Simply and Silently
Narrative Poem by Constantin Foteinas
(The manifest of life)

...simply and silently,
without resistance,
without anger,
without effort,
without passion,
without sadness,
without happiness...

My child,
Be blessed.
Blessed by your mother and your father.
Flesh from our flesh,
soul from our soul,
arrow discharged from our bow,
go to your way,
simply and silently.
Accomplish your mission.

Be blessed,
to accept similarly
simply and silently,
life and death,
spring and autumn,
the beginning and the end,
sunset and sunrise.
Do let them do,
simply and silently,
the work that they have undertaken.
To accomplish their mission.

Be blessed,
to admire similarly,
simply and silently
creation and destruction,
construction and demolition,
the calm sea and the storm,
the bee and the locust.
Let them do,
simply and silently,
the work they have undertaken.
To accomplish their mission.

Be blessed to hear equally
simply and silently
the big and the small,
the strong and the weak,
the wise and the illiterate,
the clever and the simpleton.
Let them do,
simply and silently,
the work they have undertaken.
To accomplish their mission.

Be blessed,
to respect similarly,
simply and silently,
friend and foe,
the good and the bad,
the righteous and the unrighteous,
the holy and the sinner.
Let them do,
simply and silently,
the work they have undertaken.
To accomplish their mission.

Be blessed,
to care similarly
simply and silently,
human being and animal,
the tree and the rock,
the mountain and the sea,
the earth and the moon,
Let them do,
simply and silently,
the work they have undertaken.
To accomplish their mission.

Be blessed,
to pay attention similarly,
simply and silently,
to what I am saying and to what I am not saying,
to what I do and to what I do not do,
to what I want and what I do not want,
to what I believe and to what I disbelieve.
Let them do,
simply and silently,
the work they have undertaken.
To accomplish their mission.

My child,
be blessed,
for having taught us, myself and your mother,
to love you similarly,
simply and silently,
as child and as adult,
good and bad,
beautiful and ungainly,
successful and unsuccessful.

Be blessed,
that we may let you do in your turn,
simply and silently,
the work you have undertaken.
to accomplish your mission.

Be blessed,
and do all that you have undertaken
in life and in the world
to accomplish your mission
simply and silently.

Question and Answer
Question from a student:

I experience myself as an individual self, but what would be the body, the mind and the breath of the Ahymsin-self?

Answer from Swami Veda:

Very good. I love that question. The body of an organization or a family or a nation is its structure; the mind is the degree of awareness of its mission; and the breath is the life you put into it. Then you can elaborate on that theme. The structure is the body. The awareness of its mission is the mind – and the mind of a thumb is not different from the mind of a nose in your body. A thumb doesn’t say, “Hey, I have a mind of my own. I’m not going to help you.” In the organization, in the family, that [unity of vision and purpose] happens. [There is] that mind – and then [there is] what you do with it out of compassion. The word “love” ceases, stops. If there is only one, who will love whom?

Long ago I gave a lecture back in the early seventies in Minneapolis I still recall. I don’t know if it’s available, Saints Do Not Pray. To whom will they pray? And I would add to that a sentence. A true lover is he who does not love – because there is no other left to love. Let’s remember that. Saints do not pray and lovers do not love, and that’s the ideal. Only in the world of duality is there separations; there is one and there is another to love. When there is only one mind . . . . The word love exists where there is a sense of separation. I love someone. Does my hand love my mouth, and does my mouth love my stomach? So the hand kindly puts food into the mouth, and mouth doesn’t say, "Hey, I have a mind of my own. I’m just going to keep the food in the mouth. Why should I give it to that stomach?" Because you have one body, one mind from head to toe – and when the organization, nation, group, family, become like that, there is no other to love and no one to fear. Then there is no one to fear. Okay. Alright.

Yoga Deals with the Experiential Aspects of Man’s Liberation
by Swami Rama
Yoga deals with the experiential aspects of man’s liberation from human imperfection and suffering, and is concerned with practical methods for attaining this state, using the philosophical doctrines of Samkhya as their basis. Samkhya philosophy supports the philosophy of yoga—samyak akhyate, that which explains the whole. The Samkhya school of philosophy admits of two ultimate realities: purusha, or cosmic consciousness, and prakriti, or elemental matter. The manifest universe evolves out of prakriti. It results from the coming together of purusha and prakriti, matter being permeated by consciousness.

What is more, this scheme of evolution applies both to the macrocosm (the universe) and to the microcosm (a human being). Yoga bases its teachings on this scheme of evolution in the microcosm. It concerns itself with the practical aspects of involution or the return from identification with the manifest body and mind to ultimate consciousness.

Yoga teaches you how to be and gives something that religion does not provide. Yoga is an exact science that helps you to know yourself on all levels—body, breath, mind and spirit. From your childhood onward your education has led you to examine and verify things in the external world, which is constantly changing. Your education has not helped you to become aware that there is another reality within that never changes. You have to learn to accommodate and understand both realities and the whole structure of life, including the known and the unknown, the apparent and the real. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali emphasizes the importance of understanding life within, while not ignoring the external world. According to Patanjali, the prime goal of human life is to establish oneself in one’s essential nature.

Yoga science asserts that the human mind is not established in its true nature because it identifies with the objects of the external world. The purpose of yoga science is to lead you within to the highest state of tranquility, wisdom and bliss, in which you remain fully conscious and aware of the reality. Yoga teaches you how to see within. If you remain an outsider, your mind will continue to be scattered and you will not understand why you have come to this world, what the goal of life is or how you should relate to others. You do not know yourself, yet you are trying to know others. In order to know and understand yourself on all dimensions, you will have to search within. Once you understand and know yourself, you will be able to analyze the entire universe and your relationship with the universe and with other beings. By analyzing a drop of water, you can know the ocean; by analyzing this human life, you can know the whole universe. The same Self that dwells within you dwells in everyone. That Self is the center of consciousness.

The term yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj (to yoke or join). In yoga philosophy yoga means “to unite with the Universal Self.” Your prime duty as a human being is to know yourself and then to know the Self of all. For that, you will have to train yourself. Others can inspire and help you, but self-training requires effort. No matter how powerful are the instruments or other means that you have, those means cannot help you to know the reality within. Even the finest telescope through which you can see the stars and planets clearly, cannot help you to know your internal states. You don’t have to go anywhere to train yourself because every walk of life presents an opportunity to learn. You don’t need drugs, a guru or any other external help. But you need guidance in how to practise and how to conduct your life so you can attain happiness in this lifetime, here and now. As a human being you have all the knowledge within, but you have to make effort to come in touch with that knowledge. Human effort is called ascending power.

When you have exhausted all effort and used all the resources you have, finally the power of the Lord will touch you. That is descending power, or grace. You cannot get enlightened without grace. There are four types of grace: grace of God, grace of the scriptures, grace of a teacher who loves you selflessly and grace of yourself.

Reprinted from Sadhana the Path to Enlightenment, an HIHT publication.

by Swami Rama
This is an excerpt from the chapter "Discipline Means Self-Commitment" in the book Samadhi the Highest State of Wisdom: Yoga the Sacred Science by Swami Rama, Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust, 2002, pp 18 – 20.
You have to light your own lamp. No one will give you salvation. I am talking of enlightenment. All individuals have the responsibility to enlighten themselves. Do not think you cannot do it. You have that spark. You are fully equipped. You simply need to discipline yourself. Discipline is not a prison. It simply means practice.

Patanjali says that you have the capacity to unfold yourself and lead yourself to a state of tranquility. Then you will understand things as they are. Otherwise, you create darkness for yourself and you are not able to see things clearly. The human mind remains clouded because the external world does not provide correct data. In the external world everything is fleeting. The moment you want to study something in the external world, that thing changes its name and form and you cannot study it. First, you will have to remove the clouds of ignorance from your mind. When you have clarity of mind, then you can study things as they are, and there will be no confusion.

Thus, when Patanjali says, Atha yoganush-asanam, he means that if you really want to unfold yourself, you first should learn to discipline yourself. People are afraid of the word discipline. Discipline is not a punishment. You will enjoy it once you know it. Discipline means self-commitment. When you commit yourself to your progress, then slowly you will find that the light is within you. These external lights—the sun, moon, stars, and electric lights—are superficial lights. The Upanishads say again and again, hiran-mayena patrena satyasyapihitam mukham, tat tvam pushann apavrinu satya dharmaya drishtaye. (Isho-panishad 15). "The face of Truth is hidden by the golden disc. Oh Lord, help me so that I can see the Truth within." You keep trying to find Truth in the external world, but it is not there. Those who have found Truth within themselves can express that same Truth in the external world, and they are considered to be great people.

The discipline you need to learn this science, to follow the path for the inward journey, is not the discipline that you already have. You have to understand this subtle point. You had to have discipline in the colleges and universities to study things in the external world and to verify things in the external world. Learning in the external world is entirely different from yoga discipline. In the external world you move. However, when you want to go to the deeper levels of your being, stillness is important. In all other journeys you have to move. In this journey you do not have to move at all. The Bible says, "Be still and know that I am God." It is a simple formula, but very difficult to apply. From your childhood onward you are taught to move. Nobody teaches you how to be still. You have to learn not to move. Anushasanam, the discipline that you have to follow, you have not yet learned. Since it is a completely new undertaking, it seems difficult. To learn yoga science, which leads you to the highest rungs of life, which takes you to the summum bonum of life, which leads you to the kingdom of wisdom, peace, and bliss, and which leads you to freedom from all pains and miseries, you first have to discipline yourself. In modern education there is enough knowledge, enough books, and enough freedom, but there is no training program for discipline. No one tells you how to study yourself or how to practice. Patanjali says this is not the way. That knowledge which you consider to be knowledge is not fruitful or helpful. First, learn to discipline yourself.

Is an Ashram for Me?
by Swami Ritavan Bharati
Part 2.
In the first article last month, Swami Veda gave the ashramites, in the early years of his ashram at The Meditation Center in Minneapolis, the theme of ashram living in the attitudes and behaviors necessary in developing an ashram community. In this second article, Swami Veda addressed the ashramites of Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (SRSG), 25 years later, with the same intensity of care, patience and compassion. The themes of discipline, practice and service are also present in his talk in 2004, only in a subtler manner. Again, read with the reflective attitude remembering our theme: Is an Ashram for me?

The word "ashrama" means a place of "labor all round". A place of making intensive effort, and a means "all over", "in every way", "completely". Shrama, as labor, or intensive effort, means one who labors in an ashram; one who makes intense effort is known as an ashrama. It is a different kind of labor than the labor you skillfully perform each day in your profession. In the world outside, you labor for others, and in the world of an ashram you labor to know your Self.

One’s life in an ashram should be a time of churning, churning, churning and changing, churning and changing. It should be a time of a relaxed intentness. When I am speaking to you in this way, do I seem concentrated? But you know I’m that relaxed while performing my actions. That’s what I want to teach you, intentional relaxation. Relaxed intentness. This should be a goal, very deep spiritual goal for which one is in an ashram.

Time is precious. By how many months or years have you lengthened your lifespan while you were in the ashram by lengthening your breath? Has your breathing changed becoming longer, deeper, smoother, longer exhalations, and without a pause or break. Measure your time in the ashram in this way.

If someone walked in here and did something that makes you angry, would you be any less angry than you were before you left home? When you go back home from here will you be any less angry at such provocations? If you hear disappointing news, will you be any less disturbed?

You have to keep on, keep on, keep on and reduce your karmic debt. Reduce the influence of those vasana, the habit patterns you unconsciously carry with you. Do you see how I walk about? Do I seem burdened or troubled as I perform my duties and carry my responsibilities? And you can change your latent habits as well, so begin NOW. How? Not by sitting idle in a beautiful, comfortable ashram, but by engaging in ashram life constantly practicing, and measuring your self-awareness with each challenging thought and emotion.

If you are sitting here with the attitude of enjoying a seaside holiday, why are you in an ashram? You have a precious two or three weeks; therefore, create something with that time, give new impressions to your mind. Your time in an ashram should be taken to relax. Relax? Yes, intentional relaxation by doing the relaxation practices again and again. Don’t waste time. At home you say, I don’t have time to meditate", and you say, "Oh, Swamiji, I would so like to come to quiet ashram and meditate." So you come to the ashram and you still have the habit of not using that time. What should you do? Make use of your time in the ashram to do your relaxation practices, your japa, your meditation, and give some service to the ashram.

We are missing the discipline of an ashram, and I see people just sitting idle, gossiping, or daydreaming. Remember, "ashrama", means labor all around, complete, internal laboring, changing, churning and changing and examining oneself. Did I add two weeks more to my life by reducing my level of tension? Did I add two more weeks to my life by changing my breathing?

Remember the first sutra of the Yoga Sutras. Everybody talks of yoga, yoga, yoga, but where is "yoga anushasanam", the discipline of yoga. "Atha yoga anushasanam"--"Now the discipline of yoga," is the very first sutra of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. In the ashram you begin now (atha) with the discipline of yoga. Each student should wake up on time. Otherwise stay in a hotel. I’m usually not this harsh, but I think we have to change the attitudes in this ashram. And the same with the sleeping time. Promptly leave the bed, and promptly enter the bed keeping the sentiment of "atma-tattvava-lokanam", "I am Atman."

Sadhana is not just sitting down and turning rosary beads. Sadhana is making change in the small matters such as becoming more regular with your daily schedule, with your meditation. Don’t waste time with a multitude of idle pursuits.

Be ambitious, and build into your discipline a period of "sthala sanyasya." No stepping out of the ashram for certain periods. Just cut-off, and forget the world outside the ashram. Sthala sanyasya begins with "sthala" meaning a space, place, or area; and "sanyasya" means renunciation. The renunciation of all other spaces except the one to which you are confining yourself. As people start their ashram stay, let them taste these disciplines. What is that sutra? "Atha yoga anushasanam," meaning self-discipline to reveal the Self.

Be a conqueror. Don’t be defeated by your desires, restlessness, by your angers, by your random speech. Be a conqueror. Don’t be a slave to your urges. That is power yoga. A true practioner of yoga aspires to conquer his anger, conquer his desires, conquer his habit of gossip and random speech. And next, is to become the masters of one’s emotions, able to replace one’s resistances with an even flowing baseline emotion. That is the discipline of yoga, beginning with self-examination, self-purification, self-pacification while in the ashram.

My Guru would tell me, "Try to learn to be a little bit harsher, to be a little bit more of a disciplinarian", but it doesn’t come easily to me. So my principle is, "What doesn’t come easily to you and you don’t want to do, go do it." In my life, whatever progress I have made it has been made by pushing myself to do things I don’t like and conquer my resistance till I become neutral. You don’t have to like it, but you should become neutral. This attempt at enforcing some kind of a discipline is also part of my sadhana and the way my Master wants me to be, something I don’t want to do, I don’t like doing, but I have to learn to do, if I want "your" spiritual progress.

So you are here in Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama. I think you find this place a little too relaxed, too comfortable, too luxurious. Sometimes I find because I am too relaxed in these matters, there is more of a holiday or resort attitude than an ashrama attitude. But if it’s a holiday let it be a spiritual holiday. It should be a time for re-creating oneself. Then when you leave after three years, or three months, or three weeks or three days, people see you and say you are a different person. And you can accomplish this in the ashram through karma yoga, silence, meditation, svadhyaya and service. Each of you practice japa, and observe silence to sustain this ashram as an oasis of peace.

May your prayers be answered satisfying both God and Guru. Welcome to the ashram.

Guru Purnima and Mahasamadhi 2017
Strong unstoppable rains. If not deep cleansing then what?

Sewage created to protect Mother Ganga.

New people, new lovers of the truth.

Old friends, part of our family today.

New babies on their way.

The whole ashram floating in the blessings of our beloved Masters, of a yogi and his disciple, as Swami Veda humbly insisted to present his gurudev and himself.

Videos with Swami Veda’s lectures before he took his vow of silence. "If you have something to offer, people will come near you to get what you have to give", still sounds in my ears. Swami Rama’s voice chanting OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. How could it be that I still heard this om while meditating, while walking, while getting ready to sleep? When did it engrave in me? I only felt this "engraving process" after chanting for two hours "akanda mandala karam". But when was om engraved with the deep voice of Swami Rama coming from another dimension, from the deepest of my depth?

Beautiful evenings where the people who were present were asked to remember and share how each one of us met with Swami Veda or something important for us that he said or did. These evenings triggered more and more events of our life that made us grow, bloom like flowers. People continued remembering even after these meetings. Something that impressed me: the day Swamiji left his body, the monkeys that used to visit us every day looking for food, had a peculiar behavior. They scrunched the window screens of his room "upstairs", they cut all the flowers of the garden and threw them on the ground. And when Surendra thought: "Since the flowers are cut, why not put them in a basket and offer them to Swami Veda. And so did he. At that moment the monkeys sat in a line, as if paying their respect to someone whose dimension they could estimate.

This incident reminded me of some few years ago, as I was giving the baby cows the peels of the fruit I ate during the day, Swamiji came with Pandit Pryadarsan (Pierre Lefebvre), Medha and Dr. Uppreti, who showed Him what was renewed or constructed in the ashram. When they saw Him the adult cows started jumping high up. It is incredible to see these heavy bodies to jump so high. Medha said: "Happy, happy." This characteristic of Swamiji "being with all", being all, being with people, with animals, with nature at the same time, reminded me of another incident.

The day he left, I was in Athens, and as I read Carolyn’s announcement in face book- it was so simply said just like any other announcement of the news of the workshops or seminars of Ahymsin going on in the globe- I understood what it said few seconds later. Went back, reread it and said loudly: "WHAT?" Stopped everything I was doing, and sat on a rocking chair. I started moving back and forth thinking: "My God, how are we going to continue what we started?" Suddenly a book fell from a bookshelf, a book that was there for years. I went to put it back and saw the title: "Guru". I sat again, and in a while the book was on the floor again. No coincidence, I thought. But my worries were so strong that I started thinking again: how do we continue now? Suddenly, a very loud sound coming from the ground floor, took me out my thoughts. "They must be thieves; it would not be the first time, they also climbed a few days ago on the second floor and took a bicycle from the balcony of a neighbor. To come in from the ground floor would be a piece of cake for them. I went down, my knees trembling. All the books of Swamiji’s "Night Birds" translated in Greek were on the floor. I said ok, ok, you are here. You are everywhere. You left your body but not your disciples.

But still I can tell you, I keep forgetting it, although he chose a way he knew I would "hear" him. Because he chose to communicate with the same way I communicated with my Late Greek master. He knew that, as well as so many other thoughts I had.

We also were fortunate to see again the video of the sangha of 2013 when Swamiji was to take his vow of silence. Another phrase keeps echoing in me: "We must be trained, to be able to accept the Force when that will come. ...Then it happens naturally. ..Then, when the forces flow we do not resist them… The forces respond to our commitment".

It was an experience that felt as if each one of us, a piece of a huge puzzle of life, found exactly where our place is in the universe.

What a relief to know where you belong, without any sense of attachment whatsoever.

What a gift to know what the real purpose of life is.



Sources of Energy
by Swami Veda Bharati
Published: 16 May 2009
The definition of the weakness and strength of the mind is analogous to the weakness and strength of the body and its vital functions. Through the practice of yoga and meditation and other attendant disciplines, both the body and the mind may be energized.

We feel low on energy sometimes; we feel high sometimes. Sometimes we feel weak; sometimes we feel strong. When we feel weak, we have a lack of initiative, a lack of memory, a lack of concentration; fatigue, inability to endure a situation, a relationship, a difficulty, a job, a course of study, any kind of dedication or devotion. At that time, we have a preoccupation with ourselves.

The weakest word in the human dictionary is "I." It is one of the major sources of weakness of the body and mind -- the thought me . . . "What about me?" . . . what I want. When people write letters, for example, notice how many times the word "I" is used -- how many paragraphs begin with the word "I," how many times the word "me" is used: "I" want, "I" feel, it happens to "me," "my" reaction, "my" feeling, "my" disappointment, "my" frustration, "my" expectation, he told "me," I told him, "I'm" not like this, "I'm" not like that, "I" am this way, that's the way "I" am. This shows their weakness. And in a spiritually strong person, the frequency of the word "I" and "me" becomes less and less. It is said that one of the greatest yogis of this century, or of the last 500 years, Ramana Maharshi, in the last 25 years of his life simply did not use the pronouns "I" and "me."

When we are energized, we have endurance; we have strength; we can carry weight -- physical or mental. Things that before made us quit, now seem as nothing. We can carry through and enjoy doing, so. Energy is creativity. Without energy, we do not have the inspiration to create.

Without energy, we do not have the initiative to begin the creation nor to carry it through, nor to complete it, nor to perfect it. This is true whether it is carrying a physical weight, entertaining guests, becoming a great musician, or in serving others. We need to find sources of energy for ourselves.

Let us summarize some sources of energy through which we may energize ourselves.

FOOD. When eaten in a regular and balanced manner, when not overeaten, food is a source of energy. Overindulgence in food de-energizes us. Food eaten in moderate amounts leaves less residue to block the energy channels of the body. One of the most debilitating and de-energizing factors causing inertia is the residue from foods left in the body which are not properly assimilated or cleaned out. Irregular eating, constant nibbling and eating between meals do not allow the system, sufficient time to rest, assimilate and clean house. If the dead cells and phlegmatic flows are not eliminated, if the putrid stuff just lying in the internal organs is never removed, a de-energizing, debilitating, tamasic influence is exerted on the nerves and the mind.

THOUGHT is a great source of energy. For example, having a firm faith in something often becomes a driving force of such potent strength that a wiry frame, a bag of bones, like Mahatma Gandhi can lead an entire nation to almost impossible lofty heights. His energy did riot arise from muscles and nerves; it arose from carefully cultivated positive thoughts in which he had firm conviction and faith -- which were not dogmatic nor competitive with anything else. [Gandhi said, "Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will."] To be pure, a faith must not be competitive; it must not be against something. Any faith that is against, something is not an energizing faith. Any faith which is an abandoning of something else is not an energizing faith.

Blockage of energy occurs through wrong karmas. The words, "wrong karmas" do not mean past karma They mean the karma of now, the karma now being gathered in the form of our thoughts. The karma that you are now doing will affect your future energy levels. Wrong, karma, for example, is a jealous thought, a guilty thought, an unloving thought, a me-centered thought, a thought in which the washing-soap of the Four Right Attitudes (friendship and love, compassion, joy at seeing others make spiritual progress, and indifference to evil) is not used. Therefore, any me-centered thought is a de-energizing thought. An energizing thought is not a thought that suppresses a negative thought; an energizing thought is a thought that replaces a negative thought. Such a positive thought is an energizing thought.

A beautiful thought, a peaceful thought, is the greatest source of human energy -- a thought such as love. For example, I spoke of food. Food purchased from a fast-food place and gobbled, not eaten is not a source of energy. But food that someone prepares with gentle an loving thoughts, with you in mind and then is given to you and you enjoy it because it is an act of love, this food then is a source of energy. It is more a source of energy than food which is prepared without the thought of love in the mind. Without love being directed to flow through the fingers of the person who is cooking, there is no energy. For this reason, the pie made by grandmother was seldom overeaten, but pie made in the popular pie shops is over-eaten because, though it fills the stomach, it does not fill the mind.

The love that gives you energy must be repaid. Food that you do not eat, but that you give to someone else out of love, also gives you energy. The energy there is the energy of a loving thought. Food prepared with someone in mind and handed to them personally is a source of energy to both the giver and the receiver.

WATER is a source of energy, both as you drink it and as, it bathes the body. Again, a proper thought-flow, a mental connection with the Cosmic Reality, is the true source of that energy. When you are taking a shower, if you are taking a shower with the Divine Flux of the universe, the flow of all the galaxies in your mind -- the sacredness of the Jordan and Ganges in your mind, then that bathing acts as a daily baptism. If bathing is a preparation of the body as a temple for the Divine whom you invite to be present in your meditation, then that bathing becomes a source of energy.

BLESSING. One of the great unknown sources of energy is a blessing, and one of the most debilitating things is a curse. By a curse, I do not mean a curse placed upon you by a witch, but rather the ugly thoughts that others are thinking about you. If you have lived a life in which there has been too much of the "me-thought," then you have created a "non-me" -- you have created its opposite. The moment you separate yourself from the Great Cosmos, you create a duality, you create an "other," an opposition. That opposite tries to destroy you, tries to I compete with you. You say, "Me?" and the other one says, "No, not that 'me,' this 'me' -- ME!" Which "me" in the Great Cosmic Consciousness is more important -- the "me" inhabiting this body, or the "me" inhabiting that body? So other minds think ugly thoughts about you, and those thoughts hit you if you keep your mind open those thoughts. On the other hand, if you avoid wondering, "Is that person still thinking bad thoughts about me? That person must be thinking bad thoughts about me. I cannot believe he or she would ever love me. I wonder if that person will ever trust me." If you avoid those debilitating, de-energizing thoughts and cultivate indifference to evil, those thoughts cannot affect you. But thoughts directed toward you can be debilitating if you are open to them. When you are open to such thoughts, you also think thoughts that are negative, harmful, and self-destructive. It is not that person's curse that is affecting you, but your own curse that says, "Who me, selfish? No, no, that other person is the selfish one!" And that thought is the source of your mental and physical debility and eventual disease.

To repeat, one of the greatest sources of energy is a blessing. There is a saying in India that from the parental blessing flows all other blessings in life -- the parental thought of tenderness and love that, although a child is going wrong, yet, "I would like my child to prosper, grow and be happy." We speak of specific sources of blessing. The first source is the mother; the second source is the father; the third source is the teacher; and, of course, the fourth source is God. Always try to obtain the blessings of these sources. Please them: "May they be pleased with me." Why? Because the very cells of your body respond to the thoughts that permeate them. From the moment of your conception, a synchrony exists between you and those with whom you are sharing an inherited structure, an inherited body structure. Similarly, between a loving teacher and a loved student there exists a mental synchrony, and the good thoughts of these people should always be sought irrespective of any differences of opinion. These thoughts will bring you blessings. The Muslims call it a barakat. In India the blessing of friends brings you energy: "He's such a fine person, such a wonderful person, such a giving, loving, gentle human being. They say sampati: a prospering. They bring you a prospering in the same manner in which the happiness of a pregnant mother brings health to the child in her womb and the unhappiness, depression or dejection of the pregnant mother brings debilitation to a child in the womb. That relationship that you have with the mother while you are in the womb is never quite broken; it is not cut with the umbilical cord. This type of blessing is efficacious, then, as well as a person thinking, "May he ever prosper, may all good things happen to him." When others think such thoughts about you, whether you know about them or not, you grow. May others think such thoughts about you! If in our minds there are such thoughts about others, others will think such thoughts about you. Consider how to eliminate the "me," and instead think, "How may I serve?"

SELFLESS SERVICE. One of the greatest sources of energy is selfless service. It comes as a surprise to many when someone resents or resists helping, or resigns from his organization or church because he has to tithe or to work. Giving is a virtue. Giving is a source of blessing. Sharing is a source of blessing. Sharing one's strengths, sharing one's mind -- these are all sources of blessing. You cannot live without giving, without serving, without helping, without sharing. How would you live? You would be very lonely. So we have this constant feeling of being debilitated, not having enough strength to keep going, wanting to quit, to drop out, to get away. Irrespective of where you are, whether it's a job or a relationship or a church or a study, rid yourself of this debilitating depression by cultivating the Four Right Attitudes, by seeking proper, hea1th-giving sources of energy, and by eliminating negative, me-centered though selfless service to others.

CONCENTRATION. There are other very, very great sources of energy. One is concentration. Concentrate on any given sense. From how far away can you smell a flower? Concentrate at the tip of the nose where the nose bridge joins the upper lip and feel as if the breath is going in from there and is branching off into two. Take a slow, deep, fine, breath; then see if you can smell the flowers that are sitting at the other side of the room. If you cannot smell them from where you are, try moving closer . . . closer . . . closer. Gradually, as your concentration improves, you will be able to smell them from a greater distance. You will increase the energy of your smell organs and will give yourself a greater joy.

Or concentrate on tasting your food. Concentrate on the food and on the taste buds, and you will derive a greater amount of energy while eating. Then you need not eat large amounts of food hoping for mental energy and mental fulfillment from eating.

Concentration on a mantram also energizes the mind.

LIGHT. Light is a source of energy concentration through gazing at a flame of light energizes us. If the eyes are closed after gazing, and the mental after-image of that flame is focused between the eyebrows, this creates a reaction in the pineal gland. Thus, gazing at a flame of light -- a pure, still, steady, white-light candle flame, energizes the pineal gland which then starts further reactions which control the pituitary gland. This awakens the mind from its lethargy and we are energized. Concentration on any form of light, whether external or internal, in any one of the chakras or centers of consciousness, is a great source of energizing the mind as well as the body. For example, a red flame visualized and concentrated in the upward triangle of the navel center is a source, of energy that helps the process of digestion and the functioning of all the internal organs.

PRANAYAMA. Another source of energy is pranayama, lengthening and deepening the breath, doing the 108-breath channel purification, deep breathing, real deep breathing, not chest breathing, but abdominal and diaphragmatic breathing. Concentrate on the left nostril and the right nostril and then merge the nostrils, letting the ida and pingala join, and become the flow of sushumna itself.

You need not start with the highest forms of energizing. Start with the smaller ones. Eliminate thoughts that do not invite or bestow blessings, eliminate unnecessary residues of dead cells, the remains of half-eaten meals, etc. And constantly, constantly observe ways in which to serve and share as one of the greatest energizing forces. When you give somebody a gift, aren't you pleased? That pleasing state of mind is the energy of the mind. In India there is a custom on certain occasions when gifts are given in which we say, "Thank you. Please accept this gift." Not "Thank you for giving me the gift," but "Thank you for taking the gift from me, giving me the opportunity to be happy." That is energizing.

So go over these sources of energy in your mind and lead a life that is full of shakti, full of fulfillment and realized potential. That becomes your creativity, your completeness, and your path to perfection.

Copyright 2007, by Swami Veda Bharati

The perennial in the millennium
By Swami Veda Bharati
Spiritual Master of the Himalayan Tradition
From his book: Night Birds
Prophet, Soothsayer, Sage,

What will the next thousand years be like?

I did plant thorn bushes;
Won’t you bless me with lilies as I wander in this time path?

I made of my offspring marauders,
Won’t you pray for them to be wise
So they flourish. Prosper, and sweeten the bitter seas.

Will they, or will they not?
What will the next thousand years of my generations be like?

Prophet, won’t you prophesy?

The prophet from the divine thunder roars;
The Sage within our soul whispers.
The next thousand years will be whatever you have chosen today to make of them.

Uproot the thornbushes now; plant the lilies instead and the time paths of your generations will be paved with soft fragrant petals, each petal an achievement from your labor at interior purifications.

Sweeten your minds and the waters of the earth will remain sweet, and be sweeter still by the year.

The plants and trees will flourish, will provide shade, yield fruits, hold the soil fast to fasten the clay against erosions and rampant floods; the plentiful herbs will remain potent to grant remedies for illnesses.

The earth’s breast will be sucked and not be cruelly dug into, nor shall Gaia be sold as a slave girl for the price of a puff of chimney smoke.

The streams and waters will flow fresh and clear, granting life to all whose roots or lips sip of them gently. The rains will quench and soothe and not burn the skin not the vestment.

The earth’s blue silk scarf will wave unstained and unfurl the unbethought vigor that only Mother’s love can confer.

The nutrition will be obtained from foods fresh, gathered sans hurt and violence, not dripping blood, nor sucking the life from those who till the earth, and this food will nourish as accorded by the seasons, first your mind and thereby the physical self.

Our brother kingdoms of the four-rooted, the winged, those who crawl on the belly and those that dive with fins shall not be held captive nor shall any from our kingdom spill their blood, not for gluttony not for a warped urge for recreation. The human species having forgotten the smell of fear, all species shall roam in amity with humanity with cordial right of way mutually accorded.

Relationships shall be nurtured so as to pay all one’s debts, to learn from those in a different age group, gender, family station, and not for one yielding power and the others tremblingly yielding to reasonless display.

The law of love will enforce itself, needing no exterior enforces.

The virtue shall be its own power of defense needing no defender.

The matters of polity will provide occasion to test one’s inclination for consensus and not to confront and contest. Any contest will be to one’s own depth in virtue.

Humanity shall embark on expeditions of unceasing conquests over its interior maligning forces driving deep the one-pointed lances of silence.

All the boundaries dividing the earth shall have crumbled like the wall of Berlin. All regimes will have fallen, only the cultures shall govern themselves in mutual honour and sharing of all that is inspired.

Everything in the polity, economy, commerce, community and social order shall be established so as to be conductive to the bond of affection within a family unit and all that may cause rupture therein will be scrupulously avoided in law and in love.

The children will be honored for their purity, not that their wings be clipped in mid-sky-soaring, nor shall entertainments sully their white mantles of innocent light. The primary teaching will be to help cultivate a personal philosophy of life, and the secondary; to enjoy the pleasure of living by that philosophy and the highest education will be the realization of spiritual self.

Education will be designed to free the souls from bondage of the identities of matter. It shall not be a privilege of the few, empowering of the yet fewer, enslaving of many to the drudgeries of the meaningless simply to provide bread to a starving table. Women, philosophers, sages, it is they who will educate with assistance from the instructors who are guided by love to an intuitive entry into the hearts of their mind’s beloved children.

Because the ancient mind arts will be revived en masse, the knowledge of all sciences shall be gained in very short time periods, not weighing the minds down with burdensome loads but gaining access to the hidden chambers by the shortest route.

Those who delve into thee mysteries of nature’s realities and discover truths unbeknown before shall link them also to an unveiling of the mysteries of spirit’s realities, so a soul shall give life to the bodies of sciences.

No group shall be denied entry into the ceremonial, ritual, celebration, sacrament of another, nor shall be any criticize nor be forced to adopt whatever whatever is alient to one, but is fulfillment of another. All shall be bow in reverence to the alient thought, word, act, and person.

All religions will share space in the same temple-synagogue-cathedral-mosque, all congregating side by side, each worshipping by his book, his revelation. Each shall thus honour in reverence the priest and the celebrant, the monk and the devotee of the other. All will sing glory to saints of all centuries, of all the chosen peoples, making votive offerings of silence or of song, knowing God by No-name, and all Her names.

The bards and poets, and not analysts, will preserve the epic and the song which they will sing and recite by heart by bon-fires burning all the nights in all villages and communities and suburbs, nor shall any tongue be considered lesser than any other.

The entire humanity will tirelessly dedicate itself to collecting, preserving, passing on as invaluable inheritance the texts of all that is wise and sacred. Each individual will value these repositories of knowledge as wealth to be gathered, as gems to be treasured.

Recreation and entertainment shall be an enriching of the soul’s beauty and not a restive commotion produced from and feeding the mind’s cravings for the un-nameable, momentary, fleeting satisfactions by sensation. Trading in human bodies shall have ceased, for, all will worship the soul housed in this form. So shall commerce in sport be abolished, for sports to be an enrichment of human value.

Knowing the body’s cure to be in the body and the whole person’s health in the mind, the malignancies of malign emotion shall first be prevented and then eliminated if still risen. By the juice of the whole herb and the root shall the body’s wellness saps be nurtured, by harmonious nutrition enriched, nor shall they be weakened by unguarded indulgence.

The light in the mineral, the ambrosia in the thorn, weed and thistle, and the nectar in the venom shall be extracted by the sanguine to oil life’s flame, to add liquid luster to every fluid drop that courses in the vein, but in season, by the lunar phase, with prayer seeing permission to take the least, not plundering to extinction. Currents of energies, guided by the waves generated in the deep repositories of the mind and brain shall be re-channeled to impart to every cell and organ the glow of health and the blessing of longevity.

The speech will be soft, not carrying ego-nurtured assertiveness, nor threatening, nor louder nor more verbose than absolutely necessary for benevolent effectiveness.

The crafts will fulfill the soul’s longing for beauty, the goods produced to cater to need and never for greedy hoarding. Nor shall possessions be the measure of a person’s worth but of this capacious heart given to haring in charity and love. Nor shall position be an exhibit of power but a way to satisfy the innate urge in humbleness of love.

Occupations and the economics will be pursuits to add to the earth’s green mantle, to help all to savour the opportunities for beauteous creativity devoted to granting comfort to the relatively deprived. Nor shall any fetus suffer from absence of micro-nutrition, nor shall a single seasoned aged elder curl up to sleep hungry, alone, uncared-for. There shall be no wasting of the surplus, thereby no dearth of the essential.

The cities of today shall be remembered as cancers that have been cured, all cells restored, life saps replenished. People shall make their dwellings least visible, partially underground, and above these shall flourish green gardens where the beings of all kingdoms of the earth roam freely, lounge in the shades of trees, drink amply of the streams restored to invigorating freshness.

This past millennium shall be remembered as the dark ages bereft of enlightenment, this cluster of centuries as the most destructive ever, the memory of which causes not a savour but a shudder. The nations that war inside each human skull shall have signed a treaty of perpetual peace within, and thus shall have the spectre of war, famine, untreated disease, shelterlessness cease for the vast masses whose hurt will now be assuaged with prevalence of love as the primary qualification for the masters, nay, the wisdom-endowed guides, of polity.

The science and the soul having been reunited so as to be conducive to human affections, all will be done through vastly refined electronics and communicated by means of harmless rays. Nor shall any human endeavour cause to pour even a particle of killing poison into the air held sacred.

Men and women shall worship each other’s beauteous souls that have rendered their forms so magnetically charged. It is in worship that they will will learn to unite and not in the throes of lust that is unmindful of their Deity whose temple the partner in embrace is. From such a union that is sacrament offered ot Divinity, the future generations shall be brought forth in consideration of the earth’s resourse.

Dissenters and disputants will learn the art of merger of diverse faces of truth, each one learning to stand where the opponent stood and shall espouse his cause against one’s own.

All that was considered opposite heretofore shall be revealed as complementary, to be savoured in its richness, so that a mind shall not be coerced into having to choose between its night and its day but shall value equally the day’s lights and the night’s silences, even carrying light into the night and bringing forward silence into the day, for life’s completeness.

Whether the human embarks on adventures into outer spaces or stays firmly rooted in earth, his journey into vast internal spaces shall be his primary adventure. Here in this depth of the interior sky shall one view wonders of micro-worlds and macro-universes of uncountable varieties.

The beings shall live not by the contemporary temporal, nor by the restricted spatial but the ever expansive perennial.

Each individual will value and preserve all that is conductive to harmony, gentle thought, beauteous speech, modest claim, realization of the spiritual self within.

The human kingdom shall lay no claim to the possession of the planet.
In trust alone shall we hold it,
for, the civilization will be governed
by the love and wisdom of the woman,
by the understanding of the philosopher,
by the vision of the sage and the saint.

And it shall be so, because the minds will have been guided into a contemplative, self-observant, aware habit and the meditations will have replaced all negative imageries that sully the stream of clear reason, pure intuition, grace of revelation.

It shall be so henceforth. So shall it be in the year 3001, if you so choose to make it.

Grace and blessing of Divinity’ s Infinity, and of all Her Mind’s children, the saints of all ages and peoples, will guide, nourish, nurture the millennium if you will it so in surrender to the Perennial.

The lily petals of your meditations will your time paths, and of all the generations to come, beauteous and fragrant.

Such shall be the next millennium.

If you simply will it so.
So shall it indeed come to pass.

Swami Veda Bharati

Café Ecole is born or how to pull down a wall
by Constantin Foteinas
Attention! All historical elements are DEFINITELY INACCURATE! This is why they are true!

I have gone back many times. I recall again and again details. I do not know anymore what is true and what is only mine. I return to that time out of joy - profound joy. Images, discussions, situations come back to my mind. When I am in Montreal and I have the chance, I return to Saint - Denis street and visit the pizzeria where we had sat. I remember our small table. It is the last from left at the end of the pavement. It is a round table.

There were three of us. Me, Bernard - an old student of mine, actually a colleague at the Faculty - and Juan - an instructor in Venezuela, who was doing his Master diploma with me. We ordered a big pizza. As we were waiting while drinking coca-cola, I took out my fountain pen, as usual, and was scribbling on the paper table cloth I had before me on the table. We were seeking the new theme for our research. The discussion had become animated and I was writing in capital letters the words: CAFÉ-ECOLE.

I do not know if I had written them myself or they were written by themselves. But, I know that when we saw it, all three fell into silence. Maybe seconds or maybe longer time had passed. When we came around, we felt that something important had happened. My friend Bernard, whom I loved very much, took my paper table cloth and asked that we three sign it. He then folded it and gave it to me. Our pizza came, we ate speaking as nothing had happened, but we felt that something had changed at that moment. This paper table cloth exists among the archives of the Café Ecole (Coffee-School) laboratories.

I want to tell you about this birth. But I do not know what is true and what is fabricated. Whenever I recount them to myself or to people close to me, what I say is only my private logic. Was what I said as I described it or did I construct the facts afterwards? Or is it that I constructed those facts - the first ones - with the help of my private logic which explains why they seem so much like it? Does it really matter?

Juan finished his Masters and in a few months he left for Venezuela, after having given us a solemn promise of eternal faith and collaboration. He left. Leaving no traces behind. He never wrote a letter. He was lost. I remember him very vividly and with a lot of affection. And I am sure that he remembers us, too. He was very tender and he used to sing sad songs, playing his guitar, the South American song "Guantanamera". It is not possible that he was not overwhelmed by that moment the three of us shared. It was his doing, also.

Bernard was a real brother. We were very close during the first years of the Café-Ecole. We were together in our joy and in our fears. Soon after, more people joined our team: René, Manon, Giselle. But, Bernard was something special. He was a French teacher, an older immigrant than me, with a lot of talents and a beautiful way of thinking. And most of all, he was in my heart.

That day, the day the three of us went to have a pizza on Saint - Denis Street, was a spring day of May. And it was in the year 1978. It was a very hot day in Montreal. We had worked at the Faculty without taking a breath, from morning till 3am. Together with the rest of the research team, we were finishing the report and gathering all the papers - documents, tables - of a research that had lasted for eight whole years. Our subject was the "Open Systems in Education" and it was based on a model that I was using since 1965, when I was teaching at the University of Paris. This model, known as the "Fotinas model", had started to interest the world of science, internationally, before I got to Canada, in 1969.

André Morin, a fine colleague at the University of Montreal and also a researcher himself, had proposed to me that we start a research on my model and establish a research laboratory concerning the Open Systems. This adventure lasted from 197Ο till 1978. Our conclusions were published and now we were coming to the end. André had decided to start a new research project on "Popular Higher Education" and I had started to be fascinated by "Facilitation", as a pedagogical function. I decided to work on it. Do you know why?

Even an open educational system, such as my own model, which aimed to propose a democratic organization and function of teaching and learning, could not manage to transform a real lesson to a democratic experience, a democratic pedagogical act. Which means that the difference, between the democracy assured by the system and the democracy experienced during the pedagogical act, was quite big. The fact that the democracy realized in an open pedagogical system is considerably bigger than the one realized in the closed - traditional system was not enough for me and I could not rest.

The question that rose from my depth and began to preoccupy me, had to do with the first difference, the one between the open system and the pedagogical act itself, as much as it concerned the degree of democracy. And this degree was big for me.

The answer had already started to rise along with the question. This is what always happens, when the question is of essence. And it says: "No matter how much democracy a pedagogical system provides, proposes and assures, the degree of the democracy experienced, realized, during the pedagogical act, depends primarily on the ability of people (students-teachers) to reform it and to invest it in teaching and learning". In other words, people could not live democratically, even when the system allowed it.

And, consequently, I came up with the first series of questions of my next research. "Who is the democratic teacher - student? Which are the basic democratic skills and how can we develop them?" Café - Ecole began its birth.

I invited the colleagues and the students who were doing post graduate studies and proposed that those who wished, could work with me on my research. So, a team was created. And the project started to take form in our minds from the beginning of our conversations. But, something was missing. Something that was troubling me. Something essential. And it was clarified in my mind that afternoon when we went for a pizza with Bernard and Juan. It became clear to me when I drew the words CAFÉ-ECOLE on my paper tablecloth. And this is what I saw!

A research on democracy in the class and the training of the teachers, who would establish it, could not be done with the help of an experimental quantitative methodology, since such a methodology is authoritative by its nature. It is incompatible. Neither can the teachers' training, in democratic pedagogy, take place with the help of an authoritative didactic, such as the one that is still prevailing at schools. This again is incompatible. The words CAFÉ-ECOLE, Coffee - School, stated the free didactic and the phenomenological qualitative research method that we were going to follow. It was only then that I was reassured.

Thus we named CAFÉ-ECOLE the research laboratory that we founded that very same year (1978), as well as the educational method that we were going to use. The word Ecole (School) reminded us of the framework and the goals that we had given to the whole project and the word Café reminded us of the freedom, the democratic way in which everything had to be done. And I liked this "provocative" name. In a scientific field, where everything has to be named with resonant, official words, we were not using "serious terms". Was I not right in being very happy?

We separated for the summer with the decision that each one of us would think and prepare some texts concerning the research and the method. As from September we would take up systematic work again. The conversations that I personally had, in Athens, with Maria, whom I believe to be a very experienced pedagogue of a great value, helped me clear things even more, inside me. So, when I went back to Montreal I was completely ready.

In September 1978, I announced by a document, the Faculty of Educational Sciences, our intention to establish a new laboratory, a new programme and, also, a new method concerning the teachers' training. We even dared to announce the first public demonstration for the very same academic year. Our courage was great - and so was our craziness.

I can still see, before me, around our conversation table, Bernard first, Manon and René, who were students at the time, who had done their Masters with me and were heading for their Ph.D., my colleague Gabriel Laroque, who was a close friend of mine, a beautiful scientist, an ex - dean and the founder of our Faculty, and some other younger students. A lot of colleagues would occasionally join the team and participate in our conversations. A dynamic field started to develop around us. It was the same kind of dynamic field that I met before in my life, every time I proposed daring projects: a lot of interest and encouragement, but also fear for the new. The more the project advanced, the more people around us grew scarce.

By the end of January 1979 we were all ready for the first public demonstration. In one of my documents, addressed to the Faculty's administration, I presented the results of our experiments on our method and I asked for the means (class space, collaborators and a budget) to carry out our plans. During the demonstration we would present a didactic cycle of the method in the form of an intensive seminar which would last for a weekend. It would be attended by volunteer professors and students. The results would decide on the quality of our work.

It was then that I also wrote the first official text of Café-Ecole, its Manifest, which was titled: "Café-Ecole: For a systemic liberation of the act of learning". I dare say that it was a beautiful, strong text, which was reflecting the faith and the love shared by that first working group. The form of the text in its first edition, can be found in the laboratory archives, in Montreal.

At that time I read an original and nice small book, designed and written by Jonas Friedman. It had a green cover and it was titled: "How to live among others, without becoming master or slave". It was, of course, talking about communication. I proposed it as The Green Book of Café-Ecole. We usually call "White Book", the first description of a project proposed for a discussion. And we call "Green Book" (or any other "color" book), the final form of this project. The "Green Book" - Friedman's writing - followed us for years to all our public demonstrations. We always had an exhibition corner and, among all the other pedagogical objects, this one always had the first place.

In the beginning of February, I was invited by the dean of the Faculty, who wanted to remind me how much I was loved and appreciated. But, as regards the public demonstration of our new experiment, he said that we had to wait for a while, reasons.Just as long as the funds could be found. He asked me, discreetly, why did I ask for an empty classroom with cushions so that we could sit down, why I wanted a coffee percolator, refreshments, fruits and donuts within the same classroom, what was the purpose of the presence of a sound system and loudspeakers and what would I do with special lighting effects. I answered all the questions. He seemed to understand, but...I should wait a was a question of funds! He was sorry he said that the faculty was the reason for the delay of our plans.

I still remember the words flowing outside my lips with a mild stability and profound respect. I said: "The Faculty has stood by me so much for everything I have been doing for ten years now, so the only thing I can say is "thank you". However, do not be sorry, because finally will not delay our plans. The demonstration will take place this winter. The reason I came was only to see if we were going to do it with the Faculty or on our own. Afterwards, we will have plenty of time to resume our discussions about what is going to happen later on. But, if it cannot happen this time, it does not matter. We will have so many opportunities to be together.

It must have been the end of February when I called Jean Garneau, my close friend and my collaborator, since the first years of my work at the University, who was internationally known as a scientific photographer and worked with me in film making. As a matter of fact, we had won together - and also along with Jarmine Torossian, who was doing the montage - the first prize in educational movie at the festival of Toronto (Don't ask me which year this happened, as I do not remember!!). But, now I had called him and Bernard for another purpose. They both had a great knowledge of architecture, since they had built their homes themselves. I led them to the first floor of a beautiful three storey house that I had bought a few years ago. I was using this place as my private office. The house was big, the rooms were large and had high ceilings, the windows were big, the kitchen was huge.

My friends could not understand what was that I wanted. I took them to a pair of big rooms which were separated by a medial wall and I announced to them: "This is where the Café-Ecole experiment is going to take place. I ask you: Can we pull down the mid wall, without the house falling down? And, furthermore, can we enlarge the passage to the kitchen any more?" "It can be done", they answered in a very natural way.

It was the beginning of March. Jean arrived at 9:00 o'clock in the morning with his two daughters, who were 15 and 13 years old. Bernard arrived too, with his wife, Giselle, and their young son, Vladimir. He had brought with him a big bag full of tools. We were drinking coffee, when somebody, from the shop next door, came and delivered three rafters and other materials.

We started pulling down the wall at 11 o'clock. I was pulling down a wall for the first time in my life. Very often, after all these years, I sit down in this very same room recalling that day. Since then, the house has been restored. The architects had proposed to rebuild the wall and I refused politely. "No, is a personal, a sentimental matter".

I remember that we were all white from the plaster - white hair, white faces, white eyelids, white beards (all three of us had a beard at the time). The girls were in the same bad shape. We were all laughing so much that we almost fainted and continued pulling down the wall without stopping.

But, the great truth came out of the little Vladimir's mouth. He was working with us and he was in the same bad shape too, despite the fact that he was only three years old, but, every now and then he would come, holding the hammer in his hand, he looked at us from near and burst into laughter. Later, he made a color drawing, which pictured that particular day. We framed it and it remained for a few years in my office. It can be now found in our archives in Montreal, together with the pictures we took of all the phases of the wall coming down. First the picture of the entire wall. Then the first hits and at some moment the first hole!! We took a picture of that first hole, half a meter large. Whenever I thing of it, I cry. It was done! It was done!!

From then onwards...there are a lot of things to remember...the cushions that we fabricated, the covers that Giselle had sewed, using old cloths, the earthen ware cups that Manon brought, the coffee percolator, for fifty persons, brought by René, the ashtrays we made ourselves, the decoration, the clipboards that we hang on the walls, which gave instructions for the experiences and their analysis, the texts that were typed and photocopied, the invitations, the announcements at the University. Oh, how beautiful, how sweet life is! Its sweetness fills my mouth !!

What else can I say? I have before me that invitation. It says: "First Canadian experiment of Café-Ecole. Subject, facilitation or a different way of learning. Duration, three Saturdays: 24th of March, 31st of March, 7th of April. Place, Café-Ecole, 367, Edouard Charles street, Montréal". And the invitation message - which became a classic since then -: "You are welcome for a coffee. You can participate or just attend. We will play and chat. We will experience and think together. And possibly we will discover together something for us, for others, for life, for education".

And at the end of the page, there was the date: March 1979. Café-Ecole was born now. On those Saturdays, the Café- École sounded its first voices or, better still, its first laughter.Because it was joy and laughter.

In that same year, in June, during the Conference of the Pedagogical Service Conference of the University, where 1.500 professors and 45.000 students discuss and demonstrate all the important achievements of the year from the educational point of view, we were officially invited in a very honorable position together with all that we needed for our performance. In the course of the three day Conference, the work team performed 110 private logics to people who were interested.

The wall had fallen.

That wall, unfortunately, we could not put in safe keeping at the archives in Montreal.

The fence
by Constantin Foteinas
Once upon a time, in a beautiful village, there, where the houses came to an end, was an open space where children used to play. Next to this space rose a fence which, as the story goes, separated the village from the fields.

Throughout their early youth, children played at this space but, it would seem, they never were aware of the fence itself and the fields that lay beyond it.

Until one day one child thought of going to the fields. He approached the fence, looked at it again and again and said to himself: "Wow, wow, wow, how high this fence is. Will I be able to cross it"?.

He remained there for quite some time wondering, while in his eyes the fence grew higher and higher.
"Leave it for now" he said. "I will cross it tomorrow".

After his daily play the child went to the fence many a times and always postponed to cross it and go to the fields. Until one day he felt so desperate that he kept repeating, "Wow, wow, wow, I will never be able to go to the fields" and run sobbing to his home.

"What happened my child"? , asked the mother, and the child told her of his wish to go to the fields and the very high fence, he could not cross. His mother was sad but admired him and said: "Never mind, when you grow older, you will be able to do it".

However, later in the night he heard his mother say with sorrow to his father "Our child is unworthy. The moment a difficulty arises in his life, he starts crying and gives up". And the child felt unworthy.

Time passed and then another child thought of going to the fields. He looked at the fence and said "wow, wow, wow, this fence is very high and difficult to cross" As soon as he said that, the fence grew taller and the stones bigger in his eyes.

The child looked again at the fence assessing it and suddenly he jumped grabbed the stones with his hands, but, he was not able to cross it. He tried another time and another time and finally he succeeded. He looked at his hands and knees and saw they were bleeding. He glanced at the fields, the wide space, the freedom, and hurried back to the fence and again with great difficulty he crossed it back to his home.

His mother saw him and started yelling: "What happened to you, my child. Come, let me clean your wounds". While taking care of him she asked what went wrong and the child told her of the very high fence, the big stones, and his wish to go to the fields. "Well, never mind" she said.

However later he heard his mother tell his father: "Our child is worthy. When he wants to do something, no difficulties can stop him". And the child felt proud and worthy. But, also sad because his hands and knees were hurting.

Time passed again and here was another child who also wanted to go to the fields. He looked at the fence and said "This fence is very low. I will give it a jump and I will find myself on the other side" and as he was looking at the fence, thinking of what he had said, the fence grew lower and the stones smaller in his eyes.

The child took another look, and, feeling light, he jumped the fence and found himself on the other side, amid the fields, the wide space and freedom. Singing he went here and there, through the fields, and saw the brook rolling, the bird nests in the shrubs and the bushes, the fish in the river and tasted the blackberries that hang from the trees, just a few to make him feel their juicy beauty, and he said to himself. "Time to go home".

A long time passed and another child thought of going to the fields. He looked around and saw the fence, as well as a pathway near it. Singing, he followed the path and reached the fields, the wide space and freedom. And after he promenaded himself up to the river, and saw the nests in the bushes and the shrubs, he saw the fish in the water, he went to the thatch by the brook and chose a strong reed, which he cut with a pointed stone, took it with him and went home.

When his mother saw him she said: "Dinner is ready father has returned. Come quickly so that we can all eat together". The child washed his hands, combed his hair and quietly sat at the table. Then his father asked: "Where did you find the reed" and the child told him of his walk to the river and all the things he saw. He then told them that he wanted to learn fishing and asked his father for a string and a hook and his father said he would give him all that. He also asked his mother to give him dry bread for bait and she said she would give him all that and a basket for the fish.

They then, as was their habit, sat and said how was their day and the child listened with interest.

Nobody thought anything about the fence neither wondered whether their child was worthy, lucky or anything else. They all felt serene and happy in their home.