Ananda College of Living Wisdom, inspired by the rich educational and wisdom traditions of the world, provides a student-centered, liberal arts environment that encourages spiritual inquiry and growth along with the application of these insights to meeting life’s challenges. Our purpose is to provide a transformational learning environment where students can discover and develop their personal interests and talents while acquiring the intellectual acuity and relevant life skills to manifest their unique potential in the most effective manner.
Ananda College of Living Wisdom offers an environment where students integrate a clear, practical intellect with dynamic will power, a compassionate heart, and physical vitality.
Our emphasis on Higher Education for Higher Consciousness helps students blend the practicality and efficiency of the West with the spiritual insights of the East.
Our residential program provides an opportunity for students to live in a cooperative community that supports holistic learning, working, and living, surrounded by farmland, gardens and nature.
Our teachers have earned strong academic qualifications and spent many years living and teaching the principles of yoga and yoga philosophy.
We endeavor to attract students with a keen interest in universal spiritual values, along with a passion for sharing their insights and strengths with others.
The Underlying Philosophy
Everything one does in life is directed, far more than most people realize, by an underlying philosophy or basic understanding of life. Even criminals are motivated by their assumption that money and power, acquired by any means necessary, will be for them a source of happiness and fulfillment.
Modern education, too, is based on certain assumptions – particularly on the belief that success means, again, money and power (acquired legally, of course). Added to this two-fold expectation is an equation of success with social respect, a comfortable home, and the means to purchase the things one wants in his life.
A philosophy underlies our approach to life at the college as well. It is the conviction that spiritual truth is central to all right understanding. Like the spokes of a wheel, this philosophy views the various departments of life as radiating outward from a central perception of things as they truly are. The core teachings of the college are based on this philosophy contrary to the underlying bias of modern times, which is that evolution has no purpose and resides in utter materialistic unconsciousness.
The college teaches, instead, that “living and “non-living” matter are founded in consciousness; that life doesn’t so much evolve from the depths of unknowing as it unfolds toward, or discovers, its own intrinsic nature. As the inner nature is revealed, it uncovers an aspiration of its own which causes it to reach out toward ever-higher understanding, until, ultimately, it re-attains absolute consciousness.
The recognition of man’s higher nature is inborn. Everyone, to varying degrees, longs for the fulfillment of perfect happiness. The apotheosis of this longing lies in divine bliss. This is the true purpose of all religions, and is, in the last analysis, what unites them all. The basis of all religions is the quest for Self-realization. Thus, the college emphasizes practical, not only theoretical, realities. Its teachings are experiential, not dogmatic. The unitive teachings of the world are studied not eclectically, but with emphasis on the individual experiences of true saints and wise teachers across all religions, as well as, from the point of view of their impact on spiritual experience in daily life.
Basic to this approach is the universal insight and world mission of India’s great modern yoga master, Paramhansa Yogananda. His explanations of the teaching of Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, and the teachings of Jesus Christ in the New Testament of the Bible, are emphasized to give a direction to the study of other religions. The approach is non-sectarian, and emphasizes the every-day applicability of higher truth. The curriculum includes multiple perspectives of many Masters, teachers and contemporary authors, and is geared toward providing comprehensive insight into the wisdom mankind has achieved over the ages. Effort is directed toward finding constructive directions for humanity’s further development. J.Donald Walters, Founder of Education for Life
Education for Life Philosophy
The Education for Life (EFL) philosophy, on which the college is founded, is rooted in ancient yogic traditions, given modern expression in 1917 when Paramhansa Yogananda founded a school for boys in Ranchi, India. In this system each student received individual mentoring within a broad perspective that integrated both spiritual values and the material sciences.
In 1972 these ideals were established in the United States with the founding of the first EFL elementary school in Nevada City, California. Subsequently, other EFL schools have been established in Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; Palo Alto, California; Assisi, Italy; and Ljubljana, Slovenia. The first EFL high school opened in 1997 in Nevada City, earning national accreditation through the Western Association of Schools and College. The Ananda College of Living Wisdom was founded in 2003 as the natural outgrowth of these developments in primary and secondary education.
Expanding Consciousness: the essential purpose of education and life
The essence of this philosophy focuses on helping students progress along a dimension of consciousness that permeates all of life. At the upper end of this spectrum we find a vibrant, expansive awareness that expresses itself in qualities like kindness, truthfulness, forgiveness, love, and joy. At its least developed level, consciousness flickers within a constricted range of behaviors that includes obstinacy, negligence, lack of self-confidence, superstition and callousness. In between, we find behavior motivated by such qualities as selfishness, impulsivity, pride, fastidiousness, and arrogance, where the energy level is generally high, but with a turbulent, egotistical focus.
Progress along this dimension of consciousness is essentially motivated by a person’s desire to avoid pain and sadness and to achieve an ever-more enduring and satisfying experience of happiness. At the lower end of the spectrum, motivation often requires external rewards such as money or food. Gradually though, people become aware of subtler, more intrinsic experiences like the joy that can be felt in selfless service, or the calmness that accompanies the expression of truth. As a person’s consciousness evolves, these awakened inner sensitivities provide a sound, practical basis for constructive life choices.
The Teacher/Student Relationship: the crucible for nurturing growth
The consciousness of the teacher is an essential component in implementing the Education for Life model. To the extent that teachers are preoccupied with personal issues, there will be an inability to genuinely attend to the needs and potentials of their students. Teachers must therefore be given the time and resources to cultivate their own level of consciousness through such practices as meditation, prayer, and the practice of mindfulness.
Secondly, the educational setting must allow opportunities for the teacher to establish an empathetic relationship with each student. Many of these opportunities can be spontaneous and informal, but without this kind of contact, the teacher will be unable to develop a curriculum that truly serves the students’ needs. Class sizes must be of an order that facilitates this style of interaction.
The Curriculum: a co-creation between teacher and students
The curriculum in an EFL school should be student-centered and dynamic, unfolding in accordance with the interests and capacities of the students, and utilizing current opportunities for growth that present themselves in the flow of daily life. Our teachers work with students to create a curriculum that is both practical and inspiring.