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Love and Light

National Retreat 2014 Workshop Summary

“The Grace of God cannot be won, through the gymnastics of reason, the contortions of yoga or the denials of asceticism. Love alone can win it. Love that needs no requital, love that knows no bargaining, love that is paid gladly, as tribute to the All-loving, love that is unwavering, love alone can overcome obstacles, however many and mighty. There is no strength more effective than purity, no bliss more satisfying than love, no joy more restoring than Bhakthi (devotion to God), and no triumph more praiseworthy than surrender.”
- Baba

The key objectives of the workshop were to understand the true meaning of love, to establish the relationship between Love and His Grace, to enhance our understanding of what Love is and to explore how love transforms us. The workshop was split into two sessions, where the delegates discussed about the Power of Love in the first sessions and tried to better their understanding of How to Love.

The first session began with a discussion about the relationship between Divine grace and Love, and reaffirmed the indispensability of one for the other, as laid out by our Beloved Lord in His Divine Discourses. It then explored the aspects of devotion, surrender, ethical discipline, enquiry and determination as means by which one can earn His Grace. Having laid the basic foundations, the workshop then focussed on understanding the real meaning of Love, the differences between worldly love and Divine love, and the challenges that we face in practising love. The session concluded with a group discussion on how “Love unifies, bestows bliss, transforms and individual and destroys evil.”

“The extent of your love determines the magnitude of your bliss”
- Baba

The second session focussed on the practical aspects of how each one of us can express and experience our Love for others better. It began with a discussion on the way Love was exemplified by Hanuman, Buddha, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Jesus Christ, Meera bhai and Mother Teresa. The idea was to relate to the unique traits of these Divine personalities so that we can put them into practice in our day to day lives. Some of the practical points that came out of the discussion were in lines with what our Beloved Lord has said in order for us to express and experience Love, i.e., keeping good company, cultivating good thoughts, eliminating ego, seeking God’s Love, practising meditation, practising Namasmarana and developing unity of thought word and deed.

Dr. Aanand Venkat
Vice-Chair, Sathya Sai Baba Centre of Merton
Region 1, SSSSO UK

Workshop: “The Power of Love”, and “Cultivating Love: Practical Ways”

Our group counted around 25 people, and we had some very interesting discussions on this topic; everyone happily contributed their thoughts. The facilitator very ably led the workshop, encouraging us to reflect on the meaning of Love, and ways of practising it.

We identified some of the obstacles for practising Love, and were reminded of the six enemies: criticism, competition, fear, desire, duality, and selfishness.
“The greater the Love for the Divine, the greater the Bliss you experience.”
Love in speech is Sathya: speak softly and lovingly, and do not speak ill of others.
Love in Action is Dharma: participate in selfless service.
Love in thought is Shanti: practise meditation and prayer.

In small groups, we discussed the lives of Hanuman, Buddha, Jesus, Ramakrishna, Mira, and Mother Teresa, and how they cultivated Love for the Divine.
We identified some qualities required for cultivating Love as:
• Practising Ceiling on desires
• Cultivating steadfast devotion
• Developing forbearance and forgiveness
• Loving without expectation of reward
• Loving with intensity
• Loving God in all.

The group facilitator was very knowledgeable and encouraged discussions with great enthusiasm.
He even persuaded us to prepare a presentation to the whole retreat on the following morning, on stage…At first there was no great enthusiasm in the group, but we gradually warmed to it, and ideas popped up from various people in the group. Somehow it was decided to present a snippet on the life of Mother Teresa, and more ideas came up. I must say that it felt a bit unreal, as there was so little time, and it became virtually impossible to meet up in the evening with other group members.
I did wonder how/if it would come together.

We had just about 10 minutes’ rehearsal before our appearance on stage, and it became clear that Swami had been directing the whole thing from the start, giving us ideas, and picking a small number of us to do the “acting”. I felt that He was pulling the strings from above, and helped us overcome our stage fright. I probably needed reminding that He was directing the Show!

So we started with a brief talk about Mother Teresa’s life and her work. Then we all recited the Lord’s Prayer, as done by Mother Teresa every morning. She made it clear that it was her spiritual life that made it possible for her to do what she did. Prayer and daily morning Mass were the spiritual foods that sustained her, “without which… she could not get through one single day or hour of the life of dedication she had chosen.”
We then presented a small play depicting Mother Teresa and her missionary sisters taking care of the “untouchables” (lepers) with great love. Despite the horror, disgust, and disapproval of passers-by, they nursed and fed those who were rejected by society.
She said: “We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”
The presentation ended with a prayer that she liked and lived her life by, reproduced here following several people’s request.

This version was found written on the wall in Mother Teresa\'s home for children in Calcutta:

“People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
-this version is credited to Mother Teresa

Thank you Swami, for giving us the opportunity and the willingness to be the puppets. Sai Ram.

Pierrette Poirot
Regional Spiritual Coordinator,
Region 6, SSSSO UK