RESEARCH AND TRAINING CENTER FOR RELIGIO-CULTURAL
The Research and Training Center for Religio-Cultural Community (RTRC) was set up on the basis of our reflection on the experiences drawn from the work of the Diocesan Social Action Center of the Chiang Mai diocese and the missionaries in the North of Thailand. RTRC aims to empower people’s movements based on the religiocultural values of the local communities and their beliefs in the guidance of the nature and ancestral spirits, and the Creator-Spirit. Their religiocultural values and spirituality (of being spirit-led) are powerful context-based approaches for overcoming the challenges as they struggle to promote a more sustainable livelihood with dignity in the present society.
RTRC was officially established on January 16, 1999 as a Research and Training Center with a focus on the spiritualities and cultures of the indigenous peoples in the upper Northern part of Thailand, both living in the lowland and highland.
RTRC is the space of the spirit-led people who are still flourishing in the cultures of life so that they exercise their “sacred power” for the transformation of self and society in this transitional time to the realization of a more contemplative and prophetic lifestyle characterized by resilience and self-sufficiency.
Organize exchanges related to the people’s experiences of their life-struggle in order to build a sustainable network of local people’s movements based on their spirit-led approaches.
- Organize formation and training courses for the upcoming generation of community-based Organic Intellectuals (OI) in order to transmit the aspirations of communities through cultural-agriculture (agriculture rooted in people’s spirituality).
- Open spaces for contemplation/reflection for the new generation of community-based leaders to deepen their inner life that motivates them to bring about social-ecological change in our common home.
- Act as sources by generating a corpus of local knowledge through participatory research and the periodic summary of the insights and wisdom gathered from the local beliefs and cultures.
- Disseminate the corpus of knowledge, values and wisdom of the cultures and spiritualities of the local communities. (rice-spirituality Earth-spirituality Cosmic-spirituality)
To promote formation for the leaders of people’s organizations and strengthen the network aimed at the transformation of self and society gleaned from the cultures and spiritualities of the communities and their spirit-led approaches.
- To facilitate exchanges, particularly the experiences of faith among the various interest groups on their religio-cultural community approaches. These exchanges motivate them to have their strategic working plan in response to present situation and to work towards changes of policy supportive of the religiocultural development of the local communities.
- To organize formation and training for the new generations (Organic Intellectuals) that respond to the manifest needs of the local communities in their struggle to promote their religio-cultural values and spiritualities through Cultural Agriculture.
- To conduct summary of the insights and wisdom learned from the religio-cultural communities and their spirit-led approaches.
- To disseminate local wisdom on the religio-cultural values that strengthen the identities of the indigenous groups.
- Formation and Training
The formation and training programs mainly focus on providing (a) exchanges among the grassroots leaders and (b) alternative education for the young leaders from the communities in response to intention and need of the local communities in maintaining their religio-cultural values. These young leaders undergo formation through the “Organic Intellectual (OI)” and “Cultural Agriculture” courses. The aim is to form and motivate new leaders by enabling them to be aware of and confident in their local wisdom inherited from their communities. They are then inspired to commit themselves to the service of local communities and society, and involve themselves in the development of their communities in a holistic manner, with inner/ spiritual values and local knowledge.
Through the process of “Action-Reflection/Contemplation-Action”, the young leaders will be motivated to (re) discover their own essence/worth when their allows God’s Spirit to transform her/him from within. They are guided to live their lives holistically by integrating spirituality and life and strive to find alternatives for a more self-reliant and sustainable life with dignity and freedom of their spirit in present society.
- Strengthening People’s Organization and Movements
RTRC collaborates with people’s organizations and indigenous groups in building network among themselves and with other societal networks that endeavour to revive the value of sacredness to the world based on the cosmovision and spiritualities of the indigenous peoples.
- Researches, Summary of Lessons Learned, and Dissemination of Knowledge
In order to strengthen religio-cultural values that become a creative force for the local communities, RTRC conducts periodic research and the summation of lessons learned. RTRC strives to disseminate to the public the local knowledge of the approaches of the religio-cultural community and our reflections on the nexus between spiritualities and the integral development of the rural communities in local context.