Report on the Global Conference: Empowering Youth for a Neohumanist Society

Taiwan, 2018

The global conference on “Empowering Youth for a Neohumanist Society” held at Ananda Jyoti, Taiwan, in July 2018, was intended as a starting point for growing awareness of the need for Yoga for Adolescents programs around the world. Lisa Miller, professor of Psychology at Columbia University looks at puberty as a “window of awakening”, a time where the search for the mystic self is predominant. P.R. Sarkar stressed that spiritual initiation in sahaja yoga should be undertaken at twelve. He said that if one comes in contact with the spiritual discipline during adolescence, one’s life would be filled with equipoise.

The preparations for the conference had been intense. We did radio interviews, contacted all kinds of online platforms and assembled an impressive network of speakers. With more than 50 participants from South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Europe and India, the conference was rich in different cultural and experiential approaches.

Yolande Koning,the keynote speaker, stressed the importance of the entire unfolding of the child in the first six years of life. With her over thirty years of experience in teacher management she offered a solid framework for implementing the Neohumanist vision in schools. She continues to offer these skills through the Lotus Training Center in the Netherlands.

Rutger Tamminga and Diinesh spoke on the neurological imbalance in adolescence and how this is caused by a lopsided education during the first ten years. Children who grow up with a holistic approach will have more balanced brains during adolescence and thus be less prone to the adventurous and destructive behavior that hallmarks the teenage years.

The second day started with storytelling for teenagers and reconciliation methods by Teacher Tang. The teenage years are often violent, with home tension or bullying behavior in school. Storytelling was introduced as one way to help students see the futility of this dead-end approach and find alternatives through connection, communication and cooperation.

Geeta, Aruna and the team led the nature workshop outdoors. A Buddhist monk introduced us to online technology to evaluate meditation. Dada Caetanyananda spoke about the Ecology of Love, a process of madhuvidya, observing the sacred in everything.

Didi Ananda Subodha and Divya from Malaysia, spoke about special needs intervention approaches, with massage, movement and Nagomi art as some of the examples. The art workshop led by Didi was very engaging and invigorating.

Jiivan Deva led a PROUT game and showed the participants how important it was to teach PROUT principles to the youth in order to build a neohumanist society. The game was liked by all. Piyush led a class on blockchain technology and PROUT.

Dada Shambushivananda gave a closing talk on the universal principles of Neohumanism and the importance of spirituality. His topic was “Education and Spiritual Excellence”.

The overall feeling of the conference was one of sweetness, sacrifice (by the wonderful Gurukul team in Taiwan) and sincerity. We all felt that education is a sacred undertaking, not to just to teach the next generation but to elevate oneself!

Follow-up Programs in 2019

As a consequence of the effort of all, we have gained the support of the Taiwanese government to hold training seminars for teachers in Taipei area and to introduce meditation techniques in Junior High School. As a follow-up, we will have two weekend seminars at Ananda Jyoti in January and March, 2019, for volunteers who wish to teach meditation to teenagers. These programs will not just focus on silent sitting and breathing but how to think from the intuition (Loving Awareness), build a network of friends and family with similar values (Moral Awareness) and become socially active (Social Awareness)

The 2019 regional conference on Yoga and Education is now being planned and will focus on Teaching Love in Schools and will explore Neohumanist Education methods for building cooperative classrooms. The program will also be held at Ananda Jyoti August 15-19. We welcome everybody to unite under the slogan “Yoga in Schools–Peace in the World”.