Inspiring Sustainability beyond Sustainability: Sustainable Development and the Ultimate Hindu Purpose

in Nature and Culture
Restricted access

The fundamental sustainability tension may be said to lie in reconciling want and greed. This places the human self or the human soul as a moral battleground where desire and duty constantly attempt to triumph over each other. However, desire must be understood and integrated as part of a fully self-conscious human self in order to enable a consistent and unwavering performance of duty. In this article, I propose the Hindu notion of the purusharthas, or the fourfold path to self-actualization, as one illustrative example of a green telos. The purusharthas prescribe a path comprising of material and sensuous experience, in obedience to dharma or duty, such that moksha or a state of complete self-awareness may be achieved. I suggest that the stage of dharma is thus where the most profitable connections between Hinduism and sustainable development might be made.