ISPS to Ganapatipule
Having just returned from Ganapatipule and Dharamshala, I wish to share the beauty of the experience. For the past seven years, one or the other of my children have been attending ISPS (International Sahaja Yoga Public School in Talnoo, Dharamshala Cantt. India). They have always beamed with vibrations when returning, but this time, I noticed the process of evolution, how it has changed the school and how it has changed Ganapatipule. Evolution can be difficult to describe as it is often an intangible but very real change in quality, rather than just new things or situations, but here is my attempt.
The school has always been a blessing beyond description allowing the children to live and grow in a world of tremendous vibrations. Now, as parents, we are able to share in that world to a greater extent. For one week prior to leaving for Ganapatipule this year, parents stayed in Talnoo and visited the school daily. Children kept to a routine within the school having practices for performances to be offered in Ganapatipule and working on a Sahaja Yoga project. In the evening, parents were invited to attend meditation and special programs. Sitting in Our Divine Mother's school high in the foothills of the Himalayas, surrounded by a large ring of high peaks, everything feels clear. Shri Mataji's presence is papable. I felt lighter immediately, enveloped by Love. It was very helpful to see the children in a routine at the school. I saw how it supported them in maintaining their attention. The atmosphere at the school was joy.
The programs in the evening were wonderful. For two evening, children from classes 5-10 presented Sahaja Yoga programs of their own creation. Each class had been given the challenge of creating promotional materials and a program to share Sahaja Yoga with children 11-18 years old. Each presentation was over one hour and involved creation of written material and presentations. Some classes made plays and dances in addition to talks on SY. The range and creativity was tremendous. A dedicated team of judges from the parent group and staff judged the contest and did an excellent job pointing out to the children the strengths of each program so everyone felt the importance of their work. The third evening, the senior children offered programs of their own inspiration. They were pure enjoyment and had us laughing with tears. They offered beautiful comradery and insight on the part of the senior boys and girls.
The evolution of the school is evident in the order and routine of the school, in the academics, the Sahaja curriculum and culture, and the development of greater rapport and communication between staff and parents. The children look fresh and sharp in their new style uniforms. They seemed very clear and pleased with their academic accomplishments, their knowledge and enjoyment of Sahaja culture, their love and devotion to Shri Mataji. The meditations were varied and beautiful with much singing. The children knew the words well and sang clearly and sweetly. The sharing between staff and parents felt very open hearted. When my first son started at ISPS, we often sent and picked up the children collectively which involved very little parental contact with the school. Now, beneficial parental contact was defined for us and encouraged. The staff were very extremely gracious hosts. I could feel the love they have for their children, their closeness and understanding of each child, and their love and commitment to Sahaja growth of these children. It was a tremendous opportunity for personal and parental growth. Some staff mentioned to me examples of how sharing between staff and parents can help them. It feels very important that parents always respect staff requests as they have the perspective of seeing what helps the children in the collective.
Traveling from the north of India to the south can be a jostling experience for those of us used to smooth highways and padded seats, but I have to say I am always comfortable. The children are angels. I do not understand how it works, but their innocence and joy absolutely shines with this type of traveling. It is one of my greatest treasures of parenting, to look into the clear sweet eyes of the children as we bump from one spot to the next, finding spots to sleep, finding treats and sweets, absolute acceptance and enjoyment reflected in their sparkling eyes. Maybe traveling strips us of our usual parenting tasks, like suspended animation, but however it works. I find these adventures are often unique moments of pure joy in parenting. I have to say that the school organizers make it completely effortless for parents.
Ganapatipule is beautiful, red earth and red stone structures. There are two gardens by the puja pendal, big gardens with trees and fountains. Art and decoration are everywhere. It feels very organized and smooth running. The ocean is warm and soothing. Facilities are extremely comfortable and well made. I was told seven thousand people from India attended and 400 westerners. The Indian collectives were tremendous hosts. The children beamed and frolicked there. I remember the simplicity of Ganapatipule in 1988 and the gradual changes over the intervening years. For some reason, this year, I was really struck by its magnitude. Daily meditation with over seven thousand people is quite an experience. At this Christmas Puja, the brilliance of Shri Mataji was intense, beyond my words. It felt like a new world.