The Creation of An Ashram
To participate in the creation of an ashram is the ultimate adventure. It is the greatest honor and privilege a human being can attain. This is because an ashram is the most sacred archetypal form of community. An ashram is a chrysalis in which humans can transform into gods. An ashram is the intentional creation of a sacred space in which the ego is transcended.
All ashram residents become midwives of spiritual rebirth for unlimited numbers of souls. An ashram is an avatar factory, a human butterfly farm, a spawning ground for angels.
To have the opportunity to live in an ashram means that one dwells constantly in the highest possible energy field of the Divine Presence, in the bliss of the Supreme Love. To live in a true ashram—one that is fulfilling its mission of multiplying manifestations of liberated cosmic awareness—is to be empowered to attain the greatest actualization of the infinite potential of Spirit. This kind of opportunity is granted not even once in a lifetime, but once in a whole cycle of lifetimes. It represents the moment of graduation from the wheel of karma.
The archetype of the ashram is trans-cultural and trans-temporal. It has been the utopian longing of every profound thinker and saint of every age and civilization. But the world has an ambivalent relationship to the idea of the ashram. This is because the ashram, being the ultimate instrument of human liberation, is perceived by the ego as the enemy of its false power.
The nemesis of fascism is not Marxism, but monasticism. The monastery is likewise the enemy of Stalinism, of corrupt monarchy, and of tyranny of every kind. Christ and the early Christians were divine communists. No one owned anything privately, all was held in common. Everyone served God and worked for the good of all. What has kept the Church alive during all these centuries is not the ostentation of the Vatican, the hierarchy of cardinals, archbishops, and the rest. The heart of the Church is its monasteries and convents. The simple monastic way of living alone remains true to the ideals of the teachings of Christ. The core of Christian love is expressed in its purest form by its greatest saints, who are also the founders of its varied monastic orders, from the original desert fathers and mothers to Evagrius Ponticus, John Cassian, Benedict of Nursia, Francis of Assisi, and others who have, again and again, brought the Church back from the corruption it has been prone to, and immersed it once more in the divine heart expressed in the sacred injunctions to poverty, chastity, and humility.
This same teaching of blessed simplicity, to borrow a term from Raimundo Panikkar, and complete surrender to God, has motivated yogis since long before the advent of Christianity. In fact, Christianity can truly be considered the continuation of the yogic tradition. Before the Christian moment there were the Essenes. And before that, in the East, were all the various forms of yoga—Taoist yoga in China, Buddhist yoga throughout India, Tibet, and southeast Asia—and of course the yogic lineages of the Adi Sanatana Dharma, now known in degraded form as Hinduism, that have remained unbroken throughout history. Now all the lineages and religions are exhausted, corrupted, and confused. The esoteric core has gone dead in each one. Dharma is all but finished. The human spirit has yielded to the pornography of power, sex, greed, enslavement of the multitudes, held down by sadistic oppression, high-tech surveillance, and the demonic activity of death squads. The system is now failing, leading its managers to ever more desperate measures to maintain control. We are accelerating toward the long-prophesied apocalyptic climax to human history.
At this moment, the reappearance of the humble ashram is the antidote, the ark that can weather the coming flood, and the ferryboat that can take us to the yonder shore of both history and reality. An ashram can transfer us from the phenomenal to the noumenal, from the limited to the unlimited. The ashram, with all its implications for transcendence of the false self, is our passport to becoming true citizens of the cosmos. It is the gateway to a new and miraculous dreamland.
An ashram is a place for the practice of yoga—union with God. It is both a community and a lifestyle of contemplative freedom. Life in an ashram maximizes our opportunity to achieve Jivan Mukti, liberation while alive. Liberation means our realization that we are the Supreme Reality, the cosmic consciousness Itself, not simply an individual manifestation of that Intelligence, but the One Without a Second. This ultimate realization is the priceless goal of life. Without achieving the complete recognition of our oneness with the Absolute, as the Absolute, and the fullness of grace, joy, love, knowledge, and power that such realization confers, we shall not have completed our work here in the phenomenal plane, and must continue bound to the wheel of rebirth.
Most importantly, the creation of an ashram is not the work of human beings, but of God, directly intervening in the affairs of men. What each of us can do is join our individual forces to the work of the highest love, and be rewarded by the synergy that surpasses understanding. We shall all be astonished at how the Cosmic Self brings together those who are necessary for the building of our temple to serve the most holy agenda of universal peace.
As Kali Yuga winds down to its dreadful and ignominious demise, other lifestyles are becoming less and less attractive. Life in any city in the world is now a hell realm of pollution, crime, plagues, unruly crowds, traffic jams, noise, and perpetual vexation. And living alone in the country, or with only one’s nuclear family, poses other problems for long-term survival. Only a stable community located in optimal natural surroundings, and organized around the Supreme Principle, can prevail once the grid of civilization has gone down. We must build such communities of love, trust, and faith now. There is no time to waste.
A true ashram does not serve any particular religion, racial or ethnic group, age, gender, or other identitarian limit. It must be open to all. It recognizes the validity of all paths, of all names of God, of all approaches to the One who is beyond name and form. An ashram does not support empty ritual, but rather encourages facing the naked truth of our innermost Being and, to use a term of Thich Nhat Hanh, our Interbeing. We must develop and refine our capacity for Interbeing, for intersubjectivity, for empathy, caring, compassion, in other words, for pure communion. Only in a true ashram environment can we grow up to become as gods, our destiny that has been foretold and must now be lived.
An ashram should be located in a pure environment, where its residents can feel oneness with all of Nature as a cosmic expression of the Supreme Intelligence. An ashram gives us the opportunity to live in harmony with Nature, to commune with nourishing and healing plants, with animals, with the Sun, the Moon, the stars, and the elements. It is a sacred place where we can hear the running water of the stream, watch the clouds move across the horizon, where we can feel the breeze on our face, where we can get our hands dirty in the garden, and bathe in the river. It is a place of solitude and deep meditation. And it is a place of togetherness, of song, of breaking bread together as a united family enjoying the glory of fully conscious existence.
Ashram life, with the consistent flow of regular hours for meditation, for study, for solitary walks in Nature, for the practice of arts and crafts, for gardening and maintenance of the ashram, for discussion of ashram affairs among the sangha members, and for classes and seminars and individual counseling sessions to accelerate spiritual growth. The ashram schedule gives its residents a healthy structure on which to build our lives. It offers the optimal distance between members that protects each other’s solitude yet heightens the level of spiritual intimacy. Life becomes enriched to the utmost.
The opportunity to build an ashram is a unique and sacred task, offered to those who are prepared to transcend the illusions of the ego and live in the truth of our oneness. All are called, but few shall choose to respond. Even though it is the deepest heart’s desire of everyone, few have the strength to say No to the seductions of the ego, and Yes to the purity of Spirit. Those few are the most fortunate of beings. You have chosen to graduate from the school of suffering and enter the school of bliss. You have chosen to be the founders of a new age, a new world, to reach a new summit of human achievement. May you be blessed with the courage to carry through your true heart’s desire, and attain the One Self. May the Sat Yoga Ashram become the temple in which your joyous enlightenment is eternally consecrated.