good, the provision of the people with the physically and spiritually necessary, or the enforcement of high principles such as truth, justice, beauty and love.
People have a right to meaningful work for a higher goal. We must overcome the terrible dissatisfaction with our daily work. This is done by converting it into a service to a higher aim.
The work must be organized in such a way that for everyone in his particular place it is clear at every moment, to which magnificent temple building he is contributing his individual stone.
The principle of service gives every, even the smallest, most inconspicuous, seemingly lowest – namely, every necessary work – dignity and meaning. It leads to a true transfiguration of our everyday activities.
Even on Earth it is possible to almost forget time, when service becomes joy. I affirm that one can prepare oneself for such service under all circumstances. It was the loss of this concept of service that turned earthly life into slavery and insanity. But the next step will be the acceptance of service as the right approach to life. The concept of service is the solution for the tasks of life. (Supermundane 305)
7. Power and Responsibility of the Individual in a Consumer Economy
St. Elizabeth of Thuringia
Every spiritual warrior has already today the opportunity to push the economy forward in this direction. We live in a system ruled by demand, in other words: That what is not demanded is not produced either.
Take, for example, the ethically irresponsible industrial livestock farming of chickens: This practice can be completely eliminated from one day to the other. You as consumers only need to act consciously and refuse to buy eggs from battery farms, or products like noodles made using such eggs.
A new awareness has to be established, then the world will move a great step forward: Better than supporting irresponsible practices is to give up a pleasure or to afford it less often (because of the higher price for eggs of chicken kept appropriately).
This example shows both the power and the responsibility of every single individual in a consumer economy: You cannot avoid the responsibility for industrial livestock farming as long as you support it by buying its products.
There is truth in the saying that for one person’s crime a whole nation suffers. It is not only the motive that unites participants in a crime, but aspects of their nature also bring them together. Who can judge the degree of participation? Some may have encouraged the criminal verbally, others mentally. Who can define this, or determine the main cause? Few care to think about how and when they have participated in a crime. (Supermundane 229)
The same applies to all other sectors of the economy: The only effective and morally imperative answer to all offers which are not defensible from an ethical point of view is for you not to take advantage of them.
This means: A spiritual warrior will not acquire goods or other services from businesses that do not produce according to ethical standards. Anyone who seeks him as a buyer must prove to him their ethical safety.
The Living Ethics must first of all be expressed in the ethics of the actions of every day. (Fiery World III, 135)
The New Man will not cooperate with other enterprises, in particular not lend them his work force. He who looks for your cooperation must convince you of the value of the project in question. When others follow this example, we will change the world: We will force the economy to adapt to our standards!
One of the most powerful sentences of Agni Yoga is:
People, each individually, can act strictly in accordance with ethical standards and thereby produce a healthy emanation. (Br II, 306)
This is a hard way. However, real progress has never been achieved easily. An ethically impeccable life was painful at all times. Let us cite the example of St. Elizabeth of Thuringia:
Elizabeth maintained a strict, unusual diet: She noticed that much of the foodstuff that was being savoured at her royal court had been illegally squeezed from the poor. Since she did not want to live on income and taxes extorted from the peasants, she only enjoyed food which had been legitimately acquired. If the origin was uncertain, she did not eat it. This hard renunciation at a richly-laid table was a mute protest against the irresponsible habits of her environment. The saint had to pay for it by sometimes going away hungry from her own table.
St. Elizabeth Triptychon, Kunsthalle Karlsruhe; Elizabeth-Zyklus, Heiligen-Geist-Hospital, Lübeck; French Elizabeth, Elisabeth-Kirche, Marburg
8. No Poverty, no Unemployment
In the society of the future, there will be no poverty and no unemployment.
There will be none without work when people will turn to the spiritual path. Our Path leads to the transformation of Earth into a palace. There are no poor. Who is unwilling to accept riches? (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 94, 95)
We had already discussed this particular topic in detail in one of the previous Broadcastings "Tabenisi – World without Poverty and Unemployment". We add a few quotations from the Teaching:
Everyone has a right to work.
Begging is prohibited. Every cooperative has to ensure in its area that there is work for everyone. Only infirm people are allowed to be accommodated in a retirement home, but only few are infirm to such an extent that they should be completely deprived of work. The work opportunities are inexhaustible, one must only be able to recognize which work is suitable for whom. (Words of Guidance for a Leader, 115)
Everyone has a duty to work.
Nobody is allowed to refuse to participate to the best of his ability in the necessary work. (Words of Guidance for a Leader, 122)
The recipe for success lies in that both the necessary work as well as the wealth produced by this work are shared justly between all members of the community.
To share is the pledge of victory. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden I, 281 )
It is crucial that you realize: Following a spiritual principle – namely, justice – is the only way to solve our material everyday problems.