Category Archives: Retreats
On the night of Friday December 17th, 2011, 26 brothers and two sisters reached the monastery. The thin nuns thinly dressed shivered in their welcome as we invaded the small group of pilgrims, in preparation for doing our seminal work. Me, white, 62, old BK of 37 years together with D, large black woman, BK of some years, not sure of her age. I invited her at the last moment. The brothers are wondering: “Qu’est ce que tu fais la? T’es pas un frère.” “Finalement, elle est une frère manqué, donc pas de probleme.” The average age in gyan of the 26 brothers was 15 years, some married, some widowed, divorced, single, one homosexual some were from outside France and outside the cultural background of Christianity. Some were heads of centres, others very implicated in the service projects. We will spend 4 days together on this frozen mountain to uncover the secrets of why some men are terrified by women and keep on killing them either through the sexual act, through domestic violence, through abortion or infanticide and why some women behave like vampires towards men.
We did not know souls could be so terrified. One brother has not so far shown his face today. Today we open up the Pandora’s box of male sexuality.
One brother did what he could to avoid coming, but he’s here, somewhat exhausted, but present front and centre. Now he’s out collecting items to form the centre flame that presides over our deliberations. Finally they created a continuously burning bush.
We are about to enter a dark tunnel that leads to the centre of mother earth, like a Navajo at a peyote ceremony. He enters the womb, sits with the fire and slowly burns and dissolves his ego until he has created the white eagle.
I observe them sitting closely together like sardines in a can, with all the doors and windows closed. They seem to wish to return to the womb, that dark enclosed and airless space, isolated from the real world. I keep gasping for air, and move their walls and chairs creating more open space. The tipi fire is replaced by a candle and some sticks and stones. We have created our version of a sweat lodge, a vision quest, a step into the unknown dark womb of the subconscious.
One said: “this is very difficult.” Another said: “they were so innocent they did not know it is impossible, so then went and did it.” Amongst us, this journey has not been done before. All the men congregated at one end of the refectory doing the washing up, while the two women sat at the other end of the long room.
Let the games begin.
Here is our schedule: We started with Baba’s famous mantra. “Forget your body, forget your bodily relations, forget your bodily religions and remember One alone.”
We had to go through three levels. First the physical: Lust, then the emotional: anger, and finally the mental: ego. The fourth day was entitled Strategy. I made points for us to dialogue about. I had to set the rules for dialogue and some guidelines for strategy. No GASS. No generalizations, no accusations, no speculations, no speeches. Keep the confidentiality of what is spoken here to protect the privacy of each participant. The brothers introduced an additional rule. No Mocking. They said men tend to mock, to taunt, to tease and be sarcastic around matters of a man’s feelings and his inner world.
The schedule of each day was intense and fixed.
|Sunday December 18, 19, 20, 21.|
|4:00 – 4:45||Amrit Vela Yoga|
|6:00 – 6:30||Yoga|
|6:30 – 7:30||Murli|
|7:30 – 8:00||Class on theme|
|8:30 – 9:30||Breakfast|
|10:30 – 11:00||Yoga|
|11:00 – 13:00||Dialogue|
|13:30 – 14:30||Lunch|
|14:30 – 17:00||Free time, walk etc|
|17:00 – 17:30||Yoga|
|17:30 – 19:00||Dialogue|
|19:00 – 19:30||Yoga|
|19:30 – 20:30||Diner|
|20:30 – 22:00||Dialogue|
A. Physical – Lust
1. Forget your body = overcome the biological drives that promote sexuality: Facing your sexuality and fulfilling the commitment to celibate life style through yoga power.
2. Forget your bodily relations: Married, widowed or single: celibate within the surroundings of women, worldly society, conventional social paradigms. Media, advertising and businesses that promote and draw your attention to body conscious and sexual relationships.
3. Forget your bodily religions: neutralize the moral injunctions of conventional Judeo Christian traditions that make you feel guilty around your sexuality. Achieving an attitude of neutrality, detachment and self pride vis-à-vis the attractions of sexuality, sexual drives and addictions.
B. Emotional – Anger
1. The shift from physical to emotional: when physical sexual energy is repressed it transforms into anger.
2. Territorial urges. Conflict and competition. Money, power, property.
3. Relationship with the sisters. Dealing with a system that places women in the dominant role. Handling the realities of dominant women, rivalry, jealousy, influence and power.
C. Mental – Ego
1. Ego: the mask that hides primordial, primitive emotions of anger and sexual aggression.
2. Ego of position, intellect, competencies, physical beauty, power and influence. Status symbols in the BK world.
3. The feeling of being insulted. Reactive behavior. Being a control freak. Imposing your will on others.
1. What’s going on here?: a summary of the analysis of the three preceding days. Contextualized in the return to Paris, other cities, the centre, BK life. What are our major and serious challenges?
2. Guiding Principles: defining the guiding principles that form the parameters. Describing the logic and coherence that address the challenges.
3. Actions: What actions should be undertaken to ensure the challenges get addressed effectively. Ensuring you attain your determined objectives.
DOES ALL THIS RESULT IN THE SOUL FORGETTING EVERYTHING AND REMEMBERING GOD ALONE?
We have had two days now and the third has just begun with Amrit Vela. The energy had to be raised to the highest level and is now steady at that place. We travelled through the dark night of lust. The physical matters, and we created animals for both lust and anger. Each animal mutating into something more ferocious as it moved from the secret interior world of lust to the more expressed world of violence.
Many had experienced abuse from their mothers, many from their fathers and many from both. There is the legacy of war, toxic social attitudes regarding parenting and schooling, the specter of parents crushing their children to the ground like warriors destroying their enemies. Those children then crush their own children in an endless round of intensifying reprisals.
There were many discoveries also. Adopting the attitude of resignation is not an option, because it implies that you give up the will to resist, to fight for your right to exist. You become hopeless like a zombie.
One said, “I resent women because they are beautiful and attractive.” We thought they loved women for those reasons, but yes and no. It is ambivalent.
Today we need to go deep into the original pain. Pain gets healed by love. The soul must love itself in order to become soul conscious, then the soul can turn to God and then only receive the healing power of God’s love. You must love God deeply. Today Baba says, “Remember me with patience, depth and sincerity.” This is the key.
They resist the pain so much, but the only way out, is through. We must go deep into the pain, softly, gently and completely.
Their pain is so intense they cannot go near it. It is so extreme they must remain dissociated, and far. But, returning to the scene of torture is necessary in order to become immune like the prisoners of Cape Town’s Robben Island.
A man is so closed. They kept tightly packed together like penguins in Antarctica, with all the doors and windows closed, the curtains closed, during this December 21st, the longest night of the year. They wanted to be closed and shut down to shut out the pain. But now they must open. Allow the pain to come and take them, penetrate them and move through each nerve and vein to clean the traces left by the prior searing pain of trauma. The local artisans who make glass wine bottles know they have to burn themselves again to heal the inadvertent burns of molten glass. The brothers must do likewise.
History must remain always present. All of the past and future must be kept close. Baba gives us the totality so we can merge it into the spinning of the time cycle and hold all of history to our breasts closely merging it into the point of the self.
One said, “Lust and anger falsify the soul”. This statement opened up the way to going deep inside. With that statement, the vices had been segregated from the essence of being, and further progress took place quickly. As we moved through the intense journey through lust, anger and ego, one asked, “What is it that keeps us from our essential selves?” Some brothers said what they really, really wanted was the experience of fusion. This is why the attraction of lust is so powerful because it is the promise of fusion, but ultimately, it is always disappointing. The answer came, “you need a key.” This triggered another response. “We have to get to the tabernacle.” This was the opening. You must find the secret golden key to the tabernacle of the heart of the soul. This is the sacred place where you keep God. This is the sacred place where the soul can experience the sacred fusion with God that brings total fulfilment.
Dadi Janki always tells us, “you must not keep anything in your heart, otherwise Baba cannot sit there.” They made that discovery by their own route. This changed the vibration and they moved into a childlike state of innocence and began to dance. At least two hours they danced together like prisoners that had just been freed. They became completely integrated for a while. All the disconnected and broken parts of the self came together and they became the essence of love and harmony, safely and without any fear of danger. No authority figure would smash their innocence and force them to be violent. They danced and then they played boy’s games wildly and freely, their faces smiling from ear to ear.
When the nun came in to meet them, she was amazed at how they told her, “Yes, we have spent the whole day discussing lust and anger.” She said, “they said this with huge smiles across their faces.” She had never seen something like that. The Roman Catholic men she generally works with, who are striving to be monks and priests do not smile about such things.
On the last day, I raised the subject of strategy. There had to be a way to bring them gently back to the world of life in Paris and the French provincial towns, the realities of their families, professional and artisanal lives, BK centres, and the prevailing social attitudes that condemn BKs as a dangerous sect to be harassed and vilified. The nun spoke the sobering words, speaking about the risk she had taken, saying: “I stood up for your group to be allowed to stay here at the monastery, because I know you so well, but you should remember that no other monastery in this country would allow you to stay on their premises.”
Many brothers reacted strongly against the very idea of strategy. Several said, “we hate strategy, it doesn’t work, it is bad, why are you taking us away from our loving harmony and forcing us to face such a concept?” We had to slow right down, and sit for two hours just with the word “strategy”. What is it, what is the load on the word, why do they hate it so much? I was not expecting such a reaction. But, after the intervention of one man who came in just at the end of the session, there was a shift. He had been a “Call of the Time” guest. He was the husband of one of the BK sisters, who lived near and had been invited to have lunch with us. He provided the validation for the need for strategy. Although a term normally used in the military and in business, without strategy, you cannot move forward in your aims, you cannot integrate your spiritual discoveries into your personal, family or professional lives. So, gradually and gently through the day we moved forward with the concept of strategy, and the word become integrated in their conversations, they saw the need, the relevance and application of the concept and stepped away from their prejudices against it.
On the train journey back to the capital city with two of the brothers, we pondered on what had taken place. Next morning about eight from the group were present in the morning class and shared their experiences. The sisters were watching with faces of amazement. “What about us? We don’t want to be left behind. We want access to this thing that made the brothers enter the state of love and harmony.” They could sense the atmosphere of connectedness and bonding that existed between the brothers. Their faces were shining and smiling. The sisters wanted that so badly. The other sister also shared her experience of the retreat. Her important insight was that now we needed to do something that integrates the brothers and the sisters into a cohesive and coherent whole. The underlying antagonism between the sisters and brothers had been shown up and needed to be addressed quickly.
The society we live in militates against social cohesion between men and women. Keeping them suspicious of each other and antagonistic sucks out all their power. Body consciousness does that. Soul Consciousness brings the masculine and feminine into an integrated whole like Vishnu and the soul returns to its satopradhan state of innocence.