Our experiences of our selves in the world around us, shape the feelings we experience and acknowledge, the thoughts and ideas we carry and edit out and the actions we take or withhold. Together, they define who we are as ‘individuals’ and as members of communities or systems - at work, home and other settings. This as we may know from personal experience is not altogether a conscious process, nor is it only an outcome of one’s will. Who we define ourselves as at any point, also carries with it the aspiration of who we can also be - in the form of latent potential and denied possibilities.
We experience a world of phenomena/occurrences that are observable, which we through our individual and collective action and inaction, create as well. Simultaneously we experience feelings, emotions and are aware of thoughts, beliefs and ideas we hold individually. While all of us have our unique search, experiences, concerns, struggles, learning, preoccupations, sources of replenishment and joy, the basic human issues faced by us have much in common. From time to time, in varying intensity, ranging from utter despair to ecstatic wonder, we are seized with questions like:
“Why am I the way I am? Why is the world the way that it is?”
Can our lives and our particular experiences then become the raw material for inquiry and learning – for others and for us? Indeed so and is at the core of Sumedhas’s beliefs and engagement. The need to experience ourselves as whole and connected to people, systems and contexts also requires a careful consideration and examination of our assumptions, beliefs, behaviors, emotions, experiences and the contexts we live in. Such examination – or self-reflection – is at the heart of the Sumedhas purpose.
The central questions engaged with are about existence: identity and purpose, nature of systems and contexts, and relationships. The nature of this inquiry is not an 'intellectual' quest but a search for personal 'answers', or a personal philosophy. The quest then is to discover the unique meanings, convictions, choices and directions that are available as, within the individual, resources.
The purpose, at a basic, granular level in all Sumedhas offerings is to provide an opportunity for people from different walks of life to take a pause and reflect upon themselves, their relationships, their roles in the different systems -family, organizations, institutions, communities, society and nation- to which they belong to. Yet, this focus on self-reflexivity and the primacy of dialogue is not just a tool for transforming our individual selves and our relationships. In becoming aware of the different parts of ourselves and discovering the possibility for integration of these parts at a personal level, we also become aware of how we participate in creating the world around us.
This understanding of oneself, where new meanings and potentials for action emerge, can become the ground for action and engagement with others and the contexts we belong to, in ways that celebrate and sustain life; and transform our world. In Sumedhas, we refer to this as the quest to discover one's Dharma.