On the 8th and 9th of October 2010 the international spiritual think tank SOTERIA INTERNATIONAL gathered in Berlin, Germany, for a series of round-table discussions, dedicated to the topic of Integral Education – guidelines for educational reforms in the 21st century.
The think-tank has decided to dedicate this special meeting to the subject of education, as a result of our work so far – mapping the principles at the basis of the current situation at the individual and global levels, the root causes of the problems, and outlining guiding principles for an alternative paradigm, based upon harmonious principles which will resolve these problems and lead to a reality in which such problems are not possible. This prior work pointed out on several instances that in order to change the situation from its roots, a situation which arises from the individual itself, we must start from the very first years in the forming process of the individual – its early education. Therefore, education proves to be a crucial modality for providing the individual with the guiding principles which will allow him/her to guide his/her life in such a way that he/she will enjoy fulfillment and harmony at all levels. From the individual, this process of harmonizing transformation will expand to include the society itself, bringing about the resolution of the main conflicts and problems which we face today, from their roots. Hence, we have concluded upon expanding our work to include also the field of education as an important component of the needed reform.
This conference is the first step that we make in this direction. The work in the field of education will continue in unison with our work at the level of the universal principles which are at the core of the new paradigm (about these you can read in the background document for the conference – peace for the 21st century) and our work in the other fields.
The conference on Integral Education served as an exploratory study of the field of education – an opportunity for the think-tank to examine this domain from various perspectives and points of view – to begin mapping out the principles which are at the core of the educational system, the problems and challenges of this educational system, the goals that it sets to itself, and raising areas and questions that we should investigate and develop further. This first view on the topic of education, meant for gaining a general acquaintance with this field, is used for outlining directions of work and ongoing study in the future for developing the new paradigm for educational applications. This work will continue over the following year, leading to a conference on October 2011 in Berlin which will dive deeper into this field, suggesting practical modalities and initiatives. Naturally, the work will continue after that.
The round-table sessions included members of the think-tank and external experts, included prepared presentations on various topics followed by open debate. The sessions were marked by a high level of discussion, aiming to deeply understand the situation with its multiple aspects and levels, and extract from it the essence – an elevated perspective upon the situation of education today, its challenges and opportunities.
In the following, we will offer a very short summary of some of the main points mentioned in the conference:
Education is the natural next step in the work of Soteria, allowing us to have the holistic approach of dealing with the source of the problems instead of their effects. By focusing on the harmonious and integrated values, the problems just drop away.
The word ‘Education’ is derived from the Latin ‘educare’ which means ‘to bring out’ – to realize and manifest the potential which already exist in the human being.
In most countries, pre-school education is not obligatory. This raises a question of what is the importance of education at the pre-school age and weather neglect of those years would have severe effects on the development of the child; what are the specific needs of the child at the pre-school age and what are the characteristic transformations in that stage of development; are these needs better met in kindergarten or at home; what is the role of parent involvement at that age, is the absence of parent involvement the source of a lack of morality that manifests later on, as was noticed in some cases; what are the reasons for the lacking involvement of the parents in those cases – is that itself a result of incorrect education?
An overview of the national laws of education, specifically the goals of education set forth by the legislators, and comparing them with the reality, shows that these stated goals are most often not put into practice. This is a result of the fact that the educational system is very big and some of its characteristics make it so that transformations in it take a long time to happen and cannot be determined from the out-side as a result of any formal decision. Education itself is done primarily through the personal example of the teachers and parents, so in order to achieve a transformation it is needed to transform the educators. It is a change which must come from within, from the level of the teacher, and which cannot be guided formally.
Were viewed experiments (namely of Sugata Mitra) that show that when children are given the opportunity, they can learn independently with great efficiency and motivation. Yet, was marked the need of education to include guidance, otherwise, the abilities that the children will develop might be used for disharmonious aims.
Was viewed the need to integrate as an educational goal the knowledge of the Supreme Self (Atman, as it is called in some traditions) – manifested as the consciousness in every human being, the ability to be simply aware and witness all our experiences, the underlining experience of being and our deep identity beyond the personality. Was decided to further work and research in this direction, to determine the importance of this goal in education, the outcome of its omission and the results of integrating it as a goal.
There are, these days, many different approaches to education and new alternatives, offering a multitude of ideas, modalities and research. Yet, there is a difficulty in integrating together the input from these various approaches. There is a need to define a ‘common map’ – a shared system of reference – which can be used for all these various approaches to be able to share their work and research together and benefit from it. The universal principles which we are exploring could offer a natural system of reference such as this.
There were reviewed the history of the evolution of the educational system and its ideals, as a way of analyzing its evolutionary processes. Up until less then two thousand years ago, education was primarily an issue of the spiritual systems and of philosophers. Then, it became a matter of the church and other religious institutions. In the last two centuries, education has become an independent system and has separated itself from any other influence. This new form of education became disciplinary – aiming for expertise in one single field. This is in contrast to the classical education that was including in it many different fields, all seen as one unitary whole.
It is worth noting that the most important scientific accomplishments (not in the field of practical applications but at the level of opening new understandings that make new systems and applications possible), however, are reached when having a cross-disciplinary view or better yet, when adopting a trans-disciplinary approach. The trans-disciplinary approach facilitates a development of a holistic view and understanding of the reality at multiple levels. This raises the importance of the principle of unity of knowledge as a constituent of a correct paradigm on education. This is suggesting the complementary roles of both disciplinary and trans-disciplinary studies. Trans-disciplinary studies imply the following: transformative praxis, constructive problem-solving, real world engagement and rejecting of formality and formal structures. These elements are largely ignored in the current system of education. The trans-disciplinary approach also gives a practical answer to the need of elevating the consciousness – as it was noticed that when a system grows in its complexity it reaches a threshold beyond which it becomes self-organized and in the same time it continues its development on a higher level of reality – elevating our level of perspective and understanding with it. All these perspectives raise the need of investigating and developing modalities of integrating the trans-disciplinary attitude into the education system.
This age is characterized by a great speed in which the information and knowledge is developing. This means that there is too much information then what can be learn in school and the information becomes quickly obsolete – therefore, the goal of education in this age should not be the acquiring of knowledge, but learning how to learn independently and continuously.
Was reviewed a research upon the importance of language in fulfilling the potential of the learner. According to this research, an atmosphere of prayer the consciousness of the student doesn’t focus upon the linguistic structure, but upon the use of the language. The most efficient way to bring the learner’s potentiality into full play is eliminate the negative suggestions from the mind.
Were reviewed main elements about humanistic education. Was pointed out that many of the aspects of the humanistic education are positive, correct and fit with the perspectives developed so far in this think-tank. The main point of controversy between the humanistic education and the spiritually correct paradigm which is being developed in this think-tank, is that the humanistic education define the human development and fulfillment as the central value of all education, and thus they leave spirituality out of the equation. There was raised a question weather this omission will deny the efficiency in the long run from this system and will determine it to fail in achieve its goals. It was postulated that the universal principles, if adopted and applied in this system, would resolve this problem. In this manner, the universal principles could be a connecting element with the humanistic education, as they are not contradicting their view but rather fit well with it. In the same time, these principles are a connecting link between the mundane and the spiritual and will therefore give the humanistic education the spiritual link that will put them on an ascending path.
Were viewed the relations between science and spirituality. Was pointed out that esoterism combined with mysticism reach what science puts as its goals – an experiment which can be repeated, verified and predicted, while explaining the processes that take place within that experiment – thus, confirming the validity of those natural processes, principles, laws. Even the demand of science to have result that can be quantified and verified objectively is fulfilled, due to the fact that even though this inner experimentation is tainted by inner conditions that are different from person to person, there also exist universal principles that are valid to all people, therefore there will be distinct common elements in the results among all the participants of the experiment. Thus, the results can be passed through a kind of ‘grill test’ to check if the expected common elements will exist in the results of all participants. This perspective offers a bridge to unite spirituality and science within an integral view of education.
On the other hand, it was also noted that science, especially mathematics and quantum mechanics, offer, like religion, understandings that can affect and transform directly the life of people. However, in order for these understandings to indeed have a profound transformative effect on the life of people, those individuals need to have access to the super-mental perspective.
This latter perspective marked the importance of developing the super-mental view through education, and has raised the need to study what would be the effects of integrating this into education and to develop educational modalities for developing the super-mental view. This implies also to develop a scientific approach for describing and explaining the super-mental. It was also pointed out that developing the super-mental requires to also develop the person at the soul-level: developing the higher integration of the person at the level of core values, morality and identity. This is due to the fact that the super-mental and the soul are complementary aspects of the same level of the psychology of the human-being, and developing one without the other would lead to disharmonious results.
Was investigated the role of the teacher in education. Were marked some key points: the teacher should be humble and put the teachings first; should have a state of gratitude towards the teachings; the teacher educates through his own personal example as a model; Teachers teach more by what they are than by what they say. The attitude of a teacher: love, know and be yourself, compassion through empathy, detachment, enthusiasm, aspiration, abnegation. The authority of the teacher arises from having already the experience of what he/she is teaching, and then teaching the essence of it, so that the students have room to find their own way.
A Chinese proverb says: ’’tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.’’
Were remarked certain elements from the spiritual principle of initiation which would be good to integrate into the role of the teacher in the educational system: the responsibility of giving further to the students what you have received from your teachers; talk from your heart and you will touch the heart of your listener; respect the hierarchy of teaching and contribute to its development – this will awaken the same attitude in your students; respect your teachers and what they taught you – and so will your students; to be a good teacher you have to also be a good student.
Were reviewed the opportunities which exist today for a new paradigm in education. According to data which was reviewed, it was appreciated that we are now on the verge of a flourishing of alternative educational systems, and world-wide there is spreading a recognition of the importance of the inner universe and emotional intelligence in education. These developments offer a great opportunity for the emergence of a new paradigm in education.
Were reviewed challenges which confront the emergence of a new paradigm in education: the multicultural agenda is used to cleanse public schools of spirituality and religion; removal of natural and fulfilling teacher-student interaction due to legal fears; lacking parent trust; reluctances in taking risks leading to limiting the freedom of the children to experiment and experience; the role of the media in discrediting the teachers;
centralization of planning and decision making; teachers, parents and children might be willing to try new approaches, but are often restricted in their choices, due to a higher degree of political control over educational content; institutionalization and beaurocratisation of the schooling system; closing of the small schools and creation of mega-schools.
Were analyzed actors in the educational system (from bottom to top): students, parents, teachers, school management, teacher education, local government and city councils, regional government, labor unions, teachers and students associations, national government, international organizations.
Were analyzed elements in the educational system (from bottom to top): personal experience, best practice, ideas, theories, schools of thought, paradigms, legislation, politics, campaigns (media), stories (press), traditions, history.
According to this analysis, was pointed out that we should focus the attention upon the lower levels of the hierarchy, as the basis from which transformation can arise: the students, parents and teachers. In the same way, to focus upon developing personal experience, best practices, ideas and teacher training.
Was reviewed with special attention the importance of emotional education. Most of the attention in education is given to developing the capacities of memory and logic, while the emotions are neglected almost entirely. This is very grave, considering the fact that the majority of our decisions are determined by our emotions and not by our logic. In addition, the emotions are the basis for the relationships that we will develop in life, our integration in society and the over-all feeling of satisfaction in life. This is showing the paramount importance of the emotional education – which goals should be to become aware of one’s emotions, to understand them, experience them fully, control them and integrate them harmoniously in life.
The emotional development defines in a great measure the richness of the content of the mind and lives of the children. The emotions also have an important influence upon the learning process – each new piece of information being categorized in the memory according to the emotions that are associated to it. The emotional preparation is creating the bridge between the teachings and the real life. The emotions of the teachers mark the background of the beginning of the emotional educational process.
Therefore, there is a need to develop a coherent system of emotional education. This is vital in order for achieving the goals of education, and will bring solutions to many of the problems that humanity is facing today.
The development of a system of emotional education has multiple implications, including: the need of the teachers themselves to become living examples of harmonious and conscious emotional lives, arising from inner transformation and practicing of the appropriate modalities; emotional education implies a process of education that involves emotions as a method – this means to create proper emotional environment and modalities for creating this environment; developing an immense courage for facing and dealing with the emotions; the products of emotional education will be much more immune to manipulation, will have an enhanced ability to chose freely and will therefore be free of all formal structures of power.
As a consequence of this discussion, was pointed out also the need to investigate the effects of the lack of emotional education – thus making clearer the need for the emotional education and making the consequences of the choice more clear.
As part of a debate, were raised suggestions for goals of education (these are not concluded upon but are meant to feed the creative discussion in an on-going work):
Were reviewed the universal principles in the context of first ideas about the way in which these principles can be integrated and taught within an educational system:
At the closing debate, was kept a discussion about modalities for applying these ideas in practice, by the think-tank. Among others, were expressed these lines of action: sharing the ideas with other persons and groups working in the field of education; creating a system and curriculum and applying them ourselves with students in small scale experiments; creating modalities and a system of training teachers, which will then use the system and modalities to teach students, while they themselves continue with the ongoing process of training so they stay one step ahead of the students; commit these ideas and systems to scientific research and experiments, which will give them integrity and credibility.
In conclusion, we mention some of the main questions and points of interest that were pointed out in this conference for further research and development:
The participants of the conference and the members of the think-tank expressed their commitment for continuing the work on these working questions, with the view of crystallizing and developing the ideas, gaining both a greater depth and complexity of understanding and applying the notions to real life applications through concrete systems and modalities of education. The intermediary goal that was set is to prepare until the conference that will be in Berlin in 2011, a coherent paradigm on education, and a practical system of education which is based upon it.
One of the main problems that the world is facing these days are the wars and conflicts which are taking place all over our planet. This issue has been receiving much attention in the media and has been the subject of many conferences, discussions, diplomatic efforts and political movements, and yet, it is evident that the world is not getting any closer to the state of peace.
While the Second World War was raging, many believed that that horrendous war would be the last one – the war to end all wars. After the cessation of the war, the international community got together to set up the United Nations - an international body whose stated purpose was to work for the attainment of lasting peace all over the world. Yet, ever since that war ended and the establishment of the UN, the earth has known more wars then at all other times in known history all together. In this period, Conflict has extended all over the planet, manifesting itself in various manners. First it appeared the Cold War – a state of long standing conflict and tension between the western and the eastern blocks, which was causing periodically wars to break out in different parts of the world. When the eastern block collapsed, it appeared a new world conflict manifesting in a similar manner – a conflict between the western world and the Muslim world. At the same time, various conflicts around the world have started to come out, apparently not related to each other, between neighboring countries, different ethnic or religious groups from within a country and between different political factions and movements. The use of guerrilla warfare and terrorism has caused the appearance of a form of conflict, which can lasts for many years on end and which causes mainly civilian victims. Indeed, the notion of ‚‘terrorism‘‘ has brought the conflict to the heart of the western world – through the ideas of ‘'the terrorist threat‘‘ and ‚‘the war on terrorism‘‘.
It is clear that today the world is facing an over-all and generalized state of conflict. It is interesting to note that this aggravating state of conflict has been taking place despite many efforts to make peace. In fact, the last decades have seen more ‚‘peace making efforts‘‘ then ever before – diplomatic peace negotiations, summits, peace envoys, international mediators, UN resolutions and even military ‚‘peace keeping‘‘ forces. Yet, the global state of conflict is only getting worse. Upon a lucid examination we will find that, in fact, the great majority of these ‚‘peace making efforts‘‘ have achieved nothing but more conflict and at best have suppressed the conflict – making it migrate to a close-by area, mutating and manifesting in another way, or breaking out sooner or later with greater intensity.
The situation in the world today is raising our attention to humanity‘s urgent need to find a true solution to the intensifying state of conflict. This state of continuous and aggravated conflict has taken a terrible price off Humanity, which we simply cannot afford for much longer. This is the price of our lack of willingness to learn and to transform.
International Conference // Working Session
11th and 12th of December 2010
For the third consecutive year Soteria International welcomes participants to a visionary conference on the emerging field of Spiritual Human Rights. This year’s event will be executed as an explorative workshop with two days of dynamic interaction focused on the creative development of Universal Principles as a unique charter within the Spiritual Human Rights.
ONE WORLD - ONE HUMANITY - ONE SET OF FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES
The intention behind the Universal Principles is to discover and describe the fundamental and immanent ideas common to different cultural and spiritual traditions of the planet. The principles provide sui-generis guidelines for all citizens of the world. Embracing the common truths that unite people across nations and religions the work constitutes a timeless foundation facilitating intercultural dialogue and sincere human transformation.
The knowledge and practice of the Universal Principles contribute to the balance and harmony between the human rights of the individual and the needs of society - helping each person and humanity as a collective to address its challenges.
UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLES WITH MANIFOLD AREAS OF APPLICATION
The immanent values and mechanisms of the Universal Principles can be observed and applied within a vast field of disciplines and arenas. Accordingly, during a series of conferences and working sessions across Europe in the period 2008-2010 their application has been tested in fields as diverse as peace-making, the natural ecology, mass media and the education system.
Drawing upon the conclusions and observations from these sessions combined with new insights and latest research the SHR10 conference aims to raise the work to the next level by defining a complete and inspiring set of Universal Principles, with immanent practical value for the positive transformation of today’s society and its citizens.
On this background we invite progressive thinkers and pioneering practitioners to participate in the formation of this unfolding field.
A DYNAMIC MEETING FORMAT
Addressing the abstract, scientific and spiritual complexity of formulating Universal Principles the SHR10 conference is designed as an explorative event with a workshop format that allows participants to apply dynamic methods of dialogue-based and transdisciplinary collaboration. During the two-day event, participants are invited to engage in a creative open space process. The event also includes networking activities as well as short inspirational talks and energizers.
Berlin, 8-9 October 2010
Venue: MAHA YOGA-Zentrum
10115 Berlin - Mitte
The think tank on spiritual human rights “Soteria International” is launching a series of roundtable discussions and conferences, dedicated to the necessity of a paradigm change in education, under the generic title “Integral Education. Guidelines for Educational Reforms in the 21st Century”. These meetings aim at initiating dialogues between the academic world and the field of the spiritual dimension which has been progressively growing in its influence and importance over the past few decades and steadily taking its place in the scientific realm.
The new paradigm, which now is imminent, given the current state of affairs, will have to enhance symbiosis between human beings, societies, civilizations and nature. Such symbiosis can only be effective on a common ground of spiritual values and through continuous application of these values by means of specific skills, innate to human beings, but seemingly ignored in the race for supremacy. Moreover, spiritual advancement is hardly possible without deepening the practice of emotional education, not necessarily from the perspective of attunement to social norms, as mostly adopted by current educational systems, but rather as an established teaching and training of the mechanisms of emotions.
The first roundtable of the series is called “Emotional Literacy – Prerequisite for a Spiritual Advancement” and will emphasize on comprehending Emotional Education along with other practices of Integral Education. The participants to this roundtable are invited to discuss upon the principles of the current educational systems, what does or does not qualify as Integral Education, and to explore the modalities of introducing sustainable and efficient reforms.
The roundtable discussion will start with concise presentation of alternative educational approaches of the 20th century, which have set a bold foundation for the emerging model of the Integral Education. Most of these models have mainly emphasized on the need to liberalize the educational theory and give more space to the freedom of individual formation, rather than formatting according to certain social presets, as it has been done before. Some of these approaches have also contributed to fertile grounds for education based on spiritual values. Also, due to mention in this frame, is the significant importance that the borderline science is playing in advancing the field of human consciousness.
However, despite the eternal nature of the spiritual values, modern societies still lack the proper understanding of such, hence the faulty outcomes of the present times. The spiritual values are inherited from certain universal principles that govern the processes of manifestation, and during one of the panels there will be a presentation of a work in progress – The Guide for the Citizen of the World, which is being elaborated in close correlation with the universal principles, aiming at a more concrete understanding of the spiritual values.
The next session of the Conference will be mainly dedicated to Emotional Education and its vast importance to achieve harmonious development. The participants will discuss on the role of emotions in human life, the mechanisms of emotions and of their control, the role of the Heart as the spiritual center of the human being and the spiritual meaning of emotions. Having this perspective, participants will transit again to the discussion about spiritual values and brainstorm upon what constitutes an emotional and spiritual literacy.
SOTERIA Symposium Berlin
3rd and 4th of July
Out of previous team researches and workshops in 2009 in the course of the “Peace For The 21st Century” Conference in Berlin and the “Spiritual Human Right 2009” Symposium in Copenhagen, the role of the media regarding people's education, the public shaping of moral values and the rootage of strongly biased or even misinformation came up as an important topic. In the context of the working schedule of SOTERIA's team, we saw it as a necessity to discuss education and manipulation through mass media and to underline the importance of these mechanisms for our society. SOTERIA Symposium “Manipulation of the Masses” will reflect upon this topic from different angles and we aim to find ways to open new and spiritual perspectives for using the power of word, speech and thought.
Please register before December 2nd. No deadline for papers.
Participation fee is: 108 EURO
30% discount for members.
Students fee: 50 EURO
For those who need it, we can organize accommodation in affordable prices for the days of the conference, in the vicinity of the conference.
If you have further question please write to the email: email@example.com
Towards the ''Guide for the Citizen of the World''
This year's annual conference on Spiritual Human Rights will focus on developing and promoting the understanding of the spiritual principles as a platform offering efficient solutions to the challenges which human society is facing these days. These principles are common to all the traditions of this planet, and may be considered as sui-generis guidelines for the citizen of the world, helping to achieve harmony at all the levels.
Date: 12-13 of December
place: Copenhagen, Denmark
Venue: Nordre Fasanvej 230, 2200 KBH.N
It is clear to all that humanity is now at the threshold of a new age. The scientific advancements of the last few decades, including quantum mechanics and the principle of holography, have broadened our horizons of reality into new dimensions. Science today proves with clear logic that which before was considered to be the domain of mysticism or philosophical speculation. These discoveries raise our understanding of human existence to a higher level, the universe and the laws that animate it. The proven effect of thought over matter, of the influence of the observer over the observed, of the complex interconnections between all phenomena and other such discoveries have brought with them bold new developments in the fields of science, sociology, psychology, medicine, philosophy and even spirituality. We may say that our perception of ourselves and the universe around us, which before was limited only to physical aspects, has now also expanded to the vast domain of the “invisible”, following a change in the scientific approach of what can be measured and verified and more importantly, what should be studied and how to do that, since now it is clear that the “invisible” aspects have a paramount role in influencing all phenomena, including that phenomena which is strictly material. We should not underestimate the capital importance of this broadened perspective, because this new and deeper vision makes us begin to be aware of new elements, which before were totally ignored, and which are necessary for achieving health and happiness in the individual life as well as maintaining a harmonious and balanced society.
We support the unlimited freedom of the individual to practice spirituality. Our aim is to create the legal, social and mental space that allows for a free manifestation of spiritual actions in all their different shapes and settings.
Spiritual freedom thus means the right to integrate a divine perspective into the MANY facets of life. Work, family, friends, food, love, sleep, exercise or reading can be equally important dimensions of a spiritual practice - as well as church going and prayer can.
The work of SOTERIA is directed to acknowledge the growing number of people, who decide to follow an 'alternative' spiritual path in private as well as public spheres of their lives.
SOTERIA INTERNATIONAL is financed entirely by its members and donations. See each specific project or contact us if you are interested to involve yourself, or financially support, a specific project or campaign
Please contact us for more information if you are interested in working with spiritual human rights. firstname.lastname@example.org
SPIRITUAL HUMAN RIGHTS
All human rights are based on the intuitively understanding of the inherit dignity of man, which in itself implies a spiritual view on mankind’s undeniable right for personal freedom and liberty. Still, the free and full unfoldment of the spiritual potentials of human life was not in the priority of the times and circumstances under which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was formulated more then 60 years ago.
Spiritual human rights are today yet to be formulated and ratified by international society based on the ageless science of mankind’s inner nature. Even when modern science today confirms these immanent principles of inner nature, the judicial institutions as well as social and commune paradigms still lack to integrate these aspects in the common understanding of human rights.
Soteria International argues that the needs and potentials of mankind’s inner nature should not serve only as the basis of the human rights in principle, but also as a practical measure of to what degree the human dignity is secured in every aspect of life. Spiritual Human Rights thus signals at possible failures of humanity within society and protect the freedom of our souls.
International Conference: Berlin, 16th-17th of September 2009
Venue: Brunnenstraße 147, 10115 Berlin
The Peace for the 21st Century conference aims at opening new horizons and depths leading to sustainable future peacemaking.
The world today faces a growing state of conflict. The conflicts do not appear only between but also within states and are present even in the heart of the western world, in the form of terrorism. In this intense and general state of conflict we need a better understanding of the roots of conflict and the principles of peace. Through understanding these subjects we may gain awareness and control over the current processes and be able to attain true peace.