This past Sunday the Centre hosted Swami Santatmananda, the resident acharya at the Swami Dayananda Ashram in Rishikesh. Ahead of satsang and the community dinner he gave an introductory talk on Vedanta to about a hundred people. Visits such as this are inspiring and form an important part of the program the Centre offers to both its community members and Salt Spring Islanders. Previous visitors have included the eminent Tibetan Buddhist, Garchen Rimpoche, Yogi Amrit Desai, the founder of Kripalu, Swami Pragyapad from the Bangalore Art of Living ashram, and Swamis Mangalananda and Maheshananda. Last year we were honoured with a visit by Ramji a western Vedantist associated with Ramana Maharshi’s ashram whose irreverent style was in marked contrast to the classically-trained Swami Santatmananda. The recent Buddhist celebration, Wesak, also attracted about a hundred of Salt Spring’s Buddhists to the Centre. These are large numbers for a small island – if these events were to take place in Vancouver and attract a similar percentage of the population, attendance would be 20,000! The Centre’s eclectic embracing of different spiritual traditions follows Babaji, who, while teaching the classical form of ashtanga yoga, has always encouraged a broad acceptance of all genuine paths. As Babaji has said, echoing the great Indian saint, Ramakrishna: “Everyone’s way of finding god is a religion, so there are as many religions as there are individuals.”
This week we welcome into the Centre’s working yoga family a large new group of karma yogis. Some of these newcomers have made considerable sacrifices in their lives to be here for three months, perhaps leaving family and friends, jobs and homes to bravely step into a somewhat unknown situation. Fortunately, experience shows that they will probably settle here very quickly, make deep friendships, enjoy their stay immensely and for some, have their lives changed dramatically for the better. Given these lasting friendships and the fact that many past karma yogis return to spend more time at the Centre, we could start a regular Newsletter section (perhaps called KY Corner?), in which to share news of the comings and goings of our KYs. If you think this is a good idea, please send us your KY updates so we can answer that frequent question: “Whatever happened to so-and-so?”
The new KYs will be in action quickly as we move into peak program season. Personal retreat numbers will be increasing steadily to fill in the days between our busy weekend programs. Dharma Sara’s Annual General Meeting, June 16th is part of a special weekend called “Keeping the Flame Burning” in which we will highlight Babaji’s teachings with experience and insight provided by long-term practitioners. The Yoga Teacher Training program begins in a month (we still have space available if you have been delaying your decision). And it’s time to think about the Annual Community Yoga Retreat, August 2nd – 6th. The registration forms for all these programs are on-line.