Pottering in the garden the other day, I suddenly realised why I’d never really enjoyed school and how the whole subject of holistic education has now become so fascinating. To incorporate the emotional and spiritual self, as well as the mental and physical, feels so fundamental. No wonder I felt something was missing in those early years; a conscious foundation of peace and happiness.
I was born the year before the term “gross national happiness” was coined in 1972 by the King of Bhutan, the tiny, remote Himalayan kingdom. The phrase symbolised his commitment to building an economy that would serve Bhutan’s unique culture based on Buddhist spiritual values. The unique approach, in many circles, of placing spiritual values first.
The assessment of gross national happiness (GNH) was designed in an attempt to define an indicator that measures quality of life or social progress in more holistic and psychological terms than only the economic indicator of gross domestic product (GDP). Results of the 2010 survey to measure the peace and happiness of the nation can be viewed online.
I embarked on my spiritual journey with the yearning for a sense of inner peace. The words of the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibet, later resonated with me deeply, “that peace means happiness.” He expresses his “hope and wish that one day, formal education will pay attention to what I call “education of the heart.” Just as we take for granted the need to acquire proficiency in the basic academic subjects, I am hopeful that a time will come when we can take it for granted that children will learn, as part of the curriculum, the indispensability of inner values: love, compassion, justice, and forgiveness.”
The Findhorn Foundation in Northern Scotland shares the timeless and essential values common to all the world’s major traditions. It aims to put spiritual values first, to practice ‘love in action’, and to demonstrate new and sustainable ways to live as a learning community for personal and social change, creating a culture of peace throughout the world.
Visitors, both young and old, often comment on the sense of peace they feel within the community and by deepening their connection with inner stillness through “living education” a ripple effect is created. Learning within the Findhorn community is experiential and transformative, a journey of self-discovery, and is integral to the community’s purpose. Similar to the ancient practice of mindfulness, living education takes place moment by moment.
Holistic Centres and Communities continue to emerge globally and in this time of change, the exploration of Holistic Education, this learning “of the heart”, is more potent than ever.
In preparation for the Holistic Centre’s Gathering hosted by the Findhorn Foundation in May 2012, we will be posting a series of articles to explore the various aspects of Holistic Education. The aim is to stimulate discussion and to share the wisdom and experience of diverse communities, cultures and traditions, all working towards a more peaceful world.