TALK 1: THE DHARMA OF ACTIVISM
In the first of two talks, Michael delves into the philosophical roots of yoga, Dharma, and the tradition’s astounding relevance to activism in the world today. More than asanas and meditation, yoga is a philosophy of change for the better. It is a call for a revolutionary transformation in which the best in each of us is realised, empowering us to make a difference in the world around us.
Yoga refines our body and mind. It clears obstacles and can link us to our essential inner spirit, which the tradition says is powerful, full of potential and everlasting. The philosophy and practice of yoga is a reliable path for realising that innate potential and expressing it outwardly as conscious activism. By making our inner world a better place through our individual practice, we can effectively respond to conditions in our outer world. And as we all know, the current state of affairs demands a conscious activism for the better – if not for others and the planet, then at least for ourselves.
In this talk, Michael explains that Dharma is the yoga touchstone that delivers this inner transformation and its effective outer expression in the world around us. He discusses how Dharma, or the state of sustainable harmony, can be realised through the four yoga principles of Satya, Ahiṃsā, Śauca and Tapasya. He also illustrates how these principles have empowered deep individual transformations, which later led to significant historic activism that achieved positive change. In his presentation Michael explores how the four principles of Dharma are the means for achieving deep personal growth, and how they can provide structure and support for change-making organisations seeking to address problems of social justice, gender equality and environmental protection – to name a few. Michael discusses how the inner work of yoga-dharma is a prerequisite for effective activism. He demonstrates that the four Dharma principles of truth, respect, purity and effort provide a reliable template for harmonious, effective action and impactful activism that raises individual and collective consciousness, transforming perception, opinion and behaviour.
TALK 2: THE ACTIVISM OF DHARMA
Michael builds on his previous day’s talk by exploring how the presence of Dharma is a catalyst for revolutionary and transformative change in individuals, organisations and society. He discusses how Dharma is built on four universal principles that underpin and support everything in existence; and how their presence energises people and organisations, lifting them up in quality and in consciousness. He explains how Dharma is an optimal state of spiritual being that transcends temporary designations such as caste, creed, body and so on. The spiritual nature of Dharma and its universal principles offer us a way to step over the conditioned thinking of identities that bind us and cause conflict and discord, with each other and with nature. The four yoga-dharma principles of Satya, Ahiṃsā, Śauca and Tapasya offer us a practical guide for bettering ourselves and the world around us. By reflecting on the deeper meaning of Dharma, we discover that it is based on the equality of all beings and that it justifies the right of all creatures to a peaceful life. Dharma is a concept that supports equality and fraternity and the basic right to pursue a full life of the unfolding of our human and spiritual potential. When we look closely at Dharma, we inevitably find that it is a model of conscious activism aimed at the betterment of all.
The spiritual activism within Dharma has historical precedence in such movements as Gandhi’s ‘Satyagraha’ and Dr Martin Luther King’s ‘civil rights movement. Michael will explain how the principles of Dharma animated and energised such movements, including the recent XR (Extinction Rebellion) movement and how other human rights and environmental efforts can be strengthened by the principles of Dharma. Michael will also explore how the yoga community can play an important role in leading for positive change, following in the footsteps of conscious reformers who took bold action when it was needed. The floor will be open to discussion after the presentation, with a view to consider how and to what extent the model of Dharma can stimulate a conscious activism in response to today’s pressing problems.
Michael is a Life Strategist, Vedic astrologer, teacher and author. In 2008 he co-founded Cranmore Foundation, an educational charitable trust that researches the world’s wisdom traditions to identify universal principles and values that can be carefully reformulated as design principles that support human and environmental well-being, and broad-spectrum sustainability. The Foundation recognises that today’s challenges require a new quality of thinking. Its premise is that wisdom traditions offer modern society a potential valuable resource for crafting wisdom-inspired solutions.
Michael’s consultancy Cranmore Academy LLP is dedicated to providing practical learning and life-coaching opportunities based on his work with the Cranmore Foundation and his 35 years of experience as a Life Strategist, Vedic astrologer and his early years as a Bhakti Vedic monk. He consults private individuals and businesses in finance, media, creative arts, health care and natural health products.
Michael aims to help clients craft life strategies that are authentic, relevant and meaningful. His use of Vedic astrology helps him: guide clients to reflect on their qualities and essential nature; identify their untapped latent potential; discuss the challenges they may have in realising their potential and ambitions; and suggest practical ways to meet those challenges, so that they can realise the best in themselves.