Ananda Dhara Yoga Village
By Tang Taminga
Children carry bamboo sticks, boys work together to mix cement and others lay colored stones to make a mosaic floor under an old tree. It is a happy day at Ananda Dhara, and our first event that embodies our neohumanist dream.
Located near the city of Taichung in central Taiwan, this mountain retreat has seen a range of volunteers joining in reforestation and landscaping to make the environment safe and comfortable for visitors interested to explore a spiritual life style connected to a vision for social change.
The neohumanist philosophy is a vision for peace and encourages us to rationally analyze our prejudices and social misconceptions as well as develop universal love through introspection and devotion to pure consciousness. And while most of us see that as a personal journey, Neohumanism aims to apply this into social life and transform the world we live in.
At Ananda Dhara we focus on education as the means to work on the social and cultural transformation of society, and specifically offer programs for teachers to learn to apply a spirit based vision in their teaching practices.
Our training consists of five areas that can help transform personal teaching practices:
With regular group meditation recently started and the development of the land approved by the government we aim to offer these regular programs by the middle of next year on a bigger scale. We already have received great interest from teachers from China to attend these week long workshops.
|1. Foundation||Honoring Pure Awareness|
|2. Self-Knowledge||Self-enquiry, self management, social awareness, value relationships, responsible decision making|
|3. Positive Learning Culture||Classroom management based on flow teaching|
|4. Neohumanist Teaching Strategies||Responding to cultural contexts, forming meaning and purpose, addressing developmental stages, integrating self-realization and academic learning, community|
|5. Celebrating outcomes||Improved sense of purpose of life, better personal and social skills, Improved social integration, better teacher satisfaction|
In the coming weeks there are programs on peace education through storytelling and drama, a parents and children yoga and story day, and a three day camp for adolescents. On the ecological front, we focus on fruit trees (more than 100 papaya trees, loquat trees and a variety of citrus trees). Some volunteers are planning aquaculture projects.
Neohumanism sees peace and the result of what P.R. Sarkar calls ‘prama’ or ‘balance’. A society that lacks balance between internal and external life cannot be peaceful. At Ananda Dhara we aim to inspire society to embrace this vision and we hope in the coming years this way to contribute to a more harmonious world.
Neohumanism and Peace
Seminar and Workshop at Ananda Dhara
The theme of the activity was the Neohumanist vision of Peace. Through stories and drama we explored different aspects of our own attitudes towards peace. After kiirtan and meditation and a short philosophical introduction, the participants were divided into groups and were given a story to discuss and act out. This happened to be a very powerful way to create awareness about the need for personal involvement in social issues, even though these social problems may not seem to directly affect our present lives. Some of the stories we used were about
- Different perspectives (blue coat-red coat),
- Social passiveness – the leopard who laughed as other animals were robbed day after day – till one day he woke up to find that his own sleeping tree had been cut down.
- How even very different people, always have something in common – about a Chicken who called Crocodile his brother
- Ecology – a Buddhist tale about recycling
- Cooperation and Unity – Aesop’s fable about the birds caught in the farmer’s net
We discussed socio-sentiments and geo-sentiment, pseudo-culture and how these external influences affect our own self-image and ability to develop universal love and the principle of social equality.
As part of the program we printed and decorated our own T-shirts with “I am a Neohumanist – Love in Action” printed on them.
At sharing time, many expressed the sweetness and joy of doing kiirtan and meditation in nature and with good company. Many said they would carry on the neohumanist vision in their classes and see social action as part of their personal yoga practice.
Those interested in my (small) collection of stories related to peace can go to RainbowABC.com for a free download.
See also photo on back cover.