The Foundations of Social Sustainability

The concept of sustainability has now been accepted by all progressive thinkers in environment and development studies. However, if we may redefine sustainable development as the path which leads to the safe evolution of humanity towards its highest destiny, then sustainability cannot be confined to the ecology of physical Nature or green issues. There is something like social, psychological and spiritual sustainability. This article examines the ideal of social sustainability in the light of an integral spiritual vision of human development.

Is there a standard of principles, like the gold standard in economics, which can help us in choosing or shaping the values which can steer the sustainable evolution of the human society or a community towards its highest destiny? There are certain principles discovered by the higher mind or the collective wisdom of humanity in its progressive evolution. It is a quaternary: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity and Progress. These values are neither Eastern nor Western, modern or ancient. They are in their essence, as Sri Aurobindo points out “the eternal attributes of the Spirit” in man which means intrinsic qualities of the human soul. However they have an inner as well as an outer dimension. The modern secular mind of the west has understood these principles in its outer economic, social and political significance. On the other hand the spiritual mind of the East laid a much greater emphasis on their inner significance. For a sustainable evolution of the community, we need a social synthesis which embraces both the inner and outer dimensions of this quaternary of value, but with an emphasis on the inner awakening of these values in the consciousness of people. This issue is an attempt to arrive at such a social synthesis in an integral spiritual vision of life.

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