The members of the ACT Region’s Sai community came together for the Spiritual Retreat titled “Life is a Game, Play It” from 3 pm on 7 April 2018 to 3 pm on 8 April 2018 at Warrambui Conference Centre in Murrambateman, which is part of the Yass Valley Shire of New South Wales. This venue is in the midst of a very quiet and serene environment with trees and hills, and is secluded from the hustle and bustle of the city life, enabling the participants to experience the depth of lines in the devotional song, “I am one with the sky, the flower and the trees, I am one with the beauty of all that I see”.

The objective of this Spiritual Retreat was to come together as a Sai family and delve deeper into Sai consciousness to experience the divine bliss. The participants began arriving at the venue from 3 p.m. onwards on 7 April 2018 in time for the commencement of the first day’s activities. The retreat participants assembled in the main hall of the Warrambui Conference Centre for devotional singing after completing their registration and settling in to their respective rooms. It should be noted that a special room was set aside for Sathya Sai Baba to reinforce the message that HE was indeed an integral part of this retreat and was residing at the Conference centre along with rest of the participants. The altar in the main hall was beautifully set up by the ladies and the Spiritual Retreat began with devotional singing which helped all to quieten their minds and focus on activities arranged as part of this Retreat.

The devotional singing was followed by introductory talks, including a most anticipated talk by the guest speaker, Amithabh Das Gupta, a well-known student of Sathya Sai Baba who spent a precious 23 years at His educational institutions, with numerous opportunities to interact directly with Sathya Sai himself. Amitabh reminisced over beautiful personal experiences that he had with Sathya Sai with a touch of love and humour. On close observation, incidents in His physical presence turned out to be priceless gems, providing deep spiritual insights that either needed to be assimilated or practised.

The next fun-filled item was ‘Mokshopoly’, a game organised by the Young Sai Adults of ACT. Five teams participated in this game and had to move towards the end goal of Moksha (liberation) on the board by correctly responding to the spiritual questions. The game simulated the game of life that we play with the goal of reaching liberation.

The next day, 8 April 2018, dawned with a spiritually awakening offering of the Omkaram (recitation of Om or Aum), Suprabatham (refers to the morning prayers that are chanted in praise of the Lord to awaken the divinity present within each individual) and Nagara Sankeerthanam (The term refers to the procession through the town singing devotional songs. The concept of a Nagar Sankeerthanam is to bring the message of the Divine to the doorstep of the community).

Following this dawn spiritual activity, participants split into two groups according to their choice and took part in a yoga session and a ‘mindfulness walk’ through the nature park surrounding the Warrambui Conference Centre. The Yoga session was conducted by a Sai follower who has experience in aspects of yoga and this was well received by all participants. The ‘mindfulness walk’ was a new experience for many participants who in this activity had to walk slowly observing consciously everything around them while focussing on their breath.

After the walk, the second part of Amithabh Das Gupta’s talk took place, filling the hearts of all participants with Sai consciousness. Following Amithabh’s talk the three workshops on ‘playing the family game’, ‘playing the work game’ and ‘communication’ left the participants with a thirst to have more of these workshops. The retreated concluded at 3 pm on 8 April 2018 with devotional singing.

Sathya Sai’s presence was felt by all and the participants were ecstatic when the garland on Sathya Sai Baba’s photo snapped with a thud on the first day of the retreat during Amithabh’s talk. Those who attended this retreat were pleased with the opportunity to participate and soak up on His presence, reflect on His messages as a community and re-dedicate themselves to His mission. Many participants felt that retreats of this nature should be a yearly activity in the ACT Region.