September 16, 2015

Chaudhuri listed 12 fundamental principles of integral education

Haridas  Chaudhuri,  who  was  one  of  the  original  professors  appointed  to  the American  Academy  of  Asian  Studies,  asserted  that  educating  for  peace  was central  to  his  founding  vision  of  the  California  Institute  of  Asian  Studies.

In  Chaudhuri’s  book  The  Evolution  of  Integral  Consciousness  (1977),  he listed  the  12  “most  fundamental  principles  of  integral  or  holistic  education for  the  world  community.”  He  believed  that these  principles  would  lead  to “the  building  of  one  internationally  unified  global  society”  (p.  84). Chaudhuri  specified  three  principles  that  provide  a  rationale  for our commitment  to  multicultural  understanding  and  social  transformation through community service. These are:   

1.  Promotion  of  intercultural,  interracial,  and interreligious  understanding  …. 
2.  Affirmation  of  the  intrinsic  dignity  of  all  individuals, men  and  women,  everywhere  in  the  world….   
3.  The  essential  equality  of  all  races,  and  peoples,  and nations in the world.  (1977: 84) 

While  these  principles  are  supported  today  in  US  higher  education, even mandated  by  the  Federal  Government  and  accrediting  commissions,  they reveal  the  extent to  which  Haridas  Chaudhuri  and  his  colleagues  were  ahead of  their  time. This  should  not  be  surprising  given  that CIIS  was  a  leader  in the  50’s  and  60’s  San  Francisco  Renaissance  which  did  much  to  raise awareness regarding non-violence, civil rights, social justice, and ecology. [Chaudhuri,  Haridas.  1965.  Integral  Yoga:  A  concept  of  Harmonious  and Creative Living. Wheaton, Illinois: Theosophical Publishing House.]

Dr.  Chaudhuri  was  well aware  of  this  worldview  many  years  ago  as  he  insisted  that higher  education needed  to  provide  a  global  perspective  if  we  were  ever  to  have  global  peace. He wrote:   
"The  educational  system,  as  it  operates  today,  does  not take  into  account the  whole  man,  nor  does  it  take  into account  the  whole  world.  It  is  concerned  neither  with global  consciousness  nor  the  integral  man  in  his  full integrity  and  in  the  multidimensional richness  of  his  total existence.  We  find  that  these  concepts  do  not  go  into  the educational planning (1977:78)." 
Unquestionably,  this  citation  attests  to  Chaudhuri’s  passionate  commitment to  implement a  new  vision  for  higher  education  –  he  was  not  interested  in developing  one  more  college  or  university.  In  his  unique  plan, education  was to  lead  to  personal transformation  which  in  turn  would  lead  to  social transformation. He  maintained  that personal and  social transformation, so necessary  for  peace  building,  required  contemplative  practice,  spiritual inquiry, and interreligious dialogue.   

In  1951,  Alan  Watts,  who  was  the  Chaplain  at  Northwestern  University, arrived  at  the  American  Academy  of  Asian  Studies  to  join  Haridas Chaudhuri  in  being  among  the  Academy’s  founding  faculty... He  recalled  his many  dialogues  on  spirituality  with  Dr.  Chaudhuri  who  with  
“his  gentle humor  and  learned  mind  made  him  a  wonderful  partner  in  debate,  so  that  we could argue endlessly without losing tempers” (235). 
Years  after  his  work  at  the  Academy,  Watts  acknowledged  the  success  of Chaudhuri  in  creating  the  Institute; and  he  noted  that  Chaudhuri  built  on many  of  the  relevant  themes  of  the  Academy. Watts  wrote  
“Haridas Chaudhuri  went  off  on  his  own  and  replaced  it  [the  Academy]  with  the California  Academy  [sic]  of  Asian  Studies,  which  is  where  something  of  the original  tradition  of  the  work  is  now  alive  and  kicking  quite  interestingly” (262).  
Despite  the  troubled  times  and  issues  surrounding  Watts  and  his relationship  to  the  Academy,  there  is  no  question  that  his  intellectual brilliance  and  personal  charisma  brought  attention  to  the  predecessor  of CIIS, and that it positively affected the founding vision of CIIS. From  its  first  days,  CIIS  has  been  offering  courses  in  the  world’s  religions and  spiritual  traditions.  For  example,  the  CIIS  Self-Study  Report  for  WASC written  in  June  1973  cited  the  following  courses:  Comparative  Theology, Comparative  Religion,  Basic  Scriptures,  and  Critique  of  Religion  and Mysticism.   

These  principles  echo  Haridas  Chaudhuri’s  statements  regarding  the inevitability  of  religion  as  well as  the  need  for  us  to  “reconstruct”  religion  to contemporary  issues.  In  his  book,  Modern  Man’s  Religion  (1966),  he thoughtfully  noted:   
"Religion  is  an  autonomous  function  of  the  spirit.  It  can hardly  be  replaced  by  any  non-religious  discipline.  That which  seeks  to  replace  religion  in  a  radically  atheistic and  anti-religious  mood  begins  soon  to  function  as  a special  kind  of  religion.  So  the  great  need  of  our  day  is not  to  reject  religion  but  to  reconstruct  it  in  accordance with  the  intellectual  climate  and  the  specific requirements of existence (ix)." -----. 1984  [1966].  Modern  Man’s  Religion.  San  Francisco:  Cultural Integration  Fellowship.   
[Educating for Peace: The Founding Vision of CIIS  By Joseph Subbiondo, President of the California Institute of Integral Studies]   

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