It is a bright, sunny, fun-filled day of spiritual learning at the SRV San Francisco Ashram. In attendance today are children of varied ages. Today is September 27th, and once again Annapurna Sarada has given her time and dedication in conducting this class. We are so fortunate to have her offer these essential teachings to the children during her trips from Oregon and sometimes Hawaii. This shows her true dedication to the Holy Mother.
I like to call these classes "The Children's Spiritual Class," or, we could call it, "Spiritual teachings for Children." Whatever name we offer up here really does not matter. The true point is that we have fun adventures in learning the many different paths, and offering our respect to all religious paths. Simply learning the art of dharmic living, of being spiritual, and gaining this understanding in comfortable surroundings is meaningful for a child. We have even had to extend the class to 3 hours from 2 hours, as the children are so involved and focused on the teachings. I believe that we all have the ability and the responsibility to share the knowledge with as many children as we can. In Annapurna's words, "Presenting these foundational teachings early on helps our youth to begin to engage in awareness of the mind and its activities."
Today is something new -- new surroundings. Annapurna has decided to hold the first part of the class in the 2nd floor classroom. This is the room where Babaji teaches the scriptures when on site at the SRV San Francisco Ashram. As one can imagine, the room is filled with the air of knowledge and is imbued with Love. Annapurna was kind enough to entrust me to instruct a simple yoga asana. I chose to instruct them in one form of the meditation pose. But first we got started with a simple stretch, and then went into the meditation pose. The children were eager students. I felt that clear instructions on the meditation pose may help promote the ability to remain in seated meditation for an extended period, along with a better understanding of why we sit as we do in meditation.
Annapurna was eager to get started on the teachings, and began with posing a few questions to the children. She began by sharing the teaching of atomic particles, of course with simple explanation. One question she posed was, "What are our clothes made of?" And Sebastian, who is 7 years, replied, "That is what you create with your mind."
Onto our next adventure of the day. Making Butter! The Lesson: Churning the milk of the mind. We all had our glass jars and heavy cream inside, and in we threw a few marbles to assist with the churning. We stood in the kitchen and shook our jars for 30 minutes. Children have amazing stamina!
Likewise, through spiritual discipline practiced in solitude, churn the butter of knowledge and devotion from the milk of the mind. Then that butter can easily be kept in the water of the world. It will not get mixed with the world. The mind will float detached on the water of the world. -- Sri Ramakrishna
Then, quietly we all went to the blessed and beautiful shrine room, with all the children in tow. The offering of flowers and the blessing of food (Prasad) was next. We celebrate the offering of flowers and the blessing of food at each children's class in San Francisco. The consistency of this practice is dear to the children. They love going down to the shrine room and really look forward to this part of the class. They will then have a 3-minute meditation, and each child will offer 2 to 3 flowers to the Deity of their choice. Then, the food for our snack time will be blessed, as we always partake of Prasad at the end of each class. I also look forward to going to the shrine room. What touches me most is the flower offering. It is with wonder that I witness what Deity each child offers up a flower to. Inevitably each child is drawn to a different Deity. Sebastian offers his flower straight away to Sri Kali and then to Sri Durga and at times to Sri Buddha. His brother Matthias is drawn to Sri Jesus and the Mother Mary and then to Durga. Olympia is drawn to Sri Buddha with her flower offering. The two younger girls are drawn to the Mother Mary. It is truly so beautiful to witness.
Now we eat the Prasad, ending the class with laughter and fun. Then Babaji came down to give his blessing to each child as they departed, and he told Sebastian to say goodbye to his teacher (Annapurna). Sebastian turned straight away and bowed down to Babaji and not to Annapurna. This is right, as Babaji is Annapurna's Guru, so Sebastian was spot on.
The children eagerly await the next Children's Spiritual Class!