“…Oh, for an Ounce of Practice!”

SRV Summer Retreat
by Mahesh Madhav

Swamiji asked us all to give forth one ounce of practice. We certainly partook in more than an ounce during the American River Retreat! I felt the balance of meditation, class, housework, and river play was a perfect mix to each day. We all had a chance to participate in these four activities, which I mapped onto raja, jnana, karma, and bhakti yogas. The retreat really showed us how to live a divine life by bringing these four yogas into practice each day.

class_2In class, we learned there is more to what we call prasad than just eating sanctified food. Prasad has three other aspects which involves steadiness of mind showcased by enthusiasm and courage, the clarity of mood observed by positive attitudes towards all beings, and clarity of spirit which we attain by detaching ourselves from the world. As such, Babaji helped us understand our bodies, and what we put into them, defines what comes out. Eating food that has been properly harvested, processed, prepared, and blessed allows us to fully consume and embody the other aspects of prasad. As part of our karma yoga practice at the retreat house, we each helped make sattvic food by keeping our thoughts centered on the Divine Reality during its preparation, serving, and consuming processes.

Babaji went on to give us the wisdom of Vasishtha. For this lecture on the perpetuation of disease, the underlying punchline was that all disease originates due to embodiment itself!  Well, that doesn’t help us right now in this earthly realm! But we were told the true cure is to quell our desires, in order to stop seeking rebirth. And that is something we can do while we have a body: we can do so through atma vichara and eventually atmajnana. By thought purification, mantra practice, and medicine, we can destroy the diseases afflicting us so that we can spend our time contemplating Brahman and pass our days contentedly.

maheshThe American River Retreat was my first spiritual retreat. After the wonderful time I had, I was left wondering why I had not joined in before. But as Babaji always says, you cannot pick fruit out of season. Well, I am now ripe and I hope to see all the old and new faces at the Divine Mother retreat at Buckhorn Springs this October!