The first Living Wisdom school was started by Nitai Deranja at Ananda Village in California in 1972. J. Donald Walters, also known as Swami Kriyananda, asked Nitai to start a school based on experiential learning, practical skills for living and universal spiritual principles.
The book, Education for Life, was written by Swami in 1986. This seminal book began a tremendous flow of energy that planted the seeds of the EFL philosophy in the hearts of many compassionate educators and parents. We now have five thriving Living Wisdom Schools based on the Education for Life Philosophy and many smaller schools starting up just in the last several years. EFL is a global movement bringing consciousness into education from preschool through higher education.
Swami Kriyananda passed away April 21st in Assisi, Italy.
I’m not a member of the Ananda spiritual community, but I have been deeply touched by J. Donald Walters’ work. I taught in mainstream settings for 10 years, holding as my intention (with wildly varying degrees of success) to be a channel of love for my students. I’ve studied many books and theories of education, but they all have seemed to lack some spiritual depth. They have glossed over how to develop a heart connection between teacher and student, and how to support and encourage the naturally compassionate hearts of children.
When I went to “interview” for a teaching position at Living Wisdom School, I figured I should study up on the philosophy. As I crammed for the interview, reading through Education for Life, I was blown away by the deep truths unfolding as I read. It was the first education book I had ever read that I completely agreed with and was totally inspired by. As I’ve gotten deeper into this work, I have felt incredibly blessed to work in this community. I am surrounded by people who are working to bring love and heart-connection to education. This open-heartedness has been an inspiration for my teaching practice AND for my own personal spiritual practice.
I am enormously grateful to J. Donald Walters for putting these ideas into the world and for dedicating his life to service. May we bravely continue the work he has inspired.