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Love and Light

Region 3 - Young Adults Programme: 9 Point Code of Conduct

Life - It is a word I have contemplated over a lot recently, yet if I asked to describe it, I would still struggle to give a straight-up answer. More to the point, any answer I could conjure up in my mind would present with it some resounding contradictions. You see, if the reality I perceive through my five senses were to dictate, then I would describe life in a way I imagine most people would – beautiful, encompassing everything I love and hold dear. However, I would just as easily be inclined to decorate ‘life’ with far less inspiring words too - unremarkable, ordinary and meaningless spring to mind!

Far from both the afore mentioned descriptions being little more than a bi-polar slur, what I am trying to poke at is the idea that we go through so many turns of ‘life’ that wouldn’t it be fair to say that ‘life’, by now, should feel fairly ordinary and unremarkable to us? To expand, what is so special about everything we regard as special in this life? The chances are, we have probably already experienced it countless times over from previous births! Being someone who has adopted the concept that “life” is an illusionary prison, barring our consciousness from higher planes of understanding, all of these ideas and questions leave one with a deep-seated dilemma: If life is to be deemed an ‘illusion’ how should one go about living it? How can I lift the inconveniently indiscernible veil over my eyes to experience the true nature of “life”- or to be more accurate, reality? Enter our beloved Guru, Swami, and the 9 point code of conduct He has given to us. Put simply, it is a list of various spiritual exercises (Sadhana) that He urges us, as devotees, to start practicing and implementing within our daily lives. For me, the beauty of this 9 point code lies in how innocently simple it is to understand, yet how challenging it is to follow on a daily basis! Personally, I see the 9 point code as an answer to the questions presented earlier about the nature of “life” and how I should be leading it.

Swami has been extremely kind and generous in giving us not one, but nine different modes of spiritual practice by which we can reach Him. So on paper, these codes should seem like an easy and enticing invitation to join Swami. Yet, as I have already suggested, implementing these codes within our daily lives is such a challenge. As such, it was both fortunate and inevitable that on 19th July 2014 I found myself, among twenty-four other youth, trying to dissect the inner connotations of Swami’s beautifully simple 9 point code and how we can apply these points in daily practice.

The event I am referring to is one of the many UK Region 3 YAP (Young Adult Programme) Satsangs that have already taken place this year – the theme: Swami’s 9 point code of conduct. The aim of these Satsangs is to discuss and debate the meaning of these codes of conduct as well as identify the issues that arise when trying to implement them in today’s society and tools to overcome these challenges.

The focus of this article is to report the events that took place at the most recent Satsang, hosted by the Youth of Luton Sai Centre. This particular Satsang was focussed on the 7th & 8th codes of conduct: “Speaking softly and lovingly with everyone with whom he/she comes into contact” & “Avoiding talking ill of others especially in their absence” respectfully – arguably two of the most difficult codes to practice at all times. The turnout for this event was highly encouraging with youth from centres across Region 3 (stretching from Ilford to Bedford) attending, all equipped with rousing levels of enthusiasm.

After a short Bhajan conducted by the Luton Youth a picture of the controversial, yet highly talented and in-form striker Luis Suarez was revealed to the congregation of youth and each was asked to give their sincere view on this particular individual. As expected, the answers were as diverse as they were conflicting. Some stated that, first and foremost, they saw him as a remarkable player. Others, including myself, labelled him as troubled and a cheat! What this ice-breaking exercise demonstrated was that it is very easy to hold negative perceptions about certain people, and as a result talking ill about them develops as an offshoot from this way of thinking. What was eventually agreed by all was that despite the bad press that could be spread about someone, like Suarez, we should look past these and instead see only the good in others. We pushed this conclusion even further to establish that what ill we wrongly see in others is but a reflection of the doubts one has about one’s self. Therefore, be happy and content with your being and naturally you can start to see nothing but the positivity in others too because, after all, we are all but the sparks of the same flame.

The next exercise looked in to the 8th code “Avoiding talking ill of others especially in their absence” in more depth. While talking about someone in the news, someone disconnected to us (Like Suarez in the example) is one thing, talking ill of the people we know on a personal level can create calamitous outcomes – and this is what the next exercise presented to the Satsang aimed to demonstrate. This exercise came in the form of a short drama choreographed by the gentlemen of the Luton Youth. The play highlighted the ease at which “gossip” can quickly spread and full-circle back to those involved breaking trust & friendship in equally grand proportions.

With the drama concluded the youth were split into 4 different groups and each were given a respective problem associated with the 8th code. Posters and pens were supplied to help the various groups illustrate their answers. While I could spend a lot of time explaining the answers given from each group, I would like to instead share the problem posed to the group I was a part of as a particularly thought-provoking and stimulating point was raised by a fellow brother which I would like to share. The problem posed to our group was ‘What are the consequences for the person who chooses to stick up for someone who has been talked ill about?’ If I was to ask you, the reader, to answer this very question now, I would be confident that the fair few of you brothers and sisters would come up with answers along the lines of “The person sticking up for the other is doing the right thing, but as a consequence of this they are leaving themselves open to possible ridicule themselves for siding with the minority” - This was most certainly the kind of answer that had come to my mind at the time. However a fellow member in the group stepped in and purported something similar to “Why is the word “consequence” (In the context of the initial question) preordained as a negative outcome?!” Indeed the word ‘consequence’, though universally understood as an outcome associated with unpleasantness, doesn’t necessarily have to be so! This thought in particular resonated within me and demonstrated that there is always room to find optimism, even where none may seem to exist. And it was with this that we started to come up with positive and optimistic outcomes for our tasked problem. After some discussion the four groups rejoined and expressed their answers to the posed questions, which were subsequently left open for further debate and discussion.

The second half of the Satsang focussed on the 7th code of conduct - “Speaking softly and lovingly with everyone with whom he comes into contact”. The way in which our group of 24 tackled this code’s ideals was in the more traditional form with simple discussion and debate! I feel I can speak for all the youth who took part at the Luton YAP session on the 19th July in saying it was a highly informative, constructive and enjoyable way to spend time.

At the beginning of this article I attempted to explain why the 9 point code of conduct given by Swami was so important for me personally – it helps in giving me a role and a focus to “life”, of which I am still essentially lacking in understanding! I believe that the 9 point code is as equally important for all the youth who were present at the YAP session, though their reasoning for its importance may be completely different to my own. Nonetheless we were all brought together by Swami’s teachings and in doing so my ideas have matured at a rate far beyond what I had anticipated. More important and fundamental is the fact that these sessions are thoroughly enjoyable. To work alongside youth from my centre as well as meet others from across the UK is a blessing and I feel very fortunate to be able to discuss matters important to me with other open-minded, imaginative and amusing individuals.

From what I understand, at least another two YAP sessions in Region 3 are set to take place before the close of this year, so for any youth interested, we would be delighted to see you there! I’d like to finish by thanking Aranee, the Luton Sai Youth Coordinator for all her strength and support and instilling the rest of the youth team: Luxmy, Niruba, Garry, Janaarthanan, Maiyuran, Aditi Prashanthan, Carthykejan and I with same passion and drive she has. Much of the success of the Luton YAP Sathsang was a direct result of her dedication and love so thank you on behalf of Luton. And thank you to all the youth who tackled the M1 on the 19th to reach us and partake in what was a fruitful and uplifting event.

Jai Sai Ram
Nirmalan Patkunan, on behalf of Luton Youth Wing