“Everyone should strive to develop his spiritual qualities and utilize them for promoting the interests of the community and the country. Service to society should become the constant concern of the individual. There is no greater quality in man than selfless love, which expresses itself in service to others. Such love can be the source of real bliss.”

Sri Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol. 16, 6th April 1983

Sathya Sai Baba has encouraged us to seek divinity within ourselves, to live our lives in such a manner that we ultimately realize we are one with God. He has stated that:

 "It is part of human nature that man desires to reach the presence of the Almighty, to see Him and be ever with Him, for deep within the human heart is the urge to reach the place from which he has come, to attain the joy he has lost, the glory which he has missed. Man is himself divine and so it is a matter of the deep calling unto the deep, of the part calling for the Whole ....”1

Often, this seemingly simple exhortation can be a daunting task for youth, in light of the challenges that they face in this fast-paced and hectic modern world. Fittingly, the 2019 Zone 1 Young Adult Festival (ZYAF) held on August 9 -11 at Camp Nageela in Chicago, Illinois, challenged nearly 300 Young Adults (YAs) from the United States, Canada and Caribbean nations to take on the spiritual practice of seeking their inner divinity and  “Dare to be Divine!”

The jam-packed  schedule included an array of activities that facilitated critical discussions, inspired self-reflection and offered rejuvenation. Through the inspiring talks by Dr. Suresh Govind, Young Adults learned the nine critical steps for developing a divine mindset. Concepts like dharma (righteous conduct) and yogakshema (protection and welfare) were demystified with real-world examples. Shreeram Thiru learned that “Divinity is all about adding spiritual meaning to the work we do, instead of just operating mechanically.” Peer-led workshops addressed timely topics such as mental health, technology, introspection and meditation. Sriram Sivakumar gained insights from the Introspection and Meditation Workshop where he discovered techniques on “ending karma with love,” and  “maintaining balance in unexpected situations.”

In addition, attendees enthusiastically immersed themselves in early-morning prayers, soul-stirring devotional singing and an electrifying jam-session. Energized by these activities, attendees became motivated to engage in long-lasting sadhana (spritual practice). Bhuwan Thapa was inspired by the several opportunities to put “Go Green” into action across the conference activities, and plans  to do more service and be further engaged in the community.

As ZYAF came to an end, the attendees were inspired to pledge to seek opportunities in every moment to “Dare to be Divine!”

Anusha Ramani shared the impact attending ZYAF has had on her life: 

“ZYAF gave me the boost of confidence that I very much needed. ZYAF taught me that by holding Swami's hands, I can pretty much do anything! It helped me discover many things which I never knew I had within me.”


1 A Compendium of Teachings of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, p.158