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Strategies for implementing Prout in Brazil

By Ac. Maheshvarananda Avt.

“Despite its advent onto this earth many thousands of years ago, humanity is not yet
capable of building a well-integrated and universal human society. This is in no way
indicative of the glory of human intellect and erudition. You, who have understood
the predicament, realized the urgency, seen the naked dance of evil and heard the
hypocritical and raucous laughter of the divisive forces, should throw yourself into
this noble task without further delay. When the ends are just and noble, success is
inevitable.” P. R. Sarkar, “Ananda Vanii” 1975.

I would like to share with you strategies that we are using in Brazil and South
America to implement Prout.

Awareness is a key factor in social change. Whenever exploitation occurs, it is the

moral duty of good people to raise the consciousness of everyone about it. At the
same time, practical alternatives such as Prout need to be publicized. Many
economists believe that the present world capitalist system suffers from fundamental
flaws, that it is dangerously unstable and volatile because all financial markets are
hopelessly interdependent. When capitalism collapses, every country desperately
seek alternatives.

The first goal, then, is to inform everyone that Prout is a socio-economic alternative.

The most powerful means to do this are through the media: TV, radio, newspapers,
and magazines. Though more than 90 percent of the Brazilian media is owned and
controlled by huge profit-making corporations, they sometimes broadcast or publish
progressive messages if offered interesting interviews or press releases with new
angles. At major demonstrations and events, such as the World Social Forum held in
Porto Alegre last month, Proutists distribute press releases and organize press
conferences. Another interesting way to get the large newspapers and magazines to
publish the ideas of Prout is through one of the most widely read sections, the letters
to the editor. Many readers can be reached by a short message explaining how a key
concept of Prout could solve a current problem.

Another way to inform the masses about Prout is by putting up posters in the area.
For example, before a symposium at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, the
organizers printed 500 beautiful full color posters which read “Searching for Solutions
to the Global Crisis: The Progressive Utilization Theory”. Tens of thousands of people
saw the inspiring posters with photos of the famous speakers and hands holding the
planet posted in all the metro stations, universities and the downtown area. A similar
technique we have used in some places is wall writing to get our message across.

Popular cultural expressions can also create a very positive impact. Street theater,
giant puppets, songs and dance are all powerful ways to convey new concepts to
many people in a beautiful and unforgettable way.

A second goal is to convince intellectuals, students and moralists that Prout is viable.
This process takes more time because it involves explaining the main principles and
responding to questions and doubts. In a two-hour lecture, we can discuss Prout in
more detail and be more convincing than in a mass publicity campaign.
We have had a lot of success organizing symposia and round table discussions at
which we invite famous speakers, authors or professors to share the platform with
us. Newsletters, magazines, newspapers and leaflets are also important, as are more
comprehensive books and study guides. These materials can be distributed at tables
and exhibits set up at universities and at progressive conferences. In every
conference we also set up “thought exhibitions” with large poster boards of photos
and text explaining Prout.

We also try to popularize our Internet resources such as the Portuguese and Spanish
Prout web pages ( The Portuguese Prout discussion electronic
mailing list now has 140 members. These need to be greatly improved, because they
are vital tools to reach the growing numbers of people who have computer access.

Another tactic is to meet key leaders, writers and thinkers. The technique I often use
is to explain that I write for Prout Globe and New Renaissance magazines and ask
them for an interview. I then present them with a copy of “Proutist Economics” by P.
R. Sarkar in Portuguese, which has a preface by Leonardo Boff, one of the founders
of Liberation Theology. This is the movement within the Catholic Church that views
Jesus Christ as a liberator of the oppressed, and so combines a spiritual message
with a struggle for social justice. Boff has often said that there is a Catholic Church
for the rich and there is a Catholic Church for the poor. He is very famous in Latin
America, and his support for Prout has helped us greatly in those predominantly
Catholic countries.

I would also add something that I was told on my way to my first posting in Spain
many years ago. One dada advised me, “There are Catholics and there are Catholics.
When you meet a close-minded one, excuse yourself and leave. When you meet an
open-minded one, inspire him or her to learn meditation.” In my experience the
same can be said for Protestants, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus and atheists. We
must build bridges with other open-minded activists of all faiths and backgrounds.

Carlos Minc is a famous ecologist from Rio de Janeiro, who was imprisoned and
exiled during the dictatorship, has written four books and is a now a popular state
congressman with the Workers’ Party. He has joined us in two Prout symposia and
wrote the following letter: “When I read the book “Proutist Economics”, something
inside me changed. It was the first time that I came in contact with an economic
theory which elevates the value of the individual on the spiritual level, creating
harmony among the physical, mental and spiritual dimensions. “In the work of P. R.
Sarkar, I identified our most difficult struggles and our most generous dream,
showing possible paths for a Brazil without injustice, poverty, misutilization of
resources and inequality. It is a work for the welfare of all.”

We are using the 100-page Prout Study Guide in Portuguese, and also writing a book
about Prout in Brazil that is now half finished and will be launched this year. It will be
titled “Life After Capitalism: Prout’s Plan for Social, Economic and Political
Transformation, with case study Brazil” and will be published in both Portuguese and
English versions. Brazilian Proutists compiled a list of 50 famous leaders in Brazil
whom we respect, and we will give a copy of the manuscript to each one of them and
ask them to write a preface or introduction or a blurb for the back or inside cover.
Every famous person who makes a positive comment about Prout in a symposium or
who writes some positive words about Prout for our book adds to our collection of
support letters and increases the attractiveness of Prout to the public.
In Brazil today a very exciting process is uniting many different sectors of the
society. A national campaign was organized last year to educate the public about the
national debt. Then various opposition groups, including radical trade unions, the
Catholic Church and the Workers’ Party organized a plebiscite vote with three
questions: whether Brazil should continue to repay the external debt, whether it
should repay the internal debt, and whether it should continue to follow the
structural adjustment policies dictated by the IMF. Though the government and the
press first ignored and then ridiculed this unofficial plebiscite, nearly 6,000,000
people voted, one tenth of the total electorate, and they voted overwhelmingly
against further payment of the debt. This is a moral judgment that indicates that
someday soon Brazil and the rest of the Third World may refuse to keep paying for
their old debts. Defaulting on the debt may cause large banks to fail and trigger the
collapse of the capitalist system.

Our third strategy is to develop a passion for Prout in young people. The vital energy,
enthusiasm and idealism of young people must be harnessed to change the world.
The vast majority of young people have been fooled into believing that they are
powerless in the face of an all-mighty and inhuman system of global capitalism.
Disillusioned, with little hope of finding meaningful and rewarding work, and with a
poor sense of self-esteem, many become cynical and nihilistic, escaping reality with
drugs and sex. The hope and self-esteem of young people must be restored. They
should also be shown how to struggle for justice. Thus we also offer empowering
leadership training.

We organize intensive Prout seminars, weekly study circles and workshops. We also
encourage all Proutists to carry out social service, and in this way connect with the
masses, experiencing their hardships firsthand. Serving the dispossessed is an
unforgettable experience that fundamentally radicalizes one. P. R. Sarkar, in his
children’s book, “The Golden Lotus and the Blue Sea”, gives what I believe is his
clearest blueprint of how a Prout revolution will grow and achieve victory. In that
book he tells how the hero was deeply touched by the misery he saw: “The beautiful
eyes of the prince were deprived of sleep that night. He was thinking continuously, ‘If
I cannot free humanity from such meanness, what is the use of my education, my
intellect? My coming to this earth as a human being bears no value.’”

Proutists in Brazil have been inspired to offer lectures in prisons and to lead weekly
meditation classes to help prisoners transform their lives. This quiet revolution is
taking place in seven different prisons and jails in Brazil. We have received
inspiration from Bo and Sita Lozoff in the U.S. who started the "Prison-Ashram
Project" that teaches prisoners to treat their cell like a yoga ashram where they can
train for their physical, mental and spiritual development.

The main obstacles we face come from some prison administrators who refuse us
permission to enter, and from the lack of motivation prisoners feel due to the
depression and despair they suffer in their harsh environment. In these classes, we
usually do some yoga postures, chant kiirtan and meditate in silence. Then I share a
spiritual story from one of the wisdom traditions and ask questions of each of them.
By listening carefully and respectfully to each reply, we demonstrate that their
thoughts and ideas are important to us. We always emphasize that they are great
people with enormous potential to become positive examples in the prison, in their
communities and in the world. The personal transformation participants undergo
makes this work deeply gratifying.
We have also brought in professional popular musicians to play concerts in the
prison, and organized an art competition among the prisoners. The warden of José
Maria Alkmim Penitentiary in Belo Horizonte, Colonel Carlos Roberto de Paula, told a
reporter from the “Jornal do Brasil” newspaper, “Great changes among the prisoners
that do meditation have been noticed. The most important is the decrease of
aggression.” The warden of Carandiru Women’s Prison, Carmen Lucia dos Santos,
wrote in a letter of appreciation, “The prisoners who participated were greatly
benefited, and are now more happy and calm, and they are less agitated, aggressive
and stressed. We believe that it is helping us transform their lives and making the
environment a little better for everyone. We hope that you will continue this work
with the other inmates of our institution.”

Silent meditation is a powerful tool of hope, and the spiritual base of Prout. It is not
a requirement that every Proutist learn meditation, but it does instill a sense of
infinite potential, of hope, of a divine force that is always with us. It fills one with a
sense of purpose and a mystical connection with the highest assets of humanity.
Meditation should be offered free of charge and all activists should be encouraged to
practice it for their personal spiritual growth. All cadres should also do personal daily
self-analysis to realize and overcome their defects as much as possible.

Young people should be encouraged to dedicate their lives as full time activists. They
deserve to receive training about the realities of society and to learn about practical
alternatives such as Prout. An organization’s strength depends not on its financial
resources, but on the dedication, training, diversity and adaptability of its cadres.
Regular communication amongst activists is essential for education, inspiration and
constructive feedback. Finally, one of the most essential ingredients to inspire
activists is to encourage their creativity and their personal expressions in their work
and struggle.

Revolutionary leaders need the qualities of dedication, sincerity, ideological zeal and
fighting spirit. They are not born with these qualities, but gradually acquire them -
step by step. Leadership should not be imposed from above. Such leaders’ integrity
must be impeccable and they must work in solidarity with the exploited masses.

Another strategy is to start model cooperatives and service projects. It is estimated

that today about 35 million people around the world are participating in some type of
cooperative. These projects are contributing to needed social change through the
valuable process of education and consciousness raising. One of the requirements for
the success of a cooperative is its popular acceptance by the surrounding community.
Hence every cooperative helps to educate both its own members and the public at
large about cooperative principles. Neo-Humanist schools, children’s homes, feeding
programs, etc. are also invaluable in linking Proutists with the common people.

Such cooperative projects will take on great importance when the global economy
shifts. Everyone’s attention will then focus on practical alternative models.

To encourage this cooperative spirit of solidarity, I lead workshops of cooperative

games. The dominant message in the Brazilian media, advertising and the
educational system is individualistic and competitive: “First get an education, then
get a job and make as much money as you can.” These institutions rarely encourage
a message of responsibility towards others in our human family. This materialistic
attitude extends to sports, too, where the goal usually is “I win, you lose,” or more
correctly, “I win, and it doesn't matter to me what happens to you.”
Cooperative games promote kindness, honesty, trust and teamwork. They help us to
overcome our fears - of failure, of looking bad, of getting hurt. And in the process to
lighten up, have fun, and realize that the best things in life are not for sale.

Cooperative games and “initiative challenges” involve creative problem solving. We

utilize hundreds of different such activities, sometimes call “New Age Games”, that
are full of laughter, surprises and challenges.

The GOALS are:

1. To work together as a group for both individual and collective development, on the
physical, mental and spiritual levels;
2. To serve others by giving support and constructive feedback;
3. To overcome fears that arise in the game, and to gain the courage to confront
other fears in one’s life;
4. To collectively attempt what seems impossible, and to feel good about our efforts
and successes;
5. To have a lot of fun together.

Other strategies
We are planning to open a Prout Research Institute to study and plan how to
implement Prout in particular areas. Extensive studies were done for the Togo
government in West Africa and the Khabarovsk Krai region of the Russian Far East.
The institute reviewed the economic situations and analyzed the nature and cause of
the current problems. It then proposed specific Proutist solutions and recommended
political reforms and policies to resolve the region’s economic difficulties. This type of
intensive study of an area and creation of a specific plan based on Prout’s universal
principles is essential in the process of implementing rapid development without
disrupting economic activity or bringing unnecessary hardships to the people.

We are cooperating with other popular movements against specific sentimental

issues of exploitation. All revolutionary movements grow from a sentiment, because
an emotional sentiment is always stronger than logic. By organizing a demonstration,
march or protest rally, the masses can be mobilized. João Pedro Stedile, a leader of
Brazil’s Landless People’s Movement (MST), says, “Popular rallies are part of the life
of the people. . . The spirit of marches has been present in the entire history of
humanity.” We have joined in rallies and marches with the MST, as well as with punks
and anarchists who did direct actions in Belo Horizonte against Citibank and
McDonalds. This strategy is important in building a popular Samaj regional mass

How can a revolutionary movement hope to succeed against seemingly impossible

odds? The powers that be hold tremendous financial and military force. During the
dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, people said that he had
“the three G’s: all the guns, all the gold and all the goons [hired criminals].” Yet in
1986 I watched the people in Manila take to the streets and unite against him, and
afterwards the term they coined, “people power”, had to be added to political science
textbooks as a successful strategy for social change. P. R. Sarkar explained this type
of strength when he wrote: “The forces opposed to revolution possess immense
military power. In spite of this, the revolutionaries will achieve victory... because
moral and spiritual power is infinitely stronger than physical force.”

Most NGO’s and social movements are oriented on a single issue to achieve clear,
short-term goals. The Prout movement differs in that it is comprehensive, working on
many issues simultaneously. The emphasis on leadership training, holistic lifestyles
and on encouraging activists to spend an hour or more a day in meditation are all
long term investments in the future.

We live in a period of great transition. The exploitative system of global capitalism

will soon collapse. P. R. Sarkar said, “Move with ever-accelerating speed. . . It is the
most opportune time to do something for the present and future humanity. At this
critical juncture one moment of time has the value of a hundred years.” Many
scientists would concur, because our present industrial economy is endangering the
very life support systems of the planet. There exists a tremendous urgency to offer
humanity a practical, ecological alternative to reverse our self-destructive course.
The survival and security of our future generations is at stake.

Can we do it? Of course we can. Anthropologist Margaret Mead said, “Never think
that a small group of highly dedicated individuals cannot change the world. In fact,
they are the only thing that ever has.”

Copyright Proutist Universal 2001