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Welcome to the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat

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Uploaded on Jan 28, 2011

What does it mean to be on the spiritual path? A common notion is that spirituality means dedication to certain spiritual practices, particularly meditation, and attainment of spiritual experiences. However, for Swami Vishnudevananda, spirituality meant much more than that. It meant being a servant of humanity. While he did not minimize the importance of spiritual experiences, for him, they were only a means to an end. Whenever a student came to him, describing some profound spiritual experience that he had, Swamiji's immediate response was to assign to that student a big karma yoga project. Swamiji believed that a true spiritual experience must result in a desire to serve others. His own life was a perfect demonstration of this principle. The intense yogic practice he did in the Himalayas during his early years resulted in profound spiritual attainments and a tremendous amount of spiritual energy. These were utilized entirely for the service of humanity. With this energy, he travelled to the West and created one of the largest yoga organizations in the world, which continues to grow and which serves hundreds of thousands of people to this day. Swami Vishnudevananda did all this singlehanded and against all odds. He sacrificed his own body, health and life for this purpose, offering his spiritual attainments to God in the form of service to humankind.

And he taught us to do the same. He taught us that the only way to progress on the spiritual path is to help others on their path. He said that our spiritual success is not "ours" but is given to us through Grace so that we can share it with others. He explained that the more selfless we are, the more this Grace will shower upon us. He always prayed that whatever we receive, be it knowledge, experience or spiritual transformation, we never keep it for ourselves, but always share it with others.

This prayer was in our minds as we designed the 2010/2011 program presented in the following pages. By bringing together leading spiritual teachers, healers and artists from all traditions, we wished to ensure that with each visit to the ashram you will grow more in spiritual knowledge, inner-peace and spiritual energy. Following Swami Vishnudevananda's prayer, we wish that whatever you receive, you would share with others.

Just like food is needed for the body, yoga is needed for the soul. Because yoga means union, and union is love, and love is that thing which sustains us all. It is the essence of this universe and also the essence of you. I pray that your next visit to the ashram will be another step in discovering this ultimate truth. I wish you a year full of love, peace, joy and unity and look forward to seeing you at the ashram.

Om Shanti, Om Peace

Swami Swaroopananda, Director

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