Introduction and targets
Vettaveli operates also as a daily school for all those families and children seeking the Everlasting Happiness and the Supreme Bliss. It is a school aimed at the awakening of the Bliss. The nature of the human beings is to seek the happiness, and the system outlined by the Siddhas was one designed to attain the continuous happiness which is our essence. It is an educational system working under two aspects of the Human Being: on the one hand it refers to all those things implied in the learning of the external world, i.e. that learning which allows us to function in the world as we know it and on the other hand, it is related to the Self (written with a capital S), i.e. that part of ourselves pursuing that Transcendence which entails a state of pure consciousness that the Siddha yogis translated as a state of Supreme Bliss, not dependent on internal and/or external events and which means the liberation from the “ego”, i.e. the liberation from a structure of knowledge with a triangular character based on the distinction between the knower, the known and the process of knowing.
The education we offer at Vettaveli works by using the above triangular structure and helps children to position themselves as to how the world functions from this perspective. For this purpose we have adopted a system of free education, thus implying that the children are encouraged to learn by themselves, to choose their matters of study, to make progress according to their own needs and finally to take care of their own development. Therefore, the teacher is just a companion, an advisor and a source of information. In practice, this system adapts itself to the needs of each child but the objective of the system is to make that the child develops his inner guide, to make him being watchful for his own needs. The goal is to enable the child keeping both his motivation and his inner connection up, so that he can elucidate and discern what he wishes to learn. In this system, children decide what to learn as well as how, when and with whom to learn it.
We apply the principles belonging to the active education and also those corresponding to the non-directive education to all that has to do with the cognitive, emotional, psychological, physical… development.
But our goal has the purpose to bring together the material life education and the spiritual life education.
As for the other essence of Vettaveli, it is exactly to deal with the process to get out of that structure of the reality based on the distinction between the knower and the known. Whilst the knowledge of the world is something that can be learned, there is another knowledge that cannot be learned but only grasped, where distinctions do not exist. (The Siddhas proposed a kind of grasp-based learning). This learning does not aim either to get objects or to fulfill desires but it looks for and grants long-lasting happiness. The life goal is not material but spiritual –in the sense of attaining a state of silence and consciousness not interfered by thoughts and emotions. For this purpose we employ the techniques taught by the Siddha yogis. They created a science, the science of Vasi Yoga. Through it and by means of research, experimentation and verification they came to establish the way to reach that state of continuous Bliss and Happiness.
We have opted in favour of the Vasi Yoga as it is within this millenary tradition where Yoga is set up. The fathers of the Yoga, i.e. the Siddhas (Agastyar, Tirumular, Boganathar, Nandi Devar…) created each and every one of the existing Yoga systems and at the terminus of their searching process they developed a Yoga leading to this state of Happiness. It is a path proven throughout thousands of years, as the path of science, with written evidences of the methods they employed to reach this state.
The learning that leads to this state of Bliss is nothing more than a state of mystical silence. This state does not belong to the discursive knowledge. It falls outside this discursive knowledge, apart from the thought and speech learning.
Therefore Vettaveli is a place to learn and attain the above state of Pure Consciousness and also to love learning. Vettaveli takes responsibility for keeping the seed of the search that we all carry within us, intact –what Siddhas call Siva immanence, which implies answering questions such as who am I? And, what is the reason why I am in this world? We help to love learning always and everywhere, in all life’s situations. The child is a tenacious searcher as far as both his internal and external universes are concerned.
If you are questioning what would your child learn here, please let us point the following out:
- He would acquire the kind of knowledge that will allow him to live an autonomous life in this world, acquiring basic instruments such as reading and writing, mathematics, and all those topics that give rise to his curiosity as to how the external world is organized.
- There is no predetermined curriculum, it is the child himself who decides what his interests are and which items he wants to explore. The child himself decides what, when, how and with whom.
- Every child is an innate explorer. He explores, experiments and discovers continuously. The guide assignment is to encourage his interest showing him the way to what he thinks to be the new discovery route. It is a self-educational method where the child is provided with the minimum resources he needs, so that the largest possible research area is left for the individual child undertaking. This implies the non-intervention of the teacher. The child must do his work by himself and we cannot do it in his stead, as the real education is self-education. “All useless help that we give children stops their evolution”.
- The Siddha yogis’ instruments to attain a state of Permanent Bliss not liable to be interfered by things occurring within and around us. A child who has stayed at Vettaveli experiences a path leading him to such a state of consciousness. In this sense, children acquire “a yogic training in Vasi Yoga”.
Educational principles and methodology
In relation to the learning that enables us to function in the material life, the main educational principles would be:
The non-directive nature of the learning process. Vettaveli does not impose any curriculum beyond the “curriculum of life” as discovered individually by each child. In the School, the children manage their own time and carry out activities chosen by them. The basics of Vettaveli are to preserve the natural learning impulse of children and provide them with the necessary resources. There are resources enough at their disposal: books, computers, kitchen, library, interesting persons doing interesting things and much more. This availability of resources helps children to meet a multifarious variety of themes and activities, including most of the concepts we find in a traditional curriculum as well as many other things not included therein.
We do not impose any curriculum just because nobody would learn anything that is not interesting for him. We do prefer that children discover and pursue their own interests, as this will allow them to enjoy learning and also to retain the knowledge through the years.
Freedom and responsibility. As Javier Herrero (Ojo de Agua) says, human development can occur only through the voluntary interaction with the outer environment. Each and every activity is voluntary in this environment where the interaction initiative comes from the inner individual structure. This is defined as education in freedom. Limits mean to live the consequences of one’s actions only to experience the lessons of life. There is another more general kind of responsibility pervading the whole environment, because environment is exactly the responsibility to assume one’s own learning process: what should I learn, how to learn it, with whom, where, when…
The initiative of the interaction with the outside comes from the inner structure of each individual and this is the education in freedom. However, this freedom of decision and action is not limitless.
We establish some limits with a sight to offer all those who are coexisting the possibility to stay in a relaxed atmosphere, thus being possible to interact with the environment in tune with one’s inner structure.
We learn, develop and evolve in the company of others
Our evolution process is a process where a group with which to create a contrast, i.e. a reference group, is needed. Very often, the others act as an “alarm clock”, i.e. each of us serves as the alarm clock for someone else. We learn by sharing and dialoguing with others. We build our knowledge up by contrasting our own ideas with those of others. This is true not only as far as the cognitive knowledge is concerned but also with regards to the knowledge that leads us to the right action.
Principle of research. Children learn by searching in the reality, by handling it and wondering about it. From this point on, the learning by themselves –through their own experience, is favored. The Yoga acts under the same principle; it is through the experimentation, the self observation and the act of contrasting that the evolution towards the Self takes place. However, in this case the research goal is to attain what we are, that is to say, it is a state of Absolute Bliss not interfered by anything.
Therefore, we work on the basis of a model of non-directive school in which the students establish their own program of study, accompanied by the teachers. We take as a reference the following educative approaches: experiences of Rebeca Wild in Ecuador through the Pestalozzi, Montessori experience, Freinet, democratic schools and experiences of Auroville guided at their beginning stages by the Mother and Aurobindo, where the factor of spiritual development is the element that agglutinates the whole educational process.
With a sight to the learning and development of the Permanent Bliss or Happiness, we have taken as a reference the knowledge and practices of the Siddhas, which are based on the following principles:
- The love as the divine spark existing within the soul of every human being, revealed by the qualities of selflessness, compassion and mercy towards all the living beings.
- The development of three concepts, free will, action and knowledge, guided by the Self and oriented towards the evolution of the individual.
- The experience and life lesson as sources of knowledge. “A step of wisdom accompanied by a step of practice”.
- The development of a Pure Consciousness beyond our physical and psychological personality-identity.
Role of teachers and accompanying persons
At Vettaveli, the accompanying persons are those who guide the evolution process of the children not only in both a physical and a psychological plane, but also in a spiritual plane, i.e. they help and contribute to an atmosphere where the consciousness gets purified little by little so that the children can enjoy not only what the external environment offers them, but also the state of Bliss which is the inner seed of the human being.
To be an accompanying person at Vettaveli means that one has the commitment to what the Siddhas call arrupadai. Arrupadai is to show the path of the Siddhas to enable others to evolve. An accompanying person is one who lives in a constant act of giving himself to children, is one who helps to keep the inner flame within each child lit so that he can attain a state of permanent inner happiness.
For this purpose someone having the knowledge of the Siddhas wisdom, someone having the commitment to show others the path of the Siddhas, someone practicing such wisdom, is thus required. The most important thing that this person can share is this state of inner silence that becomes a continuous flow of love for others and that pervades the educational activity.
At Vettaveli, therefore, an accompanying person is not only someone who guides and gives support to the child in constructing his world knowledge, but he also helps and gives support making it possible for the child to reach his inner Self. The wisdom of the Self which the Siddhas spoke about is not something that can be learned through the use of speech and thought.
What does a Siddha education mean and what are the differences when compared to another type of education?
The education has always been a main issue for the human being. The education has been and is being used as an element at the service of the productive requirements of the society. Educational methods to improve the academic achievements of children are always being looked for. At some point, the concept that the essence of the human being is the Happiness was forgotten; and the same is true in relation to the fact that any educational system must be at the service of the Happiness, being this happiness our true state and nature.
The education imparted to our children can be qualified as obsolete, compartmentalizing the individual and making his Self invisible. It is a partial education where cognitive development is fundamental. So far the education has been centered on the cognitive aspects of the individual, thus neglecting all the remaining facets. The education is seeking ways for the integral growth of the person. The individual is defined as a bio-psycho-emotional-spiritual being. Therefore the education should address the following issues:
- Physical development
- Mental and cognitive development
- Emotional development
- Social development, participation in the community, notion of service and mission
- Psychological development
- And finally, spiritual development
However, all the types of education existing at present –call them alternative, non-directive pedagogies, although they have changed the manner in which the learning process is carried out and are focused on the child, it is him who decides what, how and when to learn with varying degrees of freedom. Those educational methods attend only to the learning that distinguishes between the knower and the object known. Even when they are positive as they keep intact the joy of the inner Self and do not obstruct the research process of the person, they do not show the path to the discovery of the Self as a permanent state of Bliss non dependent on internal and/or external events. We could use an agricultural metaphor: the traditional education is like the traditional agriculture, it suffocates the child –it applies so many pesticides that people end by losing contact internally. The non-directive education (possessed of several options) is like the ecological agriculture, it keeps lit the flame of the search for what we are because the self of the individual is protected and respected from the very beginning; the goal is to identify where the children interests and also their needs are and the teacher accompanies them throughout their development, the target being the autonomy of the individual from the outset. But all this sowing is aimed at the physical, emotional, mental, cognitive development and its target is the external world. And they also work with the identification of the needs and wishes of the person. The Self is something more than that psychophysical identity; it is a state of consciousness free from all desire and this is what the Vasi Yoga works on.
In spite of being focused on the child, his development, his needs and his autonomy and freedom to make decisions, thus resulting in happier, more cooperative and more self-connected individuals, all of the movements that have tried to reform the educational system do, however, not go into the question of how to reach a state of consciousness free from thoughts and emotions and also do not show the way to be finally freed from the “ego” and from the activity of our own mind. It is a matter of the dissolution of what we call identity. The Siddha yogis –who are the fathers of the Yoga, demonstrated and proved the way in which it was possible to reach our essence; all of them got enlightened, i.e. they attained this state of Absolute Bliss on a permanent basis and many of them wrote down their experiences and the manner to arrive at such liberation in the form of verse.
A true education is a path of research and return to the Self. The real education is the path to the pure consciousness, to our true nature which the Siddha yogis define and experience as a state of Permanent Bliss.
As the Siddhas state, there is a real education, an education that leads to the above state of Permanent Bliss (what they call Sivahood) and this is the only education they define as true, given that it definitely frees from the fetters of thoughts, emotions and habits. They refer to this knowledge or wisdom as spiritual knowledge and this is what they call true education.
All the remaining knowledge we acquire refers to the ever-changing and transitory outer world. This means that the seed enlivening our school is to get to remember that profound structure which cannot be learnt. The structure of the Self can only be grasped or experienced. This is the reason why our school uses a set of techniques acting on the profound psychological structures of the individual. Such a method helps us to educate just “to be” and it is embedded in a holistic education which implies the development of every potentiality of the person; that is to say, the full development of the individual in all his dimensions: at a cognitive, emotional, intuitive, spiritual level… As a matter of fact, the goal is to enable people to realize their inner self, to know their original face, to connect with their inner self preventing the loss of such connection as they grow up.
As Wilber says in his book “The Atman Project: A Transpersonal View of the Human Development”, meditation is a sustained path towards transcendence. It is the path for building a Pure Consciousness which is nothing but a state of Permanent Bliss. And the Siddha yogis are showing us this path.