NAME OF THE PROGRAM
The provisional name of the program is ALDA ALDANNA, which means ” The Wave of the Ages ” in Icelandic, and is also the name of a beautiful sculpture by Einar Jonsson, from which the name is taken. It attempts to convey by means of allegory the ideas inspiring the program as expressed below.
GENERAL IDEAS INSPIRING THE PROGRAM AND THE ORGANIZER, LIRSIS
While humanity is nowadays not worse, nor perhaps better, than it has ever been, we live in an age in which the ancient traditional values and ways, both ethical and spiritual, have become old and sclerosed, unable, in the form they present themselves, to lead us any longer in our spiritual search, to make our souls flourish, to ameliorate us. The man of our centuries, among the prevailing materialism and egoism, cannot but feel a deep emptiness, the feeling, as a well-kept pet, that something strange is happening to him, that he is lacking something. Further, as evidence shows, man, as always, is unable to deal ethically and altruistically with others. But the need for a change of approach becomes more critical as each day passes, since we risk to destroy our species and our planet. Ultimately the reason will be less because of complicate political and financial problems or misdeeds than due to the simple defect which we all have: misunderstanding, suppression of something in us, and above all: egoism.
It is the belief of LIRSIS that our work to counter this development should not attempt big goals. Every single human being is a universe, and the smallest progress it makes is perhaps as important as changing humanity. Further, all attempts made in history to radically transform human nature, society or thought, even with the best intention, became soon corrupted due to the action of unavoidable social forces and due to the fact that those who soon represented them were often or always simple humans with the defects all humans have; they lacked, sooner or later after any first, perhaps really altruist founder died, even any other intention than keeping the movement that the founder had started going on for merely financial and social reasons.
Therefore, LIRSIS aims with this program at the amelioration of single participants, in the hope that it may create a flame that can go on and on over time, in spite of its inevitable decay, that it can set new flames, and that the goodness it hopes it may bring into the life of some of their participants will revert slowly in a chain effect from generation to generation producing a result that, if small, in that way can help in a bigger or lesser degree a wide number of people in the future.
It is important to note, however, that the seeds for amelioration have existed for millennia and been expressed in different forms and ways in all cultures, religions and philosophies, and in many other events such as literature and arts, in the history of humanity; or simply in the good behavior of so many people in the past. These previous expressions are our best starting point and our best guide in any attempt to change us, individually or collectively. On the other hand, any attempt made without careful consideration to this long heritage risks simply to be wild speculation and ultimately to bring nothing to us. It is true that most of us are able to find in us and by ourselves what all these traditions of the past ultimately said. Yet, it is also true that without these traditions pointing at the way we should follow, even pointing at that which is in us, or mirroring it in front of us, our eyes may well look for ever in other directions; we may, as most people today, even lack any reason, any interest, in gaining deeper insight in these things and in ourselves, simply because we have been blind to this until now and no one can wish that which he or she does not know at all or that which he misunderstands, denies or rejects.
However, we should not be caught in expressions of spirituality that were suited for times long gone, for societies and ways of thinking which disappeared long ago, for remote cultures, for other kind of men. It is undeniable that many of the rituals and picturesque aspects surrounding the ““ quite deep and right ““ core of these traditions, surrounding it as much as to make it invisible, today have little sense, that many (clearly not all) of their modern followers are either poor, superstitious people interested in influencing such things as next month’s weather or the result of the exams of their son in the East, or unbalanced, despairing, unsure people searching consciously or subconsciously for psychological healing and friendship, or people attracted by the exoticism, orientalist dimensions, snobbism and even eroticism of these rare ideas in the West. It is right and good that such people get some help or enjoyment, as far as they become better so. But was that, only that, the original purpose for which these old traditions came into being ?
Our aim is not to cling to the past. Let it be good for old societies what was good for them. We do not belong to them. Our aim is finding out the universal core of these old and modern traditions, and using this core for our inner enrichment, our transformation so to say, though this word is properly wrong ““ self-discovery is perhaps nearer -, and our amelioration in our being and acting in and towards the world.
With this, we also wish to progressively create the seeds of what could one day flourish into a new way for men in our age, a way of inner development and goodness towards others that may allow us to have a future and perhaps one day to become collectively even more than man.
This new way, in contradistinction with the simple message of so many groups whether religious, social or philosophical, of so many so-called sects, cannot be a clear, fixed, written down way that plans our life collectively and would apply as well for one as for any other or for millions alike. It cannot, either, be a fixed way, an immutable set of principles that are found one day to be true and expected to be true for ever. There is no such sure system that has proved everlasting until now. There probably will never be one and this fact is ultimately right and good.
This way must rather be a simple individual attempt to reach something deeply hidden in the individual’s own inner world, and in the world surrounding him or her. As no person is identical to another one, no thing in the world is identical for two of us, so no two ways can be identical. Each person is his way. The way of others may help and deserves to be considered and learnt carefully, but should properly never be followed, not to say blindly, as in most religions; it should help us in our own way, which, however, must be ultimately only ours, and even at some deep level so deeply ours that it is untransmittable and inexpressible, unutterable in words to others. But this is not to say that all those different ways ultimately may not lead to the same end. Just we should not forget that the end is beyond the way(s).
We are not asked to reach a solution for the universe. We are expected to reach a solution for our own life and for our relationship with the lives surrounding us. Only if we do it, not the other way around, over time the solution for the universe will arise from the solution of each single part of it.
Further, can it be, should it be a search for a solution? Search, we must. Somehow search in itself is finding. But there is in fact nothing to be found (read this phrase in its two senses), and should it be something, it would be wrong. Our souls, our brains, our lives are too little to let universal things fit in them, not to say those in which whole universes are as drops of water in a sea; even our full understanding, should it one day provide us a global solution, would bring us just that, logic, words, solutions, while it is immediately obvious as soon as we close our mind that all our mental activities, our structures, our logic and our words are but a grain of sand on an infinite beach that escapes knowledge, reason, words and man. We do not deny reason: without each grain of sand, there would be no beach, without each drop of water, there would be no sea. Yet, reason is something that must play its limited role and then must be surpassed.
In other words, in this unfathomable immensity that even each of us or the most miserable little stone are, in this constant fluidity of all, somehow our search must be eternal. Our attempt to ameliorate ourselves should be constant. There is no permanent goal that will really be reached, though we should set goals as simple steps towards further ones.
Therefore, in the depth of the thought inspiring LIRSIS and its programs lies the idea of fluidity, of constant search in diverse and many directions, as many as people there are; of eternal search; of an eternal and constant attempt to ameliorate ourselves and others. We reject the possibility of finding absolute truths giving a cue for all, ourselves and our worlds; as the cue, if there is one, is no cue, it lies beyond ourselves and our knowledge. It can be grasped, not understood, it can be brought into action in the world, not be set as an illuminating part of it accessible to all. It manifests itself in us, and in the whole world, but cannot be apprehended by any of us, and it manifests itself differently in all, it changes from day to day. Fluidity with it, not setting fast norms, is our highest fulfillment in life.
That is not denying the possibility of a personal complete fulfillment in life by reaching the minuscule goal each of us has in it. We ourselves are often simply useful steps in this eternal quest. Even such things as transcendence, mystical union, nirvana or moksa, must ultimately be seen as minuscule goals, though they are the highest thinkable limits of man. But still, what are they ? much like the highest thoughts an ant can produce: microscopic glimpses of what surpasses us. Therefore, we cannot deny that in our perennial search some of us may in fact reach what is considered the maximum by any given tradition ““ not to say by the limited standards of most of ourselves. We cannot deny that this may be the end, the goal, for a given person or group, the reason why they were here in this world. It is good for them, and LIRSIS hopes to help as many as possible to reach their individual purpose or these small big goals for which they came into the realm of being. But we must go on, always further, and we must understand as well that what is the highest goal rightly for some person may not be that for the one sitting next to him.
That said, of course not all of us are made to be able and willing to progress in a constant search, not all of us are even able to reach a transmutative kind of personal goal in our life. Nor are we expected to do that. Rightly seen, there is not so much difference between the smallest and the biggest things. In the expressed sense that all of us have, are different ways, many or most of us simply need to reach this or that step, need to believe, probably rightly, they have reached therewith the maximum in their lives, the goal for which they were here. In doing so, they ameliorate themselves and so ameliorate the world – in as much as they do not reject all other possible ways and goals or short or eternal search of other people under the prism of their newly discovered or newly reached aim. And, who knows? Perhaps we were here, we were awaited here from all eternity, just to help that little old woman to cross a street the 23rd of July 2008 or to avoid that an insect falls in the water. That was our goal in life, and nothing more. Let us help every one to fulfill his or her goal, whatever it may be, if this does not hinder the same help to others. Some are called to the hardness of constant search, some perhaps to whatever kind of personal fulfillment, transcendence, perfection, knowledge or peace; some only to find a small shore in which they may be satisfied personally and spiritually and be good and helpful to others. Many may be called just to do a little good thing. There are even some here called simply not to understand, to wonder, perhaps to suffer. In fact, all these groups of people stand ultimately at the same level.
We therefore recognize the relative validity of all religious or other ways that may still today produce some kind of inner transformation or even the most simple realization or amelioration for some of their followers. That is, we may not recognize the overall suitability and even honesty of these religious ways, when they have become obsolete or incomprehensible or even corrupt, but we recognize the inner value they, as so many other things, may have, the good role they may play, in the life of some of their followers. Therefore we encourage those who belong to a given religion not so much to abandon it as to dive into the deepest, often today nearly forgotten aspects of their own belief and become better people in this way. Nevertheless, as it would make impossible all advancement as well as our whole view, we discourage any belief of exclusiveness that implies that the way I am following is necessarily the only suitable one and all other ways are wrong. We cannot deal with people as participants in our programs, though we are open to private or public discussion with them, who intend to use us exclusively to promote their views, who are unable to accept open and neutral discussion of theirs or ours but to use that discussion as a means to convince others, and above all we cannot deal with those belonging uncritically to religions that clearly exclude any other issue except utter damnation for those that, knowing clearly them, do not follow them. Again, nevertheless, even the heritage of the exclusivist religions should be dealt with seriously in order to see what we can learn from it.
Our program is aimed at all those whose goal is amelioration and search, those who do not believe they have already found a definite set of truths that never will change, but only recognize they are trying to advance in a given way and are able and willing to hear about the ways of others, from the great ways of the past to the simplest personal ideas or personal experiences of another participant in the program. Respecting the feelings of fast believers in religious systems, we prefer not to have those who are unable to doubt their own attainments as participants. Besides, the aim of LIRSIS is small and it intends to have to do with a reduced number of people; no doubt those searching and working for progress fit better, given the need to choose, than those believing they have found ““ or having really found what was fit for them, if they do not notice it was for them, not necessarily for all.
The program can certainly be taken as the mere means to acquire knowledge about the traditions of spirituality of mankind, and it will serve in many cases its full purpose by that. It can be taken also in order to reach some advancement, some amelioration, in the lives of those taking it. Even at the limit it may help by simply providing peaceful, spiritual surroundings to release our tensions from common life and by providing contact with good-natured people with whom we can make deep friends. Yet, a more advanced use of the program is possible. The program can serve as a start, an introduction into a new kind of life. Those who so wish may keep in touch with LIRSIS and take further steps, both intimate and spiritual, practical, and related to knowledge (the latter by following further levels of the program when they come into reality soon later on), in order to find and follow their individual own ways.
LIRSIS does not intend to have any paternalistic approach to people taking its programs: They are here to teach as well as to be taught ““ to teach to others, and to teach to LIRSIS. The leaders of the courses are not privileged beings, visionaries or geniuses. They are as simple a kind of people as any participant. They just happen to know some traditions of mysticism of the humanity better, to have more experience in leading seminars or organizing courses, nothing more. Yet there must be an authority, otherwise nothing at all would be reached and the given program would sink into chaos or extravagancy, or even into a kind of holyday around remote lakes in Asia, and end badly or in nothing. This authority in virtue of his experience, of him starting the program, and implicitly of the agreement of those taking it, is the leader or Dean of the program, and his authority is basically related to keeping order and stimulating progress, he does not have, except in some questions of concrete technical knowledge about past traditions, an absolute authority about what is the truth, what is better to do ethically, etc. He can therefore offer only doubt, search and unknowing. Otherwise we would not be in a quest, as ultimately LIRSIS is involved in, since it would mean we have found and our Dean possesses the hidden setting of truths. Which, since this is by principle impossible (and furthermore, deeply unnecessary), would mean, again, that the Dean is either cheating us or a perfect idiot.
LIRSIS does not intend, either, to proselytize. It is against the principles of LIRSIS trying to “˜attract’ other people to the programs. That is to say, as in any academic enterprise and in spite of the clear differences between our nature and any academic entity, the programs must be announced and made as known as possible, but this must happen by usual means of information and not by personal, subjective approaches, and nothing should be occulted about them from the start, no other means of pressure or of attraction should be used beyond the simple written publicity of the programs and our goals in the most common ways. Further, it makes little sense anyway to proselytize taking into account that (as expressed below in the description of the program) we do not intend to surpass a limited number of participants each term, nor aim to really get money beyond the mere maintenance of the program we intend.
These are only general ideas inspiring the program and LIRSIS, since many other, deeper aspects, would first precisely require that the person hearing or reading about them had followed either the programs themselves or a similar inner process of ““ let us say provisory ““ transformation or discovery that allows him or her to understand or rather grasp our deeper meanings.
Therefore, if after reading these few introductory pages you still have many questions, doubts, and wonder about us and many matters, or if you have the smallest curiosity at all, we recommend that you write to us, and we will try to answer individually and extensively to your doubts ““ perhaps not as much to dispel them as to make them productive in you. We can correspond in English, German, Spanish, French without accents, and more rudimentarily in Norwegian; we are likely, however, not to have the time to send you little essays in beautiful words and you will have to accept answers in unpolished, perhaps somehow convoluted language, as it comes quickly to a non-native using it to express or to explain subtle points. Please do not be unsure, contact us. (See for that our email addresses at the end of this presentation).
If after reading this and checking matters that follow below in this introduction concerning practicalities of the program such as contents, structure, components, settings, etc. you are interested in our program, we would enjoy having you here to exchange all that your unique life has taught you with us in order to improve our own lives.