Seattle Fall Retreat

“The True Gift”

Our IdealsLiving on the East Coast, I have the grace of being with Babaji only once a year. Therefore, my participation in the Seattle Retreat was a rare boon, not only for the direct teachings of Self-knowledge, but especially for basking in the guru’s boundless love. It is difficult to express how joyful that was. Also, I cherished the time spent with my sangha and fellow aspirants. On further reflection, I realize that the benefits came not just during the retreat itself, but also the 2 days before and after when I was able to experience daily life at the ashrama in Portland. Throughout the week I was able to witness unceasing devotion to God in thought & service, not only through Babaji, but also in Loke and Annapurna as well. It was inspiring to see how multiple responsibilities were lovingly performed with calmness and efficiency. I departed with overwhelming happiness, feeling as though nothing could ever disturb my equanimity again. But the best part of the gift was yet to be realized. Various assaults to the little ego began as soon as I arrived at the airport for my return trip home (even with the blessing of my guru as chauffeur!). Much to my dismay I found that my discrimination and renunciation were not yet as permanently refined as I had hoped, yet I discovered that when I recalled the lofty experiences of that week, I could re-align my thoughts and feelings to a higher spiritual plane. This process still works even today, a month later. In this way I am realizing a new aspect of how the earthly guru can lead one to the Ishta (or to one’s chosen concept of God). One of the precious teachings at the retreat concerned various types of meditation — contemplation on God’s Lila (or play on earth) — that especially appealed to me. I have readily included it in my sadhana, but it is further enriched by this frequent remembrance of the visit with my living guru. This memory opens up my heart and gives me aspiration towards that still-needed preliminary step beyond matter to spirit. That is the true gift — that the positive effect of my retreat is not over, but, on the contrary, will continue to awaken me to my True Self throughout the year, until my next blessed visit. Jai Ma!

Akshay Akshaya-bhakti