FIERCE LIGHT JOURNEY
The Sarvodaya Movement
In Sri Lanka, a country strife with un-ending civil war, I visited the Sarvodaya Movement, the largest spiritual development movement in the world.
Founded by spiritual activist Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne, Sarvodaya is based on Buddhist and Gandhian principles, and is active in more than 15,000 villages throughout the country. It's a network of villages and services and communities designed to operate from multiple levels. 50% of the country are Sarvodayan villages and they operate from the principle of beginning with the transformation of individual consciousness, then to the transformation of the family, then to the transformation of the community, the village, the entire country and finally the transformation of the whole planet. And they operate on multiple levels of transformation, so we're talking about transformation of consciousness and also a physical transformation in the way they interact.
The term Sarvodaya means "the awakening of all" and the essence of the movement is that "Everybody Wakes Up through Sharing Labor, Energy, Resources, and Love."
I had the great honour of meeting Dr. Ariyaratne at his home in Columbo, Sri Lanka. Dr. Ari describs the goal of Sarvodaya as a "dual awakening": the awakening of the individual and the awakening of society.
Visiting rural villages HIPPOLA and BOGOLA, I saw first hand the powerful effects of Sarvodaya. One of the primary things is the sense of autonomy they develop, they become self-sustaining. Normally people would have to travel for the services that the villages learn to provide themselves - they set up their own clinics, schools, pre-schools, community centers, education centers and telus centers (where they have access to computers and technology). This is done through the community coming together to meet there own needs and empower themselves rather than having some aid agency come in and do it for them and I think this is very important about this whole movement.
The movement itself has many other programs outside the village-based movements. There are homes for pregnant young teenagers who are victims of rape, forced to stay in jail until their assailant is convicted which can take years. They have meditation programs in prisons. They have programs for vocational training for disabled people. They have a women's section. They have a section called SEEDS that is very important for the villages as well.
In the midst of this war-torn country they've been able to have this transformative process. And heart-to-heart, village-to-village is in which villagers from the north and the south come together. The people from the south go up to the people in the north (which is where the war is being fought primarily between Muslim in the north and Buddhist's in the south). And they get together in these villages and live together for three days and go through this process of understanding. And it's, again, cut out the middle-man, cut out the politicians, cut out the military personnel, just say what if the people had a chance to just get together and see for themselves that they are truly human.
I think the whole movement is founded on the understanding of interbeing and it really rises from that. So this is a model that should be emulated all over the world and adapted for each location. But really this is a contemporary version of Gandhi's philosophy in action and it's a model that that we need, in this era of rampant globalization, economic globalization and the transformation of entire countries into export economies. This cuts through all that and brings it back to the local level and that's where we need to go as a species.
~ Velcrow Ripper