Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ashram... spiritual laboratory









Recently one of my friends decided to join Swami Nithyananda's ashram (monastery). This decision of his became quite a bit of news amongst his relatives and friends. Many people ask a common question, 'why do we have to join the ashram to grow spiritually? Can't we progress by staying out?'

A very valid question indeed and a debatable one also... Anyways let me jot down some points what Swami Nithyananda says about this. First of all we must understand what the purpose of an ashram is. Only then can we really see the reason for someone joining it.

As soon as we step out of our house, or even inside the house when we switch on the TV, we are continuously filled with three base emotions - fear, greed and lust. Everywhere around us, the society tries to instill one of these three emotions inside us. If we see carefully, even the ideas of peace and love that the society promotes is based on fear and greed. Every hoarding, every advertisement, everything that happens and exists outside us constantly feeds us with these emotions.

With these around us, our unconscious mind that works million times faster than our conscious mind picks up all these without even we knowing. We think we are not getting affected or influenced by any of these but the truth is our unconscious has already registered it. We are constantly adding ourselves with these three emotions knowingly or unknowingly (most of the times).

Swami Nithyananda says, 'Ashram is an energy center, a spiritual incubator, where inner science can be studied, experimented with and experienced.' An ashram provides conducive environment for one to fill oneself with love and peace and nothing else. That is the purpose of an ashram... to help one be in the constant thought of enlightenment, in the continuous contemplation of the truth.

This is the reason why an ashram is ideal place for spiritual growth.

Now, coming to the next question, 'Can't we progress by staying out?' We can but we need to be sure that we are not affected by these emotions that surround us in our day to day life outside. We need to answer to ourselves honestly, 'are we totally unaffected by the society and its conditionings?' If the answer is true, then we can very well be living outside and progress in our spiritual journey. Unfortunately, for most of us, the answer is in the negative...

And the second question we have to answer to ourselves is, 'can we maintain the intensity of seeking while staying out? Can the quest of seeking the truth be constantly intensified in us?' Swami Nithyananda says, 'when the question becomes a quest, when the urge becomes urgent, enlightenment just happens...' An ashram creates the intense atmosphere for seeking the truth. If one can stay out and keep the quest burn constantly in oneself, he/she is truly exceptional...

We sit outside and pass judgments about people in there; we evaluate them... All I am saying we have no right to comment on them or talk about them because they are more courageous and bolder than us to go in there for the truth and enlightenment...

Before ending, I would like to say that I am not asking everyone to go an ashram. That is not the point. Infact Swami Nithyananda turns down many requests of joining ashram because He knows when a person is really ready to enter an ashram. All I want to convey is we are in no position to question or doubt or evaluate or talk about people who have taken the gutsy step going all out for the Ultimate...

Hats off to them...

1 comment:

Ma Nithya Arunananda said...

Dear Arpana...that was indeed a touching and inspiring note there. one can celebrate joy only by slipping in the well of joy, not otherwise.. u cud chk out a poem n this blog.. http://nithyapoems.blogspot.com which one of the devotees wrote a while ago. Poem title - "Slip In and Celebrate"