For several years now, the Brisbane Young Adults have been having weekly study circles on Swami’s teachings, with the current focus on studying ‘Prema Vahini’.
Amidst global situation moving the study circle online, whilst keeping a similar timing and the same regularity was the natural move for the study circle organisers. The only change that was made was starting 15 minutes earlier to chant the Gayathri Mantra before starting the study circle which typically goes for one and a half hours. These one and a half hours is split between how everyone has gone with the prescribed activity (homework) derived from reading the previous week’s passage and the second part revolving around reading a new paragraph and deriving a homework for the week ahead.
“I feel that having to go online was a blessing in disguise for us. It gave us the opportunity to write down comprehensive guidelines for facilitators and participants, which we believe, will be useful as the skeleton for future study circles. It also seems that this change has also brought, paradoxically, a bigger sense of unity amongst the participants” reflects Kawshal Reeybye who is one of the Young Adults who facilitates the online study circle.
With the restrictions around communal gathering everyone has had to join remotely, as opposed to before, when most people were physically present in the room whilst others were joining virtually. Now that people’s timetables have freed up slightly, they are able to dedicate more time to study circles and be more present and mindful during a session. Whilst the members are not discounting the benefits of having a physical study circle – the sense of fun that is established when they see their fellow YAs, the warmth of spiritual discussions with fellow seekers over a meal and the simple joy of physically seeing when the homework has helped someone confront a challenge cannot be fully recreated virtually. However, the young adults are grateful that Swami has given them the best tools to make this situation as positive as possible, and that’s what they will endeavour to keep doing.
The group has consistently had between 10-15 participants over the past few weeks, which has enabled them to have some meaningful and relatable discussions of how Swami’s words have impacted their lives over the week. The move to online has also meant that the facilitator’s approach has had to change from a rather organic and conversational approach to a more structured one whilst still enabling the participants to share openly, feel safe while talking about how the homework impacts them, express the problems it has helped to resolve and identify the challenges they are currently facing.
Study Circles in Brisbane have definitely changed, the interactions between members have changed, the dynamics have changed; but the commitment of Swami’s youth to seeking the truth has not changed, their reverence for their Guru hasn’t changed and the love Swami’s youth have for Him has not changed.