Shantum Seth is a peace builder, social activist, Mindfulness teacher & pilgrimage guide. He is passionate about guiding people on inner journeys in outer landscapes, and teaching skills that can help develop stillness, calm and ease.
Areas of interest
- Social Change
- Human Rights
- Peace Building
- Mindfulness & Wellbeing
- Website: http://www.buddhapath.com/
Shantum Seth is a teacher, social development worker, peace activist, pilgrimage guide and ordained teacher in the Zen lineage of Thich Nhat Hanh. After many years working in the United Nations, Shantum and his wife Geetu now run non-profit Ahimsa, and are setting up a mindfulness centre and community in the foothills of the Himalayas.
Ahimsa Trust is a volunteer driven, non-profit organisation geared towards cultural, social development and educational work aimed at creating peace and harmony within oneself, ones’ family and in society. Ahimsa aims to spread the ethics of peace and non-violence through alliances and programmes in the areas of mindfulness in education, culture, environment, gender sensitization, responsible tourism and sustainable livelihoods.They are pioneering work on mindfulness in education, and also working with local police forces and other bodies to improve wellbeing of those most vulnerable.
Ahimsa Trust is involved in a Mindfulness in Education initiative, inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh which is based on mental training to bring a moment to moment awareness of what is going on within oneself and outside oneself. This mind training allows students, teachers, parents and administrators to develop well-being and social emotional learning (SEL). Following Mindfulness practices on a daily basis allows children and others to develop stillness, calm and ease so as to look deeply at the body, emotions, perceptions, volitions, mental formations, thoughts, speech etc. This not only helps in mental processes of concentration, attentiveness, memory, judgement, impulse control and reasoning but also helps enhance academic performance, decrease stress, resolve conflicts and build community.
Shantum studied Ghandian economics, and is also the foremost teacher and guide to the sites associated with the Buddha. A Buddhist practitioner, he is an ordained teacher (Dharmacharya) in the Zen tradition of the Vietnamese Master, Thich Nhat Hanh. He teaches in India and other countries and has been leading well acclaimed pilgrimages “In the Footsteps of the Buddha” since 1988. In the last few years he has been leading inter-faith, educational, cultural and spiritual journeys to diverse regions of India. At the same time, he has been deeply involved with social and ecological development issues for over 20 years.
He is a consultant to the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation to help promote Buddhist circuit tourism in India. He is also on the Government of India’s expert committee for the Promotion of Buddhist teaching and learning (including advising on the development of the Buddhist sites for pilgrimage/tourism), has trained guides for the Government of India and UNESCO, is on the Indian executive of the inter faith group Temple of Understanding, and has addressed a number of forums and universities including the Chicago Council of Global Affairs, the World Presidents’ organisation (WPO), the Young Presidents’ organisation (YPO), the UNDP executive board among others. Shantum says:
After quitting my job as a footwear technologist, I worked as an activist, until I realised I was burning out. I was working for peace, but was not at peace myself. That’s when I started my spiritual search, trying everything, including Vipassana and several forms of Buddhism. My search ended with Thich Nhat Hanh, who I discovered practised a form of engaged Buddhism. It’s a 24-hour practice where you are attentive to every moment of the day, while you are walking, eating, driving, bringing the mind back to the present moment through your breathing. In this practice, your family is your sangha, so I practise mindful living with my wife, Geetu, and we have a practice called Beginning Anew, where every full moon night we renew our vows of living mindfully and joyfully.”
Shantum is an accredited guide with the Government of India, though one travels with Shantum not merely as a well-informed guide but as a friend. He opens up his home, helps connect with interesting people from all strata of society and develops lasting friendships. He calls himself a cultural interpreter, and enjoys sharing the subtleties of India’s religions, society, economy and politics, especially with opinion moulders from around the world – anyone interested in understanding the mind of India and their own mind. He enjoys people and sharing his love for India.
Shantum studied Development Studies at the University of East Anglia, with his thesis in Gandhian Economics. While at University he was elected Vice President of the Student’s Union as a ‘Green’ candidate, where he was actively involved in the Peace movement and pressure group politics.
His interests in human development and spirituality brought him back to India. Shantum worked in the social development sector with Oxfam, and did ecological work in the North East of India (Nagaland) supported by the World Wide Fund for nature. Thereafter for fifteen years he worked with the United Nations Development Programme (and UN Volunteers), managing programmes on artisan development and on volunteer promotion in India, South Asia and globally covering 16 countries. He also assisted UNDP (and UNESCO) on working with peace education, endogenous tourism, world heritage sites and sustainable livelihoods. He is actively involved in the non-profit trust Ahimsa, which is working on educational, social, cultural and environmental programmes www.ahimsatrust.org
He has been pioneering work in Mindfulness in Education, training teachers and students to develop skills such as attention and concentration, emotional and cognitive awareness and understanding, bodily awareness and coordination, interpersonal awareness and skills, opening up the doorway to transformation and liberation. He is very interested in helping young people gain tools for peacefulness, happiness and the understanding of who they are in relation to others and the world.
Shantum lives with the mission of making the world a better place and helping people awaken to their fuller potential by exposing people to different ways of living and thinking, thereby expanding consciousness and building cross cultural understanding.
He was part of the core group of teachers, (accompanying Thich Nhat Hanh), in a retreat for US Congressmen and Senators and was the lead organizer of Thich Nhat Hanh’s visits to India, where retreats and talks were held for parliamentarians, corporate leaders, teachers, the media, as well as those people who are socially excluded, living in poverty and on the margins of Indian society.