Every two weeks or so, Swamiji gives an hour of discourse, guided meditation and answers questions online. These Zoom transmissions used to be found as individual posts on this blog, but they are now to be found on a new system that the ashram is beginning to use. This post is a link to that system. All Swamiji’s previous satsangs plus the latest ones can be found here.
We re-started residential courses a couple of weeks back, after being closed to visitors for 18 months …. Actual people walking through the gate, unpacking their bags, settling in, walking the hills, breathing mountain air. Welcome back.
We’ve been so geared up for online courses we all had to refresh our minds to what we had to do to be ready to welcome actual humans rather than virtual humans
No no no…. …..that’s not the kind of ‘virtual’ human I meant….. I meant real humans but on the other end of a Zoom transmission. Although …….. this guy does have a certain …. familiarity….
Lisa in the front office actually set off the fire alarms, working so hard, fingers flying across the keyboard, until the computer started to go on fire….. schedules, timetables, bookings, cancellations, queries, questions, quibbles…..
Sally, our new cook from Australia, prepares a delicious vegetarian lunch, from…er… plants.
No! sorry, Sally looks after all the rooms and the housekeeping, and the cleaning, and sweeping, and mopping, sweetly singing the whilst.
James, our new cook, gathers vegetation for some delicious vegetarian meals for our guests during their stay……
Nope… sorry… wrong again, He is of course the gardener making the place look super good, soaking up the hot hot sunshine of our lush semi-tropical climate.
Here they are at last! The cooks! Sangita, and Sahara cooking a delicious vegetarian meal from vegetables.
finely crafted recipes from the cuisine of ashrams worldwide, with spices from the orient and delicate…. (contd. page 94)
Our friend here was entrusted with the job of duplicating the tutors’ course notes for the entire ten days. Here he is tearing the ashram apart in a desperate, and ultimately futile, attempt to find out where he might have lost them….
‘Well can’t you just….’?
‘No! just making stuff up is NOT an option!’
Here’s Swami Satyadaya and Tulsi, ashram manager, responding to my request for …….a …… meaningful role for myself in the proceedings
I retreat to the creative hub of the ashram, my studio, to write this blog post, and plan my immediate return to Africa.
Welcome back everyone. Let’s hope this is a return to some kind of normality. The last two years have allowed us to develop our skills into online teaching, both real-time courses on Zoom, and also recorded course material for self study in your own time. But above all we try to be a centre of excellence in Yoga, Tantra and Advaita, with also the possibility of residential courses. Please be welcome to enjoy what we have to offer.
Swami Nishchalananda gave this satsang online, to coincide with the festival which celebrates the Guru principle in the Yogic tradition. There are of course other spiritual traditions that also extol the virtues of the Teacher-Student relationship.
After the statement that we do not need a Guru, this is further explained. The Guru Disciple principle is fundamental, actually in almost any subject and not just spirituality. But, in the spiritual journey we have to include the ‘inner’ Guru as central. So the Guru may be a person, something in nature, or simply, that inner Guru which is none other than Conscious Presence as the source of wisdom and inspiration. It is that which resonates with any external Guru, which is why Swamiji says….
The best preparation for finding the Guru is preparing yourself by practice, be that Meditation, Yoga or Reflection.
The extension of this idea of Conscious Presence as the inner Guru can lead to the astonishing conclusion that actually, there is only one Guru, because Conscious Presence, Awareness, transcends the boundaries of individuality.
There is no doubt that some of us need a physical person as Teacher, maybe because we are so out of touch with the inner Guru. But whatever aspect of the Guru principle to which we relate, Swamiji goes on to say that, ‘The function of the Guru is not to teach us anything, but to remove our concepts and our blockages’
A discussion of the Guru principle in terms of the paradigm of the Chakras, tells us that there is a chakra between the intuitive / mind knowledge of Agya chakra, and the crown chakra Sahasrara, (which represents transcendence beyond individuality). This is the Guru Chakra, whose function is to draw us into realising the essence (Tattwa) of the Guru principle.
Swamiji responds to questions after this discourse, and finishes with a guided meditation.
In this satsang Swamiji recommends the medicine of daily awe and wonder to counteract the negative effects of so much fear in the collective psyche at this time. 5 minutes of awe and wonder in the face of nature’s beauty – a flower, a moving vista, the starlit sky – can do wonders for the soul, he reminds us, lifting our spirits generally as well as creating an openness that we can take into our more formal practice. As always, satsang closes with a Q&A.
In this lovely satsang full of depth and humour, Swamiji discourses on the Yoga Sutras from a very humane perspective. He emphasises that the path of the yogi is not one of dis-identification with the body and personality in favour of the more fundamental identification with the underlying conscious presence. Identification with the person is not ‘wrong’, he assures us. It is only exclusive identification with the person that leads to a limiting and ultimately frustrating experience. But by expanding our sense of self to encompass both the human being that we are and the more fundamental reality of conscious presence, we can experience greater freedom and resilience in our lives. There follows a meditation and Q&A.
The latest in the series of the bi-weekly Friday evening Satsangs, given on 4th December 2020, and hosted by Mandala Yoga Ashram.
Swamiji delivered a thought-provoking Satsang highlighting that, whether we like it or not, the experience of change is a fundamental aspect of our embodied experience. He was also clear that as fundamental, if not more, is the ‘conscious presence’, the Reality that underlies all that appears to change. He challenged us to accept or to realise that fundamentally nothing changes, that fundamentally all that appears to change is a reflection or expression of That which Is.
He then moved on to discuss the ways in which human behaviour has negatively impacted Mother Earth/’Gaia’ and how this pandemic may help us in changing our behaviours towards the environment, how we travel, what we eat etc?
Ultimately Swamiji presented us with the paradox that whilst this planet is of vital importance, in terms of our place in the universe, it is also insignificant and that ultimately all that appears as form will change and pass.
Questions were asked and a guided meditation was given to finish.
Swami Nishchalananada made this movie down on the seashore. Please enjoy, and hopefully allow it to inspire you wherever you are, in nature, or in the middle of a busy town or city. It’s the same joy because it comes from within.