Sunday, September 5, 2010

Swami Purnachaitanya

Graduate in Indology, Journalism and New Media

I was born in the Netherlands in 1984. I was the first child of my parents, and less than two years later Sebastiaan, my younger brother, was born. I had a wonderful childhood. I finished my primary school and high school with very good marks, and went on to study Indology and Journalism & New Media at Leiden University, after a gap year in which I also traveled to India for a few months.

Is there a higher purpose to life ?

I enjoyed my life throughout these years, and had many friends, but I was always feeling that something was missing – I felt that there must be some higher purpose to life than just studying, working, doing our best to be happy, and then dying! I practised different types of martial arts during my childhood, but it was only later that I realized that it was actually the values, philosophy and meditation in these that had attracted me.

Living together peacefully, celebrating the differences

I was sixteen when my mother asked me one day if my brother and me wanted to come along to a public talk by a 'spiritual master from India'. She had done the Art of Living course some time before that, and the founder, His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, was coming to the Netherlands for some programs, including a public talk in Amsterdam. We were very curious, and were happy to come along!

I remember the big hall, with what must have been around one thousands chairs in neat rows and columns, in front of a beautifully decorated stage. On the stage was a couch covered with a white cloth, and some people were doing some last-minute checking of the sound equipment. We were guided to our seats, and waited. When Sri Sri – also respectfully called 'Guruji' – came in, I was amazed. I still do not know if it were the stainless white robes, the neatly kept long hair and beard, the bright smile, or something else, but there was something about this person.

I still remember two things of that talk that really made me think: the first was that one of the main problems in today's society is that we identify in the first place with our country, our religion, or even our favorite football team, and are willing to fight, or even die in the name of this identity, if someone disagrees with us. Instead, Sri Sri said, we need to realize that in the first place we are all part of this world, this creation, and the second identification is that we are all human beings. If we come from this space, we are able to live together peacefully, celebrating the differences. That really hit home. Something so relevant in today's society! The second thing I remember was the guided meditation – when I opened my eyes again after what felt like a minute or so, I found out actually 25 minutes had past, and I was feeling so fresh again!

Quality of mind determines quality of life

Six months later I did the first Art of Living course for youth in the Netherlands, and I have done many more courses in the years that followed. I became more and more fascinated by the relevance and depth of the knowledge and techniques taught by Sri Sri through the Art of Living Courses. The extra energy, clarity of mind, enthusiasm and ability to deal with any stressful situations or challenges that I would face, have been an invaluable addition to my life. I never knew, that it would be possible to feel so good without needing a reason for it! I started organizing some Art of Living courses in my city during my studies, because when people heard about the benefits, they also wanted to do the course. I realized that it is truly the quality of one's mind, that determines the quality of one's life! You cannot enjoy anything you have, anything you do, unless your mind is free of disturbance.

After completing my studies I came to Bangalore, India to spend some time in the Art of Living International Centre. Since then I have been working there as a volunteer, putting all my knowledge and skills to use to make a positive change in other people's lives – whether they need a house, an education, or a way to deal with the stress they face in their daily life – and life has never been so fulfilling...

Selfless Service - Guruji has been my inspiration

People ask me sometimes why I am spending my time doing 'seva' (voluntary service, without expecting anything in return), when I could have such a successful career. I cannot think of a more successful life, however, then this. There is nothing more fulfilling then seeing that we can make a difference, we can do something for other people and this world, and then doing it! It is here that Guruji has really been my inspiration. Every time I meet him, I see someone who spends all his time, his energy, actually his life, to 'bring a smile on every one's face' – whether they need material support, advise, or just someone who sincerely cares for them. To meet someone who has been travelling all over the world for almost thirty years, inspiring people to come together in service and celebration, is truly a unique experience.

I could go on and on about the endless service projects of the Art of Living, and the experiences of the people I had the opportunity to interact with, that have benefited from these projects. I can only feel grateful that I did not have to spend my whole life looking for that 'something' that makes life full. Through the Art of Living, life has become an expression of joy, instead of a pursuit of happiness...

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful :) You really make a positive change in many people's lives! Hats off to the serenity, simplicity and selflessness you emanate in every act of service!


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