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Advaita Stoian – the perspective of voluntary work in the traditional yoga system

Voluntary work in spiritual environments and its criminalization in modern society

Another special guest of our side event "Voluntary work in spiritual environments and its criminalization in modern society" was Mr Advaita Stoian.

Advaita Stoian talked on behalf of M.I.S.A. yoga school from Romania where he has been a student for the last 25 years when he began his spiritual path. From the perspective of a practitioner, he pointed out some aspects related to voluntary work, the topic of one of the side events organised by Soteria International within the OSCE – HDIM held on 30th September 2014, in Warsaw.

It is known that in the traditional yoga system, voluntary work is called karma yoga and it represents in itself a complete system of spiritual evolution or individual transformation. As a yoga practitioner, Advaita has often noticed how society and even the Romanian authorities have misinterpreted these spiritual practices currently used in M.I.S.A yoga school, tending to judge them from an individualistic perspective - this perspective excludes individual transformation and tends to preserve the individual status irrespective of its problems.

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Willy Fautre – the ECHR decision regarding a yoga practitioner in Romania

Voluntary work in spiritual environments and its criminalization in modern society

In the proceedings of our side event regarding “Voluntary work in spiritual environments and its criminalization in modern society”, we also had as guest speaker Mr Willy Fautre, the director of Human Rights Without Frontiers, NGO based in Brussels.

Mr Fautre expressed his concern regarding the freedom of spiritual groups and their practices, by presenting the case of a yoga practitioner from MISA yoga school in Romania.

Recently, the European Court of Human Rights convicted Romania in the case of the yoga practitioner Dana C. who was taken by force, kept against her will at a psychiatric hospital where she was force-fed heavy medicine against Schizophrenia. After some months of abuses, Dana C. managed to escape her captivity.

The conviction in the ECHR and human right organisations making her story public highlight the gravity of human rights violations and confirms the social dimension of the yogis’ case in Romania, going beyond an individual and affecting the life of thousands.

We invite you read the presentation of this case made by Mr Fautre.

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Narya Tosetto – the story of the case against Ananda Assisi Italy

Voluntary work in spiritual environments and its criminalization in modern society

During our side event at OSCE regarding “Voluntary work in spiritual environments and its criminalization in modern society” we have had the opportunity to listen to NARYA TOSSETTO – the representative of Ananda Assisi, Italy.

He shared with us important information about what happened to the Ananda Assisi community from Italy, a few years ago.

Here is a short description of his story and you will also find his video – presentation.

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Synthesis of the voluntary work side event OSCE - HDIM – 2014

Synthesis - Voluntary work in spiritual environments and its criminalization in modern society

Synthesis of the voluntary work side event OSCE - HDIM – 2014

Voluntary work in spiritual environments and its criminalization in modern society

During our side event regarding voluntary work, in which we wanted to find out if the judicial system is misused to persecute spiritual movements because of their voluntary work, we started by clarifying some questions:

Why people do voluntary work?

Voluntary work has existed in all societies and in all times and currently it is popular all over Europe: in Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK.

Along the whole human history, voluntary work has been perceived as an altruistic activity, intending to promote goodwill and goodness, improve the quality of human life and develop fundamental human qualities such as compassion, love, helpfulness, empathy, detachment, self-worth and self-respect. Society recognizes the value of voluntary work and welcomes it, generally respects it and many times even promotes it.

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SIDE EVENT OSCE – HDIM 2014 - 1st Oct, Warsaw

Shamanic Practices and related health and spiritual issues

SIDE EVENT OSCE – HDIM 2014

1st OCT, 6 PM, WARSAW, POLAND

Shamanic Practices and related health and spiritual issues

Does European law violates fundamental rights of shamans? Are contemporary laws still based in an out dated separation of body and soul, science and religion?

After a thousand years of Christian hegemony, Europe is today a melting pot of different spiritual and religious traditions. Some are easily incorporated in society; others stick out with uncomfortable edges, challenging preconceived ideas of society. Some traditions as so fundamentally different that they seemingly collide with the practice of law.

As the spiritual practices are rapidly growing in the OSCE member states, it is of paramount importance to highlight the human right situation of shamanism, as the freedom of religion and health is today obstructed by judicial practice that has not been adapted to a modern religious landscape.

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SIDE EVENT OSCE – HDIM 2014 - 30 Sept, Warsaw

Voluntary work in spiritual environments and its criminalization in modern society

SIDE EVENT OSCE – HDIM 2014

30 SEPT, 6 PM, WARSAW, POLAND

Voluntary work in spiritual environments and its criminalization in modern society

Diverging perspective on Voluntary Work in contemporary society and the incrimination of VW performed within spiritual groups and organizations

Along the whole human history, Voluntary Work has been perceived as an altruistic activity, who's intent and effect is to promote good will and goodness, improve the quality of human life and, moreover, to develop in those practicing it such fundamental human qualities as compassion, love, helpfulness, empathy, detachment, self-worth and self-respect. As such, there have been inspiring figures who serve as benchmarks for the ideal human development and realisation, figures that become remarkable also due to their unabated VW performed for the benefit of others. Such figures include Gandhi, Mother Theresa, St. Francis of Assisi and many others.

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Helping others and heping yourself – voluntary work

Understandings and misunderstandings referring to voluntary work

Since the beginning of the existence of humanity, people have gathered together and worked for a better life and improved living conditions. Their togetherness was named or interpreted in various ways; as tribes, villages, countries and even as the unification of different countries. Guided by love and understanding of each other, or guided by material interests, people worked together, for their own good, for the good of others or for the good of society.

Kindness, helpfullness, compassion, giving without receiving or expecting to receive anything back have been considered as honourable qualities of a human being. It’s at the core of most religions such as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism, profoundly exemplified by the main propagators of these teachings in practice in real life and are considered as examples to follow by our modern civilization in spite of an increased emphasis upon selfish behaviour and catering for our own modern day material needs.

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