When: 24 - 29th Sept, 2017
Where: Van Niwas, Nainital
The Sourcing of Oneness Program – A Retreat for devotees and followers from various organisations working for the realisation of the vision of Sri Aurobindo and, was held between the 24th and 29th of September 2017 in Van Niwas, the Mountain Centre of Sri Aurobindo Ashram – Delhi Branch.
The retreat was the second of its kind, having had its inception last year in Van Niwas itself at the same time. The aim of this retreat was to bring together devotees and followers of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo from various centres and institutions practicing the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo within the country, such as Auroville, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo Society Centres, such as the Pondicherry head branch, and others from Baroda, Bihar and Bengal and those from abroad, such as the USA, UK and Hungary to celebrate the one source we align with mutually while seeking to manifest this oneness in the work we carry out for The Divine in terms of sharing of resources, practices and collaboration.
In this year’s retreat, the twelve qualities of The Mother and the five psychological perfections were used as tools of transformation of the individual as well as the collective life that the individual is inevitably an integral part of. In this respect, economy featured as the main aspect of life to be examined, understood and placed in perspective, in light of the highest ideal before us. Pertinent issues currently existing in the systems were raised and solutions discussed after the groups were psychologically prepared during sessions with the flower cards. The flower cards brought into our midst a certain ambience as we settled into a quiet, reflective spirit, living the subtle suggestions from the qualities and psychological perfection through the cards we picked in deep aspiration. These sessions prepared us to plunge deeper into the discussions we had during the evening sessions we had on Financial Institutions, Economy and Business.
The participants were divided into the three main groups according to the individual participant’s own affinity and choice. The teams were accordingly looking at future business, future economy and future financial institutions. The focus was on challenges posed to the existence of organsations practicing integral yoga, and the place money played in a life dedicated to Integral Yoga. The idea of an economy without cash or cash flow, as The Mother advocated for Auroville, was a key point of debate and discussion throughout the 7-day programme. Weaved into this main thrust was the guiding light from The Mother through the qualities from the 12 petals that constituted The Mother’s symbol. The Psychological Perfections of Faith, Aspiration, Devotion, Sincerity and Surrender with Rejection were used to reflect on the different stages involved in Business such as the environment, systems, resources and contributions and the interaction of multiple forces in these stages. The three groups worked on attitudes, habits and practices to aspire for, to reject tendencies within that hindered one’s progress towards Light and surrender all of oneself to the Highest. The final synthesis of the interactions were consolidated on charts and displayed together with visual presentations involving all members of the various teams, with movements, dialogues and some theatre elements as well, in the case of constellations. It was gratifying to note that each and every participant in this retreat was afforded the opportunity to express himself or herself. Each participant, irrespective of his domicile, took away from the involvement deep insights to be actualised in the life of the individual and the collective.
While these discussions progressed steadily over the days, other fringe activities nourished our souls further. There were the initial ice-breakers that broke our guards and brought us together and a few related talks aligned us to the theme.
Central to these activities was a movie, “Evolution Fast-Forward” by Manoj Pavitran, Sopanam Productions, an Auroville-based production on the Parts and Planes of the Being which was shown in small digestible parts over the seven days. Watching this movie together was a beautiful experience. There was a remarkable silence in the Video Room as each screening for the day ended. Each individual took for himself the precious nectar for growth to equip him for his own journey. Each day, we looked forward to the screening of the various parts of the movie.
The musical sessions by Gaurav, Siddharth and Kabir dohas sung and narrated by Ms. Sukriti Sen and Mr. Sehdev Kumar respectively, bathed us in waves of devotion. The vitality of youth came to the fore as Surabhi-di lashed out a few folk dance numbers and put everyone into fast rhythmic movements which left everyone asking for more. Early morning Yoga and Pranamaya sessions by Shekhar and Anushka prepared us for the day’s activities. There were memorable trekking expeditions to Naina Peak, Tiffin Top and Land’s End. These were awe-inspiring trek destinations. Rappelling and related rock climbing activities were a welcome change. A night forest trek too was in the offing.
Whatever activities were that we engaged in, The Mother’s and Sri Aurobindo’s words were constantly brought before our attention and into our consciousness. On two occasions, we had an interaction with Tara didi who gave us a first-hand account of her experiences with The Mother and instances of what The Mother had expressed on numerous occasion regarding themes that appealed to us. Questions were also asked on The Mother’s view towards Money. Tara didi’s answers were candid and full of an experiential wisdom and many times topped with good humour. These were all received with gratitude.
This Camp was further made special when Tara didi was felicitated with the Auro-Ratna Award conferred on her by the Overman Foundation’s founder, Mr. Anurag Banerjee for the amazing breadth and depth of the work she has carried out in the past several decades for the realisation of Sri Aurobindo’s and The Mother’s vision. It was inspiring to listen to the heart-felt testimonials from Tara didi’s close associates such as Ms. Prema Nandakumar, Dr. Alok Pandey, Shraddavan, and Prithwindra Mukherjee in appreciation of Tara didi, her exemplary attitude towards work, her dauntless spirit and her deep love for The Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Following the felicitation ceremony, Tara didi generously handed to all present a piece of carpet from the Mother’s room. It was indeed a token of Grace for all of us as we reverently received something precious which had the rarest privilege of having been at the feet of the Divine.
So we spent our seven days celebrating Oneness as well as new ways of expressing this same Oneness. We all returned home better for it. The seeds planted during those intense days of experiences will go a long way, it is certain, in helping us connect to the Oneness in us all.