The Integral Learning Centre is based in the intentional
community called Vérité (because "Truth heals") and has been
dedicated since its inception to 'higher healing' or non-medical-healing-towards-Wholeness.
Integral Learning is as much a state of mind as a 'centre' and we experience
integral learning in the actual work of bringing the buildings into
existence, in the everyday challenges of living in community, and in
the many classes, sessions and gatherings which take place in Vérité's
Integral Learning in Community
Living in community means that an effort is made
to refer all important developments to the group for feedback and collective
decision. Very often the process of doing this creates tensions as people
pull for their particular idea before a common direction is agreed.
Holding each other in respect and love during differences is another
opportunity for integral learning.
Integral Learning in the Halls
In Vérité community, there are two Halls. The original
Yoga Hall, now called the Music Hall, has hosted over the years many
workshops by visiting teachers and Aurovilians giving workshops and
presentations of various topics such as Psychosynthesis, Essential Peacemaking,
Art Therapy, T'ai Chi, Dances of Universal Peace. Also Vérité's
weekly community meetings, daily meditations and music sessions happen
Regular communal sessions
Various activities take place with great regularity,
Once the larger Vérité Hall opened, there has been
a clear development and widening in the community's programme. The year
is seen in three seasons: guest season, retreat season, and study season:
During the guest period (December-March)
a variety of workshops and classes are organised catering to visitors
to Auroville so that they are enabled to have access to inner experience.
Last year for instance two workshops, 'Who Am I?' conducted by psychiatrist-psychotherapist
Dr. Henner Ritter, were held, and also Ashtanga Yoga teachers conducted
three week-long classes here.
During the retreat season (April-June),
after the guests have fled for the heat, there are less programmes
and the Vérité community meets itself in quiet. Usually a 10-day
Vipassana retreat is held during this time. Last summer, village
children from the Village Action Summer Camps were introduced to
Auroville and creativity during eight half-day sessions in Vérité
during this period.
During study season (July-November),
- and this has grown into the season having the most intensity and
influence on the rest- Verite's Aurovilians meet other Aurovilians
in the main Hall in a number of small groups. Participants of these
sessions study and research and share together in such fields as
singing and chanting, tuning, harmonics, Sanskrit, Vipassana meditation,
body awareness and movement, meditative dance, drama, 'Consecration
Week', and development work.
These activities serve to develop in the participants
the awareness of integral learning, by emphasising non-conventional
approaches to learning. For instance, importance is given to other parts
of the being rather than just the mind, teachers and learners are interchangeable
(everyone is a learner), the 'success' of any given class is judged
by how much each participant feels he or she has learned, not on outward
signs of achievement.
The atmosphere at most of these classes is almost as akin to prayer
as to study - as the important result is that the participant connects
not only with some mental idea but actually with the Source of ideas
and with each other. This is perceived as transformative learning.
Very gradually, very subtly, the sense
of what an integral learning centre might be, how it might function,
begins to dawn on us.
Integral Learning with the Industrial Zone
and the Bioregion.
Vérité has always been aware of its location in the heart of Auroville's
Industrial Zone. It holds for the area a focus on ecology, community
and spirituality, especially in relation to business and worker relations.
In its way of conducting its guesthouse business and caring for its
workers, Vérité tries to actually model a style of operation wholistic
Throughout the year, the Integral Learning Centre has presented on-going
classes with Development Work trainees of Auroville Village Action Group
introducing them to Auroville's deeper meaning, and to their own potential
to grow and unfold their personality. Individuals from the villages
are frequent visitors, getting assistance and guidance to develop their
communicative and creative skills.
Presently these activities are being consolidated
into a programme called 'AVAA', a Tamil word meaning 'enthusiasm for
learning' and also an acronym for Auroville Village Action Arts, which
started in July 2000 with a 'Saturday Camp' in music, dance, physical
education for village children. Follow-up sessions and classes took
regularly place since then.
Developing the Programme: The programmes
going on within the Halls should continue to expand, following the inspirations
of the participants.
Special attention will be given to developing
the opportunities for integral learning for the management and workers
of the Industrial Zone.
A continuation of active collaboration with
the Auroville Village Action Group in training their staff and in
developing arts as a bridge between Auroville and villagers.
§ The development of the Vérité Guesthouse as a retreat facility
for integral learning, with an elaborated guest and student programmes
will be part of this movement.
As well, the use of the retreat centre facility
to encourage residential in-depth workshops for Auroville working
groups is under consideration as well as the documentation of the
Vérité Community process as an action-research.
Counseling is also seen as a major activity
to be accommodated by the new facilities.
As the very nature of integral learning precludes
a rigid mental plan and a harmonious agreement among all the participants,
only after the community planning process over the summer can we
expect to be able to formulate clearly these directions.