Last updated -
St.Andrew’s C of E School
SSE Classes -
We started the class with three Om's. We did a colouring exercise and learned about nature and followed it by colouring rainbow and learning the colours of rainbow.
The children then practiced the bhajan 'Hare Rama Hare Rama' .
The children learnt the importance of sharing by counting and distribution of colour pens and followed it by saying please and thank you with rhymes.
We tried to chant Om Sri Sairam before Swami's picture We ended the class with three shantis and the children bowing down before Swami's photo.
Today's lesson began with three Aums.
Before we began this topic we discussed that today was an important day called Bhisma Ekadashi. This triggered the children into thinking about Bhishma in the Mahabharata. One child asked "Was he the one that lay on the bed of arrows?".
After a quick confirmation on who the Pandavas were and who Bhishma was, the importance of the day was narrated.
After the war was won by the Pandavas, Yudhisthira wanted some guidance as to how to rule the kingdom. Bhisma replied saying ask Lord Krishna but Lord Krishna said Bhishma should advise Yudhisthira. As well as advising Yudhisthira on ruling the Kingdom Bhishma narrated the important Vishnu Sahasranama. This is the 1008 names of Vishnu.
The children appreciated this little nugget of information and we proceeded to the main topic.
The question was asked "What does atma mean to you?".
A reply by one child was "It's what leaves your body when you die".
In one of Swami's discourse, Swami explains.
Atma is the source and sustenance for everything. It has no birth and no death. When it assumes the physical body, even while the body undergoes constant change from birth to death, Atma remains as the eternal and changeless principle.
We discussed how we are so attached to what we see that we forget our true nature. Hence, ultimately our role is to remove this ignorance through constant spiritual sadhanas and concentrating upon 'I am atma'.
To further our understanding we read a little script between a boy called Jai and his grandmother.
Jai: What is Atma, Grandma?
Grandma: Atma is also called the Spirit, or the soul. Atma is never born, never dies, and is everlasting. Our body takes birth and dies, but not Atma. Atma supports the body. Without Atma, the body becomes dead. Atma supplies power to our body, mind and senses.
Jai: What is the difference between Atma, soul and body Grandma?
Grandma : One and the same Atma dwells inside all bodies. Our bodies changes with time. Our old age body is different from our childhood body. Atma remains the same.
We all enjoyed discussing today's topic and for the last 15 minutes, children wanted to brainstorm ideas on how to organise feeding the homeless. They decided that they wanted a plan in place for March.
After a very enthusiastic lesson we ended on Aum and three Shanthis.
Jai Sai Ram.
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's tips to students on Examinations
1. Practice Writing at Home
In spite of reading well, when students go to the examination hall, they don’t perform satisfactorily, they don’t do well. What’s the reason? This is because they only read, they don’t practice writing. While preparing for exams, you only read. But during the examination, you have to write there in the examination hall. Thus, it’necessary that you should practice writing even at home. What you do in the examination hall must be practiced at home . You read at home and then you write in the examination hall. There is no relationship between the two. While reading you may not understand certain aspects but while writing you will certainly understand them. So you should practice writing often. The more you write and practice at home, it will help you in the examination hall. Even if they are known things and you think you are wasting paper by practicing writing, it doesn’t matter. You should practice. The lack of writing practice is the only reason why students don’t succeed in examinations.
This week’s silent meditation was the best I’ve ever experienced from the children – a huge well done to all ! All eyes were closed, there was very little movement, and it was apparent that all children were trying hard to feel the peace, serenity and calmness one gets from meditating.
After our prayers, we touched on righteousness and discriminating: deciding on right from wrong. I wanted the children to understand that no matter how small an action is, there is a right or wrong way of doing the action and we need to make the right choice.
e.g. If the sweet shopkeeper gives you too much change, you may be tempted to keep it to buy more sweets later, but is that right?
Is that what Swami would want you to do?
If you find a pencil that’s not yours in your classroom, should you keep it because it’s just a small pencil or give it in to the teacher thinking that it belongs to another student?
With every right action, no matter how small it appears, you will be rewarded, so always make the correct choice!
We then went on to recap on some of the curious questions asked in last week’s lesson. Listening to the childrens answers, I would like to share an exercise we have undertaken in our group: Over some time now, I have discovered that so many children of this day and age, constantly use the word ‘like’ out of context. E.g. ‘Krishna then said like this is your duty and like he really felt Arjuna should like …’
As a result, I have banned the word ‘like’ from our class unless it is in context. Each and every child in the class has realised how difficult this challenge is for them. We shall continue with this exercise until there is a marked positive difference. An additional benefit of this exercise is that it makes the children think before they speak.
The curious and thought provoking questions resulted in yet another SAIence lesson. Last week in my report, I mentioned that if one has a heart transplant, the objective is to obtain a healthy working heart, and it is unlikely characteristics or personality of the donor are ‘transplanted’ too.
However, after today’s lesson I am not convinced and researched further as to whether this really is the case.
Does changing the heart mean changing personality? A retrospective inquiry on 47 heart transplant patients…
This article makes an interesting read if you wish to find out more.
From our SAIence topic for the day, we went on to discuss what was special about today: Bhishma Ekadasi.
and was related to both the Pandavas and the Kauravas.
Ekadasi – 11th day after the new moon This was the day Bhishma taught Yudishtra the Vishnu Sahasranama (1008 names of Vishnu) whilst he was lying on the bed of arrows. Vishnu representing the entire cosmos and thus the qualities of God.
Sachin Uncle helped the class to chant a small section of the Vishnu Sahasranama 9 times.
One of the children asked why 9 times, and Sachin Uncle explained that 9 is a significant spiritual number. He asked the children to:
Add the digits of 108 = 9
Add the digits of 1008 = 9
The Power of Sai
We then went on to further discuss our ideas for our Mahabharata presentation. The children were very excited to make notes on action points for each section. They were exceptionally keen to decide who plays which character. In deciding this, we were faced with yet another challenge: 3 children wanted to be Draupadi. I got them to write their names on a piece of paper, fold them several times and I then placed them at Swami’s photo. Continuing with our lesson, I asked Brother Gerry who was in our classroom at the time to pick one of the chits.
Brother Gerry gave it to me, and as I unfolded it, it said the child's name and she had written Om Shri Sai Ram underneath. I showed this to all and unfolded the other 2 names which only had their name written. A small lesson, but this beautifully illustrated ‘The Power of Sai’ which was highlighted to all of us.
Alas, time ran out after this, so more on the Mahabharata next week.
Children listened to the story intently. It was very interesting to appreciate their views of the each of the fish. In closing, children did some colouring. We had a full class with seven children and they were all seated ready for the class. Sindu was happy to share that she celebrated her fourth birthday with her family and friends.
We started our lesson with simple prayers and then played a friendly game. Our lesson was about THE BOOMERANG. As soon as a boomerang was shown to the children, Parvathy happily said it is a boomerang and it is from Australia. She then shared her holiday experiences in Australia including the kangaroos she saw.
Sister Shruti then read a story about Boomerang.
Once upon a time, there was a boy called Michael, who lived with his parents in a city in Australia. During his school holidays, his parents would take him to a beautiful house built in a huge valley. He often played in the open grounds. One day, while he was playing, he thought he saw something hiding behind a tree.
"Who is there!?" he shouted.
Back came the reply, "who is there?
The little boy could not see who spoke those words.So he asked "Who are you?" Back came the words "who are you?".
The boy thought that someone was trying to tease him. "Won't you stop it?" Feeling more and more exasperated, Michael yelled out an insult, which was flung back into his face.Each time he yelled an insult,it came back to him.Just then, his mother came out. She explained to him that no one was trying to tease him, but that it was only an echo of his own voice, which came back to him, rather like a boomerang returns to the person that has thrown it.
So then Michael shouted, "I love you!" and back came words "I love you!". He shouted again "You are so good!". Immediately, the compliment was returned to him. And he was very happy.
Moral: What we give to this world comes back. Therefore, let us give love, kindness, sympathy and service to those around us and God will shower us with his blessings.
The children really enjoyed listening to the story.They went home with the message "what goes around comes around". They then coloured a boomerang. Sindhu finished her colouring beautifully. All of them finished the colouring in the class.
Our bhajan for this month is
In the garden of my heart there is a plant of love (×2)
In the garden of my heart there I wait till you come
Oh my lord sweet lord, come to me dear lord
Oh my lord hear my prayer, sweet lord come to me
Oh my lord sweet lord, come to me dear lord.
The children practised this bhajan a few times with Sister Shruti and they are getting better.
We began our lesson with 3 Aums and the Lord Ganesha mantra followed by mindful breathing.
Theme of the lesson: The Boomerang Principle
The children were shown a boomerang and asked how it works. The children were aware that it is shaped so that, when thrown, it will spin back to the point of origin.
We used the Boomerang as a visual tool, to gain awareness that everything we do through our thoughts, words, actions, intentions and emotions is like a boomerang you send out and it returns to us sooner or later with astounding accuracy. So, we need be careful what we send out as it shapes our reality.
We read two thought-
1. The children each coloured in a boomerang, and wrote their favourite quotation underneath it.
2. We read and reflected on a poem, ‘The Law of Life’
The children were asked to complete colouring in their boomerang and answer questions about the story.
We closed our lesson by thanking God for all our blessings and the prayer Samasta Loka for the wellbeing of the universe.
Sri Vijaya Bhaskar speaking to Mill Hill SSE children and Gurus
How blessed we were on Sunday! -
Sister Vani has kindly shared her experience below with us and our wider Sai fold -
Sri Bhaskar started the discussions by taking the time to ask each of the 20 children present in the room, to introduce themselves to him, one by one – this was a lovely icebreaker to warm the hearts and energies and he made a special connection with each child in the room.
“ Let Noble Thoughts flow… “
In this time of the technological era, Sri Bhaskar tells us that technology can appear to be quite inescapable. However, if we allow the most noble thoughts to reside in good technology, then there will be healthy competition and best practice will be followed. He noted that children who are growing up with and are familiar with technology should be urged and directed to make the best use of the internet.
He provided ideas on how children can be encouraged to use the Internet in a positive manner. One such idea was “Request children to Google, the 10 websites which have the noblest thoughts – this will result in a compendium of good curious research. This will encourage them to explore the good and he went on to say that the research will reveal many extraordinary people who lived great lives, such as Albert Einstein.”
He lovingly pointed out to children that they should “never do anything that your parents will not approve of, and never ask others what you will not do yourself. Thus, you cannot preach what you do not practice” . Sri Bhaskar then gave us a wonderful story about how Swami too, lived his life in this way.
He went on to explain that Swami lived in a very small space and had very few possessions. This was an example of how Swami showed us how to live without attachment to material things, together with minimal items. Sri Bhaskar drew the analogy of Swami living like a backpacker.
He reminded Gurus that they should be role models for children “We as adults and Sai children are the role models to others and should reflect on how Swami lived.”
During the Q & A session, we had some interesting comments and questions from both the children and Gurus. Below are some examples illustrating the discussions.
Sri Bhaskar lovingly explained that the children were given age appropriate duties as activities are not supposed to be onerous. Swami always wants Balvikas children to be pampered and not worry about extra activities – how wonderful is our Swami! The older children (Group 3 and 4) were given duties to serve water in the canteen.
Sri Bhaskar pointed out that Balvikas children should enjoy the pampering – however, children need to respect and love individuals who are pampering them. It is important that good behaviour is also a reflection of this, and that the children should not talk excessively in the corridors on the way back from bhajans as they move to their classrooms for SSE and that children should listen and follow the good words of guidance from their Gurus and teachers.
Sir then explained “ To love someone is to not hurt them, if you say to your uncle that you love him very much, but then you do not listen to his words, you will have hurt him. So, to behave in a good manner is important and to listen to those that you love and care about.”
Sri Bhaskar explained simply that children need sleep for development and growth and that they do not need to wake up too early but a minimum of 7 -
Sri Bhaskar suggested a simple exercise to be followed before bedtime by children -
As time goes on, children will become more aware of their spirituality and their daily good actions will outweigh their not so good/less desirable actions. The children called out their key take away points/themes from the earlier talk by Sri Bhaskar – wall on tear = volunteer; coping with peer pressure.
Sri Bhaskar then asked the children about what they wished to do when they grow up, and their use of gadgets. He suggested to restrict use of electronic gadgets to improve discipline. For example, children should practice not to touch any electronic gadget for at least one day every week.
Question – “How do we balance the use of electronic gadgets by children – lots of children are using electronic gadgets all the time”, “But how will we do homework and research if we cannot use IT? What do I do in an IT lesson at school?”
He kindly explained that we should use IT only for that task. Gadgets produce too much noise in our mind and to calm the mind will be better for our soul. The gurus re-
Talking, together with typing messages and looking at electronic devices (which is a method of communication) takes up energy – so we should minimise unnecessary messaging. Talking is not merely through speech, but also through our thoughts and actions. Sri Bhaskar mentioned a video which was about a young American boy who had suffered severe medical conditions from the excessive use of electronic gadgets – he suggested that such videos are powerful for children to watch for messaging on the misuse of technology.
As a spiritual practice, children are advised not to use any electronic gadgets including watching TV for at least one day a week -
Sri Bhaskar mentioned an interesting book for us to read,” The 4 th Industrial Revolution”. He explained the new Artificial intelligence discussed today compared with the Super intelligence discussed by our ancestors in Vedic times. He highlighted that focus currently is “Artificial” whilst in the past it was “Super”.
We concluded the discussion with three Aums, and at the end he asked us “why 3 Aums?” and then explained it as Body, Mind, and Soul. We are very grateful to Swami and Sri Bhaskar for his time, insight to topical issues and ideas.
© 2016 Mill Hill Sai Centre