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Crow on the Beach
A clear tropical sea. Pure white sand made firm and flat by the receding tide. What better place to take the time to find your balance?

How to Invoke the Energy of Love
Q&A with Swami Swaroopananda

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Why must the Supreme Self be worshipped like a god? Why isn't it enough to be aware of Its existence?

Answer: Worship is a manifestation of love, and love is an essential quality within spiritual practice. It is essential because it binds the lover and the beloved. If we look at our experience, we can see it is dualistic. We have an experience of a separated self and a separated external reality. In order to bring these two together into union, we have to invoke the energy of love, and one of the best methods to invoke the energy of love is the method of worship.

What is worship? Worship is love in action; it is love expressing itself in action, and it is directed toward the beloved. We call this worship, even though it's not actually possible to worship the inner Self, the innermost reality. On the other hand, the Self can be worshipped through Its external manifestations. What are Its external manifestations? It is said in the Vedas that all of this is Brahman. Everything that you see externally is Brahman; it is nothing but the Self. Therefore, by worshipping the one Self in the many within creation, you are worshipping the innermost reality behind all phenomena, or God. So the method of worshipping the Self is the method of worshipping our fellow beings in the form of selfless service to humanity, or karma yoga. Karma yoga is considered to be one of the better ways of serving the Self.

There is a mode, or a bhava, in Karma yoga, which is called Atma bhava -- to see your own self in the other, and seeing your own self in the other, to know that the self is God, to worship the self in the other. How do you worship the self in the other? By serving the other selflessly, with love, with devotion, and with the feeling that you are serving God himself, who dwells within the other. The same God that dwells within the other also dwells within yourself, because there is only one Self, and this is the One that we worship. The One that we call the Self is identical with God. The Self is God. But God is not just outside; God is not in heaven. God dwells within our own heart as our own innermost reality. And the same God dwells within the heart of every person, therefore, It can be worshipped.

Question: An old friend of mine passed away without me knowing. Is there a ritual to reconnect and just say goodbye? How do I deal with a loss in my absence?

Answer: Personally, you can tune your mind to your friend, send good wishes, and pray that your friend is going to move on. The best prayer is to help your friend to move on; it's not desirable for the friend to dwell here, to continue to dwell here on the physical plane. So the best prayer is to help him move on into the higher realms. If you would like to do a ritual, please see our priest, Krishnan Namboodiri, and he will find a specific ritual for this particular problem. He has been trained in this since he was a child. . . .Continue

My TTC: The Names Were Many
but the Feeling Was One

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Radha, who is from Colombia, completed the
Yoga Teachers' Training Course in May 2011

On the day that I graduated from the Yoga Teachers' Training Course I received, along with my diploma, a new name.

A couple of days earlier, many of us had been initiated into mantras by Swami Swaroopananda, the spiritual preceptor of the ashram. Throughout the TTC we had been given time to contemplate the different mantras and to decide whether or not to ask for initiation into one to which we felt connected. Our new mantras, and Swami Swaroopananda's intuition, would determine our new, spiritual names.

As each of us received our diplomas at the graduation ceremony we got to hear our new name for the first time. Each of us who had requested it received a beautiful spiritual name filled with powerful meaning, which we would gradually discover as time went by. We all listened in joyous celebration as each classmate's new name was called.

After the ceremony we all gathered at the beach to discuss the amazing one-month experience we had just shared. With the moon shining on this lovely summer night, and the waves crashing, we formed a circle on the sand. Taking in the beauty and peacefulness of the moment, we had our own kirtan, repeating many of the beautiful chants we had learned throughout the month, happily chanting the names of the Divine.

Then, spontaneously, as we went around the circle, we began inserting each person's new spiritual name into the chant, as if we were welcoming each other into a new circle of love and friendship. We went around the whole circle, chanting all of the names until everyone had been included. Somehow, hearing our new names being chanted gave us all a feeling of empowerment and newfound freedom.

It was a beautiful and joy-filled moment, chanting, laughing and remembering the last month. We had studied together, we had eaten and sung together, we had served and meditated together, and we had laughed and cried together. We had arrived being certain people, but as I looked around I could see how each one of us had been transformed in so many different ways. It had been such a powerful experience and we would carry this transformation for the rest of our lives. We were now starting on a new path; we had received a new name, which symbolized the new life ahead.

It is one of the most beautiful gifts I have ever received, the gift of living up to this name.

Ashram News

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Yoga Teacher Renewal Students Reconnect Through Service

An inspired group of TTC graduates is currently taking the opportunity to enjoy the ashram and at the same time help out by offering three hours of karma yoga daily. The one-week program gives participants the chance to strengthen their practice and address challenges in their teaching with special yoga classes, workshops and lectures, all at half the regular rates. If you are a TTC graduate, make sure to mark your calendar for next fall, and check out our Advanced Yoga Teachers' Training Course, which starts January 4.

New Season is Under Way with a Full Schedule of Great Programs

Temperatures dropping? Join us and leave the winter behind. We launched our 2011-2012 Season last month and already are offering a full schedule of yoga classes and special programs. We also have renovated many of our rooms, including some of our beautiful beach huts, for the comfort of our guests. For a schedule of events, rates and other information, go to our website.