Building a Prema-Culture Community

The Power of Love is Invincible – Karma Yoga Ashram Retreat Costa Rica

July 29, 2010
Creating a Prema-culture Community: “Love is the true essence of all that is.” – Shunyamurti

A wide variety of plants cohabitate on a single fallen log. A community committed to Prema-culture provides a similar support for building human eco (egoless)-systems based on integration, and unity. Such a community flourishes out of the love exuded from the decomposing ego structures of its members, the humus for the flowering of the real Self.

I was asked recently to describe the difference between ´Prema-culture,´ and Permaculture. Sustainability, integration and unity seem to be a common denominator between the two. The main difference arises from the recognition in Prema-culture that the sustainability of an eco-system, be it in nature or in a human community, is dependent on the ´Love´ coefficient. Without Divine Love as the governing principle, knowledgeable, well-intentional egos are too limited and conditioned to sustain natural diversity that is part of the Divine expression. As such, traditional intentional communities tend to disintegrate with time, despite their externalized successes.

Prema-culture realizes the non-dual aspect of life forms. The inner and the outer are ultimately the same with human beings acting as the calibraters of the energy frequency for the rest of nature. As long as the human soul remains split from its origin, the Essence, the sustainability of human efforts will be equally fragmented and weakened, with nature suffering in the process.

We return to the land with increasing love each time, giving our hearts and minds to the building of the Sat Yoga Ashram, overcoming our differences and ever more able to recognize the One in All. As the most depleted natural source in the human soul, love is what we come to plant and sow through every engagement. God has granted us a divine property for raising ourselves, and the rest of humanity from the bondages of the ego. Each nook and cranny calls our attention to the light behind the work at hand. For this week´s trip, landscaping around the lodge, and care for the horses were top on our list of chores.


Beatitude derives from a state of Presence. For too long, humanity has fallen asleep to the Divine Presence in All that is. Like the prince who comes to awaken Sleeping Beauty from her 100 year sleep, we too must cut through the thorny jungle around the heart-palace where nobility of spirit sleeps. The Divine play is being staged on the Ashram land so we may awaken to our own ego´s thorny jungle of projections and fantasies that block the soul from its Royal inheritance.

“When all of that [desire] has been transcended, then we will realize the bliss of what we have always been. We shall see through the mirage of this phenomenal world and recognize the sacredness of it. Its whole purpose was to lead us beyond illusion to the dimension of truth and bliss and light, to the Supreme Power that enables us to transform this world and not be victims of it, but be servants of God, Bodhisattvas, within it.” (From “Tragic Love to Blissful Love: The Path of Sat Yoga”), Shunyamurti.

The inhospitable brush that came down from the lodge and meditation center was cleared to reveal a perfect rolling landscape that sooths our spirits as it stretches into open vast clarity.

From the heights of the lodge, we become witnesses to the Revelation below us and within us. Above us, the white sky stillness, source of Revelation, blankets our worries and fears with loving containment of the never changing Bliss.

What now stands behind as lush, pristine forest settings, will soon turn the bend into the newly cleared fields of the lodge and meditation center.

In the forest openings, trees are sacrificed through lightning and thunder for the benefit of the new growth below it, which can then prosper by accessing sunlight before inaccessible to them.

Plants caught under fallen branches are removed for transplanting around the lodge and meditation center.

Outside the entrance hall, ground orchids and climbing philodendrons go into the ground. Roy and Hainer, two of the ashram’s field workers are becoming caring, observant caretakers of the forest and its plants.

Recently published scientific reports concur with what Sat Yogis have known all along: plants have a high degree of subtle, innate intelligence. These new findings, along with many others regarding the intelligence of animals, are dismantling the modern materialistic scientific paradigm that regards nature as mechanistically programmed.

Because nature´s intelligence runs on subtler dimensions than our senses and mind can perceive, it is imperative that human beings regain access to these more subtle frequencies for true communion with nature. The work of human transformation undertaken by Sat Yogis-in-preparation is a tri-partisan engagement known as the Trivium. Through the study of teachings of a higher nature, by working in private sessions that help integrate the mind by raising the unconscious to the conscious, and through meditation where all thoughts are arrested and stilled for transcending the ego-mind,  the higher dimensions of consciousness and nature are ultimately reached.

We develop landscaping skills by reaching under the surface of the material world to the subtler reaches of the creative forces of nature, which are those of Love and Wisdom.

Ashram tractor moving landscaping boulders.

Kind sharing of landscaping tips by Karen Arras from the Pro-Nativas organization is also received with gratitude. Their knowledge is helping us work with the processes of Nature. Upon Karen’s suggestion, the scattered boulders in front of the lodge have been placed in better-organized formations.

Positioned in groups, the rocks begin to support an array of vegetation, from tabacones, to orchids and ferns.

Jagdish, whose commitment to the Sat Yoga ashram has been a major pillar to the project, looks over the moving of the rocks. Gita, a karma yogi whose specialty on this trip was the caretaking of the horses, shared in the experience.

Food Forest

Our trip to the land was divided into two groups of visiting consultants and karma yoga participants. The first three days received our permaculture consultant, Itai Hauben, who came accompanied with his wife, Melina, an agronomist trained at EARTH University, and their young son, Nevo. Tamara, Heather, and Rafael formed part of the Sat Yoga karma yoga team for this leg of the trip.

Curiosity and playfulness in the field was augmented by our young visitor whose laughter and excitement resonated wherever he went.

Planting root vegetables at the Ashram.

Taro roots, sugar cane, ‘guandul,’ a type of bush bean, and ‘arracache,’ a root vegetable from the celery family, were planted between the existing fruit trees.

Itai holds a bush bean seedling for inspection of its nitrogen fixing properties. Bush beans are major nitrogen fixing plants with high nutritional value for human consumption.

Small, spherical, orange tinted nitrogen capsules are already visible on the exposed roots of the plants. They will burst into the soil, nourishing it with this much depleted nutrient.

The bananas planted on the last visit are one of the main beneficiaries of the nitrogen giving beans. Many have leaves shooting up within a month of being planted.

Most fruit trees, like the cas, are also flourishing.

The yuca sprouts its first leaves,

While a corn patch planted on the initiative of the farm workers rises towards the sun,

And our first harvest of beans has been pulled out; the survivors from the sacrificial bean crop used at the start of the food forest as nitrogen fixers.

At the end of Itai’s visit, a new crop footprint was left on the food forest terrain. Taro root seeds such as Malanga and Chamol, as well as sugar cane were obtained for planting from one of the two certified bio-dynamic farms in Costa Rica.

With the easing of farm chores, we walked past the food forest to the communal temple site, and what a sight did meet us. A long ocean coast line delighted our senses and filled our hearts with Nature’s unending slide show for our entertainment and upward ascension.

Greenhouse: Vegetable Garden

It was time to celebrate the green house from the outside. Ornamental plants were placed along its perimeter to create a green, flowering trail bridging the forest with the cabins, to the lodge and meditation center.

From within, the vegetable beds are exploding with greens. Lettuce, cilantro, tomatoes, radishes, and mustard greens: many a salad made from the greenhouse treats was delighted upon by those participating on this karma yoga trip.

Roy’s sweet disposition appeals to the plants, as well as the horses. He has become a major player in garden, and in animal upkeep.

Animal Husbandry and Vermiculture

By the end of the week, the horses were the center of our attention when Jagdish, Ajata, Gita, and Alejandra arrived for the second facet of our karma yoga week. Gita, a long standing member of the Sat Yoga community, invited her friend and horse specialist, Alejandra, to the land to consult on the upkeep of the horses. The leader of the pack and her colt settled easily to the loving energy of the team.

Upon the purchase of the land, the horse stable was divided into two sections. One would shelter the horses, while the other was to house vermiculture. This project was headed from the start by Jagdish after previous months of practice and learning at The Butterfly Farm, a company he manages and owns in service to the ashram.

Earthworms are thought by many to be man´s best friend. These shy-like underground dwelling creatures are a main component for fertile soils and the successful harvest of our food crops.

Earthworms process decomposing organic matter to make rich humus. They dig tunnels through hard soil, aerating the soil and providing channels for water to sip in. In synchrony with animal manure, earthworms create the most nutrient rich compost available.

The food forest was greatly blessed by this team effort. Dozens of ready to use vermicompost sacks awaited in support of the planting.

The horses were in need of an upgrade in their facilities and attention. Their time had come to be pampered, and cared for.

Alejandra inspected hooves, diet, trimming of manes and all other general procedures regarding upkeep. Upon her recommendation, changes will be made to the present stalls to allow the horses more space. New floors will also be put in. Additions to their grass diet were also recommended, as well as instruction on how to tame the young colts.

Our karma yoga visitor, Alejandra, grew up on a farm, and later married into another farming family. Of all the farm chores, animals were her favorite, and horses, the crowning type. Her kindness, compassion, and heart-filled intention brought more light onto the land. We hope she will continue to visit the ashram animals throughout the year. In the meantime, she has volunteered to further train Ajata on her own farm in the Central Valley.

Our gratitude pours out to Alejandra; ´muchas bendiciones, querida amiga.´ (Many blessings, dear friend.)

Ajata warmed up to the task of caring for the horses at once. A natural with animals, the horses detect his loving touch from the start. His experience with taming the wild ways of the ego came in handy, no doubt, in the work of training the colts.

While the young were given love and law inside the stable by their human instructors, the mares looked on from the pasture. Those of us who entered Sat Yoga as parents can easily relate to the scene. Not so long ago, my husband and I passed on the job of instructing of our children to our spiritual teacher and guide, Shunyamurti. In traditional societies, the rite of passage for coming out of the family system into the social milieu was the work of a spiritual guide. The shaman, wiseman, and teacher were some of the titles attributed to tribal leaders who guided young generations into the world. This passage was undertaken in service to the Supreme Being. As animals are ready to show human beings, parental detachment is not indifference. As a matter of fact, detachment is an essential quality if the young are to be raised into adaptable individuals in the field.

Once the horses gained our trust, mothers stayed close to the babes, but never interfered in the training process going on inside. Soon, the colts will be separated from the mothers. They will be weaned and begin fending for themselves. In next week´s Prema-culture class, we´ll be discussing the book, The Human Nature of Birds. The author, Theodore Barber, provides extensive information on the intelligence of birds, as well as many other animals. Mr. Barber concludes, at times, that animals are often more intelligent than humans; they surpass human nature, at least the human nature that today´s egos display.

Like a proud mother, Gita celebrates the end of the training session for the youngest of the five colts. She would leave the next day back to the city to await the arrival of her own daughter visiting from the States.

Retreat Cabins

Having concluded with the horses, we strolled along to show Alejandra the cabins. We found all six units in different stages of construction.

The least advanced will soon have a roof to stand under.

One of the cabins set further from the rest, borders a creek. The sounds of passing spring water offers a special meditative treat to all six of the retreat cabins.

On the ashram land, the senses are in constant reminder of the awesomeness of Nature, pointing our minds towards the source of our divine planet in this special location we call Costa Rica.

From the Sat Yoga Ashram on the Mountain of Light – Arunachala – the sun sets with wise words resounding in the air, leading humanity out of its dark night with the call to Love:

¨The test of human love is the creation of a harmonious and purposeful transformational community. Let us be inspired by the vision of our divine potential, and organize into a global network of well-functioning transformational societies to bring the next age of higher consciousness into manifestation. The time to act is now. The Power of Love is invincible. From (“The Purification of Love” ), Shunyamurti.

Namaste to all Beings, Amen.

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