In his welcome address, Mr T. Reddy, Principal of Avonford Secondary said, "Today may be a turning point in your life. If you put your mind to it, listen carefully to what the Divine Life Society presenters have in mind for us, you will leave this place a changed person. I was told that this programme is not only for those who have problems with drugs, alcohol and other related problems, but it is also designed to prevent such problems occurring in your life. Let us take depression as an example. Anyone can become depressed on any day. You may be on the brink of thoughtlessly taking your life. Learn today what the causes of depression are and how you can overcome it. As you grow older and enter the adult world, there are many challenges. Divine Life Society has taken the initiative to share with us how to face these challenges. What pleases me also about this programme is that it does not try to change your religion. It will, in fact, make your faith in your religion, stronger."
In the section on the purpose of the programme and the summary of the initial programme held in 2016, we reminded them of the benefits of the Sunlit Path Checklist, silent sitting and living a lifestyle conducive to peaceful co-existence. We spoke about the adverse effects of television viewing, of the dangers of drugs and alcohol, of controlling the sex urge, of the causes of depression and of the disastrous consequences of suicide. They were reminded of their bold and momentous decision to sign the pledge form to try to stay away from drugs and other social ills. Our Programme Director also pointed out the value of reading the quarterly magazine "Sunlit Path" which they receive by post The most important reason for this workshop is to take stock of oneself, to see what progress has been made. What followed thereafter, was a motivational address, on the life of Swami Sahajananda, the founder of the Sunlit Club. Swamiji lead by example. He never preached without practising first. His entire life was based on strong moral principles which he followed to the letter. Learners were exhorted to emulate these examples if they wished to attain success in their lives.
The play reading entitled, "Sunlit Path will take you closer to God" was well received. In response to the play reading, one learner said, "Suicide is rejecting God's gift of life. It may be the easy way out, but it is not the right way". Another learner responded to the practice of celibacy that was mentioned in the play, "When you practise celibacy, the energy is converted into spiritual energy which gives you a powerful mind to accomplish difficult tasks to make you a better individual and you can be a role-model to others. You must respect your body because there is a time and place for everything."
On the importance of the Diary/Sunlit Path Checklist, our presenter told them that those who maintained a diary to monitor their behaviour, made remarkable progress, so much so that they were internationally acclaimed. Mahatma Gandhi was one such person!
In the "Question & Answer" session we were pleased to hear learners ask searching questions:
1. Proofs that God exists!
2. Why are people, who claim to love God are yet disobedient to God's Laws?
3. Why does Divine Life Society discourage free-mixing of males and females?
4. How can television be harmful?
5. Why are these teachings not introduced into the study of Life Orientation Skills at school?
Since certain learners who attended the first workshop were unable to come as they were writing Controlled Tests set by the Department of Education, new learners took their place. There were 49 such learners who signed the pledge form to try to keep away from drugs and other social ills. We pray that God will grant them the strength and inspiration to keep up their resolves.
In closing this report, we express our gratitude to principals of schools for allowing learners to attend this workshop. We thank the management of A. M. Moolla Spes Nova School for the free use of the hall and its facilities. We are grateful to devotees from Divine Life Society of S.A. (Phoenix Branch) for preparing refreshments and meals. Special thanks to the Department of Education for granting permission to conduct this workshop with learners during school hours.
Report: Special Sunlit Path Programme for Grade 12 Learners of Glenover Secondary in Chatsworth
A special Sunlit Path Programme was held on Tuesday, 23 May 2017 at Glenover Secondary. It was indeed a pleasure for Divine Life Society of S.A. devotees to serve, inspire and guide these learners who are in the midst of preparing for their Grade 12 examinations. The original intention was to offer them the Sunlit Path Programme which was designed by Pujya Swami Sahajananda to assist learners overcome drug addiction and other social ills. The committee felt that since it is most important examination, being their final year at school, we should also contribute to assisting them academically. It is against this background that Professor Kantilal Bhowan presented a motivational address. The essence of his talk, which was very well received by learners, was sumarised using the pneumonic STUDY.
SPIRITUAL: Prayer sharpens your mind and intellect. Professor Bhowan correlated this to the Sunlit Path workshop and the pledges that learners sign and how it will benefit them in their studies.
TECHNIQUES: Professor Bhowan suggested various techniques to improve concentration−steady gazing, breathing exercises calm the mind and help one to focus, importance of exercising (sports included), and acupressure for energizing. The physical body is an instrument given to us by God to carry out His Will. We must keep it in a good condition. Learners were also fascinated by the demonstration of brain power exercises which he does daily and found immense benefit.
UNDERSTANDING: Understanding is enhanced by participating in group learning and also paying careful attention to your educators.
DISCIPLINE – A neat and clean study environment, structured timetable for homework and exam preparation, observing silence, regularity, talk only when necessary (too much talking wastes mental energy), are some of the ways to discipline the mind. Professor Bhowan quoted freely from his own experiences. Maintain the Sunlit Path Checklist. (There is no education where there is no discipline−Plato)
YES, I CAN DO IT: Be positive. Be motivated. Be focused.
Since much of Professor Bhowan’s presentation was extracted from the book, “Enlightened Education” by Sri Swami Sivananda, the Sunlit Path Committee offered this book to learners free of charge. It was agreed that learners will accept the book on a voluntary basis.
Another addition to this special programme was a lesson in basic Mathematics presented by Professor Poobhalan Pillay. He learnt just before presenting the workshop that not all learners are studying Pure Mathematics. Accordingly, he adapted the lesson on the spur of the moment, to suit all. His main thrust in understanding Mathematics is to ask WHY. He spent some time discussing angles and spoke about the value of the Bonds Table which was enforced years ago. He exhorted learners not to be too reliant on calculators but have the bonds table firmly entrenched in their minds when studying and solving these problems.
Thereafter, the usual Sunlit Path Programme covered the following topics:
1. Depression & Suicide
2. Drugs, TV, Alcohol, Gambling and the Law of Cause & Effect
3. Prayer, Celibacy, Health & Diet and Foot Massage
After the breakaway session and contribution from learners based on the above presentations, a detailed explanation was given about the value of the Sunlit Path Checklist and how to complete them as well as the importance of the pledge form. Arising out of this, 46 out of 73 learners signed the pledge form to try to keep away from drugs, alcohol and other socials ills.
We received some very interesting feedback from learners:
1. Instead of reading out the dialogue, why not act out the play.
2. I realise that spirituality plays an important part of my life. Thank you for teaching me this.
3. I am now motivated and inspired to excel in my studies.
4. I am taking with me ways of how to improve my concentration and improve my life. I found more faith in God.
5. Spending the day with you has taught me a lot. I learnt some skills to deal with my problems.
6. When life puts you in a tough situation, don’t say “Why me?”, say “Try me!”
7. I learnt a lot about depression and how to get rid of it. I will try out all the exercises.
In the summation, we reminded learners, “You are the master of your destiny. Control it! Otherwise, someone else will control it for you. As a starting point, have a dream, set goals, then execute a plan to reach these goals. Do not be governed by your moods or circumstances. Remove negative thoughts. Say, “Whatever comes my way, I am going to handle it and overcome it.” Never give up!
Our sincere gratitude to the management of Glenover Secondary for allowing us to serve and guide the grade 12 learners. We express our thanks to the Department of Education for allowing us to conduct this workshop during school hours. We pray that the advice proffered will be heeded by the learners. We wish them every success in their examination.