Something about Swaraj I wrote on FB recently in reply to a friend's
very good queries.
Maybe this might tell you a few in-depth things about what I'm up to nowadays.
ya, it's vague. Actually if you look at Swaraj from a professional
angle, a lot of things are unclear. But that's the point : In a world
where there are no real guarantees, is it smart to judge anything by
the guarantees it gives? What did TFI promise, showcase, and what did
it turn out to be? And btw, a line from John Gatto : I've found that
good teachers are more dangerous than bad teachers.
Finance: Rs.45,000 a year. Through the year, when we're not at the
campus, our transport and food expenses are re-imbursed, but with
Internships - payment or non-payment depends on our mutual
arrangements. Since we're so much into gift culture, even this part is
usually addressed like that. Usually we eat and sleep at the same
places, so food and lodging is taken care of.
For the most part, in Swaraj we're looking for ways to enrich our
heart and soul rather than our pockets. In the outgoing batch, the one
common current I found was that they had moved on from living in fear
of this or that. On the way, needs for expensive lifestyles vanished,
they got simpler, and needs for survival worked themselves out
organically. So yeah, it's way more spiritual than professional. And
no weekly DEADLINES, thank God!
To answer your questions, first of all, there's no THEY. There's no
real upper authority or system or staff that plans this and decides
that. We decide the whole plan of what we want to do during our meets
(a month long) on the first day by sitting together and coming to a
consensus. And if something comes up we sit together and discuss
again. Recall what we heard at Manav Sadhana? Pretty much the same
thing. At most there's about 5~6 ppl who have had lots of experience
in these sectors over the course of their lives and who share them
"Partner organisations" mostly translates to lots of phone numbers,
email addresses, facebook friends and websites gathered and which keep
getting added to. (Btw that was the deal in TFI too) The way Swaraj
helps is by being a resource of contacts and credibility - it's still
easier to visit ppl as part of a group than going it alone. And then
everyone shares whatever they found so one person can benefit from 20
I've found the sessions, dialogues, support VERY good... am generally
feeling quite happier and sturdier than I was in TFI. Most importantly
we get time and space to really get to know ourselves and shed the
outer masks and address our inner feelings. There's no fear of being
ostracized and no "directives" from the top. There's way more humour.
There's no compulsion to always be 'in' with the crowd. Of course,
there have been issues in interactions with others, and I'm glad they
came up rather than being suppressed because they helped me.
There's no Mandatory. Even in TFI, there's actually no mandatory, you
just don't get the paycheck and the certificate. There's no paycheck
nor certificate in Swaraj, so there. (Btw, I've decided NOT to take
any experience letter from TFI)
The campus tech is basic (Well, it's an ashram, not a campus). There
is minimal internet connectivity, you share it with the group so that
limits the time. It actually helped me a lot in de-addicting from
techy life. There's a lot of focus on healthy living.
There is a LOT of interest in rural life, organic and natural farming.
We've talked, visited people doing it, some of us are trying it now.
Living at the ashram the last 1.5 months was lovely. We take part in
the day-to-day activities. I ploughed, dug, weeded, mixed cowdung and
mud with my legs and hands, and helped out in the kitchen every few
days, with cooking and cleaning.
All our illusions about the importance of schooling get wiped out when
we meet kids and adults who've consciously never been to school, and
when we really spend time with people in the village.
Lastly, no more assessments, no more tracking, no more controlling
other human beings, no more being controlled by other human beings.
Thank God I walked out (of TFI) when the time came.