In May this year, twenty-four of us had the privilege of embarking on a transformational self-development course, “Make it Happen” under the loving guidance of Swami Swaroopanandaji. Set in the lush hills of Candlebark farm in Healesville, the course ran over six days and was infused with the wisdom of the scriptures and Swamiji’s powerful insights into both the personal and corporate worlds.
The crisp mornings began with light exercise at 6:30am, followed by guided meditation with Gautamji before we launched into the first of many thought-provoking and dynamic classes by Swamiji. These were interspersed with breaks for personal reflection, discussions and memorable activities that consolidated concepts from class.
Swamiji began by asking the simple questions:
- What is it that we want to make happen in our lives?
- Why is it that we can’t make it happen?
- How can we make it happen?
In attempting to answer the question of what we want to make happen in our lives, we had to first gain clarity regarding our inherent nature (swabhava). Swamiji explained that our swabhava is characterized by the moods, temperaments and actions that are natural for us. These are influenced by our birth (genetics as well as the family environment), the type of actions we constantly engage in and enjoy, as well as education and prevailing trends in society.
As we worked through the exercises in class and clarity dawned on what each individual’s inherent natures is, Swamiji guided us to explore the next step: recognizing our purpose. Purpose is the intent behind our goals and should be aligned with our swabhava for fulfilment. For example, the purpose of education may seem to be “to get a job”, “to make money”, “to have status” etc – however if we delve deeper and ask why we want a job or money, the answers may vary. It may be to make money for “enjoyment”, “long term stability & providing for a family”, or “helping people by donating to charity”. Whatever the purpose may be, Swamiji emphasized:
∙ In the course of fulfilling our purpose, we should find ways to or set goals which allow our inherent nature to express
∙ A purpose can be fulfilled through any one of a multitude of goals (e.g. the purpose of wanting to ‘help people’ may be fulfilled by being a doctor, teacher, counsellor etc)
The reason that we’re often hindered by confusion or stagnation in our lives is because we do not have clarity regarding our purpose or we have lost sight of it. Similarly, we also have confusion arising from conflict between the four personalities within each of us, i.e., the ‘physical’ me, ‘mental/emotional’ me, ‘intellectual’ me and the ‘spiritual’ me.
Each of these personalities within us have their own unique needs, desires & goals . For example, the emotional personality within us may want the approval of friends & colleagues in a work culture that consists of Friday night binge-drinking whereas our intellectual and spiritual personalities may want to refrain from the same.
We all have a myriad of such inner conflicts which dissipate energy and can render us incapable of taking the right action. In addition we are constantly interacting with family, friends, colleagues and other groups of people who have their own needs, desires, goals and inner conflicts! It became apparent that we had only just begun to scratch the surface of the source of our challenges. So we continued to work on the well-structured exercises and delve deeper to explore: negativities of the mind, limiting beliefs and ‘wearing masks’ (i.e. the front that we may put on to achieve selfish goals, hide limitations etc). Analysis of these topics gave impetus to ask ourselves the most poignant questions of our lives. Specifically, how we have been standing in the way of our own success. And just as the findings would begin to seem overwhelming, Swamiji with his love, humour and profound insights would enlighten us with the specific solutions and simple inner-adjustments to be made for successfully conquering these obstacles.
At times of inner conflict, we must pause and evaluate rather than act out of haste. Swamiji urged that we need not despair even if we’ve made the same mistake a hundred times. We need to simply seek information on appropriate actions to take (i.e. identify the right effort or “prayathnam” that is required for a particular goal) and formulate a plan accordingly. Thereafter, in executing the plan, we must act efficiently (i.e. with equanimity of mind and in a spirit of dedication). “When you decide to do something, the whole universe contrives to make it happen” was Swamiji’s powerful assertion.
We are indeed blessed to have had the privilege of Swamiji’s love, kindness, grace and guidance in going on this unique personal journey where eternal principles, powerful ideas and a thoroughly supportive environment combined to unravel the question of our life’s true calling.
Thank you Swamiji,
Love & Om