Spirit literally means that which gives life to a system. In terms of quantum physics, spirit is energy that fills each and every atom, and it is conscious, aware, and can think. In spite of its vastness, it functions as an indivisible and inseparable single field of energy. It is known by various terms: Universal Consciousness, Higher Self, and Infinite Self. In most religions, it is called God. Since it is present in all beings, Universal Consciousness perceives all beings as its inseparable parts and hence wants all beings to be happy. This is love. Its love is unlimited and unconditional. Spirituality is the state of being one with the spirit. Spirituality involves an inner transformation: a shift from our current identification with the physical body or matter to the identification with the spirit or energy. As we become one with the spirit (Universal Consciousness), we gain access to its love and become better human beings with unconditional love.

Recent discoveries in quantum physics, consciousness studies, and studies on near-death experience suggest that our brain does not produce consciousness as previously believed but receives it from the Universal Consciousness. Research in neuroscience reveals that unconditional love, a unique quality of the Universal Consciousness, is hardwired in our brain. But, the brain’s neuroplasticity allows our likes and dislikes to be soft-wired in the brain and makes us self-centered. The soft-wired self-centeredness prevents us from being guided by the hardwired love. However, the good news is the self-centeredness is soft-wired and therefore can be changed. From this perspective, spirituality means re-wiring the brain or dissolving the soft-wired self-centeredness. Once it is done, the hardwired love would be liberated and could guide our relationships.

Conventional approaches to sustainability based on technological, infrastructural, institutional, and policy changes are necessary but if they are to deliver expected results, individuals - as producers, consumers and disposers, should practice them genuinely. If individuals remain self-centered and exploitative in their relationships with the fellow human beings and nature, the conventional approaches are unlikely to succeed. This is where spirituality is necessary to make individuals less self-centered and more loving in their relationships with their fellow human beings and the nature that surrounds them. There are many religious and non-religious science-based methods to achieve this goal. Some of them can be integrated into sustainability programmes: teaching, research and consultancy.


About the Presenter

Rohana Ulluwishewa has worked in Universities across the globe as a development economist before moving to the study of sustainability, especially the spiritual connections/values that drive a city or place. He uses scientific methodologies in these investigations. He has two books Spirituality and Sustainable Development (Palgrave Macmilan, UK, 2014) and Spirituality Demystified: Understanding Spirituality in Rational Terms (Sairon Books, New Zealand, 2015).

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