The Education Wing of Western Australia Region of the Sathya Sai International Organisation of Australia & PNG is organising a family ‘Funday’ for its Sathya Sai Education (SSE) students and families focusing on environmental awareness on 24 September. All are very welcome.
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The Sathya Sai International Organisation of Australia & PNG’s (SSIO) NSW Region East in collaboration with the Sai Medical Unit conducted a workshop on Healthy Ageing for the community on Saturday, 1 September. The workshop was aimed at providing an understanding of health-related issues that may be progressively experienced for people over 50 years and carers for such people..
Homebush Sai Centre held a community engagement event on the 12th of August. Themed Gratitude to our Teachers it was our centre’s celebration of Guru Poornima, and we were joined by one of the Directors from Woodbury Autism Education and Research. Karyn from Woodbury came to our Centre and joined in on our devotional singing, and really enjoyed the presentation by our SSE children and parents.
The junior SSE children spoke about their experiences at SSE and how they find their classes and teachers, while the senior SSE students shared poems on teachers from a spiritual perspective. Parents of SSE children spoke about their journey and the positive impacts they that SSE has on their family. And finally, Karyn gave a very inspiring talk on her experiences and reflection on the theme from a practical perspective through her work at Woodbury, and personally supporting her child who has severe autism. Members of Homebush Centre also generously donated many stationery items to give to Woodbury, and Karyn left with her car seats full of green bags and boxes containing these items.
Woodbury has recognised the Sai Organisation and Homebush Centre (Newington) on Facebook – . We are very excited about the relationship we are building with Woodbury, and find great compatibility between their values and our five human values. It was very exciting and humbling that a Director from another organisation took out the time and effort to come to our Centre.
Of course this activity would not have been possible without the hardwork of many people. All the wings came together to make this happen, facilitated by the Centre President. The SSE coordinator and teachers worked with the children and parents to present a program, while the Service Coordinator organised the stationery drive. The Ladies Wing coordinator organised morning tea and the Bhajan Coordinator planned the Devotional part of the program, ensuring we had a good mix of English songs. They had a centre representative for the Community Engagement perspective to plan the program and liaise with Woodbury, and it is rewarding to see the success of different wings coming together in this initiative. With effective teamwork, I am positive that Woodbury and Homebush Centre together can continue spreading positive messages and values into the wider community to Love all and Serve all.
The SSE Music Camp was a spectacular weekend held in the Sathya Sai High College in Murwillumbah, QLD from the 3rd to 5th August. Bright and early on Saturday morning, over 20 SSE students, along with numerous Sai young adult volunteers and parents arose, eager to start the weekend’s activities. Many of the guest speakers travelled from interstate and even overseas for the camp, including Sai Vigneshwar, Gopi Iyer, and Divya Ravinthiran from Singapore, Sydney and Melbourne respectively. The children were taught the importance of morning prayer, the meaning behind Aumkar and how to connect to bhajans (or devotional songs) in a fun and interactive lesson involving music, game and acting. They were given a wonderful opportunity to sing and learn new bhajans and instruments including the piano, harmonium, naal and guitar, lovingly taught by the guest speakers themselves.
The SSE children were also joined by students from the Sathya Sai School for the much anticipated Amazing Race, which involved the children completing various competitive activities around the campus. This was followed by the evening showcase performance. The SSE children were given a chance to showcase their skills during the twilight concert, also featuring a performance from the Beetroot Band (from the Sathya Sai College) and the guest speakers.
The highlight for many of the children was Saturday night’s ‘Sai Kitchen Rules’ session, where the children were excited to be working in teams to make their dinner. On concluding the SSE Music Camp, the children were reluctant to go but were so grateful to be given the opportunity to connect with God on deeper level through music.
I was blessed with an interaction with Sai Baba during my first year of MBA studying at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher learning in Prashanti Nilayam. Sai Baba was interacting with a few MBA students who were asking him various questions and when my turn came up to ask a question, I asked, “Baba, how can one pray using the Vedanta dictum ‘So Aham’?” (So Aham means I am that indicating that the individual soul and the universal soul are the same. Sai Baba in various discourses has elucidated this principle of So Aham).
To this question, Sai Baba very lovingly said “serve everyone unconditionally. This is the best way to internalise the phrase ‘So Aham’ and is the best prayer”. That was it. There was no further explanation. Sai Baba has often commented on the importance of the three-step process of listening, meditating and constant reflection, so I started to meditate on this message.
As I reflected on this message, my first impression was that you normally serve someone who is either better than you or is in a position better than you. Sai Baba has said so many times that ‘Service to man is Service to God’. So, when I serve a fellow being, I serve God in that being. The normal extension to that argument is that when I serve I get something in return. When I serve someone who is in need, I may get nothing from that individual except his blessings and gratitude; however would get some spiritual merit from God.
As I reflected further, Sai Baba had said serve everyone unconditionally; if I am expecting spiritual merit as a product of my service, it becomes conditional. Then my second impression of His message was that Service must be performed with the spirit that you are serving yourself. When I satiate my hunger, I have no thought of serving myself. The action is performed without any effort on the mind. Likewise, when I feed the ‘needy’, it must be done without ego and without a feeling of ‘otherness’. It must come as easily as something you do for yourself. I now understand the message as Service should not be performed with a feeling that I am a giver and the person receiving my service is a beneficiary. Sai Baba wanted my service to be effortless on the mind. So Aham in service is understood as ‘that I am’ who I am serving.
Once a student asked Sai Baba if his father could settle down in Puttaparthi. Sai Baba asked why and the student responded that his father wanted to Serve the Master. Baba said all are Masters and the student persisted, saying “but Baba, my father wants to serve God!” Sai Baba replied that all are God. Another simple conversation emphasising the divine self in all.
Spirituality shouldn’t be in the realm of mental gymnastics but must be an expression of our daily experience. Sai Baba in his inimitable way gave me a mantra and a message reflecting how important a simple act of service is to an individual’s spiritual progress. I continue to reflect on this message and pray to Sai Baba for his constant guidance.
Education week was observed in all centres and SSE hubs in Region West from Sunday 12 August to 25 August. The theme for this year was “The Divine Blueprint for a Harmony Home of Human Values.” This year the focus was not just on SSE children but also parents, young adults and adults, on how we can all be better equipped to enhance the spiritual development of our children through enriching study circle material that was shared with centres.
The centralised SSE of Bonnyrigg made an exhibition which was well received by the members. The exhibits brought out the theme well and a lot of hard work has been put in too. Individual parent – teacher meetings were also held where the parents had an opportunity to individually meet their child’s teacher and give feedback on things that were working well and those that needed to be improved. A report of all the feedback will be collated and distributed to teachers.
The centralised SSE of Wentworthville had an open day and parents were invited to visit their child’s classrooms. The teachers designed activities in line with the theme. Before the parents went to the classes the administration team had a meeting with the parents listing out their expectations from parents and during that meeting a former SSE student spoke about her SSE journey. A parent also spoke about his experience bringing his two children to SSE and how it has impacted their lives.
The SSE of Blacktown went away on a retreat organised by the Sathya Sai Centre of Blacktown and explored the theme at the retreat.
A unity meeting was held on Saturday 25 August 2018 to conclude Education Week where the devotional singing was led by SSE children and we had three SSE students talking on the theme. A wonderful way to conclude bringing members together in a harmonious environment.
The ninth session of the “My Sai and I” series in Canberra and the third session for 2018 took place between 4.30 pm and 6.00 pm on 11 August 2018 at the Griffin Centre in Canberra City.
The event commenced with three Aums and a Ganesha song after which Dristy welcomed the devotees who had gathered that day. Dristy recapped the reason for holding the “My Sai I” series –to offer an opportunity for all to listen to the glorious stories of Sathya Sai from the dearest and nearest of his followers. It is hoped that by listening to these stories we all could, contemplate on Sathya Sai’s love and learn from His Divine messages and transform our lives.
Dristy then introduced Dr Pal Dhall going through his illustrious career both outside and within the Sathya Sai Organisation. Dr Pal Dhall is a Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of the UK and the Australasian Royal College of Surgeons. Dr Pal Dhall was Professor of Surgery in the University of Nairobi, Kenya in the 70’s. After moving to Australia in 1975 he was Senior Consultant Surgeon, Director of the Vascular and Thrombosis Research Unit and a Visiting Fellow of the John Curtin School of Medical Research of the Australian National University. He was Academic Advisor to the University of Central Queensland for the Master’s program in Learning Management with Human Values and Adjunct Professor of the University of Canberra in Bio-ethics. Last year he was honoured by Ricardo Palma University in Peru with a University medal as a Distinguished Academic and given the title of Honorary Professor of Ricardo Palma University. In Ecuador he and his wife, Dr Tehseen Dhall, were honoured by the City of Guayaquil as Honoured guests of the City. Dr Pal Dhall has published over 200 scientific papers and articles in the field of vascular and thrombosis research and general surgery.
In the Sathya Sai Organisation, Dr Pal Dhall served as the National Education and Devotion Coordinator in the 90’s. In 2004 he was appointed as the Zone Chair for Zones 3, 4 and 5, and was the Chair of the Education Committee of Prashanti Council and the SSS World Foundation. He has published 19 books some jointly with Dr Tehseen Dhall on Human Values and on the teachings of Sathya Sai Baba and some of these books have been translated into several languages. In addition, Dr Pal Dhall served as the Director of Institute of Sathya Sai Education in Australia.
Presently, Dr Pal Dhall is the co-chair of the Education Committee of the Sri Sathya Sai World Foundation and Prashanti Council and looks after 43 Sathya Sai Schools and 31 Institutes of Sathya Sai Education in Human Values around the world. Along with his wife, he is an International trainer for a variety of programs they have developed on Human Values and ethics with a focus on Human Values in Education, Parenting, and Human Development. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Canberra Interfaith Forum of Canberra.
Hence it is without surprise that through all these experiences Dr Pal Dhall has had the good fortune of closely interacting with Sathya Sai Baba, both physically and in the cosmic sense.
Dr Pal Dhall noted that the majority of the speakers at the ‘My Sai and I’ sessions were students of Institutions established by Sathya Sai such as the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. However, he noted that all of us are students in our own way. Dr Pal Dhall also added that his talk would centre on the collective experience of his family rather his experience alone and as such the topic of the day would be ‘Our Sai and I’ instead of ‘My Sai and I.’
Dr Pal Dhall said that early in life he had an orientation to spiritual life having been born and raised in Kenya where people from different faiths co-existed. He grew up with the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads and his mother, an ardent Krishna devotee, treated Lord Krishna more like a family member. In the 1950s while attending medical school in the UK, Dr Pal Dhall found that there was a lot of focus on Christian missionaries, and conversion of people from other faiths to Christianity was the norm. During this time Dr Pal Dhall became familiar with writings of the Christian mystics and Guru Nanak, and delved further into the Gita and Upanishads to firm up his own understanding of his own religion in order to mainly enter into informed debate with those who propagated Christianity as the exclusive religion.
Dr Pal Dhall became a professor at the age of 34 years and had a life of comfort and, like many, lost touch with spirituality in the chase for a career. Dr Pal Dhall said that many of us are pre-occupied with various activities and live in a pressure cooker environment. These pressures have increased today particularly with the increased use of social media. He found secular success lacking a deep meaning and he then turned to spirituality. Spirituality offers an alternate way of life. Questions like “Who are we?” “Where do we come from?” “Where we are going?” led Dr Dhall to turn to Mahayana Buddhism. It should be noted in Sanskrit the word “Mahayana” means great vehicle and this form of Buddhism is prominent in North Asia, including China, Mongolia, Tibet, Korea, and Japan.
Dr Dhall came to know about Sathya Sai in an aircraft on his way back from England via Pakistan. An Englishman sitting next to him on the plane noticed that Dr Dhall was a vegetarian and a teetotaller. He started a conversation with Dr Dhall and he told him about Sai Baba and his miracles of healing people by touch, and gave Dr Dhall an account of Sathya Sai reviving someone after he had died. Dr Dhall was convinced in no uncertain terms that this was not possible. He stated that he should know better since he was a surgeon and a scientist however the Englishman continued to talk about an Avatar on Earth. Dr Dhall remained unconvinced and in fact doubted the Englishman’s sanity and credibility, though he had spoken for many hours. As Dr Dhall was getting off in Karachi the Englishman took a plastic packet of powdery material and pressed it on to Dr Dhall saying, “You owe it to yourself to go and see Baba in India’. Dr Dhall remembered saying to himself “How crazy is this guy! He expects me to go chasing after some strange Guru in India. He is probably taking some hallucinogenic drugs and the packet of the powdery material is probably that. He decided out of politeness to take the packet, determined to throw it away before being caught in the Customs in Karachi and put into prison for possessing drugs.
In Karachi he forgot to throw away the packet of vibuthi as there was a lot of commotion at the airport from a bomb blast. He shared his experience with the Englishman with his brother-in-law who seemed fascinated with all the miracles, and declared that he would like to visit India and meet Sai Baba. He found, much to his surprise, the same reaction in his wife, Tehseen when he returned home. Within weeks of his return, Dr Dhall and his wife embarked on a journey of discovery of Sathya Sai. Many ‘coincidences’ and surprising experiences led both Dr Dhall and his wife to make many trips to Puttaparthi, sometimes alone and sometimes with their children. Gradually, their life became more and more focused on Sai Baba. It should be noted that until then Dr Dhall had led two parallel lives – an inner spiritual life and an external worldly life, and his approach to spirituality had been to bring God within the realm of his understanding; now he has learnt that God is neither measurable nor understandable with the human mind.
Dr Pal Dhall shared numerous experiences including the collective experience of his family with Sathya Sai; a selection of these experiences are shared below in order to enable the readers to get the essence of the learnings.
During one of Dr Dhall’s early trips to Puttaparthi he found that he was going to be sharing the house he had rented with three people – a drug addict, a butcher and one who had no faith in medical practitioners or their treatment. Dr Pal Dhall had to overcome his prejudices and learn to share a month of experiences by living with the three, understanding them and going beyond merely getting along with these three individuals. He is now convinced that nothing is a meaningless coincidence or a matter of chance.
Dr Pal Dhall used to have an outer house at his residence which he used for meditation practices based on Mahayana Buddhism. In an interview Sathya Sai advised that such meditating in isolation is selfish and that in fact, “Work is worship.”
Understanding Divine Miracles
Dr Pal Dhall’s greatest challenge was to bring Sathya Sai within the realm of his understanding as a scientist. However, Sathya Sai seemed to arrange events in such a way that Dr Pal Dhall had to repeatedly confront the rigid programming of his own rational and scientific mind. During an interview, Dr Dhall saw Sathya Sai create Vibuthi, or holy ash. On another occasion, he filled the cupped palms of a student with fresh, hot laddu, an Indian sweet, which poured out from His fingers. Dr Dhall was intrigued at how all this was happening. On another occasion, Sathya Sai materialised a gold ring with an image of Buddha. Sathya Sai handed this ring to Dr Dhall and asked him pass the ring around to others after inspection. When the ring had done the full circle, Sathya Sai held it in full view of Dr Pal Dhall and blew on it. In an instant the image of Buddha changed to the symbol of Om. Sathya Sai looked at Dr Pal Dhall with a smile and said “See, My workers are very fast!”. As a scientist Dr Pal Dhall had the greatest difficulty comprehending what he had just witnessed. Gradually he began to understand that miracles happen every moment of our life but we begin to take these miracles for granted. The whole of creation is full of magic and miracles, and Sai Baba show us the way to connect with these miracles in which we are immersed.
Dr Pal Dhall said that Sathya Sai’s omnipresence is most forcefully felt through His manifestations which occur in homes thousands of miles away from Puttaparthi. Dr Pal Dhall cited several examples of these manifestations. For example, a drop of Amrit manifested on a picture of Baba when Dr Pal Dhall was ill and unable to go to devotional singing during Diwali; Vibuthi in the shape of a smiling face manifested on the roller skates given to their daughter, Shammah, on her birthday; and in an unopened a packet of potato chips. He also narrated how vibuthi manifested on Diploma Certificates which were neatly laid in front the Sathya Sai altar at a residence in Perth prior to the graduation ceremony of students of the Institute of Sathya Sai Education in Australia.
On many occasions Sathya Sai became a divine protector for Dr Dhall’s family. When Dr Dhall’s daughter, Shammah went skiing for the first time, he had an intuition she might hurt herself. That night Dr Pal Dhall saw Sathya Sai in a dream and in this dream Sathya Sai conveyed to him that Shammah may have a mishap. In the dream Dr Pal Dhall had pleaded with Sathya Sai until He agreed that He would do something about this. On the ski slopes on the first day Shammah kept falling and calling on Sathya Sai for help. When that night Shammah saw Sathya Sai she complained to Him that He had not been helping her. Sathya Sai said to her, “If you want help, Shammah, you have to call Me from your heart. Remember this tomorrow.” The next day when Shammah went skiing she was going downhill and lost control. She did not know how to steer or to stop. She was hurtling towards a tree at a steadily accelerating speed and called on Sathya Sai in desperation from her heart. Suddenly, from nowhere appeared another skier who came towards her at great speed and knocked her over away from the tree. She rolled in the snow uninjured and avoided hitting into the tree. Later, Shammah could not find the skier – he had disappeared as mysteriously as he had appeared.
Dristy thanked Dr Pal Dhall for sharing his and his family’s beautiful memories of Sathya Sai. The 11th series of the ‘My Sai and I’ event concluded with a devotional song and Aarathi and distribution of Vibuthi and light refreshment
Eighty Sathya Sai devotees gathered at the Ermington Community Centre Hall in Sydney on the wintry morning of 18 August 2018. The devotees had come to delve deep into our beloved Sathya Sai Baba’s message on the Five Human Values. The program began with devotional singing to signify our offering of the program at His Lotus Feet. Srinivasan Iyer spoke first on the nuances of Sai Lifestyle and explained the topics that are currently in focus in the Sai Lifestyle Program.
Three young adults from Carlingford Sai Centre then took to the podium, starting a debate on Truth. They deliberated on whether a human point of view can be regarded as Truth, as this is very much transient and bound to change with time. Only that which does not change with time can be deemed as Truth. The young adults introduced Neville Fredericks to shed some light on the topic ‘What is Truth’. Neville beautifully related to the inner conscience and God as where Truth truly prevails. He also explained that our soul is also that same Truth, which is no different to God.
Veena then presented on the next value – Right Conduct (Dharma) or Righteousness. She drew upon a profound statement from the Bhagavad Gita which states that Dharma shall always prevail and when there is decay in the Dharmic ways, He returns to uphold Dharma. Her presentation focused on two questions – why this path, and why/how we should follow it. The audience was divided into small groups to analyse various scenarios with moral dilemma we face in everyday life. The groups delved deep into each scenario, coming up with eye-opening insights for themselves and the group.
Dushy and Kalpana then presented their analysis of the next value of Peace. They spoke about how the world is in a state of flux with prosperity on one side and unrest, violence, drought and poverty on the other, and the question was raised on what Peace is in all these situations.
The presentation delved in to the absence of inner peace and its causes. The participants were divided into groups to analyse and understand Sathya Sai Baba’s various quotes on Peace. Participants happily engaged in the discussion and provided various interpretations to define Peace. When there is individual peace, it will lead to harmony in the home. This will then lead to order in the nation. When there is order in the nation, there will be Peace in the world.
Next, Sharanya took on the task of presenting the value of Love. Sharanya’s presentation was deeply touching, as she shared many personal experiences of God’s Love. She touched on her experiences in every step of her spiritual quest. Sharanya took some inspiration from Sai Baba’s discourse at the 2007 World Youth Conference on what true Love is, drawing attention to the following quotes:
Venkat Reddy then delivered his presentation on Non-Violence. Venkat started with Sai Baba’s quote “We should interpret Non-Violence as not causing any harm to any individual by any means.” He then went on to explain the Help-Hurt process. Here Venkat took the participants along a path of intent in an action that leads to Thought, Word and Deed that ends in Sai Baba’s notion of “Help Ever, Hurt Never”.
Venkat delved in to his personal experiences , and said that Love at Work helped to develop non-violent speech that lead to him feeling lighter, happier, connected and self-confident. Venkat then opened to the floor with some interesting questions that we face in daily life relating to Non-Violence. While taking a different approach from the rest of the presenters, at the end he arrived at Sai Love- just “think of God, think of God.”
Feedback from participants:
What a wonderful, wonderful event. It was remarkable in every single way. The excitement, the beliefs and the passion of the speakers for Sai was palpable. I felt so blessed, not only for the opportunity to participate, but also because the day was so filled with love and faith that I felt invigorated. The food was delicious as indeed were all the little touches that the organisers put in place to make it such a glorious Sai Day.
Sincerely and with an Infinity of Blessings,
Thank you for the very thoughtful and engaging script and for giving us the opportunity. It was lovely experience, and the sessions were very thought-provoking.
Happy to have been part of the HV Day. Thank you for the opportunity. It was good as each presentation had a different approach.
Thanks for a wonderful day
Thank you dear all for the inspiring efforts – from the tech team, food team, organisers and presenters! It was a wonderful offering.
Until next time,
It was a day filled with insight and inspiration and the heart-warming presence of Sathya Sai Baba. What a day! Worth a weekend, a week, a month.