Monday Morning Greetings 2019 #34 – Retreats! Retreats! You Need Retreats!

August 26th, 2019

I think most everyone who reads this – I know my audience – has spiritual aspirations. All, with perhaps a few exceptions, face the same problem to one degree or another. The world today is generally in opposition to that aspiration. It can wear one’s spiritual life down. The challenge is nothing new. What to do?


“Retreats, retreats, you need retreats!” I remember this sage-like advice from a mentor when a friend of mine described to him his insane schedule as a professional musician, which severely compromised his regulation and sādhana.


We just finished our 7th annual Bhakti Immersion Retreat.[1] The effect on people was profound. It inspired me to revisit the question, “Why retreats?”



To move forward in spiritual life you need faith. Faith is not theoretical or blind; it is a trust based on experience. What experience? An experience that confirms that the goal of our practice is indeed sublime. But how to get a sense of that? We need just a drop of that sublimity. How to get that realization? Realization only comes by practice, concentration without break over a period of time. Spiritual retreats afford that opportunity, a rare few days in immersion. If you are sincere and take advantage, it works. The sublimity one feels gives one hope to move forward in one’s practices while perhaps still in a less than conducive situation. “Retreats! retreats! You need retreats!”



One of my main objectives in organizing retreats is to give the participants the feeling of community, a belonging to something greater than oneself that allows one to embrace a common interest over a selfish one. That is especially important for one on the path of devotion, for true bhakti only manifests in the heart of one who goes beyond self-centeredness. Only by such transcendence can we experience and expand our joy, like playing in a symphony where so many talented people sacrifice the spotlight to produce and relish something far greater than they can produce by themselves. Unfortunately, in today’s world, the experience of community is increasingly rare. Often, even our spiritual get-togethers become just crowds, not communities, a gathering of people of separate interests where, unfortunately, we are forced to remain guarded despite sharing a similar faith. Joining an inspiring retreat can therefore be life changing by fostering spiritual community, the place where bhakti easily seeps into the open hearts. “Retreats, retreats, you need retreats!”



Living in the world has a kind of materialistic momentum where our selfish needs grow incrementally without us even realizing the subtle expansion of our entanglement. I therefore like to fast on ekādaśīs, which gives me a perspective on how little I actually need. In a similar way we need retreats to break the momentum of materialistic life and thwart the imperceptible snowballing of illusion.

Feeling stuck in your spiritual life and overwhelmed by day-to-day life? “Retreats, retreats, you need retreats!”



[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CJF-7JL1ys

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