Sathya Sai Region 10, USA



Labor Day Retreat Workshop Topics

On Saturday afternoon, we will have interactive study circle style workshops covering different areas. Below are the workshop topics and a brief description. Kindly select a workshop group you would like to join when registering for the retreat.

Workshop 1: Integrating Sai’s Teachings into our Daily Lives (FULL)

“You have been listening to My discourses for years. If you are merely content to listen, it is sheer waste of time. You have to ruminate over what you have heard and try to put into practice the teachings. Sravanam (listening), Mananam (reflecting) and Nidhidhyasanam (putting into practice what has been learnt) are the three stages in the spiritual journey. …Claiming to be devotees and going about as devotees, few are caring to find out what is true devotion.

Bhajans and Japas (singing and repeating God’s name) and performance of yagas and yajnas (sacrifices and rituals) are not the real marks of devotion. They are merely exercises in washing out one’s impurities. All the nine kinds of worship are also designed to achieve purity of mind and heart. But purity should find expression in action just as clothes that have been washed have to be worn. Without purity in action, the real nature of the Self cannot be recognised.”

DIVINE DISCOURSE, July 11, 1987

Bhagawan would often say, “My life is My Message.” A simple understanding of this declaration is that He lives every day the message He teaches. How can we follow Swami, who is our perfect role model, and integrate His teachings in our daily lives and benefit from them?

 

Workshop 2: The Gayatri Mantra

“The Gayatri is a universal prayer enshrined in the Vedas. It is addressed to the Immanent and Transcendent Divine which has been given the name ‘Savita,’ meaning ‘that from which all this is born.’ The Gayatri may be considered as having three parts – (i) Adoration (ii) Meditation (iii) Prayer. First the Divine is praised, then It is meditated upon in reverence and finally an appeal is made to the Divine to awaken and strengthen the intellect, the discriminating faculty of man.

The Gayatri is considered as the essence of the Vedas. Veda means knowledge, and this prayer fosters and sharpens the knowledge-yielding faculty. As a matter of fact the four core-declarations enshrined in the four Vedas are implied in this Gayatri mantra.”

[‘Sathya Sai Speaks’, vol 13.34: June, 20, 1977]

In this workshop we will explore the Gayatri mantra via the following questions:

  • What are the benefits of Gayatri Mantra?
  • Why is Gayatri called the mother of all vedas?
  • How can we make time for Gayatri chanting throughout the day in our busy lives?
  • There are so many mantras, so many youtube channels, so many apps, so many games, why should I bother with Gayatri Mantra chanting?

 

Workshop 3: Yoga of Selfless Service

“Hence, everyone must develop the spirit of Thyaga (sacrifice). You must serve the people with your body. You have to cherish good and noble thoughts in your mind. You must use your wealth for supporting educational and other institutions to help the people. Give food to the starving. This is the way to lead a purposeful and sublime life. Life has been given to you not to fatten yourself. The body is the basic instrument for the practice of Dharma. Dedicate your entire time to service and the discharge of your duties. Your sadhana must not be for selfish ends. It must promote the good of others. Giving up selfishness, cultivating selfless love for others, sanctify your lives.”

Discourse at the Poornachandra Auditorium, on 7- 7-1990, Gurupoornima day.

We have heard Swami oft repeat ‘tyagenaike amritatva manasuh – It is only through sacrifice that immortality is attained’. Man cannot live in isolation from society, we have to take notice of the problems and serve society. In this workshop will look at among other topics; what is selfless service, where do we start.

 

Workshop 4: Karma from our thoughts, words and actions (FULL)

“We should enquire about the nature of karma before performing. Being a human being, we should ask whether the actions that we perform are befitting a human being or not. If you perform action without proper enquiry, you will not have the desired results.”

DIVINE DISCOURSE, 15 August 2006

In this workshop we will explore the below areas:
1. Karma from our thoughts

  • Impact it has on our inner peace,
  • Thoughts as energy that does not fade away

2. Karma from our words

  • Impact on oneself, impact on others,
  • Impact of mantras, impact of devotional singing

3. Karma from our actions

  • Impact on others,
  • Impact on our health,
  • Impact on environment
  • Impact on our jobs

 

Workshop 5: The Role of Women in Society

“As today is a sacred day dedicated to women, they should change themselves and help to change the men and the children. They should develop the qualities of sympathy, compassion; love and sacrifice. Study the lives of our great women, who were models of patience, fortitude, compassion and sacrifice. I desire that you should take up the reins of leadership and bring peace and prosperity to the nation by leading ideal lives.”

DIVINE DISCOURSE on 19-11-1995 in the Puurnachandra Auditorium

Swami places women in high esteem, even establishing Ladies Day in honor of women. In this workshop we will recognize and respect the privilege of being a woman, identifying ways to build self-confidence in women, identify the roles women can play in the Sathya Sai International Organization and society, and with regard to the sacred role of women, identifying the positive impact women can put into practice at home, in the SSIO and society

 

Workshop 6: Equanimity: Being Calm in Daily Life (FULL)

“Man should maintain equanimity in pleasure and pain, loss or gain. Without pain you cannot enjoy pleasure. Sorrow is verily the royal road to joy. Sufferings are the stepping stones that lead man towards virtuous conduct. One should neither be elated by pleasure or dejected pain”

Sanathana Sarathi May 1994, Page 113

What does it mean to maintain equanimity and how can we be calm and composed in our daily lives? Using Swami’s teachings, the workshop will provide practical tips and affirmations that can be used in everyday situations.

 

Workshop 7: Replace dull and stimulating sensory inputs with pure sensory inputs

“What is the meaning of satwic (pure) food? The prevalent notion is that fruits and milk constitute satwic food. But that is not all to it. What is consumed by the mouth is not the only food that enters the body. The other sense organs, like the eyes, the ears, the nose, and the hands, also consume objects from the external world. Hence, just because a person takes fruits and milk through one of the five sense organs, he cannot claim to have taken satwic food, unless the food taken by him through all the five senses is satwic in nature. … When you get rid of the five evils associated with the pollution of speech, sight, hearing, thought and action, you will be able to realise your own Divinity and become Paramatma (Supreme Soul). If the senses are fed with polluted food, you cannot become pure merely by taking milk and fruit. You must partake of pure satwic food through all the five sense organs.”

SSIB 1990.2: May 20, 1990, http://www.sssbpt.info/summershowers/ss1990/ss1990-02.pdf

Swami has said that we must make every effort to realize that the body is an instrument given to us to perform good deeds.It is not given for enjoyment, comfort seeking, beautification, and useless pursuits of that nature. Indulgence in pleasure seeking, comfort and luxury can be dangerous. God has not given this body for indulgence. This workshop will look at ways to take care of this instrument so that we can use it to achieve our goal in life.

 

Workshop 8:Satya Sai’s Guidance to Leaders: Idealism In Action

 < This workshop is for Young adults only >

Swami says “Adherence to Truth, control of the senses, equanimity (santhi), forbearance, and compassion are like five life-breaths for man. If these five life-sustaining qualities are to sanctify man’s life, it is essential to maintain purity in thought, word, and deed (“Trikarana Suddhi”). In addition, one aspiring to be a leader has to possess three types of knowledge: First, self knowledge (that is, knowledge of his strengths and weaknesses). Two, knowledge relating to his field of work. Three, knowledge of the social environment. A good leader has to possess what may be called individual (or personal) character and national character. Only such persons can become ideal leaders. Giving up selfish interests, eschewing totally ideas of “mine” and “thine”, the true leader should be dedicated to the welfare of all and uphold the reputation of his country. On all occasions, he should march in front rather than issue orders from the rear. He should set the example by his actions. The world needs today leaders, who will be guides in action.”

In this workshop session, we’ll discuss Swami’s loving guidance to the current and aspiring leaders.
The participants are recommended to read ‘Sai Baba’s Mahavakya On Leadership‘ in preparation for this session.

 

Workshop 9:Being Sai Youth in challenging circumstances

 < This workshop is for Young adults only >

“The Intellect has to be used to judge and decide the means for the upliftment of the human to the Divine. It has to help man to realize God and nothing less. Nevertheless, it is now misused in finding others’ faults and belittling others. It is like using a mirror, not to improve one’s appearance, but to ridicule the appearance of others!”  

DIVINE DISCOURSE: 26-9-79

During this workshop session, we’ll explore several challenging circumstances we face in our day-to-day life and how as Sai Youth we can apply Swami’s teachings in tackling such challenges. Examples of challenging circumstances are dealing with polarized political ideologies, gender-bias in society, discrimination of individuals based on their personal choices and many more.

 

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