Workshop on Spiritual Education

Workshop on Spiritual Education

Given by Didi Ananda Sushiila
At the Ananda Marga Sectorial Conference
Cordoba , Argentina
Feb 3, 2007

In NHE, the most important aspect is spirituality. There are many existing theories and methods about education, but few really talk about how to teach children spirituality. Spirituality is the essence of NHE. That’s why I chose this topic for the workshop. I began to be involved in NHE four years ago when I got posted to Paraguay with two schools to manage. I didn’t have much knowledge about education but had the zeal and ability to learn new things, Tantra philosophy as background, and most important, meditation as an inner source. That was just more than enough to begin I thought. Four years passed, I am still learning, implementing, observing, experimenting and continuously thinking; so let us collectively think how to do it. In the workshop I encouraged the participants not to just listen to me but rather that we will think collectively, and through questions stimulate our inner knowledge. We can be positive, creative and intuitive without fear of criticism. 

First we brainstormed answers to each of the following questions, preferably one single word answers. There are two types of thinking, horizontal and vertical; horizontal thinking relates to thoughts associated with the subjects, while vertical thinking talks about the cause and result.

1. What does spiritual mean?
Answer : Baba, love, link with God, truth, elevation, link with internal self, search our soul, aesthetic, Consciousness, auto-realization, back to home, know the reality, liberation, happiness, joy, peace… 

2. What is education ? 
Answer : develop, grow, inform, knowing, bring it outside… 
Definition from Shrii P. R Sarkar : Education is that which liberates.

3. Why do we need spiritual education ?
Answer : For a better world based on spirituality

4. What is the result of spiritual education ?
Answer : become wise, neohumanist, sadvipra ( spiritual revolutionary). 

Then we explored some examples of Spiritual Education

The story of Madalasa is an example of a mother giving spiritual education to her sons. When her children were infants she would put them to sleep with the following lullaby:
” Dear son, although you are but a child in a small human frame, you are the veritable expression of the Supreme Consciousness. You are an ever-holy, ever-enlightened entity. As long as you think that you are only a small child, you are spiritually ignorant, but when you realize that you are a part of that Supreme Entity, you become that Supreme Entity. You are beyond the spell of the illusory Maya of this mundane world. You are the embodiment of the pure and unblemished self.”
( From The Awakening of Women P 174-177, by Shrii P.R. Sarkar)

Similarly Shrii P R Sarkar has given some guidelines for imparting spirituality to infants also. A special meditation can be done at the time of delivery. After the baby is born, the mother can sing kiirtan in a soft low voice so that the baby will hear it; and this will create a spiritual inclination in the child. At the time of nursing the mother’s milk becomes like Divine Nectar, and will assure the physical, mental, and spiritual growth of the child.’

As children get a little older, they can be taught meditation through games and songs with mudras, poems, art, stories and dance, like the ones in the Circle of Love Manual.

Lastly all participated in the following activity:

Before the workshop started, I walked around and picked up two different kinds of flowers, a small yellow flower and a long stem flower, one stone and a small piece of round wood. I showed the participants the first item and asked them to write a sentence relating to the item with a spiritual sense and encouraged them to be creative and imaginative. While they were writing I played soft music so their mind would be in a subtler state; good for creativity. The vibration was quiet and peaceful, and everyone was able to concentrate and think. When they finished writing, I showed them the second item and so on until four sentences were written. Then they each shared what they had written with someone near by. They were happy to share their ideas. After sharing, we made several groups with a minimum of 5 persons in a group. I asked them to tear the paper and separate the 4 sentences, numbering them 1,2,3,4 to match the item I had showed them. Then I collected all the number 1s from the group and made them into a poem. They had to work out how to make the poem beautiful and spiritual by arranging the sequence or adding some more words. In the same way we proceeded with numbers 2, 3, and 4. Each group started to work with much attention changing the sequence over and over again to see how it went.

When they finished all 4 poems, we shared them with everybody group wise. The sister from the first group recited the poem in such a dramatic way that it drew everyone’s attention. It was so beautiful. It was amazing to hear so many beautiful poems coming from them and everyone applauded when they heard the poems. Later on some expressed that they felt deeply that we are all connected, by doing the group work.

Below is a small sample of the poems they created (originally in Spanish)

FLOWER
The beauty of God´s creation,
Always go back to the most natural and simple,
Sonorous and creative harmony
taking care of the flower as oneself
Baba gave us sight, so we can see beauty in everything.POSY
Subtle beauty
grows besides a stream
and runs softly downwards
If you don’t water your qualities
they may shrivel.
Life that nourishes us
let them grow.STONE
Demonstration of the Divine
The obstacle in love learning
Being as tough as a rock
see the Divine Presence in everything
animated and unanimatedWOOD
Dead nature, roughness
Flexibility, nobleness
energy and hidden warmth
POSY
Eternal rains
Transformed into leaves, little branches
and evolving and growing.
The sincere devotion,
developing the nobleness
A whole universe displayed
use of the unanimated creation of the Whole.FLOWER
Soul´s reflection
Harmony with the universe
Joy of beauty and color
Flower , beautiful being
Flower , Purity of being
Flower, Joy of beingSTONE
Solidity, unalterable strength
permanence in time
millennium wisdom
trust and safety
Little Plant
Harmony and brotherhood
dead calm, fragility and tenderness
ancient connection with oneself through
the element earth-water.
To end the workshop I taught a children’s song “force of peace” ( in Spanish “fuerza de la paz ” ) and asked the different groups to add some mudras and dance to it. Later on each group presented their song. Everyone was happy and enjoyed creating their own dance. In the end we made a big circle and danced all the groups’ dances collectively.Any donation and Spanish books are welcomed, please contact anandasushiila@gmail.com