NASC Discussion Series 30

Theme: Resilience Thinking and Personal Transformation in the time of Global Crises

Speaker: Professor Bishal Sitaula 

Date: 12 August 2016 (28 Srawan 2073), Friday

Venue: Khaptad Hall, Nepal Administrative Staff College


Rresilience is one's ability to bounce back from a negative experience with "competent functioning". When we face obstacles, disorienting dilemmas how do we move forward? Wisdom tradition from India and Nepal provides insights exactly to build resilience in our lives. Global crises including climate change is a muti- dimensional problem, not just social or environmental one. Its primary causes and consequences are deeply rooted in the human mind. And so the solutions must be search within us. The materialism, consumerism, and, severe erosion of human values are widespread problems for our planet. Naturally, materialism will increase consumerism because extreme materialism creates greed, attachment, ego etc, which eventually leads to severe depletion of natural resources. A sense of collectivity and co-existence is becoming something which is only seen in books. It is obvious that education which is not turned into wisdom in the end creates various form of consumerism and collectively leads to different form of global crises. Therefore any global challenges should be understood in linked context as they are rather complex phenomena influenced by different factors and processes following the Buddhist idea of dependent origination. The growing need for interdisciplinary work across the natural, social and noetic/yogic science demands that each achieve some common understandings about current and emerging global crises as multidimensional issues and in linked contexts. Among others, to understand this better, one must first of all identify the linkages between environmental problems that deeply rooted in human greed and its manifestation in various forms such as biodiversity losses, climate change and land degradation. All these three major components of global environmental challenges are linked together in a complex cybernetics network of feedbacks. If one component is altered, it will produce a change in the other components in more complex way than presently understood. To address these problems at their source will require understanding of human desires and how this can be balanced by popularising human value and noetic sciences for personal and social transformation. There are international initiatives for enhancing coordination between the individual/social behaviours and the links between climate change, biodiversity and desertification. There are also research challenges for unfolding the linkages between environment and security, particularly between environmental causes, such as natural disasters, water shortages and famine, and their effects on the security of people and societies. The issues of global food challenges and environmental degradation leading violent conflict are a recent focus of scientific investigation. One of the effects of environmental degradation is the large displacement of people creating a large flux of environmental refugees. All these linked problems require a rarely seen collaboration among scientists and spiritual masters. Therefore, science of wellbeing as shaped by human values including noetic/consciousness-based spiritual sciences coupled with environmental science appears quite essential in the present time. The quest is how to tailor such course curricula in universities that effectively establishes the memory of wholeness in students who will a part of solution in “Being”, “Thinking” and “Doing” for addressing   global environmental challenges. We need to search for resilience thinning and explore the capacity and willingness of humans to transform themselves using wisdom tradition that is available in Nepal and India.

Professor Bishal Sitaula, Department of International Environment and Development Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB), Norway, has more than 26 years of international experience in research, teaching and collaboration in the following topics: ecology and global change issues, higher education, conflict peace and development including wisdom and personal transformation. From his Norwegian base he was leading multinational program and worked with partners in Asia (Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bhutan Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh), Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi) and Western Balkans (Serbia, Monte Negro, Bosnia Herzegovina, Macedonia and Croatia). Prof. Sitaula has published 150 scientific articles, and has been cited 768 times.  At present, Prof. Sitaula leads several university projects in Africa, Western Balkan and South Asia including Global Change education  and research in Africa and Balkan, and, NRM Conflict, Peace and Development (CPDS) in Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. He is the Founder member and  past President of Non Resident Nepali Association NRNA NCC- Norway and former Vice Chair of International Association of Human Values-Norway (IAHV). Part of his social engagement is to globalise the science of wisdom and personal transformation.