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Sathya Sai Center, Flushing NY, USA

SAI SPIRITUAL EDUCATION

“Bal Vikas (SSE) is the primary basis for the great movement to restore righteousness (dharma) in the world…

The ideal is to raise a generation of boys and girls who have a clean and clear conscience. The actual syllabus is not so important as the creation of an atmosphere wherein noble habits and ideals can grow and fructify.”

– Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Bal Vikas Teacher’s Training Camp, 6-6-79

Basis and Definition of the Sai Spiritual Education Program


  1. Sai Spiritual Education is the spiritual heart of Sai Education
  2. The Five Values, the essential Unity of Faiths, and the Life and Teachings of Sri Sathya Sai Baba comprise the substance of the Sai Spiritual Education program.
  3. These ideals are demonstrated to be the essence of all faiths.
  4. Sai Spiritual Education is the vehicle through which the children of Sri Sathya Sai devotees nurture and express their devotion to God.
  5. The program is based on the precept that true education is spiritual education and culminates in character.
  6. Spiritual education ennobles life through the realization of one’s divinity.
  7. The realization of Divinity is expressed through one’s thought, word, and deed.
  8. Sai Spiritual Education nurtures the innate goodness of the child by creating an environment that is devotional, loving, and experiential.
  9. The Ten Guiding Principles from Sri Sathya Sai Baba are used as a guide for students, teachers, and parents, and support all aspects of the curriculum.
SPIRITUAL OBJECTIVES BY AGE GROUP


In a very true sense all these Spiritual Objectives carry through from level to level and cannot be called separate. Each Spiritual Objective can be considered a building block for lifelong practice of Spiritual Principles. At the younger ages, the ideas are presented in a simpler form in ways appropriate to the age group. As a child matures the concepts are applied and practiced in increasing depth.

The enumeration of human values as five—Truth, Righteousness, Peace, Love, and Nonviolence—is not correct. They are all facets of the foundational humanness. They grow together, they are interdependent, and they are not separable. Baba

1. The Group I (Ages 6, 7, 8; Grades/Standards 1, 2, 3)
  • Development faith in and relationship with God.
  • Encourage respect for parents, teachers, elders, and the environment.
  • Foster self-esteem and self-discipline.
  • Nurture truthfulness.
  • Promote the practice of placing a ceiling on desires.
  • Cultivate a spirit of loving service to self, family, school, and others
2. The Group II (Ages 9, 10, 11; Grades/Standards 4, 5, 6)
  • Demonstrate increasing integration of objectives from Group I.
  • Foster the understanding of Divinity in all.
  • Develop the faculty of discrimination.
  • Promote the practice of placing a Ceiling on Desires.
  • Impart noble ideals.
  • Foster understanding of the Unity of Faiths.
  • Encourage the practice of selfless service.
3. The Group III (Ages 12, 13, 14; Grades/Standards 7, 8, 9)
  • Demonstrate increasing integration of objectives from Group II.
  • Develop awareness for the Atmic reality.
  • Strengthen moral living.
  • Emphasize selfless service.
  • Promote the practice of having a Ceiling on Desires.
  • Foster a sense of one’s role in society.
  • Facilitate learning to control negative emotions.
  • Provide practice in applying Spiritual Principles to concerns and challenges faced in the wider community.
  • Develop communication skills, in oral and written form, that reflect Spiritual Principles.
  • Develop a spirit of mutual trust and love, especially with parents and peers.
4. The Group IV (Ages 15, 16, 17; Grades/Standards 10, 11, 12)
  • Demonstrate increasing integration of objectives from Group III.
  • Encourage self-motivation and regular routines in spiritual practice.
  • Establish a sense of the interdependence of self and society; deepen an understanding of one’s role in and responsibility to society.
  • Increase ability to make dharmic choices when facing moral dilemmas.
  • Demonstrate human values by meeting life challenges with love, confidence, and understanding of others.
  • Establish habits of non-waste of resources and continue all disciplines of the “ceiling on desires” program, including: -Developing keen awareness of the effects one’s choices of media, companions, and activities. -Deepening the practice of controlling negative emotions.
  • Foster excellence in all endeavors without straying into egoistic competition.
  • Apply all aspects of the curriculum, and develop awareness of self as exemplar, through leadership roles. For example: assisting/mentoring roles with younger children.
  • Provide increasing emphasis on selfless, loving service through: -Participating in local and regional service projects and activities. -Initiating service project with age-group peers.
The Curriculum Overview – Educare


The word Educare means ‘to bring out that which is within.’ Deep within every human being are the values—truth, righteousness, peace, love, and nonviolence. One cannot acquire them from outside; they have to be elicited from within. People, however, have forgotten human values, so they are unable to manifest them. Educare means to bring out the human values. To bring them out means to translate the human values into action – Baba Discourse, 7-4-01

  1. Five Human Values Truth Right Action Peace Love Nonviolence
  2. Brotherhood of Man, Fatherhood of God
  3. Ceiling on Desires Program
  4. National and Religious Holidays
  5. Stories and accompanying lesson plans from the childhood of Sri Sathya Sai Baba
  6. Annotated bibliography of children’s literature
  7. Stories of Saints and role models of heroes and unsung heroes
  8. Service activity suggestions and guidelines
  9. Biographies

The objective of all lessons is to nourish the Spiritual Principle within the child. The ideal lesson provides direct experience of the spiritual principle through group activities, and not just through moralizing and memorizing. The practicing of the values in daily life is essential to the manifesting of Divinity from inside. Service activities and field trips are recommended to enhance experiential learning.

THE SAI SPIRITUAL EDUCATION TEACHER
When you teach the children, you must remember that you are engaged in a noble task for the sake of the children entrusted to your care. You must feel you are educating yourselves when you are educating the children. When you impart knowledge to the children, your own understanding of the subject improves. When you study information for teaching, you derive joy from that study. Always have the feeling that whatever you do for others is in reality a service done to the Divine that resides in everyone. When teachers do their duty in this spirit, they will imbue the children with the spirit of universal love. Baba, Teacher’s Training Camp, Prasanthi Nilayam, August 1983

1. TEACHER BELIEFS AND ACTIONS
Teachers, be aware that the world is watching you with sharp eyes—your conduct, your practice, your words, and your deeds. Unless your conduct is exemplary, our whole Bal Vikas (SSE) program will be undermined. How can such a teacher expect other parents to feel enthused about sending their children to class? Baba, Spiritual Sadhana, 1978

Who are the SSE teachers? Sai Spiritual Education teachers are members of the Sathya Sai Baba Centers and well-versed in the Sai teachings. They are senior students on the path to Self-Realization. Teaching Sai Spiritual Education is part of their personal sadhana for purification and enlightenment

The teacher serves as a vital role model and exemplar in the life of a child. Therefore, in the context of the SSE program, the teacher should believe in the teachings of Sathya Sai Baba and live the spiritual principles He expounds.

2. TEACHER GUIDELINES

  • Pray for Guidance
  • Make a commitment to the ideals of Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
  • Be properly trained as a SSE Teacher.
  • Treat the children as your own
  • Observe the child’s individual needs
  • Practice tolerance for the child’s level of progress.
  • Build self-confidence in the children.
  • Use a positive approach in teaching.
  • Make sure each child understands the lesson.
  • Enforce discipline.
  • Communicate with parents.
  • Prepare materials ahead of time.
  • Be punctual.
  • Foster a positive class environment, conducive to the teachings of Spiritual Truths.
  • Demonstrate equal mindedness and broad acceptance.

Involving Parents
To instill in the minds of the young the value of prayer, humility, and loving service to others, the homes have to be the first schools. The parents have to be imbued with faith in the basic universal truth of all religions. Baba, Meeting of Headmasters, 3-4-67

The lasting effect of the Sai Spiritual Education program upon the child depends upon parent involvement. What is taught in the Sai Spiritual Education classroom is effective only if the parents support the teacher, the SSE activities, and are willing to reinforce the teachings at home.

Centers are encouraged to provide a parent program that involves parents with their children’s education in the Sai Spiritual Education program. The aims of such a program are:

  1. Centers are encouraged to provide a parent program that involves parents with their children’s education in the Sai Spiritual Education program. The aims of such a program are:
  2. To provide a meaningful channel of communication and to encourage mutual support between parents and teachers.
  3. To enhance, reinforce, and integrate at home what the children are experiencing and learning in the Sai Spiritual Education class.
  4. To build a strong sense of family and community within the Sathya Sai Center, encouraging activities in which children, parents, and members may participate.
  5. To assist parents to incorporate Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s teachings into parenting practice.

Mutual Commitment and Responsibilities of Teachers and Parents
Children’s minds are innocent and pure. Each child is like white marble for the teacher and the parents to sculpt into an image of God, a bud to be helped to blossom in all its Divine glory so that it becomes a worthy offering to God. Baba

1. The teacher shall provide a spiritual and experiential educational program
Through which the children will develop their divine human nature following the guidelines of the Sai Spiritual Education program in cooperation with the Sathya Sai Center.

2. The parent agrees to reinforce the goals and objectives of the Sai Spiritual
Education program in the home, to see that the student attends regularly, and to participate in regularly scheduled activities

3. Teachers arrange occasional meetings with parents to discuss their child’s progress, as well as invite them on special occasions to sit in the class.

4. Teachers will regularly inform parents about the goals and objectives for the class through lesson plans, written communications, or any other means that is mutually acceptable to teacher and parent.

ELEMENTS OF SSE LESSONS


  1. Reciting of Om, Prayer, Repeating the Name

    I suggest that you have prayer as an important item in the timetable of the classes; through prayer, you can draw down unto yourselves the Grace of God. Baba

  2. Silent Sitting/Meditation

    Two roads lead to fulfillment: Prayer and meditation. Prayer makes you a supplicant at the feet of God; meditation induces God to come down to you and inspires you to raise yourselves to Him. It tends to make you come together, not place one on a lower level and the other on a higher. Baba

  3. Devotional Group Singing

    Let Melody and harmony surge up from your hearts, and let all take delight in the love that you express through that song. Baba

  4. Story – Spiritual Principle

    You must examine every story or account that you place before the children from the point of view of individual faith and social harmony. Does this lead the child to a better, more harmonious and more God-oriented life? That is the question you should ask yourself. Baba

  5. Group Activities – Life Application Activity

    • After telling the story and discussing how the story illustrates the focus value, introduce a group activity to reinforce the value and integrate it as part of the student’s experience.
    • Activities that follow stories are of two types. The first is a Group Activity in which the entire class participates. The second is a Life Application Activity to be practiced during the upcoming week(s).
    • Teachers should also check another point. Their students may behave well in class, i.e., for the length of the class, but how do they behave once they are outside the class? How is their behavior at home and outside? How is their conduct in school and with their friends? Your students’ conduct should be exemplary, both in your class, at home, with friends, and outside. Baba

Sai’s Words to Teachers
Q: What is the goal for the teacher?
A: Students are very tender and pure-hearted; give them that which is sacred and pure…Fill your hearts with love and you will be fit to teach. Even if you are forced to do discipline, do it through love. Let love be your guiding star.Spiritual Sadhana, 1978

Q: How can we have a positive approach to discipline?
A: When ridiculing reprimanding, or disciplining a pupil, the teacher must try to picture him or herself in the child’s position and decide how he or she would have reacted to this same situation when he or she was a student. This kind of self-inquiry is very useful.Sathya Sai Speaks, May 1984

Q: What is the responsibility of a Sai Spiritual Education Teacher?
A: Teachers must endeavor to help each pupil unfold his or her native talents and innate skills and recognize his or her latent potential. When you plant a sapling, you provide water and manure; you insure that the plant receives sunlight and air. With all this help, it is a wonder the plant does not turn into air, soil, manure, or water. Instead, it becomes the same plant, true to its seed. As teachers, recollect your struggle to preserve and promote your individuality when you were a child. Keeping that in mind, deal accordingly with your students, who have the same problems and the same purpose. Baba, Dharmakshetra, 1-6-75

Q: What is the essence of the SSE teachers’ message to the children?
A: Be convinced that there is a God, guiding and guarding us. Remember Him with Gratitude. Pray to Him to render you pure. Love all, serve all. Keep good company. Visit places of worship and saintly people. Baba, Guindy, Madras, 1-1-67

Q: What qualities should teachers cultivate in themselves?
A: Above all, you as teachers must equip yourselves with spiritual discipline, a calm and quiet temper. Be prepared to face the buffeting of the environment without becoming ruffled…When you must speak harshly to a child or parent because all other means of bringing home a point have failed, let your heart be soft; let it not be hardened by prejudice or hatred. Baba, Teachers Training Camp, 6-6-78

Q: What are the qualities to cultivate in the children?
A: Teach children to have fear, humility, and faith. Fear of what? Fear of doing wrong, of falling into falsehood. Humility before whom? Before elders, teachers, parents. Faith in what? Faith in God, in your own strength, in your own victory. Baba, Dharmakshetra, 5-16-69

Q: Sometimes teachers find fault with other teachers. How should this be handled?
A: Teachers should not indulge in jealousy or faultfinding. They can only undertake the task of teaching after they have freed themselves of evil traits. If teachers speak ill of other teachers and promote misunderstanding and factionalism, the children can never improve. Resolve now to adhere to the right path.

Teachers should take care that the weeds of hatred, envy, and similar vices do not take root in their own heart. These weeds are rampant in the political field, and they creep into other fields too. Teachers should not form rival groups—some proud of their achievements, some envious of the praise others earn—that engage in recriminations. See others as your own brothers and sisters, for all are One when viewed as Divine.
Baba, All India Bal Vikas Gurus Teachers Conference, 11-21-79

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