At the Ashram we focus on helping people go inward by observing their minds and asking what they want to bring to life now. Reflection and self-inquiry are encouraged. But at the same time, none of us live in a vacuum. We are all living in an interdependent world where the pain of others affects us and demands our attention and care.
Here are a few of many questions that are on my mind. I hope they can open up dialogues among us.
1. How do we respond to the fact that the Ashram is on unceded Indigenous territory?
As residents of this charitable organization, Yasodhara Ashram Society, we do not own the land but steward it in the best ways we can. We are becoming educated about the injustices so glaringly revealed in the history of residential schools and the disruption of culture.
We are also touched to be building relationships with individuals from the Ktunaxa and Sinixt Nations, on whose territory the Ashram is located. We are honoured to walk together, listen to stories and invite ceremony, opening a doorway into the Temple where we meet in the Light at the centre.This past year we have made tangible efforts to give back by starting an Indigenous bursary program and a Reconciliation Fund, collected from residents and guests and donated annually to Indigenous-led non-profits.
But the fact remains that we are situated on this beautiful land that was taken by “the Crown” and distributed without compensation to the original peoples. Let’s think together. What is involved in a path of right action?
2. Then there is the daunting question of how best to contribute to a world that we, as humans, are simultaneously helping to destroy. What is the root of this destruction?
Teachings of all traditions point to the demons of ignorance, greed and self-centredness. And they offer antidotes of awareness, generosity and compassion.
What is our part as an Ashram and how can we give enough? What is enough?
3. Time. What is 60 years?
Less than a blink in terms of “time immemorial” as First Nations describe their existence here; or from the perspective of the yugas (eras) of Indian philosophy that cycle eternally; or from the relativity of physics that indicates causality is the only reality.
Yet sixty Ashram years is enough time to have changed lives. “How do I want to channel my energy?” This is a question that has led many young people to unearth their talents and to step into the world confidently, offering back their unique talents and making a positive contribution.
And what is next for Yasodhara Ashram? How will it evolve to benefit the world and those seeking the Light in the future? What adaptations need to happen? How can we attract the dedicated community that will carry this work forward into the next era?
I look forward to hearing your perspectives and your own questions when you join us for our 60th anniversary at the Ashram this year.
In the Light