A Vision for a Universal Renaissance

Renaissance Universal (RU) is a movement and a network of people dedicated to the ideal of a universal renaissance in human affairs. The impetus and inspiration for the movement came from Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar on January 27, 1958.  He encouraged artists, musicians, writers, intellectuals and scientists to create a second renaissance, a global renaissance. He named the movement Renaissance Universal.

Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar (May 21, 1921 – October 21, 1990), also known by his spiritual name Shrii Shrii Anandamurti was one of the highest expressions of the Universal Teacher in human history. He was the founder of Ananda Marga.

P.R.Sarkar’s rational outlook was truly inspiring. He was a polymath: writer, philosopher, scientist, music composer, social theorist, and spiritual leader. He talked about so many things and has written on so many varied subjects. He was the perfect teacher in the sense that he always taught by example. He was a Self-realized spiritual teacher. He did not need to meditate, but he meditated to be a good example. If you study his books, discourses and organizational activities towards the rational exposition of spirituality you will know that with his super-human productivity he was being an example for the future RU workers.

Shrii Shrii Anandamurti enriched us with his explanations of the relationship between the cognitive and creative aspects of Consciousness (Godhead, Truth, Absolute). He clarified that Self-realization (experience of Truth) is not possible without service to humanity. He also clarified the “relative truth” concept. If any school of philosophy claims that this world is an illusion, then that philosophy is defective. If this world is an illusion, then why care about it? P.R.Sarkar corrected this glaring mistake in some interpretations of the Eastern philosophies. Cosmos is the relative truth that is transformed Consciousness. It may be transformed into physical reality, but it is still Consciousness. We care about the world because we care about the truth. The Renaissance Universal movement is an expression of this sentiment.

Another sentiment that motivates the RU movement is respect for all living beings.

“All molecules, atoms, electrons, protons, positrons and neutrons are the veritable expressions of the same Supreme Consciousness. Those who remember this reality, who keep this realization ever alive in their hearts, are said to have attained perfection in life. They are the real devotees, the real bhaktas. When the underlying spirit of humanism is extended to everything, animate and inanimate, in this universe – I have designated this as Neohumanism. This Neohumanism will elevate humanism to universalism, the cult of love for all created beings of this universe.”

“Those who move along this path make their lives glorious and effulgent, and their sweet radiance illumines and glorifies all other minds in this harmonious universe. In that state, whatever they come in contact with in the world, they can distinguish the pure gold from the impure, the true from the false. On these people alone can all of humanity rely. Their victory is assured.”

These are quotes from P.R. Sarkar’s book “The Liberation of Intellect: Neohumanism.”

There is an ambitious science project among the RU goals: the development of the Microvita Theory. P.R.Sarkar gave us hints about the mysterious Microvita. The impact of the Microvita Theory will be even greater than the Theory of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics combined when it is fully developed. The Microvita Theory promises that the distinct disciplines of physics, chemistry, biology and psychology will merge into one science in the future.

Science is an important part of the RU movement. I cannot envision a universal renaissance that does not pay attention to scientists. In our enthusiasm for radically new ideas and radical social change we should not make the mistake of ignoring what scientists have to say.  In modern times, science is being manipulated by the geopolitical forces. Another disturbing trend is that science is becoming a new religion. As science becomes institutionalized it is becoming more dogmatic. We should raise consciousness among the scientists and remind them what science is all about.  The common sentiment in the RU community is “Science should be just like art: science for service and beatitude. Art for service and beatitude.”

RU movement attracts the intellectuals. This creates a unique dilemma. Intellectuals and scientists have big egos. It is very difficult to create a spirit of unity in any group of intellectuals. This is a unique challenge in the RU movement. RU needs to develop ways to convince intellectuals to introduce an element of spirituality to their lives. Spirituality is about discovering the mysteries of Love and Consciousness. My hope is that RU volunteers will inspire the intellectuals and the scientists to find a path that goes from intellect to heart.

Similarities with the European Renaissance

During the European Renaissance artists and humanist scholars were expressing a revolt against the religious dogmas. They expressed this revolt by reviving the art forms and the philosophy of the classical period. Today, we interpret the European Renaissance as a progressive movement but in those days they achieved progress by going backward in time, by remembering the ancient teachings and re-inventing art using ideas from the classical period.

There are some similarities between the Renaissance Universal movement and the European Renaissance. Fighting against the dogmas is one of the common themes.

In his discourse given in Istanbul on September 15, 1979, P.R.Sarkar said that “Dogma is also an idea, but there is rigidity of the boundary line. Dogma will not allow you to go beyond the periphery of that boundary line. That is, dogma goes against the fundamental spirit of the human mind.”

RU volunteers are sometimes criticized for their over-emphasis on dogma fighting. Critics say that there are more urgent social and economic problems to solve. There is suffering in an unimaginable scale in the world and fighting dogmas may seem like the easy way out. The fact is that in certain parts of the world, combating dogmatism is far from an easy fight. Dogmas create divisions within humanity. If humanity can succeed in overcoming dogmatism it will be able to solve all those pressing socio-economic problems and make breakthroughs in science.  Dogmatism is holding minds in bondage. Dogmas of all kind (religious or scientific) are preventing human progress.

Another similarity is the emphasis on Humanism. The European Renaissance was based on Humanism. Renaissance Universal movement is based on Neohumanism.

Renaissance scholars B.G.Kohl and A.A.Smith point out that the European Renaissance was limited to the cultural elite.“Not all sectors of the population participated equally in Renaissance culture, which was produced by an educated and privileged elite. Left out were the poor, peasants and workers, and especially women. Increasingly, then, scholars are viewing the Renaissance not as a widespread and thorough transformation of society but as initiating only a few aspects of modernity: monumental change in scholarship, secular values, and aesthetics.”

This time, we need to make sure that our universal renaissance is inclusive of all sections of the society. It is true that mostly intellectuals will participate in the RU activities but we should do our best to be as inclusive as possible. Participation of women is especially important for the success of the RU movement. Women bring new perspectives to the male dominated world of science.

There is one other factor for the success of a renaissance movement. Florence was a melting pot. Florence was very cosmopolitan in the 15th century. Anytime a place becomes a melting pot a new cultural synthesis emerges representing human progress. Anatolia, India, Ancient Egypt, Florence and more recently America are examples of this historical phenomenon. It is one of the goals of the RU movement to create a global melting pot. With the emerging communication technologies this dream is already becoming a reality. RU will accelerate this process.

Universalism

Entire Cosmos emanated from Supreme Consciousness. The word emanation is synonymous with transformation. Cosmos is transformed Consciousness. This means that Cosmos is not separate from God. There is Unity of Being. This means every particle in this universe is sacred. Similarly every human is sacred. We are the children of God. We should never forget this fact. This forms the basis of universalism.

As the name of the movement indicates, Renaissance Universal emphasizes universalism. If everything in this universe is sacred then we have to treat every living being as sacred.

In practical matters RU is interested in finding universal solutions to the local problems. In matters of communication there is also a great need for RU to be presented in a localized way that is still universal.

New Ideas

A movement for universal renaissance has to emphasize new ideas. It is true that P.R.Sarkar’s ideas dominate the RU movement but we should remember that he repeatedly warned us against dogmatism. We should not let his ideas become new dogmas in the future. We should do our best to be as productive as him in the development and implementation of new ideas. It should also be stated clearly that RU welcomes the ideas from other groups, movements and networks.

Common Goals with the PROUT Movement

P.R.Sarkar taught that the spiritual development cannot happen in isolation from society. He also talked about sadvipras, true intellectuals of future generations, who would be moral leaders. People in roles today, such as priests, monks, nuns, idealistic politicians, journalists and academic intellectuals do not quite meet the definition. Sadvipras would be recognized as well-rounded moral fighters capable of dealing with the problems confronting humanity. Sadvipras would combine the skills of an intellectual with the skills of a businessman and have the courage of a soldier. The PROUT movement (also founded by P.R.Sarkar) aims to develop the sadvipras – the future leaders of humanity. RU can help with the education of sadvipras.

RU supports the PROUT initiatives for economic democracy and localization and the push for grass-root economic organizing in the form of cooperatives.

Different Visions for RU

Regional priorities will be different and there will be different visions for RU. This is only natural but it would be a mistake to treat RU as part of the PROUT movement. P.R.Sarkar would not have founded 2 different organizations if he thought that RU was part of PROUT. There is a simple practical reason for the separation. The psychological profiles of the people attracted to the RU movement are different.

One is not any less important than the other. RU is equally important for humanity as PROUT. We should remember that it takes all kinds. That’s how Cosmos operates: unity in diversity. Motivations of the RU scientists and intellectuals should be respected as they interact with people from PROUT or Ananda Marga networks.

P.R.Sarkar’s RU Discourses

It is instructive to remember the titles of P.R.Sarkar’s RU related discourses. The list below gives a good idea what he was thinking regarding the RU agenda.

  • “History and Superstition” (27 August 1958) RU convention
  • “Problem of the Day” (1959) inaugural address to the RU Club
  • “The Liberation of Intellect” (26 January 1980)
  • “Renaissance in all the Strata of Life” (2 January 1986)
  • “The Poles Shift Their Respective Positions” (31 May 1986)
  • “Microvitum, the Mysterious Emanation of Cosmic Factor” (31 December 1986)
  • “Four Dimensions of Micropsychic Longings” (30 May 1987)
  • “Microvitum and Its Effect on Human Body and Human Mind” (31 December 1987)
  • “Mobility and Movement of Microvita” (28 May 1988)
  • “Microvita and Their Influence on Micropsychic and Macropsychic Corporeal Structures” (31 December 1988)
  • “Matter and Abstract” (3 June 1989)
  • “The Coming Ice Age” (24 March 1990)
  • “The Mind Grows in Magnitude” (2 June 1990)

How can we revive RU?

When P.R. Sarkar started the RU movement he gave it a tremendous intellectual and spiritual momentum and RU quickly became a global intellectual forum. After Sarkar’s passing in 1990 the RU activities have slowed down significantly. So far RU has not lived up to its potential as a movement but I firmly believe that it will. RU will be active again in the new era.

How can we revive RU? How can we make RU live up to its potential? There are no easy answers.

Network or Movement?

I think of RU as a movement rather than a network. Movement is different from network. In a movement individuals express themselves in the context of that movement even in the absence of a network. It is possible to have a movement without a network but the network is necessary for a long life.  It is impossible to sustain a movement without a network. It is great to interact with the like-minded people in a network. It is very stimulating and it is also very inspiring to be with like-minded people. This does not mean, however, that in the absence of the network nothing can be done. On the contrary, a lot got done by the volunteers of Ananda Marga in their individual settings. Ananda Marga (AM) itself is a network; so volunteers certainly leveraged their AM network but there are also volunteers like me who have been isolated from the AM network but we still contributed in various ways to the RU movement. Our blogs, books, and discussions with our colleagues became part of the RU movement. Those colleagues and friends do not belong to the RU network but our effort belongs to the RU movement.

RU and Psychic Pabula

The concept of “psychic pabula” is relevant in the RU context because RU will provide the “mental foods” or “mental objects” necessary for the development of humanity in the age of knowledge. The “psychic pabula” concept is intimately related to “clash” and “nourishment” concepts which are the essentials of any development. We should consider the implications in the context of individual development as well as the organizational development.

Pabulum (from the Latin) means food; psychic pabula (pl.) means “mental food” or “mental objects.”

Abhoga in Sanskrit is the proper term to describe this concept. The term “psychic pabula” is not comprehensive enough but it is the nearest English/Latin term in meaning.

Development results from clash and nourishment.

Clash: Body needs physical exercise, and mind needs challenges to develop. Spiritual development is accelerated through difficulties in life.

Nourishment: Body needs food, and mind needs mental objects to develop. Good company in the form of loving witnesses and communication feeds the spiritual development.

The mind has to have an object. Mind depends on the acquisition of mental objects (psychic pabula). Shrii Shrii Anandamurti defines “abhoga” as “The object with which the mind is preoccupied or obsessed is its psychic pabulum or abhoga” and explains that in human development there are 4 stages:

1. Physico-Psychic stage: physical survival as human
2. Psychic stage: mythology, religion, philosophy, art, science, literature, poetry, music
3. Psycho-Spiritual stage: intuitional development, intuitional science
4. Spiritual stage: love, closeness to God, absorption of ego in the Cosmic Mind, liberation, salvation.

Abhoga implies expansion, the expansion of mind, using the nourishment of the mental objects of the universe. Abhoga is described as the rapid expansion phase and therefore there are dangers inherent in the speed of the unfoldment. As the mind expands the ego has to be controlled. Ego must understand that this rapid expansion of the mind is a gift from God. It is pure grace. During this rapid expansion phase it is important for the spiritual seeker to maintain his/her devotional feelings and help others as much as possible to avoid the trappings of the ego.

Comments, Suggestions, Critiques

You can write to me at sureshemre at gmail.

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