Few subjects are as relevant and universal as that particular emotion which is often on our minds, an upliftment that has the potential to transform life, an ideal that some spend years searching for and working toward. That subject is none other than love. Whether it is love for another person, love for an ideal, or love for ourselves, love is the key to happiness and there is much to be known about this topic. Over 100 young adults aged 18-35 soon discovered this as they embarked on the quest for knowledge over a weekend in April 2015. The focus of National Chyk Camp 2015 was love, and seekers from across Australia attended the camp full of questions and in eagerness to find out what true love really is. Who better to answer these questions than the one who has spent a lifetime mastering life and love; Swami Swaroopananda.
National Chyk Camp was held in the natural surrounds of south-west Sydney, away from the hustle and bustle of the city and the suburbs, and the perfect location to relax and absorb the powerful lessons expounded during the retreat. The youth gathered every morning, afternoon, and evening to listen to Swamiji’s discourses on love, based on the emotive text ‘I Love You Letters’ written by none other than Swami Chinmayananda himself in the 1970’s as he wrote letters of love to the young children of Chinmaya Mission from the foothills of the Himalayas. Swamiji brought to life the timeless stories and lessons that Gurudev had illustrated 30 years earlier, in a way that was captivating, riveting, and humorous. There are few speakers as lively, powerful, and entertaining as Swamiji and very few are able to convey messages in such a powerful and effective manner.
The lessons from the talks were reinforced with daily study sessions where smaller groups discussed and reflected on the particular topics with like-minded youth. These sessions were a great way to bond over the learnings and to share and listen to experiences and ideas. These were complemented with fun activities and games as well as more light-hearted performances covering topics such as Bollywood love, and love through the ages. Reflection time was allocated for youth to introspect on what they had learnt that day and camp-goers realised that their perceptions of love began to change.
Lifelong friendships were made over delicious vegetarian meals served throughout the day, and people bonded over an evening bonfire under the stars. Spirits were uplifted with bhajans and music when talented youth performed using instruments and voice. Some of the youth also took the opportunity to spend one-on-one time with Swamiji to clear their doubts and obtain personalised advice. For every one of us, the question and answer session on the last day of camp was truly moving and left us with lifelong lessons about love and how it can transform our lives if we allow it to.
We often seek love in the wrong places, people, and situations which leads to disappointment when love is not returned, whereas we often fail to recognise that love is in and around us, in nature, in our family and friends, and in every opportunity we are presented with in life. We often find ourselves becoming the taker of love but rather we must give love freely and without expectation. We often play the role of the supressed victim or the oppressor, whereas higher love is liberating and our true nature. We often form attachments which are temporary and destructive, but true love is selfless, giving, and uplifting. We seek love outside of ourselves, whereas we must take the opportunity to know ourselves, and to cultivate love for ourselves. It was reiterated to us over and over that we must be active givers of love rather than simply passive takers. The world is an echo of our personality; give love and love will be returned.
Swamiji conducted the camp in a relevant and practical manner designed for the youth of today. The lessons were timeless and universal. From teachings on marriage, to opening our hearts, to loving ourselves, each of us took away a simple teaching that made a huge difference in our lives.
The next camp is titled Win from Within and will focus on conquering the mind to conquer the world. It is bound to be a camp that will be as transformational as the camp on love, and an inward and outward journey that I look forward to taking.
15 February 2016