A seminar on The Place of Spirituality in Holistic Education at The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Laucala Campus on 12 April, 2017 heard that the need for spirituality in holistic education is absolutely essential.
Guest panelists were His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami, Chairman of the Governing Body Commission Executive Committee of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), well-known for delivering keynote speeches globally on spirituality and Mr Kolinio Boila, Executive Director Finance, USP and a youth pastor at the World Harvest Centre in Suva, Fiji.
Professor Richard Coll, Acting Vice-Chancellor and President, who moderated the discussion said research has shown that, from a spiritual point of view, having great wealth does not automatically translate into happiness.
Mr Boila said spirituality is the inner part of an individual, an understanding of who one is and it is needed not only in student life, but in marriage life and personal life, among others. Panelists discussed the additional tangible benefits provided by spiritualism for students, and the fact that it is necessary to inculcate spiritual values in their education, for holistic student success. Spirituality, he said, will help one make the right decisions in life.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami said people developing spiritual qualities are able to cope better and positively when they are faced with hardship, stress and anxiety because they have proper guidance from a superior authority, as opposed to those who do not.
He highlighted the unfortunate case of a bright young boy who committed suicide when his grades unexpectedly fell short of his expectations.
“This becomes a problem when we become caught up with secondary objectives without recognizing the ultimate goal or purpose of life.
“It is important that we have a proper understanding that the goal of life is not to achieve material success but it is far greater than that. We should recognize our spiritual identity which normally delivers us from our difficulties,” he noted.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami said one of the means to provide support to students who are more philosophically inclined and wish to pursue spiritual values in their education is to allow them the opportunity to do so.
“We have to consider things like facilities and proper information and whether it would be in the form of books or other forms. Students should be made aware that this information can be made available to them, should they wish to pursue this area,” he explained.
According to Mr Boila, opportunities can be offered in the same way counselling services are provided including even holding workshops.
Some of the comments from the audience included commendation for the organizing of the seminar with a focus on such a rare topic, whether spiritualism should be part of the curriculum and for those wishing to study it as a course, what kind of career do they see themselves in after completion of their studies.