In World-View Week of the Ecovillage Design Education Course in Auroville, India we explored the dynamics of internal and external influences on the way we see and perceive the world. We also visited an Ashram and the local village Nadukuppan to study different world views and life situations. Other topics included Ayurveda as a holistic medical approach, deep ecology and the unveiling of “hidden architectures”.
Self-development Changes World Perceptions
Shadow Work was an important lesson that changed the group dynamics noticeably within half a day. That exercise encouraged us to focus on something in another person that annoys us very much. Then a set of questions guided us towards what in ourselves is triggered through the other person’s behaviour. It encouraged to take responsibility for one’s own actions and emotions and stopped a sort of blame-game that had fuelled certain dimensions of the group dynamics during the EDE.
In a similar way, the JoHaRi-Window helped us grow. The session gave a possibility to make visible to the group what we usually like to hide to ourselves, like experiences that fundamentally shaped our being, character traits we deny or dislike in ourselves or personal fears that we usually prefer to cover up.
Hidden Architectures Confine Us to the Past
Jean-François Noubel who has been doing research on collective intelligence and collective behaviour for a couple of years held a very inspiring session on what he calls “Hidden Architectures” – ideas and systems that we take for granted and think of as unchangeable, stable entities. This includes the way we use our language, how we treat money as a currency, the way we walk, our concept of time and many others. These Hidden Architectures not only unconsciously shape our perception of the world. They also manifest in our body. That’s why special body-work can help dissolve them. We practised remaining flexible when attacked and how to walk barefoot on different grounds. I found his ideas extremely inspiring and I will dedicate an extra blog post to spread his ideas and findings.
Deep Ecology Calls for a Re-Designing the Human-Nature Relationship
Joss Brooks, the care-taker of Pitchandikulam Forest community, which hosted the EDE talked to us about Deep Ecology. This ecological and environmental philosophy promotes the role of humans as an integral and equal part of the eco-system. In consequence, this mind-set creates a world in which human neither exploits nature nor defines it as their property. Eventually, that would lead to a complete deconstruction of the ideas of hierarchy, property, and consumerism. Deep Ecology involves “redesigning our whole systems based on values and methods that truly preserve the ecological and cultural diversity of natural systems”, as stated on the website of the Deep Ecology Movement. In 1973, Norwegian philosopher and mountaineer Arne Naess had coined the term “Deep Ecology”. We practised to communicate with nature, asked questions to trees and animals and listened to their answers.
Local Village Culture in Tamil Nadu
In the rural village Nadukuppam we learned about the lifestyles and world-views of the people. In this tight-knit community arranged marriage is the norm (as in wide parts throughout India). When girls menstruate for the first time a big celebration for the whole village announces that she is now ready for marriage. People usually own a hut that consists of only one room where everybody lives and sleeps, including some animals like chicken.
Ayurveda: An Integral Approach to Health
We had an introduction to Ayurveda and the three prevailing types Vata, Pitha, and Kapha which help understanding the body and its needs. Ayurveda is not only – as sometimes distorted in the West – a treatment for relaxation or wellness. It is rather a holistic medical philosophy and practice. Dr. Bee, an Ayurvedic doctor in Auroville, did not only study the matter for several years. Her education also involved working in an Ayurvedic Hospital for five years. Ayurveda combines body and spirit. Based on the three types it gives information on how to best nourish the body and which physical work-out helps to keep body and spirit in balance. This includes the use of healing plants and spiritual guidance and much more.
The Spiritual Cradle of Auroville
Visiting the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry gave us an insight into the world-view out of which Auroville evolved. We had an insight into Ashram teaching life. From the perspective presented to us, this seemed very appealing to me. We were told that anyone can join the Ashram at any age and decide for themselves what they want to learn (given there is a teacher who can provide guidance on that field). However, participants from our course who had actually been students of the Ashram when they were children didn’t recognize their own experiences in the presentation.
This proved again that having a very diverse and heterogeneous group as our EDE team brings a lot of different insights that compliment and often even contradict each other. Often the insider view is a lot different from the talk of somebody presenting a project or topic to an external audience, as we experienced with other sessions, too. The path towards human unity seems still like a rocky road and world-views will probably remain very diverse in this world.
The Ecovillage Design Education Course (EDE) took place from December 4, 2016 until January 8, 2017 in Auroville, Tamil-Nadu, India. Read more about the concept of the Ecovillage Design Education Courses as designed by the Gaia trust.
Visual Impressions of World-View Week
Read about the other weeks of the Ecovillage Design Education Course