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The Importance of Morality in Cooperatives

(Adapted from A Look at Decentralized Economy and the Cooperative System, by Ac.
Tadbhavananda Avt., Prout Research Institute, Copenhagen, 1993)

Money earning is not the criteria of a Prout cooperative. The persons involved in
Prout cooperatives must conceive of higher values of life. They must appreciate that
human beings are not economic or social beings only since this will only mire them in
the sensual vlues that characterize the current system. Rather, they should gradually
understand that human beings are spiritual beings. For this they must know a
scientific and spiritual philosophy and rational and effective spiritual practices.

The base of spirituality is the arena of morality. Applied to cooperatives this means
that the base of the cooperative should be coordinated cooperation. Here coordinated
cooperations means that human beings should develop with equal rights, mutual
understanding, respect, and a real sense of working together for their common
welfare and interest. Subordinated cooperation means that people work under other
people's supervision, dictates and values. Most of the existing cooperatives are based
on subordinated cooperation.

For a cooperative system to be successful Prout suggests the following points:

1. Strict morality amongst the members of the coop.


2. Strong supervision by moral people.
3. Wholehearted acceptance and participation in the cooperative system.
4. The members should have similar, or say, common interests.
5. Common economic structure and similar necessities.
6. Free ready access to supply and markets for the goods and services.

The moral principles


Regarding morality people generally understand that honesty is morality. Prout
however defines morality as a basic and ongoing effort to sustain harmonious
internal and external growth by force of the ancient principles of Yama and Niyama.

Yama
1. Truth (satya)
2. Non-hurting (ahimsa)
3. Non-stealing (asteya)
4. Integral outlook, taking everything to be an expression of the Supreme
(brahmacarya)
5. Modest lifestyle, avoiding the superficial and focussing on the essential
(aparigraha)

Niyama
1. Purity of body and mind
2. Contentment
3. Readiness to go through all sorts of trouble in order to reach one's goal (tapah)
4. Essential study (svadhyaya)
5. Accepting the Supreme as one's ultimate goal and taking shelter in that Infinitely
Almighty.
As mentioned most people seem to think that honesty is equavalent to morality but
in Yama and Niyama honesty is the first point only. An honest person who is not
following a progressive spiritual practice and cultivates the spirit of integral outlook
and accepting the Supreme as one's ultimate goal cannot be expected to his or her
honesty under changed circumstances. Honesty is a relative phenomenon. It is said
that it is easy to reject a bribe of one dollar but so much more difficult to withstand
an dishonest offer of one hundred thousand dollars.

Those who follow the all-knowing, all-pervading and all.witnessing force will never
want to do any immoral act, or any act that will damage the collective interest. This
is so because there is a subtle link between real spiritual values and the moral
integrity of a person. Those who successfully follow the spiritual path will not fall
prey to immorality, because theu have already accepted morality as the base of their
life, and they know well that without moral stamina spiritual practices are not
possible. Quite naturally, those who are not following spirituality (the path of God-
realization) are prone to act immoraly. Therefore one has to follow the moral code
mentioned above. Morality is the base and spiritual practice is the process by which
one cab realize one's real self.

The moral force in coming together


The cooperative as a socio-economic movement will pay due attention to creating the
necessary collective spirito-moral strength. A perusal of most cooperative charters
and programmes reveals that the word honesty stands out as a primary cirterion for
members. Perhaps this is so because cooperatives have faced difficulties from many
corners in consolidating the cooperative program. The author of this article has faced
many objections while coordinating cooperatives in Bihar, India. Normally the
members of cooperatives will wholeheartedly and honestly join cooperative ventures.
However, it has been seen that some dishonest or immoral forces in the form of
businessmen or corrupt government agencies may infiltrate. Apparently these forces
do not want economic power to go to the hands of general people as their own
interests are at stake.

When moral people come together their force can expand cooperatives in a dynamic
way. They can influence any impediment in their way to change. In our context this
means that the present immediate needs of the people should be fulfilled by
expanding the existing exploitative order into economic democracy. As already
mentioned, cooperative movements all over the world take an isolated approach,
creating miniature forms of capitalism. they have not generated the needed moral
force to change the exploitative economic structure itself. The Prout cooperative
movement stands for constructive and humanistically sound economic change.
Surely there exists very powerful cooperative movements in different parts of the
whole world such as The Credit Cooperative of Germany, The Cooperative Dairy
Farms of Denmark, The Agriculturural Cooperative in Israel, The Consumers'
Cooperative of England, and the Industrial Cooperative of Mondragon (Basque).
Proutist Universal extends its appreciation to those who are engaged in cooperative
movements. Surely these are bright examples of a noble will, but economic activities
are not the onoy work of cooperatives. Rather, there should be radical socio-
economic transformation.

Why did the above copperatives become successful? Simply because their leaders
were honest. Such honest persons create an environment of honesty in cooperatives.
Here it is reasonable to suggest that theoretical classes about honesty should be
introduced in cooperative training schools. But that is not all, we have to do
something more. In thic context the programs of Prout cooperatives are connected to
the regional and global levels, and the world is divided into different socio-economic
zones. All such economic zones will have their economic planning, say from village to
panchayat (a cluster of several villages), from panchayat to block (consisting of
roughly 100.000 people) level, from block to diocese lever, from diocese level to
regional level, from regional level to state level, from state level to country level,
from country level to sectorial level, and from sectorial level to world level.

Different areas have got different economic potentialities, and accordingly the
cooperative system will be introduced. the first task of these cooperatives will be to
ensure the minimum guarantees of life such as food, clothes, housing, medicine and
education. Economic organizing will maintain three objectives:

1. To provide the minimum guarantees of life to everyone living on this planet.


The cooperative base with its infrastructure will be built up first ti ensure the
basic necessities of life rather than profit and luxuries.
2. The second step will be the rational distribution of amenities to those who are
rendering maximum service to society. Thus the cooperative structure will
also have the potential to fulfill the needs of people of special social
importance.
3. The third step will be to progressively increase the minimum guarantees of
life according to changes in time, place and person. Working time will be
decreased and surplus time will be utilized towards higher values of life.
Economic, social, cultural and spiritual values of the indigenous people will be
etablished on cooperative premises.

The persons working in cooperatives will be inspired to meditation and to participate


in various uplifting communty programs (for example ecology and other
consciousness-rising programs). This will cultivate devotion and will inspire people to
love God and the entire creation. Thus the great and noble task of the cooperative
movement will become to serve all of creation.

The propounder of Prout, P.R. Sarkar, said that "the sweetest unifying social factors
are love and sympathy for humanity. The wants of the human heart are joy, pleasure
and beatitude. In the physical realm the best expression of this human sweetness is
the cooperative system. The cooperative sysmte is the heartfelt representation of the
sweet nectar of humanity." In addition to that he said that to integrate the entire
human race unifying factors should be encouraged while fissiparious tendencies
should be discouraged. With this spirit Prout Worker's Cooperatives are being
introduced in different parts of the world, and there is a very good response.

Copyright Proutist Universal 2005