“It was a pure joy for me to be at Gnostic Centre. You have created a wonderful ambience and there is a beautiful spirit present in the atmosphere, the people you gather together were full of good spirit, great vision and human warmth. It was my pleasure to be part of such a delightful retreat.”
Satish KumarMentor: Conscious Living
“The retreat was deeply meaningful for both Geeta and me. Listening, reflecting and experiencing at various levels of my being, those were the most memorable two days I have had for a long time. I really appreciate and feel immensely grateful for the twenty years of dedicated work that you and your team have put in, into the creation and nurturance of the Gnostic Centre. I am sure that your work will unfold and open up further into something deeper, larger and more impactful in the years to come. My prayers and best wishes will always be with you and your team at the Gnostic Centre. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity.”
“It was wonderful to come together at the retreat. Many deep insights and emotions are still felt within. Thank you for all your beautiful work, hospitality and joyful and luminous ways of doing things at the Gnostic Centre.”
Vladimir IatsenkoMentor: Integral Paradigm of Knowledge
“First of all I want to say that I feel so delighted to meet you and your work. It touches me deeply. I had the feeling of coming home, discovering…. a tribe that I belong to… a tribe that is doing the work that I belong to. Satish ji’s presence touched me again and again and filled me with a delicious blend of gratitude love and joy. And this light was kept alive with the presence of Kabir… And …… so many memories of you all to bring about these special meaningful days together. Thank you all for being part of strengthening my sincerity of trust in the power of the Mother’s guidance.”
Amir AzoulayMentor: Becoming Conscious in the Body
“Thank you so much for asking me to be part of the retreat; I felt that all there were searching for the authentic within and outside.”
Jyotsna SinghMentor: The Miracle of Recovery
“I really enjoyed the retreat and especially the silence at the samadhi to start the day.”
Shailendra Raj MehtaMentor: Consciousness Based Health
“It was truly inspiring to see the energy and enthusiasm of most of the mentors. Growing in consciousness is but a vertical and lateral movement and one was fortunate to gain a lot in this short span of two and a half days.”
Amit GujralParticipant (businessman)
“I don’t think I have done any justice to just how great an experience I had in the conscious living retreat, in my feedback form. So I thought I would write and tell you, in however limited a way that this has been a truly wonderful, meaningful and enlightening experience for me. It’s a great blessing to have been there and I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of it. I felt nourished and looked after at every level – the heart, the mind, the body. The living space was so beautiful and comfortable, the food was delicious, each meal was a feast, the team was really caring and looked after every little detail, and really each mentor was outstanding in her or his own way. I can’t say I understood or could connect to everything, but yet, it was meaningful to be there and listen.”
“I loved spending time at The Gnostic Centre. The conversations were so free and inviting – I felt comfortable as soon as I walked in. I gained a lot from the discussions and dialogues—also by spending time for myself. I came to a lot of clarity about my life and process.”
Ara AmanParticipant (student)
“I really loved the way the whole team (kitchen, logistics, etc.) came together and weaved the whole event. Access to diverse speakers just made it beautiful.”
Chetan KanoongoParticipant (entrepreneur)
“I loved the spirit of generosity with which this program was offered. The loving presence of the hosts was beautiful.”
Harkamal Sharma (Dr)Participant
“Great sharing….of insights on similar paths facilitated by great mentors gives the retreat a clear dimension to learning.”
Karandip Singh SandhuParticipant (entrepreneur)
“I liked everything; right from each mentor to each person. Learning about seeking self; finding ways to become conscious of self; learning how each act of one in simple ways can be consciously uplifting.”
Puja GosainParticipant (parenting coach)
“A sharp increase in my learning to understand myself and living in consciousness learnt from each session to be more aware and awake to all that is happening around us.”
Renu MadanParticipant (homemaker)
“Loved being at the Centre for its architecture, the team, the horses and of course meeting a wide network of like-minded individuals congregating here. Great concept and great program.”
Sandhya ChaudhryParticipant (digital marketing)
Conscious Living Retreat
At the heart of the 20th anniversary celebrations of The Gnostic Centre, was the 3-day Conscious Living & Learning Retreat, led by Dr. Satish Kumar (Founder, Schumacher College, UK). Several other mentors generously contributed their services and time to facilitate meditative, mindful, joyous, and hands-on sessions for a group comprising of over 11 mentors and 54 participants. Three-quarters of the group resided at the Gnostic Centre (some being collaboratively hosted by friends of the Gnostic Centre).
The Retreat saw the coming together of a very special group, which contributed towards creating an atmosphere of intensity, engagement and a quiet joy. The entire program was consciously curated. The rhythm was organic, flowing seamlessly from one session into another, from one interaction to others. Each and every detail, every logistic was looked into with care, beauty and a spirit of self-giving, evoking an appreciative response from the mentors themselves.
It was an experience of conscious community living for all. The participants gained deep insights and felt enriched having interacted with the Mentors not only through the sessions, but more importantly through the experience of living together as a conscious community. The learning continued throughout the day as one imbibed from the living example set by the others. There was time to assimilate the learning and to make connections with one’s life, so as to make an actual difference post the Retreat.
The time spent together in such a group not only enriched the participants, it contributed to the growth of the Mentors themselves. The Participants and the Mentors have expressed the need to keep this flame alight through further interactions, retreats and a long-term Conscious Living Program. This is the work now in progress.
Conscious Living (Dr. Satish Kumar)
Becoming Conscious in the Body – Awareness through Body experiential sessions (Amir Azoulay)
The Transformative Power of Meditation & Aspiration – an experiential session (Ameeta Mehra)
Consciousness Based Health: A Personal Experience of Ayurveda as a New Paradigm (Dr. Shailendra Raj Mehta)
In Search of an Integral Paradigm of Knowledge (Dr. Vladimir Iatsenko)
Meditative Art of Pottery – a hands-on session (Rekha Bajpe Aggarwal)
Mindful Walk & Communing with Horses – an experiential session (Ameeta Mehra)
Community Conscious Cooking – a hands-on session (Dr. Satish Kumar)
Introduction to Atma Vichara (self-enquiry) as a Basis of Conscious Living (Partho)
The Promise of Beauty & Why it Matters (Dr. Satish Kumar & Shakti Maira)
The Miracle of Recovery: Insights into De-addiction (Dr. Jyotsna Singh)
Immersion into Kabir music and philosophy through a soulful experience of the bhajans with explanations (Shabnam Virmani)
Conscious Learning Seminar
The Retreat culminated with a Seminar: Conscious Learning – Contemplative Dialogues in Travelling Within, on 6th April. Dr. Satish Kumar gave the inaugural address. The Dialogues were moderated by Partho and Ameeta Mehra. The Panelists represented experiments in Conscious Learning and shared their insights and experiences of bringing about a shift in mainstream education. The Gnostic Centre presented Travelling Within – a sample program for Conscious Learning, through a short film.
The Key Ideas
Youth are bored with their university education. They are seeking for something more. What are youth seeking for?
What are we seeking for? Not just academic knowledge – that one can get even from the internet. We are seeking for inspirational knowledge, wisdom – something that can make our lives deeper, more meaningful; that can create beauty, harmony, sensitivity, bring us close to nature, make us self-realised.
Knowledge needs to get out of the purely academic paradigm; the Arts need to be embraced; the wisdom traditions, spiritual disciplines, and physical culture, need to be embraced.
Macaulay still rules India. We are still creating millions of young people into unimaginative clerks with a monthly salary addiction.
Our present education system is part of the problem; it is not part of the solution. All problems the world faces today are created by highly educated people. The universities today are turning human beings into robots, and programming those robots to destroy the planet, destroy the human consciousness, and destroy the human spirit.
Learning is not only about intellect. It is about living. Intellectual learning alone is just one leg. Practice is the other leg.
We need centres of consciousness and not exam factories. We need thousands of small, beautiful, vibrant, imaginative, creative academies of the future, all over the world – to replace the schools and universities we have at the moment.
Dr. Satish Kumar (Founder, Schumacher College, UK) – Inaugural Address
Prof. Shyam Menon (VC, Ambedkar Univ, Delhi)
Dr. Vladimir Iatsenko (Vedic & Sanskrit scholar & teacher, Auroville)
Dr. Ravi Dhar (Director, Jagannath Institute of Management Studies, Delhi)
Dr. Shubhro Sen (Director, School of Management & Entrepreneurship, Shiv Nadar University, Noida)
Prof. Parul Kiri Roy (Faculty, School of Planning & Architecture, Delhi)
Prof. Karminder Ghuman (Head, Centre for Indian Management Area Chair – Marketing & Entrepreneurship, LM Thapar School of Mgt, Thapar University, near Chandigarh)
Shabnam Virmani (Filmmaker & artist in residence, Srishti School of Arts, Bangalore; Kabir singer)
Ara Aman (Student, Brockwood Park School, UK)
Moderators: Partho & Ameeta Mehra
Conscious Living Retreat Mentors
(PROF.) SATISH KUMAR, a former monk and long-term peace and environment activist, has been quietly setting the Global Agenda for change for over 50 years. He has been the guiding spirit behind a number of now internationally-respected ecological and educational ventures including Schumacher College in South Devon, UK, where he is still a Visiting Fellow.
AMIR AZOULAY from Israel (with a background in business) settled in Auroville (2003. He facilitates Awareness through Body activities, with the intention to offer a space where individuals can experience a wider sense of existence through their growing capacity for relaxed, sustained attention.
JYOTSNA SINGH (Dr.), with a background in Philosophy, and an ex-faculty of Lady Shri Ram College (Delhi University), is the force behind Dara Shikoh Festival, Srinagar – an annual event that encourages vibrant dialogue, energetic workshops and experiments in theatre, music, photography, poetry and environment to celebrate the heritage of the Valley.
MITI DESAI, a Designer, Classical Dancer & Educationist, is the founder & creative head at Miti Design Lab; an interdisciplinary design studio & the Executive Trustee at Shaktiyogasrama Gurukulam; a cultural gurukul dedicated to the study and practice of sacred arts & holistic sciences; assimilated with a spiritual vision and environmental consciousness.
PARTHO, a published author on Integral Education, leads workshops on Conscious Business and Leadership, holds retreats on Vedanta, and has mentored several integral initiatives in India and abroad.
REKHA BAJPE AGGARWAL has dedicated the last twenty years of her life to pottery. A Trustee on the Board of Delhi Blue Pottery Trust for the last ten years, Rekha also creates and edits “Indian Ceramic Quarterly”, the all India newsletter of Delhi Blue Pottery Trust since 2008, and teaches a course in ceramics at Ashoka University.
SHABNAM VIRMANI, a filmmaker and artist in residence at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore, is a renowned singer of Kabir and other mystic poets.
SHAILENDRA RAJ MEHTA (Dr.), Chairman, Board of Management and Acting Vice Chancellor and Distinguished Professor of Strategy, at Auro University (Surat), has consulted with and taught senior executives worldwide including executives from North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. His work on creating world-class universities has been discussed around the world and profiled in over ten languages including Chinese, Russian, French, German and Arabic among others.
SHAKTI MAIRA is a critically acclaimed artist-philosopher from India, and an author of two books. His work as a sculptor, painter and printmaker has been widely exhibited, and is largely centered in a Buddhism-inspired spirituality.
VLADIMIR IATSENKO (Dr.), a Russian mystic now settled in Auroville (1993), is a scholar and teacher of the Vedas and Sanskrit. He is associated with several educational institutes and universities.
AMEETA MEHRA, Chairperson & Founding Trustee, The Gnostic Centre (Delhi), is a facilitator of innovative courses such as New Creation of the Self & Society, based on the Integral Yoga paradigm. Her published works include a series of interactive self-discovery books.
Totalling 54 (besides the organizing team which also participated), the participants represented a cross-section of society – entrepreneurs, school and university heads, organizational heads, corporate professionals, school and college faculty, yoga practitioners, artists, architects, medical practitioners, psychotherapists, homemakers, businessmen, media professionals, social activists, and students. The cross-section of organisations that the participants belonged to included: Ambedkar University, Shiv Nadar University, Mirambika school, CoVeda school, and VIMHANS, besides several others.