Ashram Life

After making our visa jump to Thailand, we returned to the ashram excited to be back. When we left for Thailand, we didn’t realize how accustomed we’d become to the peace and quiet of the ashram. After only three days in Bangkok, we’d had our fill of excitement, and hurried back to the safe haven of ashram life.

An ashram is a special place, set apart from the hustle and bustle of worldly life. It is a place where men and women can focus on spiritual teachings and engage in spiritual practice free from the usual distractions of daily life in the world. The walls around an ashram are not meant to keep people inside but are there to keep the distractions of the world out. An ashram is a sacred place.

Life in an ashram is simple. In the outer world, we’re surrounded by constant change and complexity. Our awareness is impinged upon by constant stimulation. This barrage of mental and emotional stimulation keeps the ocean of our mind turbulent, thereby disallowing the mind to settle down so that we can be aware of our true inner nature, the divinity within. In an ashram we are protected from this over-stimulation, making it easier to experience the inner silence in which we become aware of satchitananda – truth, consciousness and bliss.

When one arrives at an ashram, they carry more baggage than the suitcases that they bring with them. They also carry the baggage of the world, discordant energies stored in their mental, emotional and physical bodies. Life in the ashram gives us a chance to abandon these mental and emotional habits as well as the physical tensions that we take for granted in the outer world. Continuing to watch television, read the newspaper and surf the internet only serves to slow down this mental, emotional and physical purification.

Our time at the ashram is precious. We will not be in the ashram forever. The world will still be there when we leave and return to the outside world. It’s important to use our time in the ashram wisely and to fully utilize it. Letting go of the distractions of the world will make it easier to get the full value of our time spent at the ashram.

An ashram is not a place for dating. It is not Club Med. We don’t go to an ashram to find a mate although deep soul connections can take place. It is inappropriate to bring the distraction of romantic flirtation into such a sacred environment. Practically everyone has experienced heartbreak. Often these emotional wounds have occurred in romantic relationships. An ashram is a place to heal and to renew oneself so it is wise to take a vacation from romantic involvement. An ashram is not a place to go to find the perfect person but rather to become a better person our self.

As our own process of purification proceeds, on some days we may feel more peaceful and on some days we may feel rough. When we do housecleaning, a lot of dust gets stirred up. In the end the house is cleaner but, in the process of cleaning, the house may feel temporarily dirtier. Likewise, while our mental, emotional and physical bodies are purifying, we may from time to time experience roughness, irritation and frustration. It is important to be patient with our self and with others and to allow these feelings to pass.

It is also important not to expose our friends at the ashram to the roughness we experience during purification. We have a duty to protect others from our garbage. When throwing out our garbage at home, we don’t take it to our neighbors to show them what we are throwing out. We simple wrap it and discard it. Exposing our friends to our own garbage just pollutes their awareness and destroys their inner peace.

Ashrams are not meant to be permanent residences but are rather places to stay for a limited time in order to grow spiritually. The lessons learned in the ashram are then taken back into the world to be applied in daily life. The ashram is not the goal. It is not an escape from the world. It is a protected spiritual laboratory where one can discover the inner mechanics of spiritual life in order to transform oneself and thereby the world.

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