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Love and Light

Region 4 - Sathya Sai Orientation Conference

The Region 4 Sathya Sai Orientation Conference took place on Saturday 23rd March 2013 and was hosted by Birmingham Sai Centre at the Broadway School, Perry Bar, Birmingham. There was 4 inches of snow in Birmingham but that didn’t stop those dedicated, determined office bearers and active workers from attending.

The day began with multi-faith prayers, bhajans and with a welcome address from the Regional Chair Ketan Gokani . This was followed by the National Service co-ordinator Mukund Patel sharing his thoughts on the Mission of Sathya Sai. Brother Mukund really set the scene for the rest of the programme by refocusing our minds on Bhagawan’s Mission and our roles as devotees in the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation. He emphasised the development of humanity with all fellow man, seeing divinity in all, and how to ably serve as His Instruments.

After that we split up in to two groups, according to our roles and interests in Service/Youth and SSE/Spiritual to discuss further “The importance of the divine guidelines”. Each workshop was conducted by members of the Region 4 Chair/Vice chair and SSE and Spiritual coordinator. They thoroughly focused on getting to the issues regarding why guidelines make you feel as restricted instead of being a support at the heart of Sai Centres. We continued by looking at practical ways in which we can approach these issues. The focus of the workshops was bringing about change through personal transformation and how to learn to discriminate in a positive way. Devotees had the opportunity to get really in touch with Swami’s Teachings through exploring His discourses; understanding the messages in them; trying to understand how they can be applied to the self and how they can help us to grow spiritually.

Before the lunch, a video showcasing all the activities carried out by the centres and groups of Region 4 showed how busy the previous year had been. After that we had a delicious (and plentiful) lunch we then started the afternoon session of the programme. We continued the workshops. This time there was more focus on what you would say to a complete stranger about Sathya Sai Baba, His teaching and the Sai Organisation. Again, it was a very interesting discussion and the conclusion we came to was that centres need to seek to avoid creating an impression that one has to worship Sathya Sai Baba within context of any one particular religious orientation.

The SSE and Spiritual workshops discussed the 3 main qualifications of an office bearer. In summary, one must be an eager aspirant for spiritual progress, one must have full faith in the name and spread the message of Sai, and one must be a person who has won recognition as being good. Then in the afternoon we discussed the topic "being a fit instrument". In summary to serve as a fit instrument one must have steady faith, devotion, loyalty, enthusiasm, harmony, happiness, humility, skills, and dedication. One must avoid egotism, exhibitionism, and favouritism.

These interactive sessions were enjoyed by all and there were requests for further, similar workshops in the future.

Each member of the Region 4 team presented what was previously done in 2012, and the future plans for 2013.These plans were presentations by the Youth, SSE, Spiritual and Service Wings.

The final item in the programme was by the guest speaker, Dr. Pawan Tamvada. Listening to his excellent speech, it soon became clear that Pawana has genuinely inspired us by the short story of the axe and hammer that God has a plan for each and every one of us; we all are His instruments and he will use us when it is the right time according to our readiness. Pawan mentioned a quote to explain how our relationship should be with Swami i.e.

"Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend."

The talk summed up through his stories, our deliberations from the workshop, and which re-affirmed our roles as "His instruments"
here was a pre-recorded message by Dr Reddy, reminding us to practice His teaching ‘Start the day with love…’, and how we are blessed by Swami leaving us with His Divine legacy, the water project, schools, university, hospitals and so on. His final message was ABC – A (Always) B (Be) C (Careful/ Cheerful) and D (Don’t), E (Ever), F (Forget) G (God). It was a perfect conclusion to the day's programme.

This was immediately followed by the summery and vote of thanks by Brother Narendra Mistry Vice Chair R4, he concluded the day and mentioned that last year had been very busy, but we should now add an extra 20%.

The Program finished with one bhajan and the Aarti. The day had many take-home messages and succeeded in uplifting and inspiring all the devotees in Region 4.

Manisha Patel