The annual CHYK camp was held from April 4-6th in Camp Manyung, Mount Eliza, a beautiful location by the beach. The camp consisted of discourses and satsangs taken by Swami Swaroopanandaji in his engaging and humorous manner, as well as activities, discussion groups, bhajans and even meditation taken by Gautamji at 6 in the morning! People from Australia, New Zealand and even the UK were in attendance, and the atmosphere around the campsite was bursting with all the enthusiasm and cheerfulness that encapsulated youth ready to learn from a great master.
The theme- ‘Think Big, It’s your time!’ focused on understanding the bigger picture of the world and ourselves, and how this ‘big’ knowledge could help us undertake correct action in life. Swamiji selected key verses from the Bhagavad Gita to illustrate these concepts in a succinct and beautiful manner. Throughout the lecture series, Swamiji explained the ever-changing nature of the universe, and how Lord Krishna thus instructed Arjuna to endure the changes in life bravely, especially the sorrows, as those too would pass. We learnt how all sorrows arise due to small thinking and that by expanding our vision; we would come to realize the insignificance and transience of such sorrow. We were encouraged to ‘lift ourselves by ourselves’. With our mind and senses under control we were indeed our own best friend, and without which we became our deadliest enemy.
Swamiji highlighted that, despite living in a world where both the outside world and our own body, mind and intellect were constantly changing, man was searching for permanent happiness. Permanent happiness, however, could only be found upon knowing the Self, the only all-pervasive constant underlying all the variables in life- and that was the ‘biggest’ knowledge of all.
It was explained that all action should be undertaken with the knowledge and remembrance of this bigger picture. Such action, when dedicated to a higher vision brought forth work that was inspired and also sparked an inner transformation in the individual. Living by these gems of wisdom from the Gita could be observed from the lives of great masters, such as Gurudev, who undertook all action without any expectation of its results.
Once, when Gurudev was asked to summarize the entire Gita and Hindu philosophy just as he was boarding a train, he stepped up into the carriage from the platform and succinctly replied ‘detach from the lower, and attach to the higher’. We were taught this principle through the practice of introspection- to detect any weaknesses, to negate and tackle them, to substitute these particular weaknesses with something positive in order to enable us to grow.
The activities too, were informative as they were fun! On Saturday afternoon, participants divided into groups and embarked on the ‘Amazing Race’: where all groups had to complete a series of activities to the best of their abilities in less than 90 minutes. These activities and obstacles required tremendous amount of teamwork and cooperation but were extremely enjoyable. However there was a catch! All participants had to carry with them 2 cups filled with water whilst moving between activities. Extreme care had to be taken to spill the least amount of liquid! This proved to be extremely challenging- trying to move through the tasks as fast as possible, all the while dodging the sevaks and Gautamji, who missed no opportunity to upturn our glasses!
All teams successfully completed the tasks and had to pour their cups of water into a contraption, which would in turn dispense a bag of chocolates if the water level crossed a threshold. Due to the extreme competitiveness between participants that ensued in a lot of cheating and sabotage- only one team was able to preserve enough water to dispense the reward. Gautamji later explained that this activity was analogous to our lives in many ways. The two cups filled with water represented thoughts slowly accumulated over time which contributed to our mental poise and integrity. If enough of these positive thoughts were preserved and crossed a mental threshold, a conviction formed. Such convictions gave strength to withstand the onslaught of life, and also helped us to grow. However, in the rush to compete with others whilst completing various tasks in life, we tend to compromise and lose this mental poise. Therefore such positive convictions are unable to develop. Greater care must therefore be taken to preserve this mental poise in order for us to grow, just as great care should have been taken to preserve the water in those glasses!
The 2014 CHYK camp provided the perfect environment to learn the time tested spiritual knowledge of the Gita, whilst enjoying the company and developing long lasting friendships with like minded youth! As we all gathered on the beach on our final evening at Camp Manyung, Swamiji told the story of a humble monkey, and how he too once sat on a beach at the crossroads of destiny before he became the great sevak and hero by the name of Hanumanji. It was an empowering reminder for us to think big, and our sincere gratitude to our Gurus Swamiji and Gautamji for constantly inspiring us to learn and practice this divine knowledge.