“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 email@example.com 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.
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.