The purpose of the workshop was to reinforce what was taught to these learners in 2014 and to see best how we could improve the programme so that participants in future workshops will benefit. The Sivananda Sunlit Path Programme is attempting to address some of the social ills that plague our community in respect of drug addiction, alcoholism, depression, suicidal tendencies, teenage pregnancies, violence, etc. At the same time, this programme is preventative in its approach, having a strong spiritual touch. Swami Sahajananda, founder of the Sunlit Club wrote in Path of Divine Grace Volume 1, “Your heart will never be satisfied until you unite with God. Once you realise God, you will enjoy unbroken peace and bliss.” This is the aspiration of all seekers of God and Sunlit Path Organisers earnestly strive to pass this message onto all Sunlit Club members.
In the initial programme held in 2014, the following were highlighted: The importance of prayer, how taking drugs, consuming alcohol and gambling will affect learners, and could ruin a person, the value of celibacy, causes of depression and how to overcome depression, the disastrous consequences of suicide, the Law of Cause and Effect, health & diet, foot massage and its effect on our minds, the effects of viewing undesirable scenes on TV, and most importantly, the Sunlit Path checklist and pledge form.
Mr Motheeram continued, “Behaviour can be influenced and manipulated. This influence depends on the company you keep. If you were in this environment (referring to the Sunlit Path Centre) your influence would be spiritual and positive and you would be directed and guided on the path of righteousness.” Mr N. Bridglall, Director of Education, Psychological Services and Guest of Honour, dwelt on the same theme of the power of positive thinking. Using various analogies and anecdotes, Mr Bridglall drove home the point that “the future lies in your own hands”. Drawing from his association with Swami Sahajananda he said, “Swamiji said ‘Do not expect to find the ideal school, the ideal home or the ideal job, because the earth is not ideal. The secret of success is to take what you have and make the best use of it’. ”
The play, “Sunlit Path will take you closer to God”, enacted by the youth boys and Rishikumars, encapsulated all the talks and messages from the initial programme in 2014. The concept of hi-jacking, scripted with humour not only succeeded in holding the attention of learners, but also reminded them vividly of the harsh realities of life and the effective steps one should take when confronted with such a situation.
Using a power-point presentation, a revision of the importance of the Spiritual Diary was effectively covered. Some of the thoughts expressed in this session were: The diary will make you a better person; adjust the diary according to your own needs; look at yourself and identify your weaknesses; it is easy to find fault with others but to find your own faults takes courage and honesty. It is a life-long journey to become a better person.
The Question and Answer session gained momentum as it progressed. Various aspects of the play were discussed. Here also, the value of the Spiritual Diary and practice of celibacy were revised. Our Rishikumars were thrown into the deep end when they were “pounced upon” to give answers to the attentive young minds, eager to know why they should maintain a diary and practice celibacy. They were equal to the occasion. About the practice of celibacy, our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda wrote, “Through Brahmacharya (celibacy) get over the miseries of mundane life and attain health, strength, peace of mind, endurance, bravery, a clear brain, gigantic will-power, bold understanding, retentive memory, abundant energy, the power to face difficulties in the battle of life and immortality.” These are the benefits for those who took the vow of life-long celibacy for the purpose of attaining God-realisation. Our young Rishikumar made bold to say that from our learners one expects them to practice celibacy until marriage and thereafter to exercise some restraint.
Learners were all moved by the touching incident related by one of our young learners who spoke appreciatively of the significant role his mother had played in his life. He came from a poor family. To make matters worse, his father lost his job and the family had to subsist on meagre resources. His mother became seriously ill. It seems that this young lad was given to habits that did not meet the approval of his mother. If it was not for her, he said, he would have been “six feet underground”. It was his mother who shaped and moulded his life and persuaded him to follow the path of goodness and virtue. He is truly grateful for the love his mother had bestowed upon him. Sadly, his mother succumbed to the illness and passed away. In Guidance in Daily Life, Swami Sahajananda wrote, “Let the closing years of your parents receive your warmth and love. You will then reap a rich harvest of peace and love in your own closing years”.
In the summation, learners were exhorted to go back to their respective schools to share the knowledge they have gained at this workshop. In this way they may be of invaluable service to their fellow colleagues. Again and again the idea that “the only person that you can change in life is yourself” surfaced at the workshop. “What are you taking back with you today?”, our presenter asked. Each one must ponder deeply and come up with an answer.
In the closing item, the theme song of the Sunlit Club, “No Harm will come to me”, was sung to clapping and melodious voices. It reinforced the thought that if you pray daily with sincerity, no harm will come to you. A beautiful session of guided silent sitting rounded off a day well spent. Sunlit club members were encouraged to undertake this type of silent sitting daily. It is a coping skill one must acquire to get strength, clarity of thinking and peace of mind.
In closing this article, we express our sincere thanks to all principals of schools for allowing their charges to spend the morning with us. We express our gratitude also to the Department of Education for their kind permission to organise this workshop with schools.
Meditation helps much in checking various emotions and impulses. If you regulate your emotions and moods, you will not do foolish and wrong actions.
—Sri Swami Sivananda