Alice Project derives its name from the famous book by Lewis Carrol: “Alice in Wonderland” and like Alice the school invites children to enter the magic land of our unconscious mind, exploring the inner world of thoughts, feelings and emotions and to cross the borders between our inner and outer realities. In this way they will hopefully be able to understand and cope better with the challenges and contradictions of our everyday world.
The philosophy in all our teaching is based on the understanding that our perception of the external world originates in the mind, and so it is that our mind constructs our transient reality depending on many interweaving influences.
Some concepts taught in the Alice Project:
• the laws of interdependence;
• the laws of cause and effect;
• the subjectivity of perceptions and dynamic of projections;
• the relativity of boundaries;
• the ever changing nature of our thoughts and feelings.
Our aim is to explore our understanding of self.
These universal understandings and values originate in diverse philosophies and spiritualites, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Christianity, etc. and likewise our philosophy is not exclusive to one religion but embraces all of them; we are and we teach without borders. Most of the children in Sarnath and Bodhgaya are Hindu with a few from the Islamic, Christian, Buddhist and Jain traditions. Children are encouraged to know and understand their own traditions, and through these traditions the universal truths are conveyed.
The methods used tap the most powerful potential we possess: the potential to be ‘wise and kind’.
The curriculum combines three fundamental disciplines:
1. the traditional Indian Government syllabus subjects as defined by the State Government of Uttar Pradesh: Math, Science, Hindi, Sanskrit, English, History, Biology, Chemistry and Geography;
2. the ancient Indian disciplines of yoga, meditation and ayurvedic medicine and massage;
3. the integrated universal branches of learning, for example dance, art, mythology, ecology, farming, social work, dharma, ethical teachings and philosophy.
For the latter, Valentino Giacomin has written an inspiring series of text books, ‘Philosophy for Children’, moral tales, and stories. The ideas contained in these books are used throughout the school, as a spring board for discussion and exploration of ideas of self and reality.
Body and intellect are combined with yoga and meditation, taught as part of the core curriculum to every child every day. In this same way, spirit and emotions are not separate as they are part of our every day talking and thinking.
Alice Project is based on the concept of Unity. Unity of the Body, the Mind, and the External world (we are a biological psychological and spiritual unity). What we call external reality is nothing but an illusion a wrong perception of our dualistic mind, an unrecognized projection of our narrow ego-consciousness. Reality is without borders, and is not independent from the mind; Mind is a ‘place’ where people of different countries and traditions are able to meet and understand each other, communicate beyond thoughts without discrimination or language barriers – using the power of silence.
Mind is the place where we can defeat suffering, wars, injustices, harmony. This is Universal Education Alice Project, an educational method aimed to help people discover and realize, first, the unity within ourselves (the integration of the conscious mind with the shadow and the unconscious) then a unity with the so called external reality.
Purposes of Alice Project
We would like to awaken the “dormant qualities of the mind,” by encouraging our students to investigate and explore the fascinating world which lies beyond the rational mind, the world beyond the ego (transpersonal intelligence). We are convinced and are trying to scientifically prove that only beyond the rational mind lays the key to preventing mental illness. For this reason we do not ban religion in our schools. Our students are allowed to practice their own faith while respecting others’ beliefs.
Valentino says: “When a group of friends goes to the restaurant, each one chooses his own menu according to his like or dislike. No one even dream to quarrel or fight over the taste of his friends. What is important is sharing the pleasure of eating together, in spite the difference related to the food.”
The Alice Project students are encouraged to experience the advantage of the collective prayer. Our motto is: ‘Unity in the diversity’. We emphasize the value of the function of praying, without judging the content of the prayer, which is related to individual… taste!”
When there is the risk that the expression of our faith can generate conflicts, our teachers advise students to practice the “Prayer of the heart,” also called “Silent prayer”. Silence destroys all the differences. The Mystics say, “Thanks to the silence of the heart we can listen to the God’s voice!”
The Alice Project, beside the proposal of an educational path able to contribute to the solution of some of the problems which the schools are facing nowadays, has other specific targets:
• Helping to educate a new generation of social operators, teachers, psychologists and volunteers to spread the Alice Project philosophy and methodology beyond the boundaries of the Sarnath and Bodhgaya schools, opening new schools and educational centers not only in the villages of India but also in other countries.
• Making the students aware of the gravity of environmental problems in their villages (pollution, misusing water, deforestation, pesticides) and social problems (castes, violence against women, abortions, alcoholism, and illiteracy). We should help the students to recognize the causes of the problems, (ignorance of the principle of interdependence, law of cause and effect, wrong perception of phenomena,) and then to discover the remedies.