Saturday, 22 June 2013

The "Ghandi of Sri Lanka"

Dr. A.T. Ariyarante, founder of the Sarvodaya movement,
with ToWo volunteer Elissa Schooler
In the hills of Neve Shalom, a community in which Israelis and Palestinians live side by side, many spiritually oriented people, including members of the ToWo group, gathered for a conference that addressed ways to promote social change through listening co-creation and cooperation. The conference featured Dr. A.T. Ariyarante, the founder and visionary of the Sarvodaya movement, which is the largest community development movement in the world. Meeting and speaking with him is like speaking with the “Ghandi of Sri Lanka.”
Sitting barefooted and cross-legged on pillows, we listened to Dr. Ariyarante talk about how he focused on breaking through the caste system in Sri Lanka (in an elegant and constructive way) and how he views the world/population as one, we are all Human. Sarvodaya movement started with the women in the villages, educating and installing trainers for young kids, as the women then will spread it to the whole community. They offered a new way of communication and governing within the villages, one that supports their voice and self governing skills. He stressed that humanity needs to let go of our strong egos, which will then lead to less greed. We need to work together for the common purpose and never take revenge- this will ensure that people do not destroy others.  These are a few of the postulates of a healthy leadership, apparently after the Buddha. Dr. Ariyarante also spoke a lot about acceptance- and looking within us, that even though the same components make up the mind and body, we use these components in different ways
 Following Dr. Ariyarante’s inspirational speech and stories, we heard from some local social activists about projects and events occurring around Israel. Interestingly up until four months ago, the peace groups in Israel never united. However, now 15 social action peace groups joined together into one cooperative.On Sunday, July 23, in front of the Tel Aviv Museum Center, these peace groups will meet together and invite us to create peace circles and dialogues around Israel. There will be a few of these on the 23rd, one in the Galilee, in the city of ShfarAm. 

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