Though the end of the spiritual journey is unassailable bliss, the path itself is wrought with pitfalls and booby-traps, jagged hillsides and ravaged battlefields, allies and enemies, angels and demons. The intricacies of everyone’s path are entirely personal and unique. The switchbacks on the mountain of God have been trodden upon for millennia—and yet are as new as they were when the first foot set forth upon them. There is only one shortcut on this vale of tears, and it is vairagya: dispassion for any form of suffering.
Arriving to the Sat Yoga Community’s Ashram and retreat center, Arunachala, on Saturday, December 29th, retreatants immediately began exploring the theme of vairagya. They learned that being in vairagya means being free from the extremes of raga, the tendency to desire and possess, and dvesha, the force of repulsion and avoidance. The entire week the students learned about walking the middle-path, the path of inner solitude amidst community and egoless love.
Shunyamurti explained that vairagya can be viewed as an attitude or an assemblage point (an organizing principle within the spectrum of consciousness). When it is understood as an attitude, at the lower levels of egoic consciousness, it can be expressed within the individual as a sort of nihilism towards life. When, on the other hand, it manifests within the individual as an organizing principle of higher states of being, one functions as a wellspring of love and wisdom.
On New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, accompanying the pilgrimages to Arunachala’s sacred river, Shunyamurti gave teachings on the meaning of baptism. The teachings, combined with the outing, allowed the participants to deepen their experience of the journey and to live the metaphor that they had been discussing. Retreatant Eric Funkhouser resolved, “To meditate in the sacred rivers of Arunachala is to become fully immersed in the divine flow of nature, cleansing the mind and rejuvenating the soul. To walk through its heart is to be reminded of the truth of our nature, and to fan the sparks of love and awareness that is the center of our being.” Purified by the river meditation, on New Year’s Eve, retreatants sent blessings out to others for the coming year—and made resolutions that they vowed to keep.
As a living lesson for this retreat, many participants experienced the lower manifestation of vairagya, which was shared through comments and writings. Shunyamurti was able to weave this subject matter into teachings and discussions, allowing retreatants to process and overcome these feelings of worthlessness and despair. The pull of those painful emotions plague everyone in this modern age. But actually witnessing friends and acquaintances break free from the darker states of consciousness provided everyone with inspiration and a greater sense of intimacy. “I deeply appreciated the space that this community created so that I could work through these profound personal difficulties. I feel I have made a lasting change in my life, and I can carry that back with me,” shared one retreatant.
The vairagya retreat transported participants from depressive and/or stressful lives to the bliss of the present moment. On the boat of spiritual guidance, through the channel of loving community, they rode the current of meditation to the other shore of peace and silence. Retreatants left feeling revitalized, renewed, and ready to be beacons of light to others in their lives. The Sat Yoga retreat helped them keep buoyantly afloat when they thought they were about to sink, and helped them set sail over the calm sea of self-empowerment. They left without preoccupation or anxiety. They left in a state of vairagya.
If you are interested in coming to our next retreat, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot.
One of Shunyamurti’s Zen stories epitomized the teachings of this retreat: A young monk asked the master: “What is the Great Nirvana?” The master replied, “Not to commit oneself to the karma of birth-and-death is the Great Nirvana.” “So what then is the karma of birth-and-death?” asked the monk. “The karma of birth-and-death is to desire the Great Nirvana,” declared the master.
Sat Yoga’s November retreat entitled Uniting with the Supreme Power broke participants free of the traps of egocentricity, allowing them to gain distance from the narcissistic narratives in which consciousness crashes against the walls of its self-created prison. The teachings enabled us to see that because of the Penrose triangle structure of consciousness there is no escape from suffering by following the logic of the ego. A leap into another dimension is required, in which consciousness realizes itself as always already liberated, as well as in apparent bondage, and knowing the paradox of this duality that is really oneness in disguise. The root of the problem is holding onto the objectification of oneself, mistaking the “I” for the physical organism and/or the mentalized storylines of the ego. Every objectified subject is lacking being, but the only way for that lack to be nullified is the realization of egoless Emptiness that is divine Fullness.
The retreat was characterized by deep teachings interspersed with the stillness of contemplation of the Self, inwardly and wordlessly recognizing pure awareness as the solution to the conflicts of life and the paradoxes of the Real. Many students opted to be in external silence also for the week, their mindful presence a reminder to others of the practice of abiding in the Heart. A full day of silence for all was initiated midway through the week, encouraging everyone to dive even more deeply into Great Nirvana. This was an experience so powerful that many participants requested a silent retreat in 2013.
One retreatant, reflecting on her experience of silence during the retreat, spoke from her heart, sharing that “having a space to grow, not only a physical space but also an energy field, and a group of people that will honor and support my efforts to return to that state of Truth and shed inauthenticity, so that I can finally see and release myself from the suffocating grip of maya that has kept me from an authentic life lived in Truth, Love, and the realized presence of God in all, is the greatest of God’s gifts that I have been able to recognize thus far in my life. Knowing that there is a safe place to contain me while I reclaim my life on the battlefield between Self and illusion is an unsurpassable blessing within the purpose of my human existence. The words I write do not do justice to the internal growth that comes from having lived them at this retreat, but they are a start. I am eternally grateful to God for sending Shunyamurti and the angels of this community as beacons to guide my way.”
The barometer of self-reflection and inspiration for a Sat Yoga retreat is usually the depth of expression in the creative writing class. The power of the presentations made in this gathering made a profound impact on all who were present, moving many to tears, and leaving all in a joyous state of gratitude.
The annual Thanksgiving feast was a true demonstration of the exquisite taste of communal cooperation. Both the preparation and the meal were worth their weight in bliss. Following the Thanksgiving celebration, retreatants reconvened for the yagya, the symbolic sacrificial fire. Those who were ready for jivan mukti made the three sacrifices of egoic thought, the ego itself, and of death, realizing the deathless Self instantaneously. The yagya was also filled with explosions of musical talent, creative expression, and cathartic dramatic performances. The radiant beauty of the Self’s reemergence through the sacrifice of the ego enriched everyone present.
Beyond the anguish of impossibility, just outside the bounds of the ego’s jurisdiction, lies the vastness of Great Nirvana. By uniting with the Supreme, we receive the power to break free of the ego’s never-ending staircase of suffering. We find the infinite love that brings dispassion, vairagya, and a portal opens to the Absolute….
We hope you can join us for the next retreat.
The spiritual retreat called “Opening the Third Eye” held at Arunachala recently was a supernatural success. The participants reported that they pierced through the veil of maya, the appearance of reality, and the mundane narratives that usually keep consciousness confined within the bounds of egoism. Retreatants learned to see with clarity that all phenomena and all thoughts are appearances—but not real. The profoundly peaceful week of meditation at the Sat Yoga Ashram enabled those present to achieve surrender to bliss.
“Arunachala revealed everything I had ever been looking for—the ultimate freedom—what I had always been,” said a retreatant from England. “In Arunachala we were one: one vast consciousness; one pulse; one ocean. Of course my ego tricked me into endless challenges to fill up the emptiness, but the stillness remained, and in that, everything. One with the trees, the yogis, the birds, the waterfall, the mountains, the clouds, the stars—all part of the infinite bliss that I am.”
Shunyamurti’s teachings during the week, his famous “acronym(pho)mania,” tested the elasticity of the retreatants’ minds and finally snapped them with “crazy wisdom” humor. The biting insight of the True Self’s divine wit hit its target within all present, bursting forth like the goddess Athena from the skull of egoic sterility. “I never thought you could laugh the ego to death,” laughed one retreatant after the week of intense trans-sense-uality.
Opening the third eye proved to be quite an uproarious affair—a powerful intellectual and emotional revolution requiring the revitalization of not only the third eye, but of every “third organ.” Students put an end to the tyranny of the egoic oppressor by burning their BRAs (Bliss Rejection Apparatus), expanding their minds by experimenting with DRUGS (Delight Realized Under the Grace of Shiva), and breaking the chains of egoic enslavement by perceiving with lucidity that the ego is PSYCHOTIC (a Petulant, Stylized, Youth-Centric, Hateful, Objectifying, Tormented Individuality Complex). All learned that the way out of psychosis was lucid insight: the inward vision that only the third eye can perceive.
The retreat was replete with guided meditations, infused with live meditative music, and even included a group pranic healing session. The meditations directed retreatants into the heart of Being, opening the third eye and connecting with the Mother Light that illuminates all. The processes aroused a medley of bliss, resistance, phantasmic and archetypal images, profound feelings, and priceless insights. The pranic healing session, a first for many who attended, opened students to their dormant powers within. The healing session allowed students the opportunity to lower their defenses and receive the loving energy from the collective field of the sangha.
“The ego shrank and shriveled in the face of Shaktipat. The soft luminescent breath of God embraced the unloved child within to remind her of the Truth underlying all,” gleaned Nirmala from the session.
The experience of community was also an invaluable encounter and was amplified in the feedback and comments throughout the week. True community, effectively destroyed in the modern world, has become a difficult thing to find. And since mankind has learned, grown, and been nurtured by community for millennia, it remains an irreplaceable part of the full human experience. “Without others who you can project on, hate, envy—and then not run away from, but instead process and face your unexpressed ideas and emotions about—and then subsequently recognize that you love everyone as living incarnations of life itself—what’s the value of a human life? Just living secluded in your own private bubble, accumulating ‘friends’ like figurines and then rejecting them at a moment’s whim is not living. This community has showed me the shadow and then turned me around and showed me the light,” evaluated one participant after his experience.
Another new yogi shared that “Arunachala was a blissful experience for me. I am grateful to Shunyamurti for his reminder to ‘recognize the silent Source as the most fascinating, joyful and liberating’ and to ‘dwell always in the miraculous.’ Everyone in our group was so loving, and I look forward to being in this sacred space again soon.”
At the end of the week, all of the retreatants passed the Sat Yoga third eye optical exam with 20/20/20 vision, piercing the veil of maya once and for all. If you’re ever in need of third eye vision correction lenses, give us a call.
“So, do you want the beginner’s class or the advanced class?” opened Shunyamurti during Sat Yoga’s meditation class and teaching, “El Secreto de la Felicidad” (“The Secret of Happiness”), at Costa Rica’s fifth annual national yoga festival, “Yoga Para Todos,” in San Jose. After the students opted for the advanced class, Shunyamurti continued: “What makes it an advanced class is that this will require an advanced level of discernment, or Viveka. And what you will have to come to discern during this class is the difference between your existence and your being. Most people live in their existence, unaware of their being. The secret of happiness is the discovery of your real being. OK, we’re done,” concluded Shunyamurti, as the room exploded in laughter.
Of course, he was not done, but continued to elucidate the process by which we have misidentified our being with our existence, confusing our Self with our body/mind. Shunyamurti also explained how this condition of misidentification—in which we relinquish nearly all of our power, transferring what remains to the languaged and languished, and therefore anguished, mind—creates with it an unconscious plane of existential fantasy, showing up in our lives in the form of physical symptoms, full-blown illnesses, external karmic events, and, of course, unresolved emotional problems.
The guided meditation that followed the teaching clearly demonstrated the power of a group energy field in which all participants enter into a state of profound peace. In an adjacent room, a dancing class was taking place that literally shook the floor. Outside, the voices of vendors and yoga enthusiasts could be heard, but tuned out, all melding together in the warm background of spiritual openness. But in the meditation room, there was a deep and blissful stillness, T.S. Eliot’s “still point of the turning world.” The inner peace transformed the environment, causing a rush of kundalini energy, a joyous flow of shakti, to enter the consciousness all of the meditators.
A few hours later, Sat Yoga’s kirtan band, Anuttara, took the stage and filled the atmosphere with heart-opening melodies, revealing to all present the unsurpassable beauty of the Sat Yoga community. The energy created during the morning meditation was carried through and passed on to the crowd through the mystical mantras that the group intoned. The sacred lyrics of the songs, mahavakyas such as “Om Namah Shivaya” and “Tat Tuam Asi,” reminded the audience of the true purpose of kirtan, to “be the music” as Anuttara lead vocalist, Shivani, explained. A Sat Yoga student, Diana, added, “The musical performance was a shower of peace during a much needed time.”
The yoga festival was a beautiful communion of like-minded souls, all trying in their own ways to attain the joy of union with the Absolute. Sat Yoga was honored to be invited to participate in one of Costa Rica’s biggest spiritual gatherings of the year.
“The term ‘virgin’ was anathema to me growing up. It either signified a kind of prudishly pious type of purity or an otherwise odious innocence inoculated with nerve-wrecking notions of naiveté. I wanted nothing to do with nescience, and, for me, purity was a pipe dream. Needless to say, the retreat was not something I was looking forward to. But the teachings throughout the week taught me that our True Self is unblemished, is immaculate, is virginity itself. Our Real Self is undefiled because it can never have intercourse with illusion. The Virgin is the pinnacle of virility: Purity is power,” remarked one retreatant, transformed after a week of paradigm-shifts at the Sat Yoga Ashram.
Sat Yoga’s “Purity of Heart” retreat (July 28 – August 1) was a five day abstention from intercourse with egoic discourse, with negative thought patterns and emotions, and with maya (egoic delusion and illusion) itself. The retreat reinvigorated antiquated, worn-out signifiers and gave them new vitality, both through classes, which extracted the essence of such auricularly abrasive words as “angel,” “purity,” and “virgin,” and through actual meditation and yogic experimentation with the inner meaning and feeling tone of these terms.
Saraswati shared, “These retreats always leave me feeling blessed, at peace and with a strong (and lasting) sense of centeredness. This retreat in particular, focusing on true purity of heart, helped me to realize in seeking ‘purity’ and staying away from ‘impurity’ in the egoic and imaginary way keeps me from seeing that true Purity is the silent Self beyond all seeking, beyond all duality. We were guided into this state by the enchanting melodies of Sat Yogi musicians and the wise and soothing words of Shunyamurti. It is not something the ego can ever grasp or be. The game is up, time to rest in the eternal and unstained essence of the Self.”
In nearly every teaching given by Shunyamurti, it was revealed that the virgin and angel archetypes are universal and found in every spiritual tradition, such as the (angelic) qualities of the Divine Mind in Buddhism, and the virgin birth of Patanjali, the compiler of the yoga sutras and the founder of Ashtanga Yoga. Shunyamurti revealed that the archetypes of the virgin and of angels are not external gods or icons, but are symbolic representations of states of consciousness that pertain to everyone—and that are achievable by all.
Surya resounded, “It was a beautiful retreat! The angelic love was emanating on a high level for sure. It was amazing to see the seva (egoless service) flowing like a stream of chocolate; it really inspired me. It was a strong and transformative retreat that really opened hearts, teaching by teaching, inch by inch.”
The retreat was sprinkled with heavenly angel food, the purest of all prasad, harmonious melodies, and what Shunyamurti has called “honey seva” (egoless service from which sweetness and joy emanate). One had the opportunity to be in the company of angels and yet to explore in solitude the heavenly realms within one’s own soul.
“The ‘Purity of Heart’ retreat mangled my current understandings of reality and left me shipwrecked and mindbroken. A couple of days afterwards I found myself welcoming an adventurous mixture of deep peace and fear of the unknown,” pronounced Bhuma the psychonaut.
Melanie, a first-time retreatant at Arunachala, expressed the impact of her experience in this way: “As I rise before dawn my heart sings and is quiet, it is pure and gentle and loving. Life in the material world challenges my soul. I wish and search for the next moment knowing that the next moment is within, silence is within, purity is within. During the ‘Purity of the Heart’ retreat at Arunachala, I felt such perfect peace. Powerful emotions would come in trickles and in waves and yet through these emotions I felt absolutely blissful, it was the most natural and perfect feeling in the world. Blissful and strong, peaceful, serene and absolutely magical. It is so very true that words cannot really describe what one feels during retreat. It must simply be experienced. My deepest gratitude to everyone at Sat Yoga for creating such a magical place!”
The degree of transformation and purification that took place in just five days at the Sat Yoga “Purity of Heart” retreat was astounding. Participants left feeling a renewed sense of peace, and, in many cases, a feeling of innocence that had not been experienced since childhood. They reached the invulnerable state by exploring the depths of their apparent vulnerability. After recharging their batteries in the virginal vestibule of the heart, they were ready to enter the sun door and open the third eye…
Imagine yourself in an ancient alchemical laboratory…
You’ve spent your entire life trying to create the most challenging of all alchemical endeavors, the envy and glory of all true alchemists, the illustrious “philosopher’s stone.” Now, you’ve finally discovered the secret. In your early years, you mastered the mystery of transmuting lead into gold, but you realized that all the gold in the world could not buy you the philosopher’s stone. One lone flask remains before you, heating in the fire of the alchemical oven. You do not hesitate. You place all of the gold that you have accumulated from years of transformational work into the flask. There is only one thing left for the experiment to be complete. You place yourself into the furnace and close the door behind you. You feel the fires of purification burn away everything that is mortal within you. The experiment is a success: you have become the philosopher’s stone.
Sat Yoga’s June retreat, “Alchemy of the Atman,” was an experience faithful to the metaphors contained within the alchemical literature: it was a sublimatio, a transformation of the lead of the infantile ego into the gold of the soul; it was a purificatio, a melting away of the lower chakra sanskaras in the fire of Divine Love; and it was a liberatio, a complete transcendence of the ego-consciousness. The retreat allowed participants to experience both the alchemy of the ego, referred to in alchemical literature as the transmutation of lead into gold, and the alchemy of the atman, the realization of the philosopher’s stone, the True Self that one already and always is.
Amrita recalled from her own alchemical experience, “This retreat experience produced an alchemical reaction that has ignited my transformation to a new level. I learned that my ego is just an actress replaying a role that is obsolete.”
“Alchemy of the Atman,” was replete with transformational exercises, designed to fuel the fire of the purificatio, the purification of the soul. The exercises and thought experiments allowed the retreatants to revisit the past, to see what obstacles haunted their consciousness in their personal transformational practice. They also allowed participants the opportunity to reveal and alter the egoic narrative that hindered them from abiding in an open state of joy in the present moment. These transformational exercises, combined with guided visualizations which gave the alchemical apprentices a chance to rewrite the scripts of their present and future lives, engendered an environment of higher vibratory consciousness, a kind of feedback loop in which each person aided the transformation of the others; the individual insights augmented the transformation of the whole.
Ajata reflected on his experience of the retreat: “It was an empowering and life-changing experience to systematically throw one’s ego to the alchemical flame. Held by a protective energy field of love, each exercise flushed out and burned away deeply repressed narratives that have falsely governed my attitude and approach to life, revealing a glimpse of freedom and perfection that will never again fade.”
Along with the thought exercises, Shunyamurti revealed to the group the original Sat Yoga mudras, a series of hand movements that tell the story of consciousness from the Absolute beginning to the fall into egoic identification. The mudras, practiced before and after meditations, gave the retreatants the opportunity to kinesthetically internalize higher chakra knowledge while luring the mind into one-pointedness. Many participants found these mudras particularly helpful in remaining in a state of constant remembrance, without having to put words to the truth of the Self.
“The mudras revealed their power throughout the day when my mind would slip into confusion, chaos, or mood-offs (negative moods) and immediately this maya (delusion) would be contextualized within the fabric of this eternal myth—and dissolved—the alchemical process could resume and deepen again and again,” shared Saraswati.
Retreatants at this retreat were exceptionally vocal about the changes they were experiencing: the emotional ups and downs, the deep personal insights that begged to be put to words, and all of the internal revelations that were taking place within the “hermetically sealed vessel” of the human soul.
Grettel revealed, “I haven’t finished the retreat… still on the rollercoaster! It was amazing, a life changing experience, a quantum leap, truly transforming. It is taking me to the depths of pain/darkness/hatred and bringing me out renewed, more powerful and fearless. It helped to point where I need to keep working (there is still so much to work on!). The support Shunyamurti has given us after the retreat with his teachings at noon has been priceless. He seems to be reading my mind every time, and I find power in his words and by surrendering to God. I won’t let him down, I won’t let myself down—but most importantly I won’t let God down!”
Many retreatants commented on their uncanny experiences, subtle insights, and all the jewels of wisdom gained from an intensive week at the Arunachala Alchemy lab:
“‘Alchemy of the Atman’ left me utterly amazed, and the transfiguration of the ego structure remains heavily underway. What had the most profound effect on me was the alchemical approach Shunyamurti applied in surfacing our childhood based traumas—a soothing guided meditation that generated an immense transmission of Divine Love,” offered Nirmala.
Chaitanya added, “The retreat was a sobering experience in navigating the white waters of the psycho-spiritual rapids. I feel lucky to have Shunyamurti as a guide.”
“The last retreat gave me an opportunity to release chains that have until now been invisible to me,” resolved Bhuma.
“This retreat has been a life changing experience. I’ve always wanted to be free: free from myself and free from society, but I wasn’t sure what that meant—until I ended up in Arunachala. Being free has become a goal with meaning, and although I know this is the beginning, I can say that I experienced being free like the river, and I’ve felt the love, peace, and joy flowing strong and unstoppable like its current, and I’ve felt the cleansing power of love and wisdom. At the retreat I felt the most confused ever, and also the clearest ever; the weakest ever, and the strongest ever; the most scared ever and also the most peaceful ever. A light was lit and it will remain. I am very thankful to Sat Yoga for allowing this experience (and imperience!),” smiled Diana.
The alchemical experiments that took place in the hermitically sealed vessel of Arunachala were well worth their weight in gold, costing only the sacrifice of the negative, rigidified, leaden ego-mind. But that experience is open to everyone who visits the Arunachala “avatar factory.” Unveil your true potential, and discover the priceless gems of wisdom that lie within. Become the philosopher’s stone.
Check out the video below to see one of Shunyamurti’s teachings on “The Alchemical Process” (or click here to view it on our video page):
Paradox is an impossible concept, or at least a concept impossible to conceive. It is the pulsating heart of all our problems, and it smiles sardonically like Schrödinger’s cat at us in every conscious moment of our lives. In it, we find both joy and anxiety. It is the spirit of the spiritual journey, the warp and the woof of wu-wei. As it turns out, paradox is also the soul of true seva (service). The discovery of this paradox was the essential theme of Sat Yoga’s recent community retreat: “Seva Saves: The Path of Karma Yoga.”
What is seva? Seva is facilely defined as spiritual service. But, as Shunyamurti reminded us, there can be no true service as long as there is an “I” that believes it is doing service. But how does one reach the state of no-I? It has to be through an act of surrender. But the surrender itself cannot be made by a false I, but must be a divine act of grace! Consciousness can wander despairingly or happily through this mesmerizing strange loop. “In principle, we are already there. But we’re there when we are not there,” smiled Shunyamurti.
Gambhira expressed his appreciation for the subtle teachings in the retreat: “Even though the real effect of this retreat is hard to grasp by the mind, there is perception of the increase of understanding real Divine Service: a quantum leap on the pathless path of liberation from apparent bounded consciousness. From the voice of true gurus we listen to what our Heart is telling us deep within: that everything in the phenomenal plane is interconnected, empowered by the underlying eternal Presence of the One Supreme Self, and the ignorance of this is the illusion of being in bounded consciousness. Seva, or wu wei, as explained by Shunyamurti, is of great aid in the dissolving of the fragmented soul into trans-conceptual emptiness which leaves nothing behind.”
During the “Seva Saves” retreat, Shunyamurti explored the Taoist theory of wu-wei (effortless action) in depth, citing the Tao Te Ching, the teachings of Lao Tzu, the insights of the other great Taoist masters, along with commentaries by Confucius and the later Mohists. Wu-wei is the state in which the dancer becomes the dance, or when the music plays the band. And in this sense, it is identical to the yogic practice of Karma Yoga: action without the sense of being a doer, or having any desire for a particular outcome.
“Every retreat has the magical effect of taking us deeper into our relationship with the Self through the lens of different practices (like alchemy or seva) and attitudes (gratitude, empowerment), shedding light where there has been darkness. For me, the focus of this retreat in particular went to the heart of the ego’s resistances to giving and serving which, as it turns out, are the key practices for dissolution of the false narcissistic persona. Shunyamurti’s mahavakyas (spiritual teachings) about the purifying nature of effortless action, wu wei, washed away any painful narratives often projected onto the act of service: ‘I should be doing a more important task. I am being taken advantage of. I am not important. I don’t know how to do it,’ revealing a natural tranquility of mind, fullness of heart, and clarity of connection to the Self—salvation through true seva,” remarked Saraswati.
Shunyamurti delineated three distinct types of seva: blood seva, water seva, and honey seva. The blood seva is a form of action that is done grudgingly. It is not viewed as an opportunity to restore the kingdom of heaven on earth, but as mere drudgery. “The moment seva becomes work,” said Shunyamurti, “we are lost.” Water seva is service done in a flowing way, but it does not contain the sweetness and the joy of the ultimate seva, the honey seva.
This concept of seva, of joyous union with God while the body is in action, has been at the heart of spiritual communities both in times of old, as well as recent times. In fact, the Shakers, a Christian sect that had a network of spiritual communities that sustained the soul of the culture of the United States for 200 years, had a saying that reflected their own view on seva: “Hands to work, hearts to God.”
“I cherished having the chance to both learn about and participate in seva at the Sat Yoga retreat. It was a virtuous circle in the sense that I could perform karma yoga duties, then hear a teaching reminding me of the exalted state that I must be in to engage in true seva, and then apply that during my next karma yoga opportunity. Contemplating the paradox of wu-wei, my mind was silent and joyful,” recalled one retreatant.
Yogiraj appraised the gems of wisdom that he discovered in his week at Arunachala: “The Seva Saves retreat was an inspiring reminder that the miraculous is indeed happening at Arunachala. I felt a great resonance with what Shunyamurti shared in the first morning’s teaching when he said that ‘we are never more active then when we are doing absolutely nothing.’ The extraordinary potential that lies dormant within each of us—if we can constantly renew the stillness and channel that energy into the present moment—is something to be ever mindful of. The ego-less service of the community, and the extraordinary results that divine love is yielding, need to be seen to be believed. This short but sweet time together reinforced the need for humility in service and was an excellent opportunity to remain vigilant in the surrender of the ego to the flow of the Lila. What has stuck with me most post-retreat is the importance of not being fragile and the incredible gift that we can give to ourselves through our openness to be corrected and to remain aligned with the Logos.”
The teachings and lessons learned from the retreat impacted the participants greatly:
“Through this retreat I have been blessed to come to a much deeper recognition of the supreme importance of seva in and as my spiritual practice. I have been forced to face the difficulties and obstacles to performing true service, and I have arrived at an understanding of how facing these challenges with detachment, wisdom, and love will be invaluable tools in my quest to growing into a perfect instrument of the Absolute,” commented Santosha.
Pilar revealed, “For me, this retreat was a wholesome experience, showing me how life can be when you are connected to God. Giving, receiving, and loving at every moment raises your frequency and makes you feel you are part of everything. That nourishes and makes you grow. Thanks for the experience. I would not change a bit of it.”
“This retreat impacted me on every level that I can perceive—and certainly beyond. It completely exceeded my expectations (I’m sure because I literally left all expectations at the entrance gate). We learned many useful things about being content while being of service. And I’m making use of what I learned at the ashram “out here.” I felt that I had returned home,” recalled Ashley from her encounter at Arunachala.
Grettel remarked, “I feel that I have grown a lot from this retreat. You can’t hear these teachings and stay indifferent—there’s just no way! The most remarkable aspects of the retreat were the teachings (and how they answered my questions without me even asking), the sangha working together, and the unconditional love that Shunyamurti transmits.”
For all of us who have been shipwrecked in the sea of egocentricity, egoless service may be our only “life-seva”! Through selfless service, the winds of false pride are taken out of the ego’s sails, and we learn to paddle our way out of the whirlpool that our lives had been caught in. After that, we realize that no paddling is necessary, only the surrender to the flow of life, drifting buoyantly above the waves of the petty concerns, unaffected by the ego’s tempest in a “me”-cup. The water itself transforms into divine honey. Then, upon reaching the yonder shore, we can finally finish the process of alchemy with the master awaiting us there.
The winds of change are in the air. Come and complete your transformational process at our next retreat, “Alchemy of the Atman.” We’ll see you there.
The Sat Yoga Community participated in the Third Intentional Community Gathering of Costa Rica 2012. The gathering was held during the week of April 29 and May 6, in the sustainable farm Jadines Termales de Gaia, located in the El Salitre town of North San Cristobal in the province of San José.
Termales Gaia is an ecological center and community based in the principles of permaculture. One of its many diverse projects that its co-owner and founder Mr. Silvio Bonomell has underway is to produce organic food through bio-intensive agriculture during a one year period to feed up to 12 people. He is documenting every step of this process, and once it has been proven that this agriculture system, which is completely free of agro-chemicals and is based on ancient, innovating, and environmental friendly techniques, is efficient and applicable, Silvio wishes to train the indigenous reserves of Talamanca so they can become empowered with this knowledge and live once again as communities with healthy and self-sustainable agriculture practices.
The organizers of the Costa Rican intentional community gathering proposed the following objectives for the event: a) reflect on the current situation of sustainable human settlements of Costa Rica; b) exchange experiences related to sustainable community living, as well as initiatives which are aligned with the movement´s values; and c) form vision counsels for the planning and strategic action of the works of the intentional community network of Costa Rica.
An important group of community representatives, farms, and eco-villages of all over the country, as well as international visitors, kept the flame lit which offered light and warmth during the event. Following some of the participating communities: Tacotal (San Mateo de Alajuela), Indígenas Cabecar (Chirripó), La Flor (Paraíso, Cartago), Finca Fruición (San Agustín, Pérez Zeledón), Finca Amanecer (Quepos, Puntarenas), y Siris (San Ramón, Alajuela). There was also the presence of visitors from Italy, Brazil, Guatemala, México, and Nicaragua.
The gathering offered an agenda filled with collective and varied activities with the purpose of uniting participants and strengthening the relationship between groups. Several workshops and talks were offered on the importance of spirituality within community development, as well as vision counsels, Temazcales, vegetarian lunches using produce from “La Huerta” of Termales Gaia, dance and prayer circles for universal peace, seed exchange, water ceremonies, and group meditations.
The seed exchange was of great importance for everyone involved, since all agreed that the true wealth is not money, but the wisdom of knowing how to grow healthy organic seeds, protect our soils, and take good care of Gaia, our Mother Earth.
The seed exchange was led by the permaculture specialist, Felix Antonio Archila, who has 22 years of experience in this field and has been helping Termales Gaia with its sustainable agriculture projects for the last three months and already has established a seed bank of 75 varieties. Felix comes from the Mayan culture and his participation, motivation, and wisdom was one of the great inspirations of this gathering. One of the projects that Felix is implementing is educating children from local community schools on the importance of the practice and principles of permaculture.
After the seed exchange, participants gathered to listen to a talk on the value of spirituality as a pillar for community development, offered by Sat Yogis Sat and Shivani.
Sat, who is a student and member of the spiritual community of Costa Rica, began his talk by sharing information about the two headquarters of Sat Yoga in Costa Rica. He mentioned about the Sat Yoga Institute, which specializes in the practice and study of the most important spiritual traditions, philosophies and sciences of the human consciousness, as well as the processing of psycho-emotional obstacles which inevitably rise within a spiritual path, through the method of individual sessions with an adept spiritual guide specialized in the arts of decoding the unconscious egoic complexes and in the healing, transformation, and sublimation of the soul.
The group also learned about the great experience and mastery that Shunyamurti, the founder and leader of the Sat Yoga Community, has gathered from a life-long spiritual practice and absolute dedication to the service of Shiva, of God, the Supreme Truth and Grace. And how under his spiritual guidance and protection the Sat Yoga community has been able to blossom now for 10 years in Costa Rica and currently has a core group of students, postulants, and disciples that add to more than 30 members.
Sat spoke about Shunyamurti´s vision and Sat Yoga´s methodology to build an authentic, successful, and stable spiritual community. How it is of utmost importance that the efforts to build sustainable communities are based on the pillars of an authentic and real spiritual practice. Such practice must be formed by a commitment from each member to maintain the universal yogic spiritual values known as the Yamas and Niyamas, and there must also be a commitment for the incessant processing of what is known in yoga as Maya – the negativity, ignorance, darkness, greed, lust, narcissism, aggression, rivalry, fantasies, and delusions of the ego – which is the primordial cause of the fall of the majority of intentional community and projects.
All the great teachers and leaders of the most meaningful communities of human history have offered a wise path to purify and transcend the ego and attain community harmony. The Sat Yoga community and school offer a solid, healthy, strong, and joyful path to attain such a goal.
Shivani, also a student and member of the Sat Yoga community, who is co-leading the community projects on sustainable agriculture, spoke about the Sat Yogic concept of “Premaculture.” Prema is translated from Sanskrit as divine love. Premaculture is a culture based on divine love. Shivani shared with the members of other communities that the most important seed to rescue is the seed of seeing and relating with each other as divine beings, as a universal conscience and intelligence, and not as objects and isolated egos. The seed of divine love is the first seed to be planted and harvested within a community, so it can rely on the necessary spiritual sustenance and wisdom to face and overcome the great challenges and impossibilities, as well as benefit and have the courage to act upon the many windows of opportunity that will also open, in the process of dreaming up an intentional community.
In Premaculture it is recognized that the negativity that usually spreads within a community comes from the traumas and wounds that the human being carries within from infancy and the past, and how these are then projected onto the world. Shivani explained the analogy that a community is like a house of mirrors, in which anything that has not been purified in one´s unconscious will be projected onto the other group members. Therefore it is of vital importance to remember this ego mechanism and recognize when our own mind is colonized by fantasies and false dark narratives. At the same time, being immersed in a strong and healthy spiritual community permits the ego projections not to be returned in an aggressive and reactive manner, but rather the advanced yogic members of a community can alchemically transform such negative projections into wisdom and with great compassion return to that spiritual sister or brother the energy of light, higher knowledge, humility, strength, and divine joy.
The message of Sat Yoga was openly received by those present. After the talk many different visions and opinions were interchanged on this same topic, listening to the ideas and feelings of all participants, and concluding the session with a guided meditation facilitated by Sat, and a space contained by a healing silence and stillness.
We then proceeded to lunch for another great communal celebration, and neared the conclusion of the gathering, where the following question and discussion arose: What is the next step for the network of intentional communities of Costa Rica?
The answer is that the intentional community network of the country has officially transformed itself within this gathering into the Consejo de Asentamientos Sustentables de las Américas (C.A.S.A.) de Costa Rica. It is a birth and valuable effort inspired by the “Llamado de la Montaña” Iberoamerican Ecovillage Gathering held in Colombia on January of 2012, which was attended by several of the present intentional community members. This new phase of the community network is being guided by several members of Costa Rican communities. One of its leaders of CASA CR is Rosa Elena Blanco from the Tacotal community of San Mateo. Rosa summarizes the experience and conclusions of this third gathering with the following words:
“Gathered in a circle under the guidance of the staff of speech, we listened to each other and express which were our necessities and offerings, from which we obtained a clearer panorama of where we should focus our attention.
It was concluded from the experience and results of the Second Community Gathering that developing once again a Vision Counsel was something that we were not truly ready as a network, but we should instead take smaller but firmer steps towards the stability of our connection. So we decided to apply Rudolf Steiner´s phrase, “we will get to know each other through our sweat, working together,” inspired by this principle we will apply the inter-communitary work approach of MINGA to become more acquainted with each other, recognize our strengths and weaknesses, as individuals and as a network and once we achieve a certain stability we can continue designing-dreaming the work and team engine of the Costa Rican Network, which ideally will be formed by committed and trustworthy people, belonging to different sustainable projects, with age diversity, gender and skills.
It was agreed that we should commit through word here and now and so it was done by those who felt called to, and we respected as well the silence of those also present. We made a call to solidarity in the coordination of the upcoming projects and also in the participation of these “mingas,” workshops, and small gatherings where we will also begin coordinating the next national community gathering [programmed for the end of 2012].”
For the Sat Yoga Community it was a great honor to participate in this community gathering, and recognize the effort, will, and love that all participating souls offered to Gaia and the universal family.
Sat Yoga wishes to continue participating in these local and international gatherings and be able to offer and disseminate a living “soul bank” of healthy, functional, and joyful spiritual community members, so we can thus serve as guides and inspiration for many other groups and seekers of Supreme Truth and Love.
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.
Leave your discourses behind, something calls for you
Forget the death, you’ve left; it will not follow you
The infant who is rapping at your door
Is standing in clothes that you once wore
Bliss is here at last, go start anew
And it’s all over now, ego blues
“Ego Death and Divine Rebirth,” was a retreat far beyond the grasp of the ordinary rational mind. It was an event that transcended the univocal narratives of the ego, the self-alienated consciousness that maintains the prison of emotional bipolarity and the nightmare of repeating karmic patterns of futile suffering. The retreat, held appropriately on Holy Week, punched holes in the “Master’s Discourse” of egoic consciousness, and, yet, left the participants feeling truly awakened and whole. The retreat exposed the lack at the center of the ego-structure and revealed it as the portal to Shunyata, the paradoxical Emptiness, from which the entire cosmos emanates.
Nirmala, recounting her non-ordinary experience at Arunachala, said she encountered the illusory ego façade and was able to be “totally okay with this game we are playing, it was a peak experience in tears and smiles for the ‘me’ in hearing God’s laughter as a recognition of non-duality. This retreat has been a shedding of obstacles, doubts, judgments, fantasies, agendas, roles, longings, and fears, that all stood in the way of simply resting in the Heart of Universal Oneness. Living in the flow of paradox has been the theme….”
Perhaps the only adequate way to describe the retreat is in terms of music. The gathering conveyed a tonality that was uncannily resonant with higher dimensions of Being. It was delivered in a cadence, a flow, in which one had to stop fighting the currents of resistance, and just let go. Music expresses a playfulness that is trans-linguistic, buoyantly opposing the mind’s obsession toward concretization and categorization, and yet displays an immediate familiarity that seems more intimate and capable of penetrating the walls of egoic defenses than any other form of art. Just as in music, the silence and the notes become one inextricable whole, each accentuating and deepening the expressiveness and meaning of the other, the “Ego Death and Divine Rebirth” retreat reminded everyone that upon the silence of the ego, and the dissolution of the ego-mind, the True Self is forever realized as “the fundamental sruti note, that underlies and blends with all the other notes,” as Sri Ramana Maharshi once described it.
Bhuma recalled, “Arriving at Arunachala, I felt excited and was looking forward to a retreat like the previous one. Even though the earth had been torn to give birth to the new agricultural project, I felt secure in the fact that retreat week was here and silence would be restored. Holding onto this ridiculous thought of homeostasis, I soon found myself on the floor laughing wildly at the absurdity of the ego mind. The ice world of Kali Yuga is truly melting!”
After Shunyamurti’s first teaching on Saturday, the participants introduced themselves and decided how they were going to sing their (ego’s) swan song. They began to compose their own unique number within the cosmic opera. Shunyamurti reminded the retreatants that they had been brought to Arunachala: carefully delivered as the divine instruments in Shiva’s orchestra, each one expressing a different timbre, a nuanced melodic color with which to perform a specific solo act—as well as to harmonize with other beings to create a communal song whose overtones invoke the Oversoul.
“Quantum collapse: when you think you know someone, when you name something, when you materialize something—this stops the flow. Like in music—you cannot hold on to a note,” gleaned Durga from her experience at the retreat.
For many, the most remarkable thing about the week-long concert of consciousness was the overwhelming humor that no one could have anticipated. Shunyamurti’s preferred instruments for the week were the cymbals, which, in his comedic clashing together of the ego’s rigid, bipolar belief systems, gave birth to new, higher symbols. And the way in which this was accomplished was something akin to an operatic comedy: the sacrificing of the trite and stultified persona in an upsurge of transcendent laughter. An alternative name for the retreat could have been: The Assassination of the Puerile Ego as Performed by the Yogis of the Asylum of Arunachala Under the Direction of Shunyamurti.
“We learned that all the thoughts in the mind have been imposed on us from outside. This insight has helped me in my meditations and allowed me to have more peace of mind. After all, ‘there is no I’; ‘there nothing to do, and no one to do it.’ Like the words from an old song I know: ‘The lights are on, but no-body’s home.’ The ego is an illusion, as is the idea that there is a difference between life and death,” roared Jim in boundless laughter.
The composition of the retreat left everyone in a sattvic state of peaceful composure. There were meditative hikes through the jungle to Varanasi and the Gangaji, then the famous Arunachala “Land Loop,” and of course participation in the ashram’s ambitious prema-culture projects, each act with its own rhythm, its own unique beat and feel.
One retreatant observed, “It seems I say this about each retreat, but I truly believe that this retreat has built upon the previous retreats to take us that much deeper into the depths and lightness of our One spirit. Each retreat is unique and empowers us in different ways, and it has become increasingly clear to me that the energy field of Arunachala continues to evolve, to offer safe haven to our hearts and souls as we weather the sometimes tumultuous course into the unconscious to emerge as Beings aware of our true essence and purpose, free of illusion. And the absolute unwavering peace that is created by the collective generosity of Spirit of the community is a blessing that contains me as I face my own inner demons (delusions) and transform. I am infinitely grateful for the gift God has given us all, through the sangha and the seva, the Divine in us all. It is unparalleled.”
On Tuesday there was a communal cabaret show featuring the “Five Sisters” of Sat Yoga. Revealing the prema-cultural musical score under which Arunachala is currently being directed, the agricultural “master plan,” Tamara, Marjiva, Durga, Heidi, and Shivani briefly described all of the different melodic compositions that are being planned, planted, and played out in the Sat Yoga gardens now known as Hirdaya (the Heart).
One of the most interesting aspects of permaculture that the sisters explained was the holistic/symbiotic approach that the agricultural committee is interweaving into this design. What they described of the plans for the land was nothing less than an agricultural orchestration: each group of plants playing its specific part on time, augmenting the overall melody of the performance, emphasizing specific tonal colors, and then letting another group take the lead. The strings, the brass, the woodwind, and the percussion all have organic equivalents in this grand symbiotic symphony!
The Nada Yoga classes took a different approach during this retreat: one with a teaching of the Soy Dog, a new twist on the well-known Yo Soy-Burger, led by Radha, and the other with a live bhajan concert led by Shivani, featuring Sat Yoga’s new harmonium. The melodious tunes produced in the Nada Yoga classes provided the perfect venue for a majestic mind-dissolution, with a bass line of sublime, sacred devotion, replete with melodies that led the listener back to the Source, and a harmonization that provided final release within an atmosphere of boundless, heart-melting love.
“In this retreat we weaved a new meaning as we came together in love for Divine Rebirth. The tapestry was woven with love, songs, and delight,” smiled Amrita injoy.
On the eve of the creative writing class, a powerful thunderstorm was brewing. As the retreatants read aloud their poetry, prose, and the priceless expressions issued forth from their hearts, the thunder rolled, creating an uncanny coniunctio of microcosm and macrocosm, a beautiful duet between soul and world, through which one could witness lyrical roses blossom, and, like the story of the Buddha, one could hear Gaia’s booming sign of approval. Sat’s performance of Parsifal showed the false hubris of the egoic armor as nothing more than baby pajamas, and Ashoka delivered an unforgettable Yo! Soy Burger rap-attack. These were but a few of the priceless diamonds that were mined from deep within the soul of each yogi.
Ajata, reflecting deep within, commented, “When I’m confronted with Truth, there tends to be turbulence. The repressed rises, the ego’s fantasies mount their defenses, and I’m forced to see where the reality of my Being is resisted most. It’s quite a beautiful happening actually, for it is only in these moments that the narratives about who I am, and what life was, and is, can dissolve into the power and silent presence of the Absolute. That which seemed to be dies to what is. It is the most beautiful moment of Grace, to rest in the Self. And I am eternally grateful to God for every moment spent at this retreat, and for every opportunity to sit in front of Shunyamurti with the Sat Yoga family.”
On the final night of the retreat, at the Sat Yoga yagya, or sacrificial fire, the retreatants threw whatever remained of their egos into the fire. And, of course, the joy that was released in this act of liberation expressed itself in an enchanting series of musical masterpieces, including breathtaking songs, symbolic (and comedic) interpretive dances, instrumental pieces that became instant classics, kirtans—and even a comedic endeavor of trying to draw the moon.
Looking back on the week, Yogiraj remembered, “The ‘Ego Death and Divine Rebirth’ retreat was a precious opportunity to witness the subtle, and not so subtle, workings of the ego mind. Shunyamurti’s insistence on the unreality of ego consciousness was powerful and rattled my cage so that I may never be the same again. The intensive week-long retreat offered heartfelt music and performance, nutritious and delicious meals from Radha’s Kitchen, and the opportunity to create deeper relationships in the Sat Yoga community. The power of the gathering was evident in the transformation of those visiting Arunachala for the first time, yet equally humbling for those longing to be reunited with this sacred land. The wisdom and generosity of Shunyamurti reached deep into the soul, nurturing and provoking the awakening of the truth of our being. These retreats never fail to bring about an essential paradigm shift and the opening for accelerated expansion into the infinite.”
Several other retreatants shared their comments on the week’s events:
“This wonderful retreat helped me greatly to understand that what we think we are is like the foam of the wave of a cosmic intelligence and what we truly are is unseen to what we think we are. Stillness is the key for acceptance and relaxation in this wonderful ocean of bliss. I will cherish this in daily sadhana,” resolved Gambhira.
“I felt Shunyamurti’s teachings on this retreat were really directed to deconstruct all the fallacies that the ego creates about life itself and even about ‘spirituality.’ It was a wholesome opportunity to crumble maya’s edifice and be born again!” exclaimed Fadrique.
“This retreat really eased the weight on my shoulders. I learned to approach life in a new way, with less worry and more joy!” offered Surya.
Viviana shared, “For me the most amazing experience was to live out the values that Sat Yoga clearly define as the real values important in life. Related to this, I was able to clearly see and experience so many other values implied in the way we lived in the Ashram. The experience was so real, that it changed the way I am living now. For example: I am dedicating 30-45 minutes a day to meditate. I am getting up early in the morning to meditate and going to bed early at night. This is a huge, real change in my behavior and the most important thing for me is that I am not struggling to do it; I am really convinced and I have a sincere desire to do it. And this is possible only because of the experience I had in the retreat. It is one thing if someone tells you this is good, and another thing completely to experience it as truly good.”
Manuel shared, “It was quite an experience to realize that when you are walking in the right direction, your true Self starts emerging. It’s a similar feeling to being back home after a long journey abroad. A must-live retreat.”
“The retreat was not what I expected: most of the insights and realizations came days and weeks following the retreat. It might have had something to do with the guided meditations and the way teachings were given. As usual the community was amazing, the environment, the food, the gardens, the silence—everything was in perfect balance to help my ego die,” said Barrie with a smile on his face.
Nirmala concluded, “One of the infinite jewels I left this retreat with is that underneath all of the doing and non-doing, thinking and non-thinking, is the Untouched, Pure, Liberated Self. When the time comes for Grace to descend, it will happen outside of time and can happen at any moment, knowing Thy Self as the entire universe and cosmos, the dreamer and the dream and the screen upon which this all appears is what awaits as an inner reality—as stated in so many ways by numerous saints and sages throughout time. Now it’s time to put this to the test and rest in faith of the Perfection of all that is.”
The joyful performance of the ego death requiem brought with it a peace that will forever remain intimately near. Beneath the surface level, through all the tears and laughter, there remains a silent melody that everyone can subtly hear. With the death of death accomplished, there remains nothing to do and no one to fear. As all beings are manifestations of the Self, every soul is a peer, a great seer, a symbol from God that all beings are infinitely dear. If you listen closely, focusing all your attention on your third ear, you can clearly hear the music of the Hyperdimensional Sphere. Don’t look any further: Bliss is Now; Bliss is Here.
You must leave now, take nothing more, the past is past
Any karma left to reap, well just surrender fast
Yonder lies the ego; it is done
Resting like a fire in the sun
Look at how the Atman’s shining through
And it’s all over now, ego blues
(and thanks to Bob Dylan and of course to Baba Dilaram for the inspired lyrics reworked here)
“This past weekend’s Seminar One shook the foundations of my ego. It revealed to me all the ways in which I have been living in bad faith. It motivated me to make a serious change in the structure and intention of my life. It reminded me of the myopia of my own ego and the expansive divinity of my Real Self. Something awoke within me. I will not fall under the spell of false consciousness again,” resolved one participant from his experience at Sat Yoga’s famous, but rarely offered, and always ego-shattering Seminar One.
“Seminar One: Liberation from the Labyrinth,” began on March 10, 2012, and delivered an entire arsenal of spiritual weaponry with which to combat the infantile ego and its death-driving unconscious and the notorious Censor, the minotaur lurking behind-the-scenes in everyone’s internal labyrinth. Of course, information itself cannot take one all the way to the goal. But knowledge is power, and without the golden thread of Ariadne (the Atman), Theseus (consciousness) cannot find its way out of the labyrinth. Seminar One reminded everyone that that the golden thread has never been lost, but has been hiding in plain sight.
A common error made by those on a spiritual path is to reject every chakra (level of consciousness) except for the Supreme, Chakra Seven, and place a value judgment that everything other than the Absolute is of no worth. This, however, cheats us of the richness of reality and of the path itself, and by trying to short-circuit the transformational process, we actually enact a kind of greed that that ironically pushes us further away from the goal, since the Supreme State is eternally present as the path itself.
To borrow a quote from Alan Watts, “In music, one doesn’t make the end of the composition the point of the composition. If that were so, the best conductors would be those that played fastest. And there would be composers who wrote only finales. People would go to concerts just to hear one crashing chord, because that’s the end. . . . [But the point of the journey] was a musical thing, and you were supposed to sing, or to dance, while the music was being played.” At Seminar One it was again made very clear that the entire journey is pure joy, pure growth, and pure learning, and to consider the end as being the sole source of meaning is actually an obstacle to one’s journey.
The weekend was absolutely packed full of teachings: the structure of the Sat Yoga approach to spirituality (including philosophy, practice, teachings, etc.), the reasons why it behooves one to free oneself from ego-consciousness (aka suffering), and the beauty of developing one’s higher capacities, were among a few of the topics discussed.
The seminar was also filled with wonderful surprises, including original, live music performed by Shivani. Her angelic voice transmitted authentic devotion, yearning, sonorous sweetness, and bliss. We also enjoyed a meditation walk in the Sacred Meditation Garden, led by Saraswati, in which everyone had the opportunity to reconnect with the beauty of nature while being immersed in a state of deep contemplative peace.
As is essential to any Sat Yoga experience, the delectable treats and gourmet meals of Radha’s Kitchen helped everyone digest all of the theoretical knowledge and profound teachings that were given throughout the weekend. Selecting recipes and motifs from all over Asia, the Radha’s Kitchen team incorporated surprise, beauty, health, flavor, and love in every meal.
Throughout the weekend, a wide variety of teachings were given, reflecting the richness and depth of this unique spiritual path. A few of the modules discussed were:
- Carl Jung’s Four Levels of Psyche, which explained the mask of the persona; the false identification with the ego; the fear of who one really is, the shadow; and Jung’s description of who one discovers oneself to be as the spiritual path deepens into the archetypal dimension, the identity Jung referred to as the Self.
- Ego Mind and Sat Mind explained the transfinite benefits of being one with Sat (the Ground of Being) and the neurotic nescience of being identified with the egoic mind;
- The “(Yo) Soy Burger,” which graphed the structure of the ego, including its repressed elements;
- The Seven Realms of Knowledge, which revealed all the socially acceptable—and unacceptable—levels of knowledge, as well as the superconscious shamanic and supreme levels of understanding;
- The Seven Bodies, which showed us how to unsheathe one’s True Being—and the layers of (mis)identification that can show up as symptoms of dis-ease;
- The Four Personality Strategies (and Three Soul Strategies), which revealed the conventional methods of defending oneself against phantasies of aggressive others;
- The Seven Planets of the Soul-er System showed us which egoic planets one has become shipwrecked on and what thoughts orbit one’s mind;
- The Seven Dimensions of Intelligence Development, which explored all of the areas in which Sat Yogis want to develop their capacity for higher intelligence;
- The Sat Yoga Kundalini Map, which revealed the full spectrum of human consciousness, how to locate oneself in psychic space, and how to reach the highest rungs of Jacob’s Ladder.
After every discussion, time was allotted to clear any doubts that the participants had. The discussion periods were both shocking and revealing—and filled with boundless laughter. Topics ranged from technical questions about the teachings, metaphysical questions regarding reincarnation and subtle realms, and practical questions about one’s own sadhana, or spiritual practice.
All in all, “Seminar One: Liberation from the Labyrinth” was an event of unforgettable insights, mind-blowing revelations, and joyful encounters with Truth: two days of realizations that the Censor cannot uproot. It was an experience in which all could empower their spiritual warrior within. It was a happening that produced profound internal changes for everyone. And most importantly, the knowledge and shakti gained from the seminar will keep the fortunate participants forever beyond the pull of the ego’s lethal downward death drive.