What We Do

Be a part of this wonderful initiative for nationwide healing and transformation starting with you. The Walpola Rahula Institute (WRI) brings about social healing by engaging you in an inner journey for outer transformation through metta or Universal Loving Kindness.  

The very foundation of recovery, metta in its truest sense goes beyond the thought: “May all beings be free of suffering . . .”.  In the Okkha Sutta (SN), the Buddha states that sending thoughts of Universal Loving Kindness to all beings in the time it takes to get a drop of milk from a cow, will accrue the sender far greater merit than offering a hundred pots of rice (to the Sangha). 

As with all the teachings of the Buddha, the true value of metta can only be experienced when it is practiced in daily life and becomes the basis for all our actions and reactions. In this way, metta is assigned its rightful role as a powerful means of dhana (giving).  The common misconception that confines dhana to material giving and upholds material giving as being more important than sila or bhavana (meditation) has resulted in the interpretation of metta as a form of bhavana. However, metta is far more than that – it is an incredibly powerful form of dhana.  

In this programme, the change we wish to see begins with our own inner realisation of metta. Leo Tolstoy said: “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Self-transformation, be it through the transformation of behaviour and habits for self-improvement or through the cultivation of qualities such as compassion, kindness, sympathetic joy and equanimity, built on the foundation of metta, enriches life with happiness and fulfilment. When this joy and happiness is conveyed to those you encounter, social healing begins. With the meditation cushion as the starting point of the practice of metta, you deepen your practice, taking it into your every meeting and interaction with all living beings. We can then bring about the peace we wish for.  

The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said: “If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering of the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self transformation.”

Unlike discussion and debate, dialogue recognises the humanity of the other party and involves empathic listening, open heartedness and non-judgmental awareness. This intensive programme co-designed by the Walpola Rahula Institute (WRI) and Sarvodaya Institute of Higher Learning (SIHL) teaches effective speaking and listening skills to transform the damage caused by religious discord and facilitate social healing. The programme provides safe, respectful and facilitated spaces for diverse religious groups to learn about each other, share experiences, and dispel fear and distrust through healthy dialogue thereby generating positive transformation of both the individual and the collective.

The four-phase programme was launched in 2016 and conducted through residential workshops, active fieldwork and individual and group assignments over 2017 to develop a context-sensitive approach to social healing. Groups of 20 participants aged between 21 and 40 years from the Christian, Hindu, Islamic and Buddhist communities of Sri Lanka participated. While religious communities and practices have the strength to heal, we feel there have been limited voices, initiatives and collaboration between religious leaders to further social healing in Sri Lanka. By supporting our religious communities in this sensitive healing process based on compassionate, open and respectful dialogue, we can help rebuild the foundation for a wholesome, inclusive society of the future for all.

How we do it:

  1. Through workshops and fieldwork, individual and group assignments,

  2. By providing safe spaces suitable for effective dialogue.

  3. By building deeper understanding and strengthening networks and collaboration among participants and facilitators.

  4. By strengthening personal and institutional relationships among partner organisations focussed on social healing.

  5. By learning from a sustained dialogue focussed on social healing.


This programme is presented on demand. Interested organisations and individuals are invited to get in touch with us.

At times of disaster, those who are affected often seek support and protection in their places of religious worship such as churches, mosques, kovils and temples. This programme prepares you, as members of the clergy to respond effectively to those who seek their help in natural disasters and emergencies. 

Disasters cause human suffering, damage to property and the environment, disrupt social systems and spread calamity. You, as religious leaders are amongst the first to respond to the needs of survivors, and play an important role in meeting emergency needs. You are often the focus of resilience across communities. As a religion based on loving kindness and compassion, Buddhism has been instrumental in mobilising religious leaders as catalysts of social action in times of disaster. You will gain the necessary skills to be effective first-responders. 

Jointly created and presented by the Walpola Rahula Institute (WRI) and the Sarvodaya Institute of Higher Learning (SIHL), the programme was first offered to members of the Buddhist clergy in 2017 as a three-day residential course followed by three months of fieldwork, culminating in individual presentations. Twenty Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Nepal participated. It included a period of community intervention that enabled participants to practise the promotion of community resilience. This was followed by a sharing of community-level experience. Participants built up the confidence, determination and commitment required to effectively meet the needs of disaster survivors. 

Participants gain a basic understanding of:

  • Concepts of community resilience and disaster management. 

  • The disaster management cycle. 

  • The three steps of emergency preparedness. 

  • Community-based early-warning systems. 

  • Knowledge, skills and attitudes of first aid and safe patient transport. 

  • Management of the dead in disaster situations. 

  • Knowledge, skills and attitudes of psychological first aid. 

  • Environmental health in camp management. 

  • Maternal and child health aspects in camp management. 

  • Humanitarian charter and Sphere Standards. 

  • Donation management in disaster management. 

  • Disaster risk reduction. 

  • Climate change and climate action. 

  • Facilitation of community resilience action plans.

 

Training Module Development and Facilitation

Dr. Novil Wijesekara – Resilience, Research Training and Consulting

 

Partner Institutions 

Sarvodaya Institute of Higher Learning (SIHL) 

Walpola Rahula Institute (WRI)

Resource Partner for Technical Training 

This programme is presented on demand. Interested organisations and individuals are invited to get in touch with us.

Sri Lanka has experienced extensive conflict. The 28-year civil-war has left the scars of deep trauma on all sides of the divide. Many have lost their loved ones and possessions and have undergone immense physical and mental pain. The repercussions of those times continue to manifest in cultural fear, hatred and retaliation today. There is an urgent need for activities, systems, and structures to effectively provide the much-needed social healing and reconciliation beyond infrastructure development. 

The Walpola Rahula Institute offers a range of programmes targeting the unaddressed, unhealed traumas that have become the root cause of rising tensions among religious and other communities in our post-conflict nation. These programmes aim to transform the assumption of conflict and its associated atrocities as a norm into individual and collective responsibility for healing society. 

 

Visiting scholars: Healing memories

Meet visiting scholars and authorities for talks and workshops on healing memories. 

The programme was first held in 2017 at the Sarvodaya Vishva Niketan, Moratuwa.  It was attended by 30 Buddhist monks who gained valuable experience in reflecting on and responding to the need for social healing.

Let us heal: A collective sitting

By spending days of national significance on reflection of past conflict and its impact on us and our families and our loved ones, we can become more mindful of our identities, cultivate awareness of the egos and learn to live and let live with empathy, kindness and compassion.  We conduct bi-annual collective sittings on: Independence Day in February and in May to commemorate through reflection, the loss of lives of Sri Lankans in the 28-year conflict. Open to people of all ages, faiths and communities, this meaningful alternative approach to celebrating victory includes all the different sides of the conflict to achieve the following objectives:

  • Heal those who have experienced a painful past and mental suffering both at personal and collective levels.

  • Cultivate awareness that others have also suffered, and the realisation that their hurt is no less painful than our own, and build empathy and compassion towards them. 

  • Cultivate awareness of our need to be responsible for one another, thus facilitating collective healing. 

  • Focus our own religious and spiritual beliefs towards a collective healing effort.

  • Cultivate the determination to avoid similar conflict in the future.

 

Monthly Dialogues: An invitation to a new conversation

This programme incorporates dialogue within a metta practice session to pave the way for peaceful living for individuals, families, communities and societies. 

Through dialogue conducted in a space that is safe for expression, you learn the art of mindful communication that avoids predictable debates on contentious issues, polarisation caused by rigid posturing, and mistakes made by jumping to premature solutions. They enter into genuine inquiry that respects perspectives that threaten  own, thus enhancing tolerance leading to positive transformation. The result is a deepening of human relationships, the gaining of new insights and understanding through the creative tension of tolerating differences leading to new and unexpected responses to complex problems. Communication skills are enhanced because successful dialogue includes a new way of listening, expressing oneself and exploring one’s inner feelings. 

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Each month, we invite a renowned expert or professional to give a talk on contemporary social issues that impacts social wellbeing. Conducted on Poya Day evenings, this programme provides insights into specialist knowledge and experiences. The safe and confidential space encourages participants to express their views in an environment of active listening, non-judgemental acceptance and collective responsibility. As a result, you also gain a broader, creative perspective on topics relevant to fostering a more tolerant, value-based and culturally-rich society appreciative of Sri Lanka’s ethnic diversity.

Topics range from Metta in daily life to media’s role in developing a critical mindset. Presenters include human rights activists, political activists, health care professionals and artists.  Difficult conversations are encouraged so that everyone can contribute to our vast pool of knowledge.

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Mindful families for healing societies is a holistic program designed for children and their families to strengthen and nurture their attitudes, knowledge and skills to deepen their understanding, transform conflicts, and heal the wounded and divided societies.

The objectives of MFHS are:  

  1. To be mindful on our tendencies, responses, relationship and interconnection

  2. To empathize “others” and be responsible on the impact of our action has on them

  3. To understand and contribute toward fulfilling the needs of people and society for social healing

MFHS program uses experiential learning model, Active Learning model and Ethics Education Frameworks to focus on six themes: mindfulness, empathy, interdependence, social responsibility, conflict transformation and social healing. The program consists of in-house trainings, outdoor activities, volunteering and services, field visits, retreats and child-led and youth-led collective actions.

Please express your interest to enrol for upcoming programmes. We will get in touch with you when the next available programme is ready.