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16 December 2006

PROUT SHORT STORY CONTEST

DEADLINE: March 31, 2007!

IMAGINE A SOCIETY IN WHICH...

...food, clothing, housing, education and medical care are guaranteed to everyone.
...most farms, banks, industries and services are run as cooperatives owned by the workers.
...there are no multinational corporations.
...different voices, languages and cultures are respected.
...there is self-sufficiency in food, medicines, clothing, housing, and local transport.
...the environment is protected and restored, all agriculture is organic, garbage is recycled and renewable energy is used.
...universal spirituality is valued, not religious dogmas or conflicts.
...leaders are selfless servants of the people.

STRUGGLE AND CONFLICT...
Naturally, such a society could never come about without great struggle. The richest one percent who control our world today would do anything to prevent it. They direct the multinational corporations and manipulate the US Empire, going to any length to neutralise such a progressive society. When it does come about, there will always be selfish people who would try to destroy it for their own personal benefit.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE IN A COMPELLING WAY...
...the people, the struggles, the sacrifices, the tragedies and the triumphs that would be needed to achieve such a society?
...in which part of the world such a society would first take root and what threats, opposition, and deceit that would be employed to undermine it?
...how living in such a society would affect people?

SHORT STORY COMPETITION DESCRIBING A FUTURE SOCIETY BASED ON PROUT!

Prout stands for the Progressive Utilization Theory, an alternative socio-economic model. In the words of Noam Chomsky, "Prout's cooperative model, sharing the resources of the planet for the welfare of everyone, deserves our serious consideration." To know more about Prout’s socio-economic model and its policies, see www.prout.org and www.proutworld.org.

The Prout Research Institute of Venezuela is hosting a short story competition about a future Prout society and the struggles needed to bring it about. Stories may not exceed 5,000 words and must be previously unpublished. Entrants may be located anywhere on the planet, but each person may submit only one story written in English, Spanish, French or Portuguese. The stories will be judged on whether the future society portrayed correctly represents Prout, as well as on good writing and originality.

Judges: A committee of four panelists, led by the published writer Devashish Acosta (author of "When the Time Comes" and "The Ashram", available from www.amazon.com), will judge the contest. To ensure impartiality, all stories will be numbered and the authors’ names will be removed until the final decisions are made.


A Proutist who wishes to remain anonymous has generously donated funds so that we can offer the following cash prizes:

First prize: US$500
Second prize: US$300
Third prize: US$200
Five fourth prizes: US$100 each

(Winners in economically developed countries will receive a check or bank transfer. Winners in undeveloped countries will be sent an international postal money order.)

The winning stories will posted on the PRI-V web site: www.ve.prout.org. In addition, the Prout Research Institute of Venezuela reserves the right to publish the stories in an anthology and in a Prout magazine.

Deadline: midnight March 31, 2007 Venezuelan time (GMT minus 4 hours)
Winners will be announced May 15, 2007

All stories must be sent by email to shortstory@prout.org. There is no entrance fee. Stories that exceed 5,000 words, that arrive late or that do not describe the struggles to achieve or maintain a Prout society will be disqualified from the cash prizes. After June 15, 2007, all authors are free to submit their stories to other competitions or venues for publication.

03 December 2006

News of the Prout Research Institute of Venezuela


We have begun! We are renting 50 square meters of office space and 18 square meters of residence space, plus bathroom and a separate entrance area. This is part of the upstairs of a large house in Caracas with a kindergarten. We have successfully set up our office computer system with Linux and Ubuntu Open Office file server, and a full accounting system that generates monthly reports that are available on request.

WEB PAGE: We have finished composing and uploading 18 pages of text in English and Spanish (only 3 pages are ready in Portuguese – we need more volunteers to help). This includes collective mission, vision and values statements, photos and short bios of our personnel, intern advertisement, and other important statements that represent the institute. We are still trying to improve its appearance. Please view the site at www.ve.prout.org and send us your feedback.

PUBLICATIONS:

1. Staff member Andy Malinalco has written a 7-page introductory article on "Is Venezuela Heading Towards Prout?" This clearly presents Prout's perspective on the following four pillars of the Bolivarian Revolution and compares them with the actual results: 1) providing basic needs, 2) cooperatives, 3) economic self-reliance of the country, and 4) participatory democracy. The Spanish translation is now being checked. Gregory Wilpert has agreed to post it next week on the popular www.venezuelanalysis.org web site.

2. Associate researcher Ron M. Baseman in New York has written a 19-page article on "What Makes Co-ops Successful?" This is a survey of 175 success factors from 30 original articles. It is very insightful. Both articles are available on the web site.

STAFF: One of our advisors, Matt Oppenheim, teaches at U.S. universities has helped us write the intern advertisement and design the application procedure. He has agreed to post this on university mailing lists, convinced that it will attract many interested young people. Even before it has gone out, six volunteers have already confirmed they are coming from Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia and the United States.

VENEZUELAN BOARD OF DIRECTORS: They approved the Mission, Vision and Values Statements and the legal PRI-V Foundation Bylaws that are now being legally registered.

INTERNATIONAL ADVISORY BOARD: Twenty senior Proutists from five continents are actively guiding the PRI-V’s work through monthly teleconferences and regular email discussions.

NATIONAL CONFEDERATION OF COOPERATIVES (SUNACOOP): We have met several times the director and the director of training to discuss how the PRI-V can contribute to the training and coordination of cooperatives in Venezuela. Several members of our Board of Directors have taken one of the best cooperative courses offered by a private foundation. We believe that researching and designing appropriate co-op training courses is one of the most needed ways we can contribute to Venezuelan society at this time.

SHORT STORY COMPETITION: A Proutist who wishes to remain anonymous has donated prize money for PRI-V to host a short story competition about a future Prout society. This is not science fiction but "Prout fiction"! Stories may not exceed 5,000 words and must be previously unpublished. Entrants may be located anywhere on the planet. The stories will be judged according to whether the future society portrayed correctly represents Prout, as well as good writing and originality. Published writer Devashish Acosta (author of “When the Time Comes” and “The Ashram”) has agreed to judge the contest and will accept stories written in English, Spanish or Portuguese. Writer Roar Bjonnes will assist in judging the finalists. The winning stories will be translated and posted on the PRI-V web site. The contest announcement with all details and dates will be posted and circulated as widely as possible very soon.

PLANS: I am presently touring Europe for six weeks, giving Prout lectures in 16 cities in eight countries. During this time the other staff members are recording interviews with successful cooperatives, cooperative trainers, cooperative association leaders and other foundations. The Institute will be closed from Dec. 15 until Jan. 10, when I return to Venezuela to work permanently as director of the Institute.

Brotherly,

Dada Maheshvarananda

Director

21 September 2006

News of the Prout Research Institute of Venezuela

The effort to buy the perfect house for the PRI-V continues. In the meantime, we have rented temporary office space in the upstairs of the Ananda Marga Kindergarten. Last year a new roof was put on, and this week the bathroom is being repaired, the interior is being painted, two new doors are being hung, and office furniture is being purchased. The school telephone will be transferred to the PRI-V: 00-58-212-633-0131.

We have applied for broadband Internet connection, and the company has promised to install it within 10 days. (Of course things don’t move as quickly in Venezuela as in other countries!) For those who have visited Venezuela, you will realize how happy we are to have employed Diipanii to cook a delicious breakfast and lunch for the staff five days a week!

The first meeting of the Venezuelan Board of Directors has taken place. We are confirming the proposed legal constitution and bylaws of the Institute Foundation. Eight Venezuelan Proutists (Sarvajiit, Satyam, Manujesh, Mrtyunjaya, Tapas, Sulocana, Laksman, Krsna Priya) plus Didi Ananda Sadhana and myself will be members. We will also collectively decide on inviting some other professionals who are sympathizers to sit on the Board.

Eleven senior Proutists in other countries have so far agreed to be on the International Advisory Board of the PRI-V: Hiranmaya (US), Karma Rasa (US), Dharmadeva (Brazilian economist moving to NYC), Dhruva (US), Suprabhata (US), Nirainjana (Palestine/US), Dayabatii (US), Mayajiit (US), Citsvarupa (US), Aradhana (US), Shiva (PhDc Philippines), Jayanta Kumar (Australia). We are still waiting for confirmation from the others we have invited.

Our multi-lingual web site is under construction by professional web-designer Dada Unmantranandajii. We are finishing the various menu texts in English and Spanish, and we hope to have it ready in the first week of October.

Despite his university diploma, his former job as an architect and despite the apartment in Budapest that he owns, the US government refused to give a visa to our LFT Dharmapal so that he could transit in Miami Airport for 150 minutes. Now he is struggling to re-route his air ticket to avoid touching that country that is forbidden to him. Atideva, another excellent brother from Hungary will arrive here this week.

Fabio, in consultation with half a dozen IT experts in other countries, continues to develop the detailed plans for our computer system. The hardware infrastructure will be desktop computers and one (file) server. We will buy the expensive components in Miami and assemble them here. The system will run on Linux (Ubuntu) with Open Office which we are confident will fulfill our needs and be consistent with our ideological direction. The network will be secured via a firewall, and will operate on a RAID system, with two hard disks continually mirroring the stored information, so in case of a disk crash, the other disk can carry on operations seamlessly. Weekly backups on rewritable DVDs stored in different locations will prevent electronic knowledge loss even in catastrophe scenarios.

Asiima is researching about Venezuelan inflation, devaluation and other economic indicators. Other researchers in other countries have started looking into cooperatives as well.

Please send your suggestions and best wishes.

28 August 2006

Prout Research Institute of Venezuela begins




Namaskar from Caracas!

For me, the most exciting project of my life is just beginning. I have been permitted by Proutist Universal to work 50% of the time in Venezuela to open a Prout Research Institute, and 50% of the time in Europe. So I arrived here in Venezuela yesterday on a 3-month ticket. Dharmapal, an LFT from Hungary and an architect by training, was supposed to arrive the same day, but the one-year ticket he bought had a 2-and-a-half-hour layover in Miami, and he was not allowed to board his flight because he didn’t have a US visa for those 150 minutes! He is now struggling in Lisbon to overcome this political obstacle!

Instead of renting an office and residence, we are buying a house, which we should be able to completely pay off with four years of rent money. More news on that in the coming days after the contract is signed. Simultaneously we will legally register PRI as a foundation. We have started constructing a web site at: http://www.ve.prout.org/

For the first three months we will create a team of from five to ten full time volunteer interns, some from abroad, some from Venezuela. The focus of our research will be on cooperatives. We believe this is the most valuable practical contribution that Prout can make in Venezuela at this time, due to the extraordinary number of 120,000 co-ops that have been started, and the insufficient training, evaluation and support of them. Our plan will include:

*
Review national and international research on cooperatives and cooperative training programs.
*
Study Sarkar’s writings and those of other Proutists to compile a clear Prout model for ideal cooperatives.
*
Implement a needs assessment of cooperatives and related public institutions that would examine current conditions of cooperatives.
*
Analyze available public and private documents in the country, including statistical analysis of quantitative data.
*
Interview and consult with key leaders in the cooperative movement in Venezuela, in both public and private organizations, to discuss their experience and opinions.
*
Make a representative sample of Venezuelan cooperatives randomly chosen that include different sizes (both large and small numbers of members), different duration (years of operation), different locations (large city, small city and rural), different sectors (transport, handicrafts, agricultural, food production, manufacturing, etc.).
*
Set up focus group meetings with cooperative and community members
*
Design a survey questionnaire to get a representative view of the challenges and needs of Venezuelan cooperatives, and also to assist in the categorization of cooperatives for analysis purposes.
*
Analyze and triangulate data from diverse sources in order to determine precise needs and perspectives of public agencies, cooperative members, and affected communities.
*
Consult with cooperative experts in Venezuela and in other countries to discuss the analysis of data and identify effective and culturally-sensitive components of a cooperative training and evaluation program.

During the fourth month the following “deliverables” will be produced in both Spanish and English:

1. A press release announcing the opening of the PRI Venezuela and its initial projects.
2. A “Frequently Asked Questions” with short replies to the above questions.
3. An academic article submitted for publication to university journals outlining the reality of Venezuelan cooperatives and recommendations.
4. A popular article on the same subject submitted to progressive magazines and newspapers.
5. A project proposal to develop a cooperative training program for Venezuela that can be submitted to various foundations and government bodies to request funding.

I would like to invite interested people to join this historic project in one or more of the following ways:

1. Be a volunteer intern! Come and help for a period of two months to a year or more. The benefits include:

* Intensively study Prout and apply it, by working in a team and sharing ideas daily via telephone and email with some of the best Proutist thinkers and activists around the world.
* Learn Spanish and/or English, with 90 minutes of daily class time according to your level, and total immersion.
* Experience the “Bolivarian Revolution” of President Hugo Chavez, one of the most exciting political, economic and social transformations taking place. See first hand what happens when the consciousness of poor people is raised and they are empowered to overcome poverty through education at all levels, free health care and cooperatives. Review the successes and critically question the failures. Personally meet and discuss with key leaders of this historical process.
* Work collectively in a professional environment that is respectful of all, where every idea counts.
* Strengthen your meditation and daily practices in a supportive and caring spiritual environment.

Expectations:

* Every applicant will be interviewed by telephone.
* Those who are accepted will have to provide their own transportation to Caracas.
* PRI will provide sattvik vegetarian food, accommodation and money for your local transportation.
* You will be expected to work 40 hours a week on specific tasks that will be monitored.
* PRI will try to fairly resolve any problems, grievances or difficulties you may have while you volunteer with us;

2. Be a PRI research assistant at home! We need help to research on the Internet very specific questions and tasks. If you can spare a few hours a week, we’ll send you the list. Your job will include finding, reading and analyzing significant articles on the topic.

3. Donate in cash or kind! The Institute needs a library of good quality books and periodicals related to Prout and social sciences. If you have a motor vehicle in good working order that you can donate, we’ll arrange the shipment. If you can donate funds, please remember that every little bit helps. If you are in the USA, we can arrange a tax-exempt receipt for your donation.

4. Come visit! See the project and the country first hand. We will ask for a minimum donation of US$5 or €4 per day to cover food and accommodation costs. We are hoping to organize a global Prout Convention in late March 2007. More news will come on this soon.

Please write me if you are interested in any of the above: maheshvarananda[at]prout.org

Brotherly,

Dada Maheshvarananda
Director

19 August 2006

Translation of Finnish article

(English translation of the article that appeared in the Finnish magazine of the Service Center for Development Corporation ("Kepa") For more about Kepa, see: www.kepa.fi/English

Lifestyle: Volunteering

Dada Maheshvarananda, 53, who travels constantly around the world, describes himself with the words "lifetime volunteer". The monk, who is originally from the U.S.A, is a true global citizen. "I have travelled around the world for the last three years, and previously I lived for many years in Asia, Brazil and Venezuela."

Maheshvarananda tries to connect universal, spiritual values to social change in the developing countries. He is involved in different school projects in the developing countries, for according to his opinion education is the best way to alleviate poverty. "I have written dozens of articles about the need for social change, and the book After Capitalism was published in 2003." Maheshvarananda is not content with just writing, but teaches yoga and meditation to prisoners in Brazil, the Philippines and in Portugal. "Empowering communities is needed."


"Helping others has always been my number one priority, and I have decided to help others throughout my whole life by doing volunteer work. It has given me more happiness and love than I could ever have imagined possible."


"One of the most significant experiences I have had happened during my training in Nepal. I did not know the language and I did not know anyone, but the inhabitants of the local poor village helped me. Sometimes I had wondered who would take care of me, if something happened. But from that experience I realized, that I will always be taken care of as a response to my own efforts as a volunteer."

An inspiring visit to Helsinki

I just returned from six days in Finland to publicize the release of the Finnish edition of “After Capitalism: Prout’s Vision for a New World”. Didi Annapurna with the help of Mitra translated it with great struggle. This edition includes contributions by two famous Finnish writers, psychohistorian Juha Siltala.and Heidi Hautala, Finnish Member of Parliament and former EU Parliament and Green Party presidential candidate.

The Finland national development agency Kepa published an article in their national magazine www.kepa.fi/kumppani/arkisto/2006_5/5004 and requested the book for their library. In addition, Mitra helped deliver a review copy of the book to the editors of nine newspapers and magazines, and Amrta has sent them faxes and phoned them to follow up. Another freelance journalist is writing a review of the book now. Email announcements were sent to 200 activists and sympathizers, and 80 leaflets were distributed and posted around the city. Didi Annapurna is now successfully selling the book door-to-door and has so far convinced two bookstores to carry it and a cooperative café to advertise it. Shantatma is selling it on the Internet.

With only a few days to prepare, a successful two-hour Prout lecture was given to 16 people in the public library. Professor Tapani Köppä, who has coordinated and taught about cooperatives for 40 years, came and explained about the 3000 existing worker-owned enterprises in the country. The major alternative radio station recorded a one-hour interview with Didi Annapurna and myself. We also took part in a peace march.

10 August 2006

The History and Future of Finland According to Sarkar’s Social Cycle

The recent discovery in Susiluola (in the Southern Ostrobothnian municipality of Kristinestad) of stones worked by the human hand suggest that people were living there over 100,000 years ago, after the discovery of fire. The mental color of those early human beings was shudra, struggling to survive and longing for physical enjoyment. Their minds were almost always absorbed in material thoughts.

About 10,000 years ago the last Ice Age came to an end and the Finnish land surface began to re-emerge from under the receding ice and to rise up from the sea. Humans then came from Estonia across the Gulf of Finland, and from the Ural Mountains of Russia, and began to make settlements. These people lived in tribes, and had already developed sophisticated fishing nets and hunting weapons. Their safety and successful hunting depended on the strongest warriors (ksattriyas) leading the tribe. Their descendants gradually spread out, forming new villages even into northern Finland, and developing agriculture and animal husbandry.

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The evolution of some viprans (intellectuals) during this early tribal period can be seen in the shamans, wise and respected spiritual leaders of their tribe who were believed to have healing abilities and a special relationship with the spirit world. Their search for knowledge is expressed in some of the older epic poems of the Kalevala. However, the tribes for the most part continued to be led by warriors. The population of Finland as the Iron Age drew to a close about 1000 AD has been estimated at around 50,000.

The transition from a ksattriya-led to a vipra-led society started with the introduction of Christianity from Sweden and Russia in the twelfth century and the later takeover of the country in the thirteenth century by the Swedish Empire, which was dominated by the royal family, court ministers and the Catholic Church.

The publication in 1765 of Anders Chydenius’ book, The National Gain, proposing free trade (11 years before Adam Smith’s famous book, The Wealth of Nations), is a good indication of how capitalists (vaeshyas) were increasingly becoming the new power-brokers in Finland. Gradually the Industrial Revolution arrived, and in 1860 the country’s first own currency was introduced and the paper and ship-building industries began to boom.

Starting in 1918 with the class war between the Red Guards and the Whites, some disgruntled ksattriyas and vipras tried unsuccessfully in various ways to lead shudras on a Communist platform to overthrow the vaeshyas. Despite the Soviet Union’s hard efforts to manipulate Finland since its beginning, through the armistice agreement in 1944, and until its own fall in 1991, the majority of the Finnish people resisted this and the society continues to be capitalist-led.

According to Sarkar’s social cycle theory, Finland, like the rest of the capitalist world, is today in its last days of capitalist control. Multinational corporations from throughout the European Union and the United States dominate ever larger shares of the economy. The welfare state is weakening, the gap between the rich and the poor is increasing, and a materialist and consumer outlook is indoctrinating the people.

A fundamental change of consciousness is needed. Courageous fighters (ksattriyas) and thinkers (vipras) should lead a radical, grassroots popular transformation to establish a more orderly, disciplined and ethical society based on economic justice and solidarity.

Prout's message for Finland



With much happiness, I will return to Helsinki for a week on August 11 to "launch" the Finnish version of my book "After Capitalism". The following remarks are from the introduction I wrote for the Finnish edition:


Finland has certainly benefited from capitalism. The country made a remarkable transformation from a farm and forest economy to a diversified modern industrial economy, with a per capita income on par with the rest of the European Union. But the truth is that capitalism works well for some people, but not for everyone. The existence of marginalized long-term unemployed in the country is a sign that this is true even in Finland.

According to the Finnish Government Institute for Economic Research (VATT), the top 10 percent of the population owns almost 40 percent of all the property and share capital. Much more economic inequality appears when calculating the wealth of the few thousand millionaires and billionaires, whose holdings are widely spread through nebulous financial networks. Greater tax breaks for the rich means the welfare state is weakening.

During the last 20 years, a large portion of the Finnish economy has been taken over by international investment funds, who own major shares of Nokia and the other large Finnish companies. Why is it that the majority of stores in Helsinki today seem to have American names? The profits they reap are not reinvested in the local community, they are sent to international banks overseas.

Unfortunately capitalism does not work very well for Finland’s beautiful natural environment either. Air pollution from manufacturing and power plants contributes to acid rain. The water is being polluted by industrial wastes and agricultural chemicals. Wildlife is threatened by the loss of virgin forests.

Finnish people experience the psychological side effects of global capitalism. The materialistic, consumer outlook, where everything seems to have a price tag, supports the existential outlook, “I buy, therefore I am!” Yet I believe the Finnish people, like most people in the world, long for true peace, happiness and unconditional love, which are not really satisfied in a consumer culture. Instead, working ever harder just to increase their income, or just to survive, under increasing stress, people experience alienation, loneliness and depression. Tragically, the suicide rate in Finland is the highest among the developed countries according to the World Health Organization. Among males aged 45-54, 50.4 per 100,000 people committed suicide in 2003.

We need something better: a holistic approach that fulfills the physical, mental and spiritual needs of each person. A world where nobody suffers poverty or hunger, where the resources are shared for the welfare of everyone. Where every human being is encouraged to develop their creativity, their talents, the higher dimensions of their being. How to do this is Prout’s vision for a new world.

21 May 2006

“From Development Work to Social Change" Seminar









A ground-breaking trainer’s seminar was held in Manila, Maharlika (Philippines) on May 10-11: “From Development Work to Social Change: The Way to Establish a Proutist Society.” More than 60 participants came from each part of Maharlika and the other countries of Southeast Asia, including dadas, didis, development workers, political activists and project directors.

P.R. Sarkar (Baba) came to help all human beings develop spiritually. However people suffering absolute poverty or devastated by natural calamities are mentally unable to meditate or do other spiritual practices. Hence AMURT as well as many other service organizations set up disaster relief operations and long term development projects to help those in need.

AMURT has achieved some incredible successes recently. Following the Tsunami, it has channeled more than US$2 million into successful projects in Indonesia and earned one of the best reputations in the country. Baba’s Foundation in Mindanao island, Maharlika has provided successful microcredit loans to more than 2,000 small farmers. Similarly large development projects in Africa, Haiti and other places are extremely valuable.

Yet all the relief work on the planet is not stopping the increase of poverty. The global economy has been designed to make sure the rich get richer. For every dollar of “aid” that is given to developing countries, it is estimated that ten dollars are taken out in forms of lucrative contracts, interest payments, corruption, etc.

We need to raise consciousness about the myths that are being propagated and the reality of what the developed countries and the global financial institutions are doing. And our development work must be a stepping-stone for establishing a just society free from exploitation.

In 1988 Baba said to Dada Nirgunananda and other workers: “AMURT is the immediate solution, Prout is the long term solution. You should help the people to be economically independent. For this, Prout should start economic cooperatives. At the same time, AMURT should give immediate relief, because you cannot teach hungry people philosophy. Through selfless service, you can also attract the masses to our Ideology.”

Each presentation was followed by a discussion session in small groups to encourage questions and clarification. Then workshops based on geographical areas focused on how the proposals could be practically implemented in the field.

As this was a Trainers’ Seminar, every participant was expected to repeat the seminar, and more than 30 seminars were scheduled for the next phase throughout Southeast Asia. A CD of the presentations, background articles and additional materials was given to every participant. The Lanesra Foundation, directed by Sister Ashisa (speaking in the third photo, wearing a white blouse), paid for all the costs of the seminar.

The seminar is now being improved and will next be presented in Madhu Karuna, Wendelsheim, Germany during the three-day Prout Utilization Training Camp from Wed., July 26 to Friday, July 28, 2006 (The fee for food, accommodation and training is €50. To register, contact: maheshvarananda[at]prout.org.

Prout in Manila, Baguio and Ilocos Norte, Philippines



My 10-day visit to Maharlika was an incredible inspiration for me. In addition to meeting dozens of old friends, I got the chance to meet and share experiences with hard-working Prout activists.

The National Prout Board of Maharlika is composed of: Dada Gayatrananda, Diivakar, Vishva, Rajnikanta, Subhrata, Paritosh, Jayadeva, Ajiir, Arun, Mahesh, Iishvar, Surendra and Ramesh. Their recent accomplishments include renovating part of the Proutist Universal office in Manila, regularizing the legal registration of PU, holding a monthly study circle, organizing two successful one-day leadership training sessions and a regular radio show (tel. +63-9203225249).

Ang Kasama Samaj activist leaders who attended the seminar were: Dada Devapriyananda, Manorainjan (a labor leader from Clark Airbase), Iishvara (Central Luzon), Ram Prasad (Baguio), Jagatmitra (Secretary General), Lalit Mohan, Parvati, Jagat (Cebu, former editor of Prout Times), Japamala (Cebu, Maharlika Artists and Writers Association), Shiva (Ilocos Norte) and Nareshvar. (Ang KaSaMa office: 11 Union Village, Barangay Culiat, Tandang Sora, Quezon City, tel. +63-2-931-4882, mobile: 09197863739) See www.angkasama.net

During my last 48 hours, I took a bus to Baguio City in the mountains, where Arjuna and others organized a Prout talk for me in a beautiful art center call Vocas (5th floor of La Azotea Building). Forty people came with just a few hours notice, and I personally taught meditation to four people.

After seven blissful hours, I jumped on another bus to the far north of Luzon Island. Brother Shiva (see photo), professor of political science and coordinator of TIMPUYOG People's Movement, organized a lecture at Mariano Marcos State University. Their certificate of appreciation for Prout is above.

I found a very inspiring speech that Sarkar gave during his June 1968 visit to Maharlika. He said:

“Movement in the physical realm means the construction of a society led by spiritual revolutionaries [sadvipras]… Sinners will oppose you, but you will have to face the challenge... You are human beings, because you are fighting against immoralists.

“In the psychic realm you have to establish righteousness by removing the germs of crude mentality. Everywhere in the world today the crude intellect dominates. It is your duty to replace it with your righteous intellect…

“In the spiritual realm, your task is to establish Cosmic ideation… It is your duty to show the right path to society in those three spheres...

“Work with the Supreme’s infinite power and with infinite speed. Victory is surely yours.”

(from “Accomplish Your Work with this Body Only”, A'nanda Vacana'mrtam Part 23)

20 May 2006

The Last Empire


An empire is defined as: “A set of regions locally ruled by governors in the name of an emperor; a large, multi-ethnic state ruled from a single center at least partly by coercion based on greed.”

Empires began to appear soon after the first cities made the necessary administrative structures possible. Approximately 77 empires have existed in world history. Understandably, historians are not in complete agreement regarding the starting and ending dates of each one, and whether or not some should qualify.

P.R. Sarkar describes the psychological root of imperialism. When people become increasingly engrossed in materialism (what he called “carbonic pabula”) their mind gradually sinks towards crude matter. Greed increases, desiring the wealth of others. “Capitalism, state capitalism, communism, nationalism, communalism [groupism based on religion], parochialism [selfish pettiness or narrowness of views], provincialism [sense of superiority because of one’s province or area], socialism, caste-imperialism, male chauvinism, lingualism [that one’s language is superior]… are all the same psychic ailments in various forms and figures.”

The list below is arranged chronologically according to when the empire began. The present-day country where the seat of the empire was located is included if not obvious from the name.

  1. Abyssinian Empire (Ethiopia, 3000 BC–1974 AD)
  2. Elamite Empire (Iran, 2700-539 BC)
  3. Akkadian Empire (Iraq, c. 2350–2150 BC)
  4. Ur III Empire (Iraq, c. 2100–2000 BC)
  5. Old Babylonian Empire (Iraq, c. 1900–1600 BC)
  6. Egyptian Empire (1550–1070 BC)
  7. Hittite Empire (Turkey, c. 1460–1180 BC)
  8. Israelite Empire (c. 1000–922 BC)
  9. Assyrian Empire (Syria, c. 900–612 BC)
  10. Magadhan Empire (India, c. 550–350 BC)
  11. Persian Empire (Iran, c. 550–330 BC)
  12. Athenian Empire (Greece, c. 477–404 BC)
  13. Macedonian Empire (Greece, c. 338–309 BC)
  14. Seleucid Empire (Greece, 323–60 BC)
  15. Mauryan Empire (India, 321–185 BC)
  16. Teotihuacano Empire (Mexico, c. 300-700 BC)
  17. Chinese Empire (221 BC–1912 AD)
  18. Parthian Empire (Iran, c. 200 BC–224 AD)
  19. Goguryeo Empire (Korea, c. 100 BC–668 AD)
  20. Roman Empire (27 BC–476 AD)
  21. Second Persian Empire (224–651)
  22. Gallic Empire (France, 260–274)
  23. Palmyrene Empire (Syria, 260–272)
  24. Britannic Empire (286–297)
  25. Gupta Empire (India, c. 320–550)
  26. Byzantine Empire (Turkey, 330–843)
  27. Islamicate Empire (Saudi Arabia, c. 630–1924)
  28. Tibetan Empire (c. 7th–11th century)
  29. Bulgarian Empire (681–1018; 1185–1396)
  30. Ghana Empire (c. 750–1240)
  31. Khmer Empire (Cambodia, 802–1462)
  32. Holy Roman Empire (843–1806)
  33. Chola Empire (South Indian Tamil, c. 9th–13th century)
  34. Venetian Empire (Italy, c. 900–1797)
  35. Tu'i Tonga Empire (Pacific Islands, 950–1875?)
  36. Irish Empire (1005–1014)
  37. Kongo Empire (Congo, 1100-1884)
  38. Genoa Empire (Italy, c. 1100–1797)
  39. Danish colonial empire (c.1200-1953)
  40. Latin Empire (Turkey, 1204–1261)
  41. Trapezuntine Empire (Greece, 1204–1461)
  42. Nicaean Empire (Greece, 1204–1261)
  43. Mongol Empire (1206–1394)
  44. Mali Empire (c. 1240–1541)
  45. Majapahit Empire (Indonesia, c. 1293–1500)
  46. Ilkhanate (Iran, c. 1256–1338)
  47. Ottoman Empire (Turkey, 1299–1922)
  48. Serbian Empire (1345–1371)
  49. Siam Empire (Thailand, 1350–1909)
  50. Vijayanagara Empire (India, c. 1350–1700)
  51. Aztec Empire (Mexico, 1375–1521)
  52. Timurid Empire (Turkey, 1401–1505)
  53. Inca Empire (Peru, 1438–1533)
  54. Songhai Empire (Burkina Faso, 1464–1591)
  55. Spanish Empire (1492–1898)
  56. Portuguese Empire (1495–1975)
  57. British Empire (c. 1497—1960s)
  58. Mogul Empire (Pakistan, 1526–1857)
  59. Swedish Empire (1561–1878)
  60. Dutch colonial empire (1602-1975)
  61. Maratha Empire (India, 1674–1761)
  62. Russian Empire (1721–1917)
  63. Vietnamese Empire (1802–1883)
  64. Austrian Empire (1804–1867)
  65. French Empire (1804-1814, 1815, 1852-1870)
  66. Haitian Empire (1804–1806, 1849–1859)
  67. Mexican Empire (1822–1823, 1864–1867)
  68. Brazilian Empire (1822–1889)
  69. Belgian Empire (1865–1962)
  70. Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867–1918)
  71. German Empire (1871–1918)
  72. Italian Colonial Empire (1889–1943)
  73. Korean Empire (1897–1910)
  74. Japanese Empire (1910-1945)
  75. Soviet Empire (Russia, 1922–1991)
  76. German Third Reich (1933–1945)
  77. AMERICAN EMPIRE (1898- ?)

76 empires have ended. Only one remains. It began in 1898 when it stole Maharlika (the Philippines), Guam and Puerto Rico at the close of the Spanish-American War. See http://www.americanempireproject.com/.

18 May 2006

RECENT CHANGES IN “MAHARLIKA” (The Philippines)


When I landed in Manila International Airport last week, the customs officer asked me if I had anything to declare. “Yes,” I said. “I declare that I am very happy to be back after 16 long years!” She looked at me and said, “I bet you looked different then, without your white hair.” “Yes, ma’am, that’s a fact!”

I had worked in Manila from 1981-1990, so this time I met dozens of old friends, and adults came up to me and told me I had performed their baby-naming ceremony! It was truly wonderful to see again the spirit of Bayanihan, the Tagalog word which means to move a house together. This is the spirit of solidarity, of making the impossible become possible (painting by Joselito E. Barcelona, 1993).

Of course I wasn’t happy about every change that had taken place. The World Bank reports that air pollution kills 2,000 Filipinos a year. In addition, in the cities of Metro Manila, Cebu, Davao and Baguio 9,000 suffer chronic bronchitis. Lost wages and medical treatment total Pesos 79.5 billion (US$1.5 billion) annually, 2 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). This means that every Filipino spends around P 2,000 ($40) each year for treatment and medication for illnesses caused by air pollution.

Automobiles create 80 percent of the pollution, reducing everyone’s life expectancy. Tiny particles (“particulate matter”) penetrate deep into respiratory tissue and directly into the bloodstream. The good news is that eating more fresh fruits and vegetables help to reduce the creation of “free radicals” in the body caused by this particulate matter.

Deforestation has also worsened. From 1980 to 2000 the total forest coverage in Maharlika was reduced by half! Today only 19 percent of the country is covered by forest. The tragic results are land degradation, erosion, flash floods, draught and mudslides. (Ian Coxhead and Sisira Jayasuriya, “Environment and Natural Resources” in The Philippine Economy: Development, Policies and Challenges, Oxford University Press, 2003.)

The West prides itself on its science and technology, yet it ignores the warnings of world scientists about the effects of pollution and global warming. First in 1992, scientists from around the world signed a joint letter asking world leaders to sign the global warming treaty at Kyoto. Five years later even more signed a "Call to Action"– 1,500 scientists from 63 countries, including 110 Nobel Prize laureates. Then in 2001, 100 Nobel laureates issued a brief but dire warning of the profound dangers facing the world from global warming and the proliferation of small arms: “…To survive in the world we have transformed, we must learn to think in a new way. As never before, the future of each depends on the good of all.”

Predictably, these compelling warnings have been for the most part ignored by the mainstream media in the United States because they are contrary to the policies of the US government.

I checked the Forbes magazine website (www.forbes.com) to see who are the richest Filipinos – as expected, the three billionaires were also the wealthiest people 20 years before:

  1. Lucio Tan, self-made wealth from cigarettes, liquor, Philippine Airlines and Philippine National Bank. Total worth: US$ 1.7 billion.
  2. Henry Sy & family, self-made, owns 23 shopping malls: US$1.5 billion.
  3. Jaime Zobel de Ayala & family, inherited, Ayala Corporation owns real estate, water and telecom: US$1.3 billion.

By checking the Forbes lists during the last ten years, it can seen that each one is two to three times richer. So I asked each audience, “Are you?” Invariably the reply came, “No, we’re poorer!”

Professor Arsenio M. Balisacan of the University of the Philippines in his article “Poverty and Inequality” in The Philippine Economy: Development, Policies and Challenges, Oxford University Press, 2003 gives many statistics demonstrating how the widening gap between rich and poor has resulted in most of the gains of national economic growth being eaten up by the rich, leaving the poor with very little benefit.

Of course Prout’s response to this extraordinary widening gap between rich and poor is to remind everyone that the world’s physical resources are limited. If individuals accumulate too much, there will not be enough for everyone. So every country should decide maximum salaries, wealth and land ownership. The only reason to pay more is to motivate people to make a greater effort to benefit society.

I had the pleasure of meeting again Alejandro Lichauco, a radical economist cited in the bibliography of my book. His most recent work is Hunger, Corruption and Betrayal: A Primer on U.S. Neocolonialism and the Philippine Crisis, Citizen’s Committee on the National Crisis (CCNC), 2005, 115 pages, available online for $12.00 from www.marymartin.com. He writes on Thursdays and Sundays for The Daily Tribune and many of his articles can be found online by doing a Google search. He was imprisoned for three months and then kept under house arrest for two years by former dictator Ferdinand Marcos. In an “Open letter to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo” published recently, Lichauco wrote: “The Philippines is now a case of humanitarian disaster. Late last year, the Food and Nutrition Research Institution of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) released a survey finding that "8 out of 10 households are hungry." This is the first time, to our knowledge, that the government, through an important agency, acknowledged the fact that mass hunger--and not only mass poverty--now grips the lands.”

02 May 2006

A Training Center for Spiritual Revolutionaries



In the silent pine forests of southern Sweden lies a most inspiring center of transformation. Fourteen brothers and sisters have come from around the world to study there – from Argentina, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Madagascar, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Singapore and USA. They are highly motivated, and are literally putting their lives on the line.

They are in training to become nuns and monks. The color orange that they wear means they are dedicating their lives to the service of humanity. Though it differs from person to person, most spend about three years in training. In addition to chanting, practicing yoga asanas, reading spiritual philosophy, they are sitting for silent meditation 4-5 hours each day.

They also intensively study the spiritual and social philosophy of P.R. Sarkar, the founder of Prout. After passing all their exams, they then travel to India and are assigned to work in another continent from where they grew up.

The center was started in 1976, and hundreds who trained there have gone to six continents to serve humanity. I deeply enjoyed giving them Prout classes for two days and doing long meditation together. I told them that I have come to realize after 28 years of working as a monk, I am very much still “in training”! Every day I am learning, discovering, struggling to understand and to realize the deepest truths.

Then I drove to Stockholm where I stayed in the home of Proutists Krsnadeva and Sumana. I recorded nearly 3 hours of their personal experiences with the founder of Prout – incredible. Sumana said that in their last meeting together, Sarkar said, “You know, there are two kinds of people in this world, those who give, and those who get. Which kind are you?” She laughed and replied, “The kind that give, Baba.” But ever since that day, she realizes that so many people, even those on a spiritual path, are always concerned about and often criticize the quality of seminars, programs, etc., without looking for ways to contribute, to make it better. These stories are being transcribed now.

Five trainees plus other employees and interns are working in an organic bakery in Stockholm (www.sattvanaturbageriet.com). It’s an incredible beehive of activity round the clock. I also gave them a class on Thursday.

Then on Friday night I gave a lecture on Prout and Spiritual Values that they organized for the public – 35 people, both young and old, came. These people fill me with hope.

If you are ever uncertain about what to do in your life, and how you could contribute more to making a better world, there’s a beautiful, quiet place in southern Sweden that I highly recommend!

05 April 2006

Finland Social Forum

SOCIAL FORUM OF FINLAND

Over 1000 people came to the Third Finnish Social Forum in Helsinki on April 1-2, 2006. Once again it proved to be a most remarkable occasion to network with other activists, or, as Sarkar termed it, “to unite the moralists,” meaning those who are struggling for a better world.

Before the event Didi Annapurna wrote two one-page articles in Finnish that were posted on the Social Forum web page (www.sosiaalifoorumi.fi) after a long struggle with the organizers, insisting that small groups also have a right to be heard. One is about social change and Prout in Venezuela, and the other is called “Why Another World is Inevitable” that explains the spiritual dimension. She also spoke twice during the press conference before the event.

We organized five workshops during the event that were advertised in 50,000 copies of the Social Forum newspaper distributed around the country. I gave three: “From Evolution to Revolution,” “From Erosion of Democracy to Quadro-dimensional Economy,” and ; “Cardinal Human Values in the Economy” with Didi Annapurna. In addition, Dr. Sauli Siekkinen spoke on “Strength from Volunteering” and Didi Ananda Krpa, Dada Gatimayananda and Bhuwan Pathak from Vasudaiva Kutumbakam from Uttarakhand in the Central Himalayas talked about “Restoring Ecological Balance.” More than 70 people attended these workshops.

I was asked to sit on the panel of the workshop “A Debate on the World Social Forum” to explain the way in which Proutist Universal’s application to join the International Council of the WSF was rejected and how the promise two years ago to set up a process to hear our appeal has still not been prepared. In an amazing Cosmic “coincidence”, Oded Grajew, the Brazilian entrepreneur who originally conceived the idea of the World Social Forum and is on the WSF Secretariat, arrived a few minutes before I spoke. Afterwards he insisted, as did other members of the International Council who were present, that a proper and transparent decision-making process should be followed in this case.

This year I was also allowed to speak to the general audience in the closing ceremony. I told how during my last visit to Finland, I spoke at the University of Helsinki School of Economics where one of the professors insisted that in their belief, capitalism was good and the best way for developing countries to progress. I answered that of course capitalism works for some people, but not for everyone. On a wall in Mumbai was written, “Every morning I wake up on the wrong side of capitalism!” What the world needs today is an economic system that benefits everyone, so that we can share and utilize the resources of the world in a just and ecological way.

We sold 20 books and gave an interview to a magazine about social service work. Our success was a result of our continued efforts and struggles on the organizing committee, and the unity and the help of many Proutists, especially Omprakash and Mitra. The Finnish translation of “After Capitalism: Prout’s Vision for a New World” is now being reviewed and will be printed within a few months.

31 January 2006

World Social Forum Caracas VI March




Marching for a Better World

On the first day of the Sixth World Social Forum in Caracas thousands of activists marched from the Central Venezuelan University with the theme, “Another world is possible!”

Thirty Proutists formed the most colorful and attractive group with the best music! Singing kiirtan continually, waving orange flags while they danced, they followed two wonderful clowns on stilts with orange flags. They carried four banners which said: “Cooperatives = Economic Democracy, Prout: A Vision for a New World”, “The first revolution is the revolution of consciousness,” The absence of universal spirit is the root of all problems – P.R. Sarkar,” and “Struggle for social justice and meditate for peace.” A slightly intoxicated older man did the whole march with us, playing some incredible bongo rhythms with our kiirtan for four hours.

Five thousand journalists are registered here at the WSF, and the majority were at the march, taking photos and filming. We gave dozens of interviews for both Venezuelan and international media. Events such as this one has tremendous potential for propagating the ideals of Prout and P.R. Sarkar. The more Proutists that can participate, the greater impact we can make.