Established by the late ISKCON guru Bhakti Tirtha Swami, IFAST (Institute for Applied Spiritual Technology) operates on the idea that it’s not enough to simply give people spiritual knowledge – we must teach them how to apply it.
IFAST already offered several programs locally in the U.S. But since this August, Inter IFAST now offers an innovative online course for international students too. Entitled “The Journey Within: Uncovering Your True Self,” it purports to use Vedic wisdom to help students discover answers to the questions “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “What is my purpose?” “How do I make the most of my life?” and “How do I live in harmony with the world around me?”
By the end of the course students are expected to see improvements in many areas of their lives including: Healthier relationships, conflict resolution, clarity of purpose, a calmer and more focused mind, understanding their nature, and improved communication.
The course is already changing lives in a dramatic way.
Russian devotee Kishori Rani Dasi, working under IFAST Director Vrajalila Dasi, adapted the very successful Russian IFAST online model for the program, which began with a six-week beta course in August-September.
An expanded 8-week course started on September 17thand will finish on November 12th. Currently enrolled are thirteen students from the U.S., Canada, India, Turkey, Germany, and Lithuania. A third run of the course, again set to last eight weeks, just began on October 29thand is still open to late applicants.
The course utilizes an online webinar format, where students can see and interact with the teacher and ask questions live.
Especially aimed at newcomers to Krishna consciousness, it is also popular with devotees, who say it gives them a fresh, practical perspective on the teachings and new tools to use in their preaching.
“The Journey Within” course consists of four main topics. The first, called “Soul Searching,” is based on the book “Talks Between the Soul on God,” an accessible presentation of Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is by his disciple Ranchor Prime. Taught by Gadadhar Pandit Das, a senior devotee from New Jersey, it takes students into an in-depth study of all the main verses and themes of the Bhagavad-gita.
In the second topic, “Essential Mediation Technologies for Spiritual Transformation: From Conflict to Connection,” IFAST director Vrajalila Dasi shows students how to avoid or overcome conflicts. Her presentation is very interactive, asking students for examples of conflicts in their lives, and taking them through tools, such as reflective listening, that can help.
The third topic is based on Bhakti Tirtha Swami’s book Spiritual Warrior IV: Conquering the Enemies of the Mind. While reading it, students share their realizations on various issues such as anxiety, and apply tools from the book to help solve their problems.
Finally there is The Science of Successful Relationships, taught by Russian-speaking preacher Mallika-Mala and translated into English. In this section of the course, Mallika-Mala teaches how to build different types of relationships with seniors, equals, and juniors. She also adds spirituality to transactional analysis, a system of popular psychology used to explain one’s behavior and social relationships.
Students are then given an assignment to personally connect with and get to know each other. They interact every day in a Whatsapp group, and see each other once a week using the Zoom webinar platform. They also read, react to and give feedback on each other’s assignments.
“As a result they open their hearts, share their problems, and get very close,” Kishori Rani says. “So much so that even though they live on opposite sides of the world, they’ve gone to meet each other. One student from Russia is in India right now visiting a student in Jaipur. Another from Los Angeles is meeting a student in Vancouver. And they feel that they’re becoming lifelong friends.”
A poster for the Journey Within online course
The Journey Within course has also impactive students’ lives in other ways. One student from Turkey has begun to chant four rounds of japa every day. Another found Vrajalila’s lessons on conflict resolution so beneficial that she now sees an improvement in her relationship with her daughter.
One elderly student from San Jose has known of the Hare Krishnas since they first came to San Francisco in the early days of ISKCON, and has always considered them a joke. He only took the course because he is married to a devotee and wanted to get more information. Now, he has become favorable and is interested in the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita. “I’m not yet ready to call God Krishna, but this philosophy is becoming closer to me,” he wrote in an assignment.
“We’re excited to start Level 2 of the course in January 2019, where we’ll be going even deeper and having a more interactive and transformative experience,” says Kishori Rani.
Students give a donation of their choice to take The Journey Within. To register for the course, click here: http://interifast.com/level-1-10292018/
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