Inner silence, wakeful stillness of the mind, is the goal of all spiritual paths. The Power of Silence retreat just concluded at the Sat Yoga Ashram made that silence, Shanti, a living reality for all participants.
Shunyamurti urged everyone to stay concentrated on the Self and renounce for the week all unnecessary talking and even reading or writing. This caused initial feelings of anxiety in many, but soon, with a little practice, people relaxed into the deeper levels of consciousness, which brought serenity and love.
“Even if there is still ego identification,” Shunyamurti explained, “in the momentary silence between one thought and another, you can feel the presence of the infinite blissful energy of the Self, here and now. And just by slightly lengthening that interval enough so that your consciousness can focus fully on the silence, the thrill, the power, the light, the love, is all there, right now. By diving into that momentary freedom, the moment becomes eternal.”
But it wasn’t a completely silent retreat. There were lively group discussions during classes. All doubts and fears were resolved. The clear wisdom of the teachings motivated everyone to remain steady in their inward focus.
As well as silence, Shakti (meaning divine power) was cultivated during this retreat, resulting in an increase in positivity, willpower, energy, and creativity.
At the end of the week, people “sacrificed” some tendency that they wanted to be free of, and wrote about the impact of the retreat. Everyone shared unique diamond-like poems or essays, which emerged from their hearts after being put under the intense but sublime pressure of a week of silence. The event proved to be a magical experience for all.
This retreat gave participants the taste of a new and deeper way to live. It helped everyone find such gifts of being as peace, simplicity, truth, love, strength, independence, and clarity. Finally, the retreat brought the realization that we can all live always in the bliss and power of Silence.
“The retreat was beyond anything that words can describe. It’s more than that: any attempt to represent the cascade of miracles experienced at the Tantra retreat is impossible. All I can say is that internally, I felt peace, empowerment, joy, and a deep sense of gratitude for life. Externally, I experienced magic!” exclaimed one retreatant after a week-long immersion in tantric resplendence and transcendence at the Sat Yoga Ashram.
“The Tantra of Transcendent Love” retreat at the end of July, 2013, was saturated with profound teachings—often enhanced by synchronistic natural phenomena such as rainbows and thunder storms exactly timed to back up a teaching—on the inner meaning of Tantra, in addition to tantric exercises designed to lift consciousness out of body identification. The mélange of theory, practice, and the uncanny endorsement by the Powers That Be left an indelible mark, a palpable feeling of the immanent Presence of God in the consciousness of every retreatant.
Before delving into the intricacy of Tantra, Shunyamurti delivered an official caveat: “This is a retreat on Tantra, specifically Sat Tantra. If you don’t know what that is already, you still won’t know at the end of the retreat. This is an impossible subject to teach or to describe or to understand. But because this is the essence of Sat Yoga, it’s important that we understand at least why we cannot understand it.”
One of the retreatants, Chaitanya, sent us this testimonial about his experience of the wisdom offered at the retreat: “I wanted to take a moment and let you know how much I appreciated the last retreat. Outside of the absolute beauty, serenity and the peace of Arunachala the teachings were the most meaningful for me. Shunyamurti is a rare breed as far as teachers go and this was exemplified in the last retreat in more than one way. He was able to convey the most esoteric teachings in a way that was digestible for all. As for me, the retreat helped connect a lot of dots and open a new chapter of life. I wish I had some suggestions to help you improve the experience for others but I can think of none. The Sangha was amazing, the energy was pure, the focus was true, and the imperience was cleansing. Much gratitude to all, thank you.”
Several other enthusiastic retreatants sent us their comments on the non-ordinary event:
Parvati exclaimed, “This was the most profound retreat I have been through since arriving at Sat Yoga! I never know how it all works out in the end, some magical combination of the teachings, meditations, activities, and my own conversations with Shunyamurti. But there was an unusually extraordinary and palpable energy felt at this retreat. The teachings were mind-blowing; they completely cracked open my mind. I attained a very clear and lucid view and understanding of my personality behavior and mannerisms—what they mean and why—and how to process and understand different feelings and emotions in relation to this process. The tantrum versus tantra yoga and emphasis on life as a performance blew apart my world. I personally enjoyed Shunyamurti’s consistency and presence at this retreat. I felt I was able to stay more focused and one pointed on the teachings and energy felt. Of course, the theme itself was of profound importance for me—to transcend the mind and open the flood gates to love. And I feel I have tasted it. I still feel like I’m on a mushroom trip.”
“This retreat affected me profoundly. My experience was beyond words but I felt a deep connection to Shiva and to the sangha and it was very transformative. I felt the space was very safe and I was able to ask questions more freely. I felt a change within me that has stayed with me. There is magic in my heart and I am eternally grateful,” wrote Urvashi.
Yogiraj shared, “The perspective of transformation over the last two years for me has focused primarily on the refinement and increase in functionality of egoic consciousness. This retreat shifted the perspective to a place where we soared above a false view of reality and from a supreme realisation became the truth of the Self. This was a most extraordinary retreat thanks to the breathing exercises, the sheer quantity and intensity of teachings and also because the Yagya was the most Sacred experience I have shared with this family. I also discovered that the power for stillness exists at all times and willpower is the key to starting the fire.”
“It was not just the content of the retreat that was beneficial, but the various events that occurred that allowed for deeper realization of Truth, which was certainly helped along by the increased energy field present due to the retreat. The idea of seeking the core Truth in the most direct way possible is how I have always striven to live life. In the recent weeks this has been rekindled, culminating in the current state of intensity, love, and silence that I am in at the moment,” shared Bholanath.
Janie wrote, “I benefitted a great deal from the retreat! It was a very transformational experience—I came to realise things at this retreat that I cannot un-know. The teachings, although mind boggling at times, helped me to understand and mark out where I am in this whole process and why I behave and suffer in the way I do. I am taking away with me an acceptance that I want to live and surrender to the truth of who I am. I am becoming very aware of when an action/conversation is unauthentic—it feels very uncomfortable. I want to continue with this knowing in order to be guided, so that I can live truthfully in a state of peace.”
The power of the retreat could not be contained in Arunachala. Its impact spilled over through the internet to all who listened to the teachings. Santosha, who listened to the retreat from the Sat Yoga Institute in Escazú, added, “Being able to access the audio from retreat classes, discussions and events in close to real time I was able to have a very sacred retreat for myself–it’s like the space was created and held, the stage set and I could simply join in for the journey. Drawing on the incredible courage, inspiration and energy field of the group I was able to participate through my own transformational experiences and it was priceless to keep receiving guiding and inspirational teachings and material several times a day! I felt myself a part of this retreat in a very real way and was able to go very deeply into my transformational process, guided and inspired by it. I sincerely recommend taking part in a retreat in this way for anyone who is not able to join in person!”
The Tantra retreat was an unforgettable happening that will live on in the hearts and souls of everyone involved. One week sufficed to produce both internal and external miracles, reminding everyone of the divine presence. A recurring question near the end of the retreat was, “Will the next retreat be able to top this one?” We invite you to Arunachala to find out.
“The verdant gardens before me, the terraced hillside behind, my bare feet communed with the grass and soaked up the moisture from the ground. I could feel the energy of the Earth rushing upward through my body, revealing to me the Source from which I have come,” remarked one participant, recalling a blissful moment during the recent Living in Nisargananda retreat.
Each day of this Sat Yoga Ashram retreat offered beautiful timeless moments of outdoor communion with the sensuous realm, which the great Sufi master, Hazrat Inayat Khan, called “the holy script of nature.” Of course, this was balanced by silent indoor meditation sittings, plus guided visualizations, and meditations with intense music, both recorded and live.
The teachings focused on the nature of the Self as both emptiness and fullness, the paradox of being absolute nothingness and being all that is, both wisdom and love, both suchness and endless becoming. Retreatants learned, moreover, that there is not just one Nature, but 39 different kinds of Nature to which we can relate. Among those are the natures of the Absolute, of logic, information, light, interstellar plasma, complex systems, and various sorts of non-terrestrial and non-carbon-based life forms. Understanding the amazing variety of natures of which we are a part piqued the interest of all participants—and opened them up to the incomprehensible vastness of reality.
The theoretical teachings were seamlessly blended with the experiences of heightened presence in the gardens of Hridaya and at the sacred River Gangaji. The teachings helped retreatants realize the infinite beauty of the living book of Nature all around them, and helped them escape forever from the egoic prisons in which they had been trapped. Blindfold walks; barefoot walks; communing with the elements, forces, and forms of life; journaling; drawing and water coloring were some of the experiments on the schedule. After every exercise, the participants were given the opportunity to exorcise the internal superego art critic and process emotions that arose during the experience.
Another enriching class during the retreat was Omprovisation, led by Saraswati. The class allowed people to throw themselves into the flow of the moment, saying “Yes!” to responding spontaneously to every situation encountered.
Creative writing offered additional challenges and brought to the surface deep feelings and moving words, while the culminating yagya (sacrificial fire) enabled people to blow out all the stops, to engage in both serious transformation and creative playfulness, as individuals and as members of a super-organismic community, integrated into a single whole. The relaxation and peacefulness of the experiences were alchemically converted into ecstatic joy and authentic sharing during all the performative opportunities of the retreat. The blend of inwardness and group participation brought out the full potentials of each soul.
At end of the week, participants bade goodbye to Nature in the form of the mountains, gardens, river and forests of Arunachala. But having discovered the wild beauty of their inner Nature, they have access to the supreme intelligence, love, and power from which all forms of Nature emerge.
It seemed like an ordinary April evening, the hot day cooled by the heavy rain coming in as the sun set, signaling the beginning of the rainy season. But magic was in the air.
The Sat Yoga Institute opened its doors to visitors for an enchanting Satsang gathering. Yogis in the outdoor living room greeted the guests who made their way inside. As they slipped off their shoes, their ears were filled with the entrancing melodies of Anuttara, Sat Yoga’s kirtan band, guiding them to a state of blissful inner stillness.
Radha, co-director of the Institute, outlined the school’s curriculum and vision. Shunyamurti then began the evening’s teaching.
“This is a school of magic,” he revealed. “Are you all interested in magic? Do you all realize that you are magical beings? There is a difference between a magical being and a magician. To become a magician you must train your magical potential to be fully actualized.”
Shunyamurti described the deliberate disenchantment of the world by Western civilization, exemplified by the backlash against the great magicians who created the Italian Renaissance. Pico della Mirandola was forced into exile and Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake. Shunyamurti declared that now is the moment of the return of white magic, of miracles and wonders capable of ushering a new age. “But if we are going to return magic to the world we have to know how to perform divine magic. It is a skill; in fact, it is more than a skill, it’s an ordeal, because it requires transformation. It requires reaching a level of consciousness that is beyond the ego mind, the false mind that has colonized your psyche. ”
A magical guided meditation followed, invoking the higher powers of the Supreme Self. The visualization was a powerful and transformative experience for everyone.
The magic continued with a spellbinding concert by Anuttara. All 85 voices united in devotional harmony to conjure a sublime energy field, producing alchemical effects on everyone. At the height of the evening, participants were captivated by the beautiful, abundant, and delicious offerings from Radha’s Kitchen. The teaching, the meditation, the music, the food, and the ambiance all contributed to an unforgettable, magical evening of divine communion.
To listen to Shunyamurti’s teaching from the Satsang, click here.
When Shunyamurti heard that the Sat Yoga Ashram was considered by a French television producer as one of the most innovative “new ideas and well-guarded secrets that can help us renew our alliance with the Earth,” he could not refuse them the opportunity to film at Arunachala.
So, on Sunday, March 10, the sangha opened its collective arms to say “Bonjour et Bienvenue!” to an enthusiastic young production crew.
The episode filmed at the ashram will form part of a 10-part environmental series called “Sharing the Earth,” set to debut early in the fall (Sep/Oct 2013) on French TV.
They first contacted Jagdish, founder of The Butterfly Farm (TBF) to investigate sustainable business practices developed at TBF, but instead he piqued their interest in Sat Yoga and the outlandish concept of a ‘prema-culture’community.
The film crew had been focused on projects like sustainability in agriculture, alternative energy technologies, new methods of construction, harmony with the earth, and simple off-grid living—in other words, the now-standard concept of permaculture. But prema-culture was a new idea, based on the Sanskrit word prema, meaning divine love.
A culture cannot be truly sustainable if it is not based on practices that increase and reproduce wisdom, dharma, love, and joy. Since many permaculture settlements have proven extremely impermanent, due to conflicts among members, corruption, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual improprieties, mental instability, and other such human failings—the Sat Yoga approach to building a healing and transformational community, and the larger goal of contributing to the creation of a planetary cultural renaissance—was a paradigm shift for them, to say the least.
After a warm welcome in French by Mahalakshmi, the team toured the ashram, interviewing, observing, and filming. The director, Etienne, chose to focus on the cycle of food from planting, to harvesting, to consuming, to composting, and back to planting. Our agriculture coordinator, Durga, helped facilitate their understanding of sustainable practices with hands-on demonstrations of how to plant and prune with love.
Beautiful moments of yogis playing flute and meditating in the natural setting of Rishikesh were complemented by teachings and conversation. Shunyamurti was interviewed by their anchorwoman, Mannaïg de Kersauson, who inquired into the philosophical foundations of Sat Yoga. The exchange of ideas revealed the importance of an ecology of the soul as part of our healing of the natural environment.
The film crew then descended on Radha’s Kitchen for a unique culinary experience. Radha taught Mannaïg to chop pejibaye, part of a traditional Costa Rican dish for that day’s lunch, while explaining the essence of Sat Yoga cuisine and how we creatively use the produce growing at the ashram. The cameraman dodged hot plates and sizzling pots as he captured this magical aspect of the cycle of food being transformed into high edible art in the kitchen.
At the end of a whirlwind day and thirteen hours of footage, the crew left waving and smiling, happily carrying books, music cds, ashram honey, and a memory of communal love they will not soon forget. The sangha was also moved by the experience of orienting such open visitors from another world, and we look forward to welcoming other visitors soon, from far different worlds.
Hridaya, the Supreme Heart, is a radiant flower. Its sweetness permeates consciousness like an irresistible perfume. Sat Yoga’s February retreat, “Hridaya: The Flowering of the Heart,” opened the hearts of all participants to spiritual awakening.
Our seven-day immersion in divine love began with the explanation of how worry causes the heart to wilt; we learned about the “Eight Obstacles” to Christ-consciousness listed by the great Christian sage Evagrius Ponticus. Gluttony, greed, sexual impurity, anger, melancholy, despair, ego-inflation, and paranoia all play a role in destroying our peace of mind.
We explored these issues in several gatherings, shedding ever more light on the dysfunctional habits of the ego. Shunyamurti wisely and lovingly answered our questions, often deeply personal, on the painful experiences of lovelessness and the joy of flowering in all areas of life. The clarity and brightness of the teachings fertilized the mind of each participant so the seeds of higher consciousness could grow into a beautiful presence felt in every activity and interaction.
On several occasions, Shunyamurti guided meditations that enabled us to let go of all worry and flower into peak experiences. A day of silence was capped by the entrancing devotional music of Anuttara, Sat Yoga’s kirtan band. Another rising crescendo of consciousness took place, as the rapport between musicians and sangha dissolved the illusion of separation in blissful surrender to our Source.
Rolando Araya reflected, “Consciousness carries the human mind to elevated states capable of producing great beauty and genius. The artistic presentation of the musical group during the Shabda Yoga class was a celestial experience that not only produced a sublime ecstasy and immense delight but also confirmed for me the degree of artistic genius and the synchronicity that meditation can produce.”
The following evening saw the crescendo continue in creative writing class. It was miraculous to witness the spontaneous wisdom, humor, joy, and profundity that was expressed on that extraordinary evening. The deep trust and resonance among the retreatants allowed the Heart-flower to burst forth in glory.
Recalling his experience of both the creative writing class and the Shabda Yoga class, Nitzan shared, “It’s hard for me to quantify the transformational, revelatory and healing effect of both the creative writing and the shabda yoga. The space at Sat Yoga is one of being held in pure, sacred love, utterly ego-less, and so one is released from judgment, both of the other and even more powerfully of one’s self. Without egoic judgment, expression is released as pure essence, and the Being is met and recognised in love. Shabda Yoga for me released the devotional Whirling Dervish that my soul has so longed to express. In the meeting of the song, of the music and of the mantra with the open sacred love of the space, the heart inside my Being could surge, fly out high above in true prayer and devotion.
“Creative writing was also a revelatory experience. Not only in being invited to express creatively that which is mostly hidden within, but mostly in being witness to the courage and the love in each member of the retreat. To watch brave souls step into the fire of devotion without any repression or holding back, fully, truly throwing into the fire the pain and hurt and loss. To witness and partake in the alchemy of karmic suffering being turned into creative love. Not to mention the joy and inspiration of each piece. Ego-free talent rising high and showing that we can all be who we truly are without limit or limitations.”
On the last night of the retreat, we sacrificed all limitations that inhibited us from sharing our bliss with the world. Shunyamurti explained that because of the nature of the ego, there would be resistance encountered to making a lasting sacrifice. But through the full avowal of our commitment to transform and our surrender to the Real Self, we determined to persevere. The crescendo of love, manifesting at the beginning of the retreat, was magically sustained and prolonged throughout the whole week.
The ecstasy that flowered at the Hridaya retreat is a treasure we shall keep with us. And our Heart-flowers, planted in the rich soil of the Sat Yoga community, watered by the wisdom of Shunyamurti, and nourished constantly by the rays of Self-discovery, continue to blossom.
We hope you will be able to share in the joy of our next retreat. For more information on Sat Yoga retreats, check out our retreat page by clicking here or contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
We are always encouraging sangha members to find something that truly motivates them in life, that allows them a direct conduit through which they can serve God. It is cause for celebration when one such member discovers his or her own true destiny. Therefore, Sat Yoga is very pleased to present the fruition of the karmic trajectory of Kalyan, Sat Yoga’s official “Soda Jerk.” (“Soda Jerk” was a term used to designate the person who made and served soda pop in drugstores in the early to mid-twentieth century. The creation of original soda drinks has become a lost art in contemporary life.) Kalyan, or “the Jerk,” will henceforth be preparing delicious beverages in his “Sattvic Soda Company,” brewing the bubbly of the gods.
We expect to have sattvic soda at all future events to leave everyone spirited–and sparkling. Prepare yourself for the carbonation of consciousness…
The last week of January, 2013, witnessed great changes within the Sat Yoga Sangha. Six members of the Sat Yoga Sadhak Council were inducted into a new level of commitment within the Sat Yoga Sangha, that of the Shravak. “The word shravak means ‘one who hears,’ explained Shunyamurti. “So the sadhak is a disciple, and the sadhak understands the teachings, and has agreed to follow them, at least in an external way. But the shravak is one who has an intense desire to become egoless and free of illusion once and for all.”
The shravaks named on Monday, January 28, were Radha, Marjiva, Mahalakshmi, Jagdish, Saraswati, and Satya Dass. All of the newly appointed shravaks were taken by surprise, as Shunyamurti had not previously given them any notification that they were going to receive this honor. Each member gave an impromptu speech detailing the significance of this step.
Radha shared, “I feel this night means that there are no distinctions, and that when one is really special in any ultimate sense, one realizes that this step is the best possible outcome of all teachings, which is: everyone wins. And that, to me, is what Sat Yuga is about; there are no losers. Everyone wins.”
Marjiva reflected, “The word that comes to mind is ‘Sati.’ I heard it in your teaching the other day. And it filled me with reason for being and to be the beloved of God and to see everyone as that. So it’s a purpose-filled life, but my mind could never have thought it, but my heart has found it. So I think that is what this step means to me right now.”
“It just came very strongly to me how I’ve been led to this moment. I feel no other interest. And my only passion is to reach that point of Liberation and transcendence of the ego. And there’s nothing else I would like to do more. So I thank you for the opportunity and for learning more on how to get there and hopefully helping others do it one day as well. Thank you for the honor. I wish for all of us to reach that life of bliss and joy,” resolved Mahalakshmi.
Jagdish confessed, “I can attest that Shunya’s words are true: life is a dream, because if it weren’t, this wouldn’t be happening. And this is a great struggle. Shunya’s discussion tonight about the struggle that we all face with the Lower Death Drive, maya, I am sure was addressed to each of us, but no less to me. And it’s a great honor. And I look forward to this unfoldment, whatever it may be.”
“I’ll echo the words of everyone who has spoken before. It’s a huge honor and a surprise to be here. I have to be surrendered, and that’s the name of this game for me, tonight, is to get closer to the earth and become more humble and surrendered and more loyal. And I think that that will manifest in being more flexible and being open to all the shifting of the tides that this sangha’s going to see in the next days and months and to be absolutely always in the state of gratitude for all the gifts that we are receiving at every moment, and in all of those acts becoming more dharmically aligned to strengthen the sangha. And I know that I can rely on everyone’s support to help me do that. And I will help you in every way that I can and get to do the same,” humbly offered Saraswati.
Satya Dass was not present that evening because he was doing seva (service) at the Ashram. In his absence, Shunyamurti said, “We honor Satya Dass who works long and hard—longer and harder than anyone—probably more than everyone put together. Maybe he’ll refuse it, but at least he’s being offered this position. And he is one of those indispensable pillars of the sangha.”
The Sat Yoga Sangha supported the new shravaks and honored their hard work and dedication. It is rare in one lifetime to see so many beautiful souls gathered in one place. But is an even greater opportunity to see such paragons of peace and integrity and to work with them every day. Each of the persons chosen represents the pinnacle of discipline, wisdom, and love. Each one hears the song of God and responds with obedience. Each one fulfills the ideal of a Sat Yoga shravak.
The Sat Yoga Sangha added another member to the Sadhak Council in January. Sat Yogi Ashoka (whose name means “one who is beyond suffering”), who has been one of the most dedicated members of the community, was recognized by Shunyamurti as having earned the position of sadhak, or disciple of Sat Yoga.
Shunyamurti explained, “Tonight I want to honor a soul who has made a very great leap up the waterfalls of maya back to the Supreme Abode, and who is one of the great knights of the round table of Sat Yoga, who I am officially going to recognize as being worthy to join the Sadhak Council,” said Shunyamurti, calling up Ashoka. He continued, “Ashoka has been one of our great ‘instant Sat Yogis’ who has come from a long way, and from many, many lifetimes, and is here very one-pointedly to achieve Liberation.”
After Ashoka agreed to uphold the vows and responsibilities of being a sadhak, he was asked to speak on what taking this step meant to him. He responded, “My life so far has been a long journey, filled with many ups and downs and turbulences and experiences and imperiences. But ever since I was small, I wanted something that I didn’t seem to be able to find. And I’ve been looking very hard and very long and very deeply. And I have many times prayed and asked God—a God whose existence I was not sure of—to show the truth, show me the reality of His existence. He has taken me here. And I feel very honored, very humbled, being in the company of such great spiritual warriors as yourselves. My mind will continue one-pointed until it is transcended. I will rest all the way.”
It is a rare occurrence for someone to dedicate oneself completely to the work of ego transcendence. To accept humbly the joys and responsibilities of the position of sadhak is a big step for anyone, but Ashoka’s enthusiasm and commitment with which he accepts this role both inspires and motivates everyone around him. It is an honor for all to have this great soul as part of the Sadhak Council.
Sat Yoga knowledge and vibrations of peace and divine beauty pervaded the halls of the University of Costa Rica again in January, during the semi-annual cursos libres, as our Shravakas, Marjiva and Jagdish, taught the foundations of the Sat Yoga gyana while Avadhuta guided students on deep inner journeys of meditation. At the final class meeting, members of Sat Yoga’s kirtan group, Anuttara, led live devotional chanting to raise the prema levels even higher, revealing the richness of our maturing creative renaissance.
Following the last class, several enthusiastic students came to Thursday satsang at the Sat Yoga Institute in Escazú. It was a beautiful occasion to introduce the newcomers to our spiritual family and give them a better understanding of the full scope of our vision, teachings, and projects.
The UCR courses were a wonderful opportunity to reach out to the local Spanish-speaking population and disseminate our message to a wider audience of seekers. Many of the participants voiced their gratitude for being given the chance to learn how to meditate and gain a more expansive recognition of our limitless potential for empowered, anxiety-free, creative living. This collaboration with UCR is one that Sat Yoga will joyfully participate in again.