The programme which commenced at 9am, covered the following aspects: Purpose of the programme and summary of the initial programme that was held on Friday, 20 May 2016, Motivational address by Professor K. Bhowan, A two-part play entitled, “Sunlit Path takes you closer to God”, discussion based on the play followed by responses from learners, importance of the Diary/Checklist, a Question & Answer session, recommitment and summation, theme song and silence.
In the overview, it was made clear that this programme was designed to guide learners and refresh their memories in respect of the programme that was conducted in 2016. As many of the learners who attended this workshop were then grade 12 learners and were no longer at school, new learners were also allowed to benefit from this programme. We are pleased to report that 33 of the newcomers signed the pledge form to try to stay away from drugs, etc. and to adopt a healthy life-style. So, our presenter made it clear to the newcomers that today they will learn many important lessons if they listen attentively. Life is like climbing a mountain and prayer is the answer to get to the top of this mountain, she said. The importance of selective television viewing and the consequences of good and bad actions were also emphasised.
The Checklist is all about Conquest of Mind, said our presenter when revising the importance of the Checklist which was given to them in 2016. Quoting from the inspiring words of Swami Sivananda and relating them to the Checklist, he said, “Each temptation, each trial, is a test of God to find out your strength of will, your power of endurance and your degree of dispassion.” By a show of hands, he ascertained that very few learners were using the Checklist. At the end of his presentation, after highlighting the importance of the Checklist in their lives, he enquired how many would now commence on this important journey in life, and he discovered that many learners were prepared to commence with the Checklist. Speaking sincerely to the learners he said, “The most important thing in your life is to develop your character and the Checklist is a useful tool to assist with this.”
Professor Bhowan, in his inspiring address, held the attention of the learners in his 15-minute address. He opened his talk by giving examples of the consequences of alcohol abuse. He said the internet is of full of information about the dire consequences of smoking, alcohol abuse and drug addiction. As a revision exercise, he enticed the learners to draft the chapter content of a hypothetical right living book. Within a few minutes the learners suggested very apt titles of the book and useful chapter headings such Humility, Consequences of Choices we make, Honesty and finally, Prof Bhowan intended to suggest a chapter entitled Secret for Success. Owing to time constraints, he could not elaborate on the topic, so we include the essence of his message here. His message is: “If you want to make an improvement in your lifestyle, do it in small steps. Take the first step and follow it diligently, the rest of the steps will come easily and the journey will unfold itself with successful outcomes.”
The play succeeded in encapsulating the entire programme of 2016, covering aspects on prayer, depression, surrender, celibacy, suicide, selective television viewing, the checklist, gambling, etc. Learners identified easily with this item as it was presented by young people. Their discussions and opinions were presented in lively and animated manner.
The Question & Answer session was chaired by Mr N. Bridglall, Director, Psychological Services from the KZN Education Department. This session focussed largely on meeting the challenges of life. In answering the many probing questions posed by learners, Mr Bridglall said that difficulties, challenges and problems serve a positive role in that they make us stronger. In response to the question on why a loving God allows children to be abused and people to be murdered, he concentrated on freedom of choice and its repercussions. Individuals who abused the freedom given to them by God, by harming others, would themselves face similar situations according to the Law of Retribution. Finally, in discussing how one maintains a positive attitude when things go wrong, it was revealed that a positive attitude may not always lead to our vision of success. The result could be different from what one expected as God answers yours prayers in the manner which He thinks is best for you. Surrendering to the Will of God, irrespective of the outcome, is positive thinking.
In the summation, our presenter expressed disappointment at the fact that learners did not treat the Checklist seriously. The most important part of the workshop is to embark on this journey of overcoming difficulties, strengthening and moulding your character and the checklist is indispensable in this regard.
We express our gratitude to the Department of Education (KZN) for allowing the Society to conduct this workshop during school hours. We say a big thank you to principals of the participating schools for allowing learners to attend the workshop. Our thanks also go to all officials and devotees who helped prepare and serve the meals and refreshments.
Our next Sunlit Path workshop will be held in Greytown on Friday, 10 March 2017.