With Habitat III the UN decided on a New Urban Agenda to address social, economic, and environmental challenges of the twenty-first century. In spite of significant criticism, this programme of action remains largely without a profound revision of current approaches that would question and change the direction of urban development more radically. This paper approaches the inner dimensions of urban development towards sustainability from an integral perspective, for this permits an explicit consideration of spirituality in the urban context. By foregrounding cultural and human conditions of inner change within an urban(ising) context, this perspective intertwines the humanities with the complex challenges of sustainable urban development. Based on Sri Aurobindo’s teachings, it opens an entry point to inform a drastically different praxis and theorisation of urban transformation. Sri Aurobindo may be seen as a multi-disciplinary thinker on spirituality, philosophy and values change who had the unique gift to bridge the western scientific tradition with his Indian spiritual heritage. This can be related to contemporary neo-integrative and similar theories that accommodate spirituality in their understanding of global challenges. On this basis, the article further discusses in the final section contemporary urban planning theory—which has been somewhat naïve and negligent in exploring the vast potential of spirituality, yet could provide a very subtle, humane and converging framework with which population could relate to. By doing so, this paper contributes to the wider debate of global urbanization and sustainable development.
- Sri Aurobindo
- Integral yoga
- Urban development
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The literal meaning of yoga is ‘union’, generally understood as the union of the individual soul with the universal self.
It is important to mention that in India for example, academic culture appears much more open to allow for such interaction of the (natural) sciences and technology with religious and spiritual thought.
Literally ‘full yoga’.
Chakras are energy centres located along the spine until just above the head. There are seven main energy centres which are connected through the flow of energy, the bottom ones are of more physical nature while the top ones reach towards the spiritual realms.
See the brief discussion on the epistemology of transformation as ‘meta-morphosis’ in Woiwode 2015.
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Woiwode, C., Bhati, L.K. (2019). ‘Enabling Transformative Urban Development for Integral Sustainability: A Case for Tapping the Potential of Sri Aurobindo’s Philosophy in Planning Practice and Theory’. In: Leal Filho, W., Consorte McCrea, A. (eds) Sustainability and the Humanities. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-95336-6_3
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