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Sunlit Path Workshop at Sastri College

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The Sunlit Path Workshop held at the Sastri College Hall in Durban, was held on Thursday, 29 August 2019. One hundred and sixty-nine learners from the following schools participated: Centenary Secondary, Futura High, Hunt Road Secondary, Overport Secondary and Sastri College. In the welcome address, Principal of Sastri College, Mr S. Rajcoomar, said that the success of this programme will depend on learners themselves. The onus will rest on them "to embrace what they will learn today and to take it back to their respective schools." They should share what they have learnt with other learners.

The inaugural speech of Swami Sahajananda, who created the Sunlit Path Programme for the benefit of young people in 2006, was based on the poem, "I am Pain, thy teacher" by Sri Swami Sivananda. After excerpts of the poem were read, the Master explained as follows, "When you get knocks and blows in the daily battle of life then your mind is duly turned towards God. You yourself experience pain; you see others suffering; you see before your own eyes death carrying away mighty men, separating man from wife, father from son. Pain reminds you: 'Your turn will come. Now, wake up and strive. None of these people on whom you shower your affections can help you when I summon you'."

Due to the increasing violence in many schools, the organising committee included a reading entitled Self-Control, written by The Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The story goes that this boy in the north of France was frank by nature but impetuous and always liable to lose his temper. After many experiences he decided to follow the advice of the Mother "to keep his fist in his pocket and not give blow for blow in the face of a friend who insults you." He learnt to do the more difficult thing by keeping his fist in his pocket. He recounted, "Since he knows that normally I am not one to forgive and that I have a strong arm, he was preparing to defend himself, when I remembered what you had told me. It was harder for me than I thought, but I put my fist in my pocket. And as soon as I did that, I felt no more anger in me, I only felt sorry for my friend. So, I held out my hand to him. That surprised him so much that he stood looking at me for a moment, open-mouthed, without speaking. Then he seized my hand, shook it vigorously and said with emotion, "Now you can do what you like with me, I am your friend forever." The boy had controlled his anger.

Both the DVDs on the "Power of Good Company" and "The Law of Cause & Effect" stimulated much discussion during the breakaway sessions. This what learners wrote in their feedback slips:

1. I like the fact that you are giving young people knowledge and guidance to all who have been on the wrong path and that this somehow changes the way a person thinks.
2. This programme had lots of things from which we can learn. Self-control, speaking sweetly and also monitoring what you do each day. We must also try to improve the way we live, what we do, say and think because what you think, do and say is what you become.
3. I wish for this programme to have no (further) changes. But next time I would like to meet Sivananda and listen to all the wonderful things he had to say.
4. I think I may help someone by starting to pray for her or him and also tell her to pray. I would also like to help my friend who is in drugs. I've learnt that I have to be a good friend to her and help her stay positive because I've been running away but now, I know what to do.
5. I really enjoyed the silent sitting. It was an enjoyable act.
6. This programme will help me change my life in some way or the other. I will try and practise (what I learnt) in my daily life.
7. We should have more programmes like this because they teach us about the problems of the world and how we should prevent ourselves from getting into problems.
8. It gave me the courage to encourage my fellow schoolmates to change and live a positive life and take the positive path.
9. I have learnt that suicide is not the answer. I have been suffering from depression and this programme gave me a lot of answers. If God created you, only He has the right to take your life.
10. Taking drugs and alcohol is bad because you are hurting your own body.

In presenting the section on "Pledge Forms & Diaries" our presenter spoke about the importance of the Diary in the lives of all those who wish to achieve success and outlined how the diary should be filled. Men of virtue, he said, followed the path of courage, self-sacrifice and had the ability to forgive. Everyone has the potential to achieve greatness. Greatness does not come from outside; it is within and comes with effort and determination. Evidently, his presentation was a success as 159 learners out of a total of 169 filled the pledge forms completely (94%).

In the summation we reiterated that filling in the diary daily and sharing the Sunlit Path knowledge are the keynotes of this programme.

We express our deep thanks to the management of Sastri College for the overwhelming support they gave the Sunlit Path team. They arranged for the refreshments and meals, free of charge, and allowed us the free use of the facilities in the hall. Our thanks also go to the principals of the five participating schools for sending their charges to the programme. Our short report will be incomplete if we do not mention the kind permission of the Department of Education for allowing us to conduct this programme during school hours. As this is our last programme for the year, we take this opportunity to wish all learners every success in their forthcoming examinations.

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