What (if any) are the methods of initiation?
Initiation, despite some overtones it has picked up does not imply that the community is a cult. Established communities and organisations use initiation ceremonies all the time, from university graduation days, to receiving a watch for your 21st birthday. There should be some official recognition of achievements not just for the community but for the individual. Public recognition of every grade is a sign of achievement and success.
There certainly should be a method of initiation into the community just to let people realise they are entering a new system, a moment they should remember, a time they should look back on.
Once such possibility is in the initial 6 months of entering the community to make a huge emphasis on the change the person is going through. Everyone enters equal that is certain they are given all the some basic clothing and items they are introduced to their teachers and staff. While there are many possibilities 2 things have a big reaction.
- Sudden environmental or external change greatly effects us
- Gradual unnoticed change suddenly noticed deeply effects us.
By moving into the the community we have already accomplished point 1 by radically changing the environment people are accustomed to. I have numerous opinions on how to achieve option 2 which are merely conjecture.
Firstly, each and every long term member candidate will shave their head on entry, it may seem extreme but if you want a generation of newcomers to identify and connect with each other creating a common unnatural situation works very well, it is in line with entering the community as equals and in 6 months you will have your hair back with its natural colour at a reasonable length.
Secondly, a lack of mirrors in the novice community would only aid in the effect of gradual unnoticed change. After 6 months of exercise, meditation, healthy eating and regular sleep only the healthiest of individuals would remain unchanged at the end.
After an optional shave the candidates would have access to a full body mirror of their new selves which should be a radical change from their initial point.
Levels of BMI, cardiovascular fitness and making people redo any tests they initially did would all hammer home how much they have changed physically.
For mental improvement show them their increase in levels in subjects in front of classes show the novice how far they have come in just 6 months welcome them to the community in a state of good health and positive thinking.
Each major step should be an exercise in showing the difference between now and where you were before.
What contracts should exist between the community and the individual?
Contracts between a community and an individual seems initially repellent, as an idea. Although in such a complex environment with a society that pays individuals has ideas of ownership of goods and has mandatory regimes and possible punishments it seems necessary for an exhaustive legal and insurance based contract must exist if not for lifetime members at least then for transitory members who ware there for the university/ higher education learning / experience.
Contracts will likely include:
- Forms of payments.
- Acceptance of punitive measures in cases of inappropriate behaviour.
- Minimum terms, training periods.
- Insurance and healthcare.
- Liability and external payments.
Now I am not a lawyer so there needs to be some legal representation to confirm the legal contract is acceptable. Eventually legally trained and qualified members of the community may well exist.
Also there may be variations of the contract in different host nations to correctly comply with civil law in that country as such there should be a publicly available (and translated) template that anyone can read with an up to date guide through the clauses and the reasons for each part so that the lay person can understand.
What amount of vacation is acceptable?
The number mandated by countries of paid vacation days varies a lot. The best would be around 30 days of paid leave + national / public holidays. These should allow members to travel home for important festivals and family gatherings, it should also give much needed rest from community chores and give you exposure to a different lifestyle.
Additional mandated vacation will occur on a regular 2 or 3 year basis, where members are sent on sabbatical or abroad to broaden their experience of the world (e50).
Finally, there should probably be a variation of days for permanent and transitory members but not too vast.
The most complicated elements would be in assuring the ‘pay’ into the savings account and holidays should only really be allowed at the end of the 6 month grace period.
So I saw this article on neural studies of Monks doing meditation and it’s effects on the brain:
I’m presently reading a book on some of this, it’s really quite amazing. There is a sizeable amount of scientific literature which shows that meditative skills and methods have a huge number of positive benefit to the way we think. With that in mind, I wonder how long it will take to get meditation programs into schools. We are all about training the mind but really we’re mostly just teaching facts and not creative ways to think or solve problems.
In present education systems, at least the ones in the west that I am familiar, there is a focus on how much you ‘know’ as opposed to teaching students how to learn it, use it and retain it. I honestly remember very little of my schooling before University, just like most people we retain relevant pieces here and there but the bulk of it has very little use, outside of a pub quiz. Of course it’s good to have a wide spread of subjects at school to help us find what we excel in or enjoy, but what we need is to teach our children some methods ‘of learning’ rather than making them simply ‘memorize facts’
To clarify, there are a number of teachable skills and methods that we can raise attention levels, memory retention and enhance cognition among people. Even a regular 30 minute exercise and 20 minutes of meditation before schooling, every day, could have dramatic results. Mnemonic techniques have also existed for centuries and while they are a way of ‘memorizing facts’ they are a method which would help in every subject, not just one. Conceptual framing, lucid dreaming and many, many more techniques exist, they work, we already have them, they just aren’t taught in schools.
We need to teach the next generation how to think, not in George Orwellian kind of factual dictatorship kind of way, but in a vibrant, dynamic, constructive way. From memory palaces in primary school to meditation and dialogues at college. Let’s try and create better people and better learners and work from there. Let’s try make a better student rather than a more comprehensive exam, in all honesty none of us have a clue what the world will be like in 20 years anyway, so what the exam is testing for is really to give you grades to get you into the next level. It’s measuring your capability at the time it was taken. Something which will never reflect your ability in the future, nor prepare you for it.
For those worried about religious aspects or indoctrination into a particular faith, like Buddhism for example. Don’t. While religions were the initial creators of these methods they are now firmly being understood and in the realm of science. Just like we don’t teach kids Islamic algebra, Christian science or even Hindu Yoga the religious underpinnings have been clipped from these subjects and we focus on the problem solving methodology or physical benefits they offer. In the future meditation will also be stripped of its religious elements and join the world alongside other subjects. Meditation is to the mind what the gym or an exercise regime is to the body.
So now that I’ve got that off my chest, any ideas how do we go about getting these methods and meditations into schools?
I have to to say if you had asked me 3 years ago what I would be doing now the answer would not have been sitting in a office in France preparing to start an English lesson. It’s a strange life and I’m not sure now what that means I’ll be doing in another 3 years.
In many ways that’s scary, in many more ways it’s exhilarating, intriguing and motivating. I would never have believed I could be good at English grammar until I had to teach it for thousands of hours, my grammar has always been abysmal. I would never have believed I could live in a foreign country for over 2 years, or speak a foreign language until I had too.
Being a teacher is probably not the career I will follow until the grave but it will always be a part of me, and through teaching I have learnt me a great deal about how we learn, about peoples temperaments, about language, culture and how we approach problems. Not to mention I can now speak happily in front of groups of people manage time a little better and generally I’m more confident when it comes articulating my ideas.
Not to mention all the time I’ve had to write up my various thoughts and clarify what I believe in life and what I want to be in the future.
It’s strange how unexpected events lead to better situations even if they seem at first to be a mistake or a problem, it’s all about framing I guess. Now I’m working seriously on my French, getting my fitness back to a good level and returning to programming.
I can’t wait to see where and what I’ll be doing in 3 years time :).
What are the rules and regulations of the community?
While a full transcript of the rules should be decided by a committee of the initial members, essentially it should cover the ethical oath of your initial entry, the principal routines during the day of the members. The balance of hours between individuals; work, chores and duties, learning, training and teach, relaxing, reflecting leisure and the assignment of tasks.
The document should also cover inappropriate behaviour but should more generally state what is good and assume a certain level of individual responsibility and cognisance of what is inappropriate or morally wrong . All interactions should stem from respect, patience and responsibility.
Finally, the document should clearly state all the positions within the community, the methods of electing such people, those who are permitted to vote and the powers invested in each station and the procedures for making amendments to the original document.
[note: I know essentially this describes a constitution but I obviously wasn’t thinking about it at the time, it borders on a semi-political / ethical document that describes and enforces the ideals of the community.]
What do members do?
Primarily, members research, study, teach and practise their skills as much as possible. On top of this they will have additional duties for the benefit of the community as a whole and physical and mental training as part of their daily routines.
Duties will comprise of community chores like farming, laundry, lab work, cooking. Elected duties such as administrating departments, regulatory matters, community decisions and contractual duties – using ones skills for external groups, peer reviews of studied papers, working on community software and open source educational tools.
There should be a balance between reason, aesthetic and physical conditioning to create well balanced individuals.
[note:These ideas are developed much more in later posts, including specialised positions and methods of electing officials etc.]
Why are members trained in subjects like martial arts and meditation?
There was a long consideration in writing the entries about martial arts and meditation. Meditation has a solid amount of scientific evidence to show that it has numerous physical, emotional and cognitive benefits. While we can draw connections between practitioners of martial arts and other similar benefits it may simply be due to increased exercise, focus, discipline or even meditation done during the course of their studies. The correlation is less clear.
Either way in the spirit of preparedness for any situation it would be prudent to teach a soft system of martial arts [note: by soft I mean a martial art that utilises technique over brute force and yielding rather than opposing forces] like Aikido which can be more defensive in nature and also teaches practitioners how to fall without hurting themselves or restrain someone who is being violent.
Martial arts teaches discipline, allows for purposeful exercise, aids balance and builds self-confidence. If we take a holistic approach to the individual members of the community this is a vital facet of that approach.