We have closed down NEEV Vidyalaya permanently as this academic session came to an end. In it’s place we are go establishing NEEV Centre for Self Inquiry – a space for library, dialogues and retreats for individuals truly interested in finding truth and freedom through transformation of consciousness.
NEEV was started in the year 2006 with the vision of creating a transformation in the world. As part of this journey of transformation, NEEV kept on changing and taking different forms aligning with the progress in our understanding of what would actually create a transformation in the world.
NEEV started as a charitable organization trying to identify the needs of poor and giving them direct assistance. We worked with slums, farmers, women and children providing them with assistance in health, livelihood and education through different projects.
After some years we realized that we are just treating the symptoms of the problems. Our efforts were akin to bandaging wounds and sores of society. As we bandaged some, new sores would develop. So we shifted our attention from bandaging wounds to finding the process which creates these in the first place.
Almost all people amongst those who think beyond personal advancement seem to get quite contented with bandaging wounds. There is a reason for this. These people draw a lot of respect from society for the mere fact that they are thinking beyond personal gain. A closer look however would reveal that people who bandage wounds are still working for personal gains albeit not strictly in economic terms. Such people thrive on respect and approval lauded to them by society. A subtle self identity of being saviours, martyrs, do-gooders and reformers is created. And because such people thrive on the plaudits bestowed on them by society, they shall never question society. Social workers and society form a symbiotic relationship. The society creates wounds, the social worker heals them without questioning and the society lauds the social worker in return. Both thrive, doing their well rehearsed roles and human misery continues unabated.
We got our share of plaudits from society but did not want to bask in them. Discontentment seethed and made us go beyond addressing symptoms to searching the roots of diseases in society. With this began our study of feudalism, capitalism, socialism, globalization, nationalism, class conflicts, caste divisions and religious antagonisms. Suddenly, the lenses through which we viewed the world changed. Actually even more fundamentally, we realized that we were viewing the world through lenses, through layers of unquestioned conditioning gathered through education, society, religion and science. The study was revealing and at the same time deeply upsetting. The Newtonian world with definite laws and orders and an unquestioned stability disintegrated into the chaos of the quantum world under the changed lenses. In fact the same world appeared differently under different lenses. There was a crumbling of social values; what was held as sacred and pious by society was revealed to be carefully designed ploys of capitalism, feudalism or religions to subjugate and control humans and society. We discovered that we were enslaved to different isms without knowing that they ever existed. The capacity of these isms to exert influence on our lives and society can be judged by the fact that we do not even see them operating.
With the discovery of all these isms and lenses, it became imperative for us to find a solution to these problems. It wasn’t about running health camps and giving livelihoods and wiping tears. It was about finding a solution to vast forces of capitalism, consumerism and nationalism because these were the diseases that caused symptoms like poverty, environmental degradation and terrorism. It was not about sharing sob stories of human misery and eliciting pity of society to help the needy. It was about illuminating society about how it was trapped by isms. It was about disturbing society rather than healing wounds. Thus began our search for a systemic solution to these problems.
After a careful study of various solutions like communism, socialism, environmentalism we settled for two solutions that we thought would address these problems fundamentally. The first was social entrepreneurship and the second was education. With the zeal of discoverers and pioneers we went about trying these solutions on the ground. This was when we started encountering the hard crust of human reality, the squalor, the dirt and greed that lies behind the veneer of respectable society. Cold intellectual analysis of capitalism, consumerism etc. melted into a molten living reality making it’s effect felt in all our relationships. Suddenly strongly held polarities which stood strongly opposed to each other seemed to dance in the play of opposites. Rich and poor, developed and undeveloped, right and wrong, good and bad, friends and foes, heroes and villains, saints and criminals all started losing their boundaries and seemed to fade into each other seamlessly.
Our own solutions started to come under the lens of inquiry. Suddenly, paradoxes started rearing their heads. Were our own solutions, part of the problems? Was education solving the problems or creating them? Are the ideals we create, for instance, in social entrepreneurship part of the solution or responsible for creating the problems? At the deeper levels, I discovered that reality is paradoxical. The hard dualities that operate in the Newtonian world vanish. Light can be studied as a wave or a particle. Sub atomic realms are more space than matter. The limits to scientific thought are reached as the observer is seen to be the observed in the quantum realm.
The study of the world and it’s problems finally brought us to something one least suspects – our self. Actually this is an oversimplification of sorts as I have to condense a journey of twenty years in a few thousand words. I was doing self inquiry all along. It was an inner inquiry probing the nature of my mind and thought which started way back in my college days in 1998. What really happened through all our work in NEEV was that finally the inner inquiry fused with the outer inquiry about the world. The wave that went out was the wave that came in. There was a realization that one’s self is the world. The consciousness of an individual was the consciousness of whole of mankind. And what needed transformation was consciousness. For this world is the content of human consciousness. The observer is the observed. We are the world. The root of all problems in the world is that we are caught in a dualistic consciousness. The ancients called it Maya, which means we are caught in an illusion of reality.
There can be transformation in the world only of there is transformation in the consciousness of every individual. No systems, no isms, no reformations, no schools and no science/technology can alleviate human suffering because all of these have the same underlying root – a dualistic consciousness of Maya which fragments the world into parts, which divides people into individual selves and which veils the nature of reality. Any movement born from this consciousness is dualistic, partial and divisive. Whether it is education, social work, governance or even spirituality – it does not matter. As long as they springs from the consciousness of duality, there is bound to be conflict and suffering.
Having seen this as clear as daylight, it only made sense that we close down NEEV Vidyalaya and devote all our remaining life to transformation of consciousness through self inquiry. So we are converting NEEV Vidyalaya to a center which shall house a library and video room to subjects related to self inquiry. It shall also be a place where people really interested in self inquiry can come for a silent retreat for having dialogues with me on self inquiry.