Neohumanism In Action in Venezuela
By Eugenio Mendoza
A framework to be happy
The educational process is a holistic phenomenon, where external objectivity is transformed into internal subjectivity. It goes beyond the school walls, or the family environment, or any other human relations. It goes even beyond that, straight into our own beings; it involves the universe around us and the way our souls interact with it. It does not depend on a particular school approach either, it simply happens as life does.
The Neohumanist Education framework and its learning methods encompass this holistic vision – physical, mental and spiritual – and aim for the liberation of all from exploitation sentiments (such as geo-sentiment and socio-sentiment) in order to achieve a free human society, in harmony and love within our environment.
We are a small family with lots of work to do. Together with my wife, Krsna, and son, Mahaviir, we want to continue our training in Neohumanist Education and PROUT. We are not the kind of people who can enjoy a meal while our neighbors do not have any; we cannot just ignore these differences and let our lives go by without caring or without doing something about it. We are rational and do not get on well with dogmas.
Shortly after we arrived in Venezuela, we met Dada Maheshvarananda in Caracas. Hosted by his kind hospitality, we worked as PROUT volunteers in his organization1 and learned the basics of Ananda Marga yoga, meditation and PROUT; we met Didi Ananda Sadhana and Dada Atmapranananda at the Centro Madre Master Unit2 and took part with other volunteers to develop its projects. We learned about other Shrii Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar inspired efforts from many other Acaryas, members of Ananda Marga and volunteers. “Universo Infantil”, a school in Caracas in which Didi Ananda Amegha has been working, also made a deep impression on us.
For the next two years our son attended a public elementary school near the PROUT Institute3 and we tried to develop an organization there to promote PROUT locally. After that we decided to move into a new venture to practice José Martí’s saying, “the best way to say something is doing it”, and we moved to take part in Didi Ananda Amegha`s project in Tartagal, Yaracuy
PROUT sprouts in a new land, Ananda Yara
We had visited the Ananda Yara Master Unit, in Tartagal, Yaracuy, in the north central part of the country, a few times during these two years. Didi Ananda Amegha has selflessly given tremendous effort there for many years. The rural village of Tartagal is so small you can hardly see it on Google Maps. There, on a 5-acre piece of land, she has been developing a rich variety of trees and plants with a lot of assistance from Pedro, a local farmer who has helped to keep the area free from any chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
Shortly after our arrival, a local family gave us the opportunity to work a 15- acre piece of land they were not interested in anymore. According to national law, land is state-owned and is given for the use of those who want to produce on it. Apart from the land we live on, we now look after this new socialist asset and so far in the last year, we have planted two agricultural cycles, beans and corn. In October we harvested corn and we started to plant 1,000 moringa trees in two acres on it.
Our day-to-day experiences have been so fulfilling thanks to the liberating scope of Neohumanism, including transcendental meditation and yoga for developing our world. We live one day at the time in hope, trying to do our best to develop the ideals of PROUT.
We interact with all progressive efforts to develop production methods that promote health. Students from the local university have volunteered to develop organic fertilizers to turn the Mother Home land into a model of agro-ecology through an interdisciplinary approach. The County Office and its Economic Development office are helping us. INSAI4 is assisting us with green techniques to implement agro-ecological farming. After the results in our cornfield, our neighbors, who have used a chemical approach for many years, now want to do as we do.
At the Mother Home location we started to recycle used tires to turn them into pots for gardening. We found the potential of it and started a project funded by the government to develop an acre field to lay some 500 used tires. We are making arrangements with environmental authorities to recycle more tires and include their use in the county schools as a good alternative for producing food.
Beyond local raw material production, we are making efforts towards its transformation. Together with avocado and coffee producers, we have been organizing events that have brought national attention to this important aspect of PROUT.
In April we had the pleasure of having Dada Shambushivananda here to visit and share with the students in the local school. He visited us and taught our university volunteers some meditation exercises that inspired them greatly. It was refreshing to our family to meet him and listen to his words about education, PROUT, Shrii P. R. Sarkar, and life.
Venezuela is a land of hope, where there is a very progressive National Constitution5 inspired by an inspired leader, President Hugo Chavez.6 Happiness is its target. The Bolivarian Constitution of Venezuela begins with promoting fulfillment of all basic needs: Nutrition, Housing, Health, Education, Culture and Work. It includes respect for and living in harmony with the environment, minerals, plants and animals. Even our cats have benefitted from its pet rescue program, “Mission Nevado”.7 However, as a process of social change, revolution makes for a very complex society. Social cycle trends have polarized Venezuela in complex ways.
We define ourselves as Neohumanist activists, and for us this means that we cannot sit back in the face of exploitation. In this place and time, not everything is the way we want it to be. We have found corruption in the local schools and we have spoken up about it. We are documenting irregularities and working with those educational authorities who are committed to the liberation of intellect to bring about a new educational model, where Neohumanist Education can be the norm. The Venezuelan school system is a complex one and is not easy to reform.8 Despite the odds, we feel Venezuela is a fertile ground for Neohumanist Education. We are dedicated to helping develop a liberating educational system that will lead to a happy society.
Moving forward in the future
We would like to interact with more Didis, Dadas, and progressive people engaged in Neohumanist actions. We would like to make more room here to host volunteers from all these wonderful organizations.
“La Parreña”, is a twenty family community and the original site for the Didi´s Foundation. A 35-acre piece of land in the mountains, it needs lots of work. It has a beautiful landscape with wonderful people who have wonderful memories of the times when Didis would go there more often.
Our vision is to develop Neohumanist awareness in our family soul through PROUTistic work inspired by Shrii P. R. Sarkar’s teachings on economics and education. It would be nice to share his ideas across three different locations in the valley, the mountain and the village, within this same economic and social region.
6 http://priven.org/evaluating-the-legacy-of-president-hugo-chavez-using-the-progressive-utilization-theory-prout- 2/