60s & Further
Past, Present and Future
Part IV

Ashrams and Spiritual Communities

Ashrams and Spiritual Communities

An Ashram (Pronounced "aashram") in ancient India was a Hindu hermitage where sages lived in peace and tranquility amidst nature.
Spiritual and physical exercises, such as the various forms of Yoga, were regularly performed by the hermitage residents.
Other sacrifices and penances, such as Yajnas were also performed.
Many Ashrams also served as Gurukuls or residential schools for children.

The word ashram is derived from the Sanskrit term "aashraya", which means protection.

Ashrams have been a powerful symbol throughout Hindu history and theology.
Most Hindu kings until the medieval ages are known to have had a sage who would advise the royal family in spiritual matters,
or in times of crisis, who was called the rajguru which literally translates to royal teacher.
A world-weary emperor going to this guru's ashram,
and finding solace and tranquility, is a recurring motif in many folktales and legends of ancient India.

Ashrams were usually located far from human habitation,
inside forests or mountainous regions,
amidst refreshing natural surroundings conducive to spiritual instruction and meditation.

Sometimes, the word is used as a synonym of matha,
but mathas are generally more hierarchical and rule-bound than ashrams,
belonging to ancient orders of Hindu sadhus (Renunciants who are still searching for realization, as opposed to Rishis who have found it.)

Today, the term ashram is used to refer to an intentional community formed primarily
for spiritual upliftment of its members, often headed by a religious leader or mystic.

A number of Ashrams have been founded in India in the 20th century as well,
most notably the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad which served as Mahatma Gandhi's headquarters
during the long struggle for India's independence and Aurobindo Ashram,
founded in Pondicherry by the Bengali revolutionary-turned-Hindu-mystic Aurobindo Ghosh.

Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi Website
For books of Gandhiji please visit my:
Spiritual Teacher Bookstore.

Sevagram Ashram
Gandhiji stayed from 1936 to 1948 at Sevagram Ashram
and carried out all his activities from this ashram during that period.

"You cannot build nonviolence on a factory civilization, but it can be built on self-contained villages...
Rural economy as I have conceived it, eschews exploitation altogether, and exploitation is the essence of violence.
You have, therefore, to be rural-minded before you can be non-violent, and to be rural-minded you have to have faith in the spinning wheel.

We have to make a choice between India of the villages that are as ancient as herself and India of the cities which are a creation of foreign domination.
Today the cities dominate and drain the villages so that they are crumbling to ruin.
My Khadi mentality tells me that cities must subserve villages when that domination goes.
Exploiting of villages is itself organized violence.
If we want Swaraj to be built on nonviolence, we will have to give the villages their proper place."

-M.K. Gandhi'

The Lama Foundation
The Lama Foundation Website

Lama Foundation is: a "community", a not-for profit organization, and a "spiritual home" to many.
Our Mission is to be both a sustainable spiritual community as well as an educational center dedicated to all spiritual paths.

Situated about 20 miles north of Taos, New Mexico, on just under 110 acres at 8600 feet, Lama Foundation is almost completely surrounded by Carson National Forrest, giving one the feeling of being "way out there", or away from civilization. There are vistas, sunsets, pristine mountain-spring water, vegetarian cooking, and a wide variety of animals that share the mountain with the community.

Founded in 1967, Lama Foundation is one of the oldest Intentional Communities in America. It was founded as a place where high-level teachers could offer teachings in America, and evolved into a summer retreat center in the 1970's. A mountain fire in 1996 destroyed most of the buildings and surrounding forest, but re-building efforts and permaculture system design have brought about new buildings and new infrastructure, although we still have a ways to go.

There is no resident spiritual teacher, but instead a group of "residents" (about 12 people, give or take each year) take on the day-to-day operations as well as spiritual attunement of the community. The community leadership is rotated amongst the residents through a position called the "Watch," and the flavor of the community changes with each new Watch.

Ram Dass collaborated with Lama residents to create his seminal volume “Be Here Now” in 1970. The Sufi Saint Murshid Samuel Lewis chose Lama Foundation as his final resting place in 1971. There is a long list of other spiritual teachers who have taught at Lama including: Stephen Levine, Jack Kornfield, Baba Hari Dass, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Father Thomas Keating, Rabbi Zalman Shachter-Shalomi, and Joshu Sasaki Roshi.

Each summer, Lama still offers a diverse calendar of retreats and educational programs.
There are also Hermitages available year-round. (see photo above this review)

Neem Karoli Baba Ashram in Taos New Mexico
NKB Ashram Website

When asked how the heart could be purified, Maharji said,
"Always Speak the Truth".

Taos Hanuman Temple is within the Sri Neem Karoli Baba Ashram in Taos, New Mexico. The Taos Hanuman Temple is operated by western devotees of Neem Karoli Baba. Of the many gathering places of Neem Karoli Baba satsang in America, Neem Karoli Baba Ashram in Taos is the home of Sri Taos Hanuman-ji, a most unique and loveable murti-(statue).

Maharaj-ji's Taos Hanuman Temple is located at 7000-ft. elevation
in the Sangre de Christo (Blood of Christ) Range of the Rocky Mountains.
Taos is a small town noted as a "spiritual center".
Thousands of Hindus from all over the world make pilgrimages to have the darshan of Sri Taos Hanuman-ji.

"The new temple for Hanuman will be a beacon that-radiates the light of Hanuman.
Hanuman, in his new temple, will draw many Eastern and Western devotees
from around the country. Maharaj-ji serves as a deep pure well that gives pure water...." - Ram Dass

"The Hindu tradition recognizes the ashram/temple as the guru's body. The ashram is Maharaj-ji's body.
When we gather, we bring together all of our separate love of Maharaj-ji.

This collective love takes form through kirtan, making chai, serving somebody, the children's laughter,
and the preparation of food as prasad (one of the tenets of Maharai-ji is to feed people).
To make this a reality, we come together on scheduled occasions." - Ram Dass

The Neem Karoli Baba Ashram facilities are provided to support
devotional activities such as selfless service (seva), kirtan, meditation, satsang and the offering of food (prasad).

Sri Neem Karoli Baba

Kripalu in Lenox, Massachusetts USA
Kripalu Website

Kripalu is a health and yoga center located in Lenox, Massachusetts.
The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health had its beginnings in 1966
when Yogi Amrit Desai founded the Yoga Society of Pennsylvania,
a nonprofit organization providing yoga classes and training for yoga teachers.

The name of the Society was later changed to Kripalu Yoga Fellowship ("Kripalu"),
the nonprofit and charitable organization that still operates Kripalu Center.
The Fellowship and Center are not related to Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj of Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat.

Yogi Desai came from the small village of Halol in India.
There, from the age of 15, he enjoyed a close personal relationship with his guru Swami Kripalvananda, for whom Kripalu Center is named.

Swami Kripalu is more commonly referred to as Bapuji, or "beloved grandfather."
He was a highly renowned master of kundalini yoga as well as a moving speaker, prolific writer, and talented musician.
Bapuji spent four years in America (1977-1981) where he taught and practiced intense yoga and meditation.
His teachings still serve as the foundation of Kripalu's approach to yoga and spiritual life.

Retreat and Renewal Program
, you can mix yoga and meditation classes with spa treatments or acupuncture sessions.
Meals are gourmet vegetarian, and the accommodations, in a former Jesuit seminary,
are either dorm-style bunks or minimalist private rooms.

Ananda Village in Nevada City, California
Ananda's Website

From his youth, Ananda's founder, Swami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters) had dreamed of creating small communities based on cooperation and high ideals. When he became Yogananda's disciple in 1948, he discovered that Yogananda, too, was committed to the concept of "World Brotherhood Colonies." Kriyananda vowed to do his utmost to make this dream a reality.

In 1968 Kriyananda began the fulfillment of Yogananda's vision
with the establishment of Ananda Village, located near Nevada City, California.

Yogananda taught that what the world needs is a blend of the best qualities of the East and West: the spiritual insight of the East and the practical efficiency of the West. One without the other leads to a society barren of human fulfillment, but a balance of the two can bring peace, harmony, prosperity, and happiness. Yogananda often predicted that world brotherhood colonies, based on the twin principles of "plain living and high thinking," would be the social pattern for the future.

Music is an integral part of the Ananda experience. From choral music to private chanting and listening, our music can be used as a way to approach life that is uplifting, inspiring and spiritually beneficial. Kriyananda has composed over 400 musical pieces, and is author of more than 80 books. The books and music he has written carry on Yogananda's tradition of offering practical ways to bring spirituality into everyday life.

The Ananda community is situated on 840 acres of meadows and forests
amidst the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in northern California.
Today, 250 people reside here, including adults and children of all ages.

Paramahansa Yogananda
Yogananda Guest Tribute

Yoganandaji's Official SRF Biography

Satchidananda Ashram in Virginia
Whether you come as a program participant, a guest, a Living Yoga Trainee, or a Karma Yogi, your experience at Satchidananda Ashram, Yogaville will be unforgettable. Yogaville is a very special place. Situated in the rolling Virginia countryside on the banks of the James river with the Blue Ridge Mountains as a majestic backdrop to the west, it encompasses almost 1,000 acres of serene, wooded landscape with hundreds of varieties of trees and wildflowers.

Our community consists of some of the most loving and diverse people you could ever meet. We have come together from a wide range of different faiths, backgrounds, and nationalities to live the simple, yet profound, teachings of Integral Yoga. Our goal is to realize the spiritual unity behind all the diversity in the world and to live harmoniously as one Universal family while enjoying and honoring our differences.

Ananda Marga in New York
Ananda Marga is a social and spiritual organization founded in India in 1955 by Shrii Shrii Anandamurti (P.R. Sarkar). The mission of Ananda Marga is to help individuals achieve complete self-realization and to build a social structure in which the physical, mental and spiritual needs of all people can be fulfilled. Ananda Marga contributes to the process of individual development by providing instruction in meditation and other yoga practices on a non-commercial basis.

Ananda means "bliss" and Marga means "path."
So Ananda Marga means "Path of Bliss."

Bliss is infinite happiness.
It is the fundamental desire of human beings.
"There is in the living being a thirst for limitlessness."
We can never be satisfied with limited things.
They may give us pleasure for a while, but not long-lasting satisfaction.
A limited object can only give a temporary and limited amount of happiness.
But only infinite happiness will satisfy us.
So how are we to attain it?
By expanding our awareness to infinity;
by transforming our individual limited experience into the cosmic experience
of the unlimited: infinite happiness; perfect peace and contentment – bliss.

Maharishi University in Iowa.
In the summer of 1974, a long line of yellow busses pulled into the town of Fairfield, Iowa. The doors opened and young people poured out, setting foot for the first time on the new campus of Maharishi International University.

The idea for MIU, later Maharishi University of Management, began in seed form in 1955, when the spiritual teacher His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi began teaching the simple, effective Transcendental Meditation® technique throughout India. His message was as fresh as it was universal — he taught that the purpose of life is the expansion of happiness, and that every human being can effortlessly unfold his or her infinite potential.

The University and Fairfield together have become Iowa’s center for sustainable living:
* the University offers a popular undergraduate program in Sustainable Living
* the county has the most acres under organic cultivation of any county in Iowa
* Fairfield has the most homes built using solar energy and other green techniques, including the EcoVillage development
* Fairfield hosts the annual EcoFair each spring

Transcendental Meditation Technique

Why Tribal Living?

1. Tribal living is the logical end result of brotherly love. Love demands gathering up into groups as it grows.
Soon nothing but daily contact will bring happiness between the brethren as their love grows.

2. It is the most economical way of life. The expenses are shared by many, and purchases can be in wholesale or volume.

3. This is the only way to liberate the land. Many people putting money into a purchase fund can quickly buy land.
One person usually has a difficult time.

4. As we grow in spiritual things, we realize that private possessions are a millstone around our neck.
Yet we must have the tools as soon as you feel that gentle call from Mother Nature that lets you know that you are ready.

As Wise People we must be ready to help others when they desire to join a tribe.
We must have more than mere book larnin.
We must know how to apply The Wisdom Teachings of right-thinking and healthy-living
for the body, mind, and spirit to our lives, and how to guide others to learn to apply it to theirs.

We must know how to organize tribes efficiently for survival,
how to maintain cooperation in the tribes, and how to live during the days of tribulation.

In electronic engineering, one schemes, computes, and draws schematics of a new electronic gadget,
then takes it to the bench and builds one to see why it wont work.
No matter how good the planning, a group of people still has to try their ideas, remove the bugs, and make it work.

Their experiences then save later tribes from the same mistakes.
This is what is happening now.
The tribes are beginning to form.
Students who sincerely desire to live The Way,
who wish to help in the formation of the first tribes of the New Age
and themselves become part of those tribes, are welcome to give it a try.

~ From the teachings of The GateKeeper Eli

Please Journey On To:
Communes, Past, Present and Future - Part V
Hermitages, Sanctuaries, and Retreats

Hippie Communes - Part I
Hippie Communes - Part II
Intentional Communities - Part III
Ashrams and Sanctuaries - Part IV

For more reading and reviews on
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