What does the Spiritual Academy mean for The Hague?

What does she mean personally, to her visitors and volunteers? 

She offers guidance in the personal development for a diversity of visitors. This happens through her low-threshold programmes on meditation, inner peace, life questions and meaningfullness. She contributes by reflecting on values and to 'staying yourself' or recharging yourself, in the midst of personal setbacks, challenges or stress. Popular are the meditations during lunchtime for interested parties and professionals working in the surrounding city centre. A loyal group studies and meditates daily. There are also personal talks in an atmosphere of spiritual work or coaching. The staff uses interactive forms and rituals tha connect. The philosophy provides inspiration in a modern-days context. It gives visitors frameworks at personal 'tipping points', when awareness needs strengthening. Besides these open programmes, the house offers meetings - by invitation and in private - for target groups, professionals and executives, for instance with one-day retreats and workshops.

Out of idealistic principles, the entire offering is completely free, a rarity in the market of wellness and spirituality. The global organisation runs on gifts and donations. The deeper spiritual principle behind this is that you cannot put a pricetag on the sharing of spiritual knowledge or working towards a positive attitude or lifestyle. Costs are covered by donations from visitors after inspiring experiences. 

The house attracts around 8,000 to 10,000 regular visitors annually. The property is a base of operations for the Peace in the Park Foundation, which aims to shape 'inner peace' in the city of peace and justice. It does so at a public festival in a public park, the Palace Gardens, with support from the municipality and others. That festival was part of 'Just Peace' Peace Month for six years. It attracted about 1,000 to 3,500 participants at a time.  

The organisation, part of a large international network, is run by volunteers, mostly women, also in leading positions. They work daily on the programmes, in a supportive and inclusive atmosphere. People from all faiths and backgrounds are welcome there. 

This organisation and its offerings make the Academy unique and highly valued by visitors. That offer is sometimes personally experienced as a 'life-changing experience'.

What does the Academy mean to the city?

The house is literally a place of tranquillity; its rare to experence how quiet it is in the middle of the busy city centre, because of its garden, because of its sober but tasteful furnishings and because of its welcoming staff. This makes the property suitable for contemplation and relaxation. The central location was deliberately chosen with a view to the government, peace and philosophical organisations in the area around the Peace Palace. 

The house and its staff work as a centre for interfaith cooperation and idealistic urban projects. Examples include participation in and lunch for invited guests after the annual interfaith Prince's Day celebration, in addition to organising the Peace in the Park festifal, the celebration of World Women's Day and the now-current ‘Human rights Caravan’. They actively cooperate with representatives of all worldviews, including religious and humanist ones. Staff are active as respected partners, sometimes in a linking role, in networks in the city. Guests include administrators, executives, peace workers, managers, development workers and social activists. Speakers include (international) spiritual leaders.

Finally, the academy publishes brochures and booklets on human values, meditation and inner peace; it organises workshops on those topics at (high) and secondary schools and at the Institute of Social Studies. It gives introductions on Human Rights Day and International Peace Day, for example.

All this gives the house a connecting significance in the global city of Peace and Justice – The Hague. 

Written By Marco Oostdijk