Friday, January 18, 2008

Getting down To It

I am now spending five days and six nights at the Preksha Meditation Center in Delhi. This method of mediating was shown us at the Peace Conference in Rajsemand. What appeals to me is that it is based upon the human physical and 'spiritual" make up. As such, it does not claim to be a religious exercise, which means Preksha Meditation has no religious identification nor religious intent. But, it is unapolgetically spiritual. Second, the method has a clear way to involve the emotions. In fact, the method is designed to control and utilize the emotions in their proper human place. These are very significant steps. Third, once the mind is brought under full control, the way is open to experiencing deep contemplation. This is a simple, dry bones, explanation. While I have to work to get past the Hindi language aspects and cultural expressions, I am able to grasp the methods. This nonreligious approach is a direction I have been going for awhile. I see myself adapting the insightful techniques to my usual practice.

Also, while at this Center, I have the opportunity to prepare a keynote address to be given on the 30th at the Gandhi2008 Youth Congress in Pune. I have been shaken back to my primary mission of the last few years by the press release from Earth Policy Institute, Mobilizing To Save the Earth and Plan B 3. This will be the core subject of the keynote. This invitation is a result of my American Gandhi work here in India and relationships with a few Indians over the last years. I implore you to check out the Plan B 3. And, please act upon it.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Encouraging growth in youth and in seeds.

The humans for life are present here in India! The last ten days have been full in three respects.

From the 7th through the 9th I gave six Gandhi presentations in Chandigarh, plus media interviews. Chandigarh is a planned city north of New Delhi, wide streets and roundabouts like England. Yuvsatta, an NGO youth program with 200 youth groups in northern India and Pakistan. The presentations were in two pubic schools, one most outstanding, in Panjab Unversity, in a Women's University, and concluded in the slums at a women's literacy graduation. These were all moving and celebratory events. The mayor attended the first presentation.

From Chandigarh I took a bus for five hours to Dehredun where Navdana Center is located on the outskirts. Here Vandana Shiva and her associates are pioneering a significant effort to show the way of sustainable agriculture. Based on organic principles, they experiment with composting and growing a wide variety of vegetables. Also, to counteract the monoculture of agribusiness a seed bank maintains diversity. To overcome the top down approach to corporate ag, a democratic agriculture is encouraged and lived in many villages. Education and community action is counteracting the GE (Genetic Engineering) of Monsanto and other corporations. Women's role is given priority. I toured the farm with a group from the states organized by Global Exchange and led by Arun Gandhi, a grandson of Gandhi. This was the last day of their tour.

I have just given you a peak at these two events. Now, I am back in Delhi doing a variety of contacts and activities before going to Wardha on the 24th. The last two weeks of this trip will have several significant events to share. (This is the third time I have tried to enter this journal entry in two days. Electricity failure did the first two in.)

Today, January 14th, is my mom's 92nd birthday. Congrats to a most loving woman.

Peacemaking and then agriculture

Over the last thirteen days since the last post, I have been to Chandigarh, Navdangan Agriculture Centre near Dedredun, and now back to Delhi. Most mermorable.

I spent three days and four nights in Chandigarh, a 50's planned city with wide boulevards and roundabouts. Here, I presented the American Gandhi to six youth audiences amidst much media coverage. The diversity of groups included an outstanding middle/high school assembly attended by the Mayor and other dignitaries, another middle school youth group, two University classes, a Women's College, and a women's litteracy valedictorian graduation. Like in 2005 I was treated "as Gandhi", even as I spoke as The American Gandhi. Over 2000 attended, a truly memorable experience. The message encouraged serious commitment to nonviolence amidst all the changes humanity is undergoing.

From Chandigarh I took a bus to Dedredun to see Vandana Shiva's agriculture center, a 45 acre experimental farm emphasizing organic farming, seed saving, GMO (genetic made organics) resistance, local farming democracy, and women's uplift. I toured the farm with a Global Exchange tour led by Arun Gandhi on its last day. I recommend the visit and volunteering there to anyone able.
The bus ride was an exciting five hour adventure: a two way highway through villages with road construction interrupting at times. Modern tractors pulling carts, horse or ox drawn carts, often loaded with sugar cane (which our bus driver once pulled a few from), walkers, bicycles, motocycles, busses, trucks of all conceivable descriptions, cows, dogs, and pigs made up the users. Yes, we are all one!

The farm once was used for fossil fuel fertilizers and herbicides, giving little support to natural growth or birds. Now, it is a living organism with many birds.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Consciousness and Nonviolence

Consciousness is a key word for human functioning. I had a most pleasont surprise yesterday when I discovered an Anuvrat Building directly across the street from the Gandhi Peace Foundation where I am staying in Delhi! After all, I just came from an international conference sponsored by Anuvrat. I entered the administrative suites to be enthusiastically received as I told my story.

I have been thinking about consciousness continuously while reading Thomas Merton's essays of late, since he mentions various forms of consciousness and their implications. Well, Anuvrat emphasizes a consciousness based upon ancient wisdom and modern human science. The result is a way of being conscious that is self directed and self controlled. The way is religious but nondenominational. I would describe it as spiritual discipline, which avoids all the baggage of religious terminology. It is simple and practical, once you understand its basic insights. This method has been essentially what I have been working on for several years. A website you can go to for some information is

I think that this way of living, as it is more extensively developed, offers a more mature approach to human living.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

From Rajasmand to Delhi

Greetings, Weeks since my first message from India, I am now in Delhi, staying at the Gandhi Peace Foundation until the 5th or 6th of January. Happy New Year. I spent the New Year's Eve on a train from Udaipur to Delhi, arriving at 7:30 AM. Now I am well rested after a good nights sleep with ear plugs. Most unexpected last evening was meeting Kanu "Bhei" Gandhi at the Foundation. He is Gandhi's grandson, noted for pulling Gandhi with Gandhi's walking stick on the beach, as a little boy. Kanu was a joy to talk with due to his enthusiastic spirit and his commitment. He lives in Virginia and travels all over. He studied under John Kenneth Galbraith, majoring in economics. Kanu was very enthusiastic about my Gandhi work, most supportive. This includes my basic statement about humanity being at a crossroads. I felt that we saw realities in very similar ways, even mentioning peak oil. He encouraged me by saying not to be concerned about "matching up" to Gandhi, since I have the same spirit as Gandhi. I have felt that way, but it was good to hear it from a grandson.

I cannot do justice to the last two weeks at the International Peace Confernce in a short blog. Most basic is the observation that the Children's Peace Palace has the ingrediants of a culture of peace as I see it. Raising children with love and understanding from the womb, not beating correct behaviour into them. This together with teaching a nonviolent way of thinking with emotional discipline in the broad context of human environment and activity combines for well rounded individuals. The Jain way is based on ahimsa, nonviolence. This culture is community and family in its best sense.

The Conference was in Rajasmand, a rural community with predominately Jain population and culture. All the signage and most of the language was Hindi. This is a good example of a culture and a nonviolent way of life. (However, I do not have a good analysis of the wider systemic context to show how the culture supports or resists the systemic violence of industrial society. Some, if not many of the participants, have some consciousness of systemic violence and global issues.) I have enjoyed myself and have been strongly affirmed as The American Gandhi. I would love to share more of this rich two weeks.

Computer access has been limited. Even this Internet Cafe computer leave much to be desired. But, what a difference from writing letters! Now, I must go to plan more of my itinerary with Babuv Lal who just retired from the Foundation. I have received invitations from people in villages near Benares and in Bengladesh. If I can figure a way, I will go in mid January.