In the Indian tradition, we have always observed that every spiritual organisation has an ashram away from humdrum city life. Around Pune we have the ashrams of Yogoda Satsanga Society and Chinmaya Mission, to name but a few in addition to our own. They all have centres in the city where people can come easily. What, then, is the need for these huge properties outside Pune? Why do we need to go these places when we have a centre next door that meets all our spiritual needs for satsang and group activity?
In my last visit to our ashram near Watunde Village, I found that since no retreat was going on I had plenty of time to myself. During my 3-day visit, I slowly started becoming aware of my inner world – what I was thinking while walking, doing daily chores, and bathing. I was acutely aware of the constant mental churning going on inside me unconsciously. Away from city vibrations, it was as if I were seeing myself in a mirror. But how would all this help me?
Early one morning while doing my breathing exercises, my thoughts suddenly turned to an action of mine that I deeply regretted. I realised there was deep associated guilt and also fear as to how it would have an impact on my future life. Suddenly, out of the blue, came an inner realisation of what I was doing: I was regretting my mistakes, but out of the negative energy of guilt I was still repeating them. In that instant, my mind closed itself to the guilt. I knew what was important was TODAY. “Today I shall not repeat that habit. Yesterday and tomorrow I give to Guru.” My job was to concentrate only on today.
In that instant, the problem that had seemed to overwhelm me just evaporated. What had happened? I knew these teachings all along. What had changed? My Guru had found a way of reaching me in my self-created chaos. A window had been created for and by him.
We are all at different levels of evolution. Unless we reach that level where we can tap effortlessly into our Guru’s power, we need places where it’s easier to be receptive to his voice.
It’s good that we can attend retreats at our Retreat center where we can imbibe the teachings on a deeper level. But we also need to spend time there by ourselves: a few days at regular intervals meditating, serving, connecting to Guru. This will surely accelerate our spiritual growth and transform us.