Vishva Niketan Peace Centre

The Vision

Vishva Niketan is a peace centre: a place for all nations to pursue the ideal of inner and outer peace. The name Vishva Niketan in Sanskrit means “Universal Abode” and is symbolic of the Centre’s desire to include all nations, religions, and ethnicities in its vision of world peace. Vishva Niketan has been established in the firm belief that enduring peace can only be attained when individuals achieve inner peace – cessation of conflict within themselves. In creating an atmosphere of tranquility and serenity close to nature, Vishva Niketan aims to awaken people to their inner spirituality so that they may return to the world beyond to create constructive change.

Unlike many places of worship and mind-training, Vishva Niketan is focused outward as well as inward. Its holistic approach to healing the mind, healing the society and healing the environment reflects the Vishva Niketan’s unique peace message.

Objectives

To contribute to the spiritual revival of human kind in Sri Lanka and throughout the world, Vishva Niketan promotes the learning, teaching and practicing of the universal teachings of the Buddha, in a spirit of loving kindness to all living beings.

To promote inter-faith, inter-racial, inter-communal, inter-political and inter-state understanding

To train peace corps in activities and functions relating to peace building, crisis intervention and non-violent dispute resolution

To asserts human rights as the basis of peace and justice in every community of the world. It promotes inter-faith, inter-racial, inter-political and inter-state understanding.

To sponsor actions that promotes mutual understanding and amity between communities and religious denominations

To provide a neutral ground for the resolution of disputes arising within communities in any particular country or among nations

Participation at programmes

Individuals and groups from all walks of life are welcome at Vishva Niketan. Business leaders and professionals participate in Vishva Niketan programmes over week ends and return to their desks refreshed in mind, ready to face challenges with better composure of mind. School children and youth come to focus on the values that help them make right choices. Advocates on the opposite sides of political and ethnic conflicts discover common ground. Even “hardcore” prisoners and guards have found that meditation here helps them find mental equanimity.

 

If you want to know more about Vishva Niketan Programmes

Prison Programme

MIND is responsible for all virtue and evil. At dawn, a group of men dressed in white silently walked into Vishva Niketan premises. One could notice certain numbers marked on their clothes and their faces heavy with emotion – regret, fear, confusion, hatred and sorrow so vividly expressed. One moment in time an ‘evil mind’ led these men to deprive a fellow human being of his life, steal the innocence of a woman’s virtue, possess dangerous drugs or rob others of their possessions.


Thus, convicted for murder, rape, robbery and drug dealing, these inmates of Welikada prison were all out on a journey to transform themselves. They were yearning to be forgiven, to be accepted and most of all to ‘break free’ with minds of compassion.


Vishva Niketan offered them a unique opportunity to explore their inner selves and take charge of their own transformation through a meditation retreat. As they walked out of Vishva Niketan back to their prison cells after three days of this exercise, their eyes were glittering with hope and promise and the determination to move on a forward march towards righteousness. Some of these convicts will be released back to the society in a couple of years. However, they appeared very confident and determined that they will not get back to their old destructive habits. Following are a few thoughts of the inmates who experienced the blessing of a wonderful retreat at Vishva Niketan:

“I committed murder. My mind was not at rest. Feelings of remorse and disgust filled my mind. I had no idea about any form of meditation. But within a very short period of three days of meditation at Vishva Niketan, I understood what life is. I shall practise meditation within the prison and when I am released I shall walk into the society with the determination to lead a righteous life.”

“The joy I received through meditation practice is beyond words. I vow not to commit any crime in future.”

“I am now in prison because my village had no personality moulding mechanism like the meditation programmes that I underwent at Vishva Niketan. When I get back to my village I shall continue practicing meditation and make sure that I do not enter prison again.”

“I was under enormous mental agony before I entered this place. I just can’t believe the way I can take charge of my mind now. For me to have this experience I’ve got to be truly so lucky. I was planning to take revenge from some people when I am released. But those thoughts have now vanished. I will continue my meditation in the prison and also when I am released. I will do my best to teach others through my experience and help them refrain from all evil.”

“I am going to teach my fellow inmates how to ease their minds and be happy through meditation.”

“I learnt how to be ‘free’ behind bars.”

Spiritual Health Programmes

Spiritual health protects a person’s physical and mental health by empowering that person to be mindful of his/her thoughts, feelings and emotions and help identifying wholesome and unwholesome thoughts, feelings and emotions without suppressing them. At the same time spiritual health helps the individual to cultivate wholesome thoughts, feelings and emotions such as love, compassion, joy, patience, contentment, forgiveness, equanimity and the like. These in turn will contribute to a healthy body.


An individual who is unable to be mindful of these unwholesome states of mind is a threat to self as well as the society. Spiritual health programmes help individuals to develop wholesome states of mind. The programmes include meditation practices such as breath by breath meditation (anapana sati), meditation on loving kindness, walking meditation and exercises on mindfulness. The programme also promotes the application of wholesome cultural and religious practices such as chanting of pirith, chanting of hymns, prayers and singing lullabies and the like.

Holistic Approach to Motherhood Programme

Holistic Approach to Motherhood is one of the main programmes initiated and implemented by Vishva Niketan Peace Centre to promote spiritual health. It aims at promoting the spiritual, mental and physical health of the unborn baby, the expectant mother and the prospective father.

Objectives of the Programme

* To make way for a physically, mentally and emotionally blessed healthy baby
* To enhance the spiritual, mental and physical health of the mother
* To promote wholesome daily habits, practices and behavioural patterns that would help the mental and physical growth process of the unborn baby
* To help establish the prospective father’s role in creating a conducive, vibrant environment for the health and well-being of the mother and the unborn baby
* To help create a family unit fortified with love, happiness and understanding
* To create public awareness so that the community will create a peaceful environment that promotes health and well-being of the mother and the unborn baby
* To revive wholesome cultural and religious customs and practices attached to pregnancy and child birth

Programme Content

* Awareness creation about mind-body connection
* Awareness creation about medical and scientific evidence about mother-child connection
* Spiritual practices such as loving kindness meditation, walking meditation, breath- by-breath meditation and exercises on mindfulness
* Awareness creation about wholesome daily habits, practices and behavioural patterns
* Awareness creation about wholesome cultural and religious customs practices (eg.chanting of pirith, reciting of hymns, prayers and singing of lullabies) attached to pregnancy and pre-natal care

From the moment of conception, the unborn baby experiences the thoughts, feelings, emotions and actions of its mother. This is because mother’s and the unborn baby’s mind and body are inseparably one. Wherever a thought goes, a molecule follows. The impulses in the mother’s mind are instantly translated into a palette of neuro-chemicals. These chemicals communicate with cells and tissues throughout the body. The unborn baby is part of its mother’s body. Therefore, a mother’s thoughts, emotions and feelings translate into molecules that enter into the body of the fetus. If the expectant mother is unable to deal with her thoughts, feelings and emotions appropriately, especially, when unwholesome states of mind pervade her being, the fetus too will be affected finally bringing into this world a physically and mentally sick human being.

The unborn baby’s sense of self-awareness dawns early as the baby grows inside the mother’s watery womb. As soon as the baby’s sensory awareness develops, it perceives and responds to subtle sounds, sensations, sights, tastes and smells from inside the mother’s body. The warmth and security given by the expectant parents helps strengthen the genetic structure of the unborn. During the past 2 – 3 decades plenty of research has been done and it has been scientifically established that the tiny being inside the mother’s womb begins to develop heart beat at 18 days, starts limb movements at 12 weeks, responding to external stimuli like needle pricks and pressing of the abdomen. The fetus starts developing brain cells from the initial pregnancy stage and very speedily it multiplies more cells culminating into billions just before it enters the world as a new born.

Being mindful of the importance of the mother’s thoughts, feelings and emotions, the father is expected to create an environment of peace, love, harmony and understanding so that the mother and baby are kept protected without being exposed to dangers of unwholesome thoughts, feelings, emotions and actions, as they are nurtured in a peaceful environment. When the expectant mother/father sends messages to the baby inside through soft music, words of loving kindness, respecting and accepting the tiny being these wholesome thoughts, feelings and emotions get lodged in the infant inside and he/she will enter the world as a physically and mentally healthy human being. Spiritual health programme helps him/her by introducing the techniques required.

Spiritual resources for responsible corporate management

We host spiritual resources workshops for corporate managers, business personnel and youth leaders.

 
Retreat Goals

* To experience firsthand a deep degree of stillness of mind and body
* To learn how to reliably cultivate and sustain spiritual resources under many different conditions
* To taste your own timeless capacity to generate imaginative, effective, and authentic solutions along the path of a company, an organization, or for yourself

Spiritual web of Compassionate minds “Meth Sith Sambediyo”

This is a programme implemented by Vishva Niketan International Peace Centre to awaken the people’s consciousness through a series of spiritually-oriented activities to be carried out at village, district and national levels. Through the formation of volunteer groups of Meth Sith Sambediyo (compassionate minds) this programme will help creating a spiritual web of compassionate minds island-wide to reawaken the communities in Tsunami affected and non-Tsunami affected areas. Meth Sith Sambediyo will act as catalysts to strengthen the capacities of communities to respond collectively to natural as well as man-made disasters with a spiritually matured mind-set.

 
Spiritual Practice

The meditation conducted at Vishva Niketan is based on Buddhist practice of Anapana Sathi, Metta and Vipassana. However, our purpose is not to promote any one form of religion. Those who wish may practice any other forms of meditation.

A.T Ariyaratne Charitable Trust

The Peace Centre is the vision of Dr. A.T.Ariyaratne, the founder and president of Sarvodaya Shramadana, a grass-roots humanitarian organization that has been active throughout Sri Lanka over 48 years.

Vishva Niketan was formed by the A T Ariyaratne Charitable Trust using funds from the Niwano Peace Award Dr Ariyaratne received in 1994 and the Gandhi Peace Award he received in 1997. It was his vision to convert the recognitions given to him into seeds for further cultivation of inner and outer peace through spiritual awakening.

Location

The Peace Centre is located in Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, just south of Colombo, on an acre-and-a-half site.

Map

The Centre

The heart of the Peace Centre consists of a series of indoor and outdoor meeting places where people can gather to discuss ways of achieving peace and resolving conflicts, receive training in the form of seminars and workshops, or engage in group or individual meditation. There are platforms beneath shady trees, informal seats on rock outcroppings as well as covered verandahs and a large meeting hall, “Samadhi”, for more formal gatherings.

Accommodation

Kutis

The Peace Centre has 14 Kutis (accommodation retreats with attached toilets) in four buildings known as “Metta” (Loving Kindness), “Karuna” (Compassion), “Muditha” (Altruistic joy), and “Upekkha” (equanimity). These can accommodate 20 guests.

Dormitories

As many as 30 guests can stay in a dormitory-style facility.

Samma Vasa

Samma Vasa consists of two self-contained apartments. Each has two bedrooms fully equipped kitchen facilities. Labrenth

Meals

Simple vegetarian food cooked in Sri Lankan style is served three times daily at the main dinning hall.

Code of Conduct

While at Vishva Niektan we shall

* Observe Noble Silence
* Take every step with mindfulness
* Speak every word with awareness
* Learn to look at every thought with mindfulness
* Keep the buildings and premises clean
* Keep the environment clean
* Look after the plans as living beings
* Refrain from smoking, consuming alcohol and non-vegetarian food

We shall

· Not take arms of any form inside Vishva Niketan premises

· Use water and electricity with due concern thus avoiding waste

· Be attired in white

· Be barefooted

· Always keep the rooms and toilets clean and wash the crockery and cutlery after personal use

· Maintain the surroundings clean

The Peace Garden

The layout and realization of the Centre has been carefully designed to be conducive to the purification of the mind, with great attention paid to all the details, both aesthetic and practical.

The Peace Garden has three elements – the Sand Garden, the Water Garden and the Meditation Garden.

Sand Garden

The entrance to the Peace Centre is through the Sand garden which shows a rough surface to depict the negative thoughts such as hatred, greed, ignorance, jealousy etc. that are generally prevalent in the minds of human beings.

Water Garden

The nearby Water Garden has three curving ponds with flowering lotus plants behind which are miniature waterfalls flowing down small man-made hillocks. The path to the Samadhi Hall, the main meditation hall is over “the bridge of mindfulness” – a series of raised stones in water, necessitating mindful walking promoting focused thinking.

Meditation Garden

The dense jungle-like corner at the north of the site houses a meditation garden containing the Bodhi Tree, a Buddha statue in Samadhi pose (Padmasana) and specially designed gravel paths for walking meditation. A sapling from the Bodhi Tree at Anuradhapura has been planted.