News from the Centre – July 2017

Music in the meditation garden: Tyler and Adam, Svenja (the audience) on the bench.

Hello everyone, and sunny wishes to you all. Summer has finally taken root, and along with it, all the summer events at the Centre. Happy Canada Day!

Daphne Hollins and Yogeshwar Humphry have dived into their new roles as Centre Manager and Operations Manager. They’ve spent a lot of time in meetings, but are also getting to connect with the resident community. In addition to their office roles, they’ve been doing dishes, cutting veggies, making beds, and generally getting to know the Centre from the inside out.

Guru Purnima, a special celebration to honour Baba Hari Dass and all spiritual teachers occurs this year on July 8 at 9:00 am in the Pond Dome. Please join us if you can.

Guru Purnima & Full Moon Yajna

This is the auspicious and holy full moon day on which celebration and homage to the Guru are paid. Guru means “one who removes darkness or ignorance.” Traditionally, this day is set aside for worship of the spiritual teacher and attempting to pay our debt of gratitude by study of the scriptures and practice of the teachings.

The ideal we wish to attain is vividly represented by the full moon. It is at this time the moon receives to the fullest extent the dazzling light of the sun and reflects it perfectly. Thus it is this supreme ideal of fully reflecting the divine splendor that is aimed at through the surrender to and worship of the spiritual guide, through the study of and meditation upon the truths of the teachings. The human mind being purified by service to the Guru and assimilation of the teachings becomes serene and calm and then faithfully reflects the Atman (Pure Consciousness).

The guru is ever by your side – in truth the guru dwells in your heart. You have only to think of the guru with real faith and devotion and you will at once feel the guru’s spiritual presence. Guru Purnima is the time to honour this guide – to begin or to renew our spiritual aim by living our lives in awareness of the choices that can take us to our highest ideals. May all that we have read, seen, heard and learned become, through sadhana, transformed into a continuous outpouring of universal love, ceaseless loving service, and continuous prayer and worship of the divine within all beings.

Through our ancient Vedic ceremony of yajna, we will honour Babaji and all spiritual teachers. May we rededicate ourselves to all that the teachings inspire within us to attain real peace. We offer our gifts from the heart in deep gratitude.

“A person is in bondage by his own consciousness, so he can be free by his own consciousness. It’s only a matter of turning the angle of the mind. If you think you can do it, then you will do it. It takes firm determination. For keeping determination alive, we need regular sadhana, faith, devotion and satsang. Always watch yourself. How desire comes. How a thought builds a long story. How hate, anger and greed come. Watch all these things; this is the real yoga.” ~ Baba Hari Dass

If you are interested in being an offerer at the yajna, and/or helping with preparations or clean up, please contact Rajani 250 537 9537.

Upcoming Programs

Yoga Teacher Training begins on July 6, so our community will increase as both students and teachers arrive. The first session of YTT runs from July 6 – July 19, followed by a second session from August 12 – 22.

Between the two YTT sessions (August 3-7) is our biggest event of the year – ACYR (Annual Community Yoga Retreat). This summer we host our 43rd annual consecutive retreat which continues to be a highlight for many people. There are many, many classes, pranayama and meditation, yoga asana, yoga theory , and a lot of fun events, including the classics like Hanuman Olympics and Latte Da Stage. There will also be a dance, stories, and a special evening concert with Srivani Jade, a renowned Hindustani singer, with Ravi Albright on tabla. Of course there will be the usual great meals plus a wonderful program for children. Registration is open on our website, with early bird prices continuing till July 8. If you haven’t registered yet, do it now!

In the midst of all this, community life continues at the Centre. Here are some recent photos.

The Dogwood tree by the front steps

Kaori and Muriel making dinner

Shambhavi and Santosh (two of the farm team folks)

Farm Update

The farm is looking amazing, and the veggies that are coming out of the farm are delicious!

Watching our beans grow.

Here’s Milo’s farm update:

Well summer is here and mid-day siesta season is upon us.
When we’re not napping…. we’re running around installing our new irrigation system and planting out the last of our heat craving crops! This irrigation is a huge leap for the farm and will increase our production immensely. Come check it out!
We’ll also be breaking new ground this week in preparation for our seed gardens managed by the “Salt Spring Seed Sanctuary”. Island farmers will grow out seed crops and donate a portion to our local seed bank and farmer friends thus ensuring seed security within our community and beyond.
Leaps and bounds this year folks. Thanks for all your support. Onward.

End of School Celebration

The Salt Spring Centre School celebrated the end of this school year with a potluck, followed performances, awards, and a slideshow of many of the events that took place over the course of the school year.

Owl Class (grades 4-5-6)

This Month’s Newsletter Offerings

To give you the flavour of life at the Centre, here are some Ponderings by a Few Karma Yogis at the Centre: Mariel Ahlers, Kaori Maifuchi and Tyler Brush. Each of these people brings something special to our community. Here they talk about their experience and what they’re learning.

In the busyness of life, sometimes we get stressed and forget our inborn purity and goodness. Here is a reminder: Remembering our Innate Goodness. No matter how crazy life in the world gets (and how spun out our minds get), we can come back to the light that’s always shining.

Don’t dwell in the past and don’t worry about the future. Just make your present positive and peaceful. ~ Babaji

With love,

Remembering our Innate Goodness

Baba Hari Dass

We came into this world pure. If you spend time with any newborn baby, you can see they live only in the present moment. A baby may cry when she has physical discomfort – hunger, wet diaper, etc – but she makes no judgements about the world, such as, “Bad mommy. Why isn’t she here yet?” There are no stories.

By the time children are two and a half, their sense of individual ego (the sense of being the centre of the universe) has made its presence known. That’s when words like “no!” and “mine!” start showing up. These sweet children have begun to see themselves as separate from others, with a worldview that has shifted to: I want what I want (now!) and I don’t want that!

It happens to all of us. Over time, the accumulated layers of experience cover our innate purity and goodness. That purity still exists, but we lose sight of it and start thinking that our individual thoughts and stories are who we are.

A gold piece covered with dried mud looks like a rock, but as soon as the mud covering is broken the gold piece shines and is clearly separate from the mind. This body, the mind, the senses, and their creation of worldly illusions are like a covering on the Self. They hide its glory, but the Self is never really affected by them. It is always separate, like a lotus leaf which, when taken out of a pond, doesn’t retain a single drop of water.

Real human nature is truth and love.

How can we unearth ourselves from the years of stories, ideas and judgements we have about ourselves and the world, to come back to our innocence and goodness? It is never too late to shift from the sense of separateness to open-heartedness. However separate you feel from others and from your own goodness, you can practice being kind and gentle with yourself. Being able to let go of the past is a way to be kind to yourself. It lightens the pain you carry around with you when you’re angry or distressed. In releasing the past you come into the present, the only place you can be in peace.

Don’t worry yourself by thinking of the negative things you have done. Do positive things now.

Losing once in the battle doesn’t mean that you can’t win again.

Pema Chodron says, “Spiritual practices awaken our trust that the wisdom and compassion that we need are already within us. They help us to know ourselves: our rough parts and our smooth parts, our passion, aggression, ignorance, and wisdom.”

Without reducing negative qualities, progress in spiritual life is as impossible as carrying water in a sieve.

The mind is purified by meditation, developing good qualities, and selfless service. Once can choose any one or all three. In fact each one includes the other two.

In those moments when we’re feeling stuck, and hopelessness is ruling the day, there are a number of simple actions we can take to shift the angle of our minds – anything that works to remind us that happiness and peace are just around the corner. But first we have to be willing to do something. It can be so tempting to sit in our own unhappiness, but we can break the cycle by going for a walk, listening to music, reading uplifting teachings or visiting with friends. Helping someone else is also an excellent way of shifting our focus.

Q: How does an impure mind purify itself? How can a confused mind gain clarity?
A: Impure mind is a mind dwelling on negative thoughts. When negative thoughts are removed, it’s called pure mind.

The mind is purified by meditation, developing good qualities, and selfless service. Once can choose any one or all three. In fact each one includes the other two.

Once our hearts begin to open, we can start seeing the glass as half full again, and we are ready to step back into a formal practice.

Failure is the foundation of success. We learn how to achieve success by failing in our efforts. The main thing is not to stop the effort.

Cultivate a sympathetic heart, humility in dealings and selflessness in actions. If these are practiced with earnestness and sincerity, then you will win the race of life.

If you work on Yoga, Yoga will work on you.

Wish you happy.

Contributed by Sharada
All quotes in italics are from writings by Baba Hari Dass.

Sharada-Portrait-2016 Sharada Filkow, a student of classical ashtanga yoga since the early 70s, is one of the founding members of the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga, where she has lived for many years, serving as a karma yogi, teacher and mentor.

Karma Yogi Ponderings

Ponderings by a few karma yogis at the Centre

Here are the prompts people were given to stimulate some reflections about their lives at the Centre. You may want to consider these questions yourself (perhaps with a little revision to fit your life).

  • What have been the highlights of your time at the Centre so far?
  • What have you learned – about yourself, yoga practice, living in community?
  • What teachings and practices have inspired you?

Three of our current karma yogis have shared some of their reflections about how their experiences of living and working at the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga have contributed to their lives and their outlook on life.

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Mariel Ahlers, Kaori Makifuchi and Tyler Brush.

Mariel Ahlers

It’s hard to narrow down the highlights of my time here so far – there have been so many! Meeting a whole community of like minded people was a major highlight, as well as getting to explore the beautiful centre grounds. Another highlight for me is getting to spend all day, every day outside with my hands in the dirt. And last but not least, the amazing food here at the centre continues to be a highlight every day!

The biggest thing I have learned is that living harmoniously in community is indeed possible and can in fact be an extremely enriching experience. On a more personal note, I am learning to slow down and live in the moment. And I continue to learn and be inspired by the skills, experience and kindness of everyone around me.

I am incredibly inspired when I hear the elders tell stories of the early days of the centre and the teachings that Baba Hari Dass imparted, both through his actions and words. I am also inspired by the weekly yoga theory classes for providing a deeper understanding of Karma Yoga and the foundational principles of the centre. And attending Kirtan and Satsang always leaves me inspired on a spiritual and emotional level.

Kaori Makifuchi

Every day IS practice !

I really enjoy this peaceful and beautiful land. Although it’s such a wonderful place, I have some difficulty. Being in the community is sometimes hard for me because of my language problem between Japanese and English. Sometimes I feel disconnected with everyone and get lost but every time, people help me and I really appreciate it. I believe every time I develop awareness, I can understand myself deeper and be more shanti.

Our kitchen is really sattvic, we can practice yoga asana and pranayama whenever we want, and people here are knowledgeable. So it’s the best place to practice yogic life.

I’ve learned non-attachment about food, other people’s emotions and my own emotions. Every awareness helps me know about myself!

I don’t have an exact answer about what teachings and practices have inspired me – just that the people and environment here are always the teacher.

lots of love

Tyler Brush

To pick just a few highlights from my time at the centre kind of a difficult task, as the entire experience of living and being here has been extraordinary. With that said, I think the biggest things for me have been: The food, so full of love and vitality. The people, beautiful, colourful, and inspiring. The deep connection, to nature, to god, and to myself.

Before coming here I didn’t know very much about yoga aside from the physical, “on the mat” practice, which I’d tried briefly in my youth.I certainly wouldn’t have considered myself as a yogi. I’ve now learned, that the spiritual shift in my life’s direction in the years leading up to my arrival here was very much yoga,and without even knowing it, i had been walking the path of a yogi.

“As soon as a person starts thinking, ‘I want to be a better person,’ that is the start of yoga”- Babaji

Karma yoga and silence have been the most important practices for me. Service had emerged as an important theme in my life long before I knew it had another name, and being in a place where my base needs are met has enabled me to give so much more freely of myself. Also, to witness the powerful effects of karma yoga on this land, and all the people who have called it home (even for a weekend,) has solidly cemented its value in my heart.

Silence has been more of an internal practice for me than the actual act of not speaking. Being an introvert, and dealing with a certain degree of social anxiety, I knew I would face some challenges with maintaining the level of personal space necessary for my well being, while living in such a (sometimes) busy environment. However, with the help of a consistent morning practice (a big part being a prayerful, meditative walk, which I’ve dubbed, “my coffee date with god,”) Ive been able to find a beautiful silence within, even when surrounded with the buzzing activity of the centre. To say I feel blessed to be here would be an understatement, but I guess those are the best words available. Namaste!