By Marcus Bussey
Simple ideas are often the most powerful. This is certainly
the case with Neo-Humanism. Rooted in the ancient yogic
perception that all existence is bound together, that
we are all interconnected, Neo-Humanism transcends a
limited and deeply wounded humanism with an holistic
reconceptualisation of what it is to be human.
Neo-Humanism is a process of becoming consciously,
self consciously, human. Essentially it is a term both
general and specific, covering as it does all the 'holisms'
that have sprung up in the humanities, sciences, and
social movements in recent decades, while more specifically
being a set of principles for living based on the ethic
of universal love. As an ethical approach to life it
has as it leading exponent the Indian philosopher, political
activist and mystic, Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar. As such
it is philosophical in form, revolutionary in spirit
and spiritual in orientation. I would venture to say
that such a brew could not have come from the west where
the philosophical, the revolutionary and the spiritual
operate or function, more or less, as discrete activities.
Neo-Humanism offers a strong critique of nationalism,
sexism, specism, capitalism and racism. As an ethical
system its emphasis is on an integrated world view that
urges us to embrace all experience of the phenomenal
world reverentially. As a way of knowing it breaks the
bounds of humanism, to include the rights and liberties
of the entire phenomenal world. As such it is part of
the current reaction to the divisive and alienating
effects of western rationalism.
It is however more than just a voice of dissent. Its
strength and positivity comes from the fact that it
places us as individuals in a world made meaningful
by a renewed sense of our interconnection with everything.
This is not simply a rhetorical interconnectedness,
as we find in much holistic and new age writing. Neo-humanism
is a spiritual force because it acknowledges and actively
promotes spiritual practice as the only way to achieve
a sense of belonging in the universe. This sense of
belonging cannot come from simple assertions that we
belong: the rhetoric of belonging. Love, reverence and
responsibility will not magically appear within us as
transformative forces simply because we think they should.
Nor will the authority to teach and guide others burst
forth in our lives without some real effort being made
to plumb the depths of ourselves in a contemplative
and disciplined way. We cannot find salvation for this
embattled world through reversion to simplistic atavistic
formulas such as "God is everywhere."
Basically, Neo-humanism is potent because it throws
full responsibility for change onto us. Put simply,
we have to change in order to promote change. As human
beings we are bound to explore our own potentiality,
to expand our understanding of who and why we are. This
is the primary drive - it might be called the 'prime
directive' - for us all as we chart our way through
life. At the moment this prime directive is distorted
as we are taught to compete with others for limited
If we apply this prime directive with benevolence we
find that every thing changes. We no longer need to
compete with others, in fact our development as conscious
beings is linked to our relationships. Our awareness
of our interconnection with others enables us to harness
the power of love as we turn from being self serving
beings to beings of service.
What is more, because the sense of relationship expands
as we take this step into inter-connectedness human
beings no longer take center stage in the drama of existence.
Consciousness itself becomes the chief protagonist in
an epic that spans the ages since that initial spark,
the point scientists call the big bang, when matter
took form and began to unfold itself into the world
we know today. From this perspective our relationships
include both animate and inanimate existence and we
are never alone, wedded as we are to all things.
Neo-Humanism describes the wonder of this drama and
our role within it. It is critical of any thing that
impedes our individual and collective journey through
life. Because it is synthetic in character it allows
for no distinction based on race, sex, caste, religion
or even species. A Neo-Humanist agenda is a liberatory
agenda. It places great store on human rationality as
a tool in over turning all forms of dogma and prejudice.
It links morality to this rational process in order
to make the mind pure enough to function without bias,
and the heart strong enough to embrace all in the endeavor
to forge one single humanity.