The touch of the first rays of the morning sun amidst the soothing chirping of birds and cool breeze wakes one up to yet another day of a beautiful journey called life. An Ashram greets one with such a relaxed and peaceful rise in the morning, every day.
There are so many places on earth where such mornings can be witnessed. Yet, what makes an Ashram different?
It is the presence of a Sadhguru that makes all the difference, to the place as well as to our lives. A Sadhguru is ‘Consciousness’ itself devoid of subject-object relativity. This ‘Consciousness’ is also an uninterrupted, uncorrupt awareness.
The purpose of life, for one and all is and should be to evolve to that state of ‘Consciousness’. Where to begin and how to go about it?
There are pioneers in this realm who are capable of guiding those who are keen and determined in this pursuit of evolution. The one who guides is called a ‘Guru’ and the one who is willing to be guided is called a ‘Shishya – follower’. The place where this learning happens is called an ‘Ashrama’.
With this background, one can get an understanding of what life will be in an Ashrama. Yes, it is a learning centre where one commits oneself to learning and discipline that are needed for evolution. This is a process and it happens through every action that one performs in the Ashrama. I’m at awe when I realise how meticulously our Sages have evolved the techniques to help a seeker!! Because, just through all the mundane activities that we are engaged in, for our self-preservation, they guide us to evolve to that state of ‘Consciousness’, without introducing anything new or alien to us.
The primary learning in an Ashrama is ‘de-learning’ and re-learning’. The actions that we perform remain the same and appear the same, outside. All that happens, happens inside
In an Ashrama also, you breath, you sleep, you eat, you work and you do your spiritual practices etc., The activities that we do every day can be made spiritual if done with awareness and the proper way in which it has to be done. In an Ashrama, one learns the proper way of breathing, sitting, eating, thinking, focussing, relating, communicating, and the list goes on. When one is ready for the higher practices, the Sadhguru gently guides the aspirant to experience higher levels of consciousness, ultimately leading to Samadhi.
Ashrama is not confined to a physical space alone, for it is also a state of mind. When the mind commits itself to self-study in order to evolve, your body becomes your Ashrama. Whatever transformation happens, it happens inside and not outside. Even your Guru is inside you and not outside. Therefore, whenever you remember the purpose of your life and organise your life and its activities in line with that purpose, you are an Ashramite living in the Ashrama.
By the above, it is not suggested that one doesn’t need a physical Guru for guidance. The necessity of a physical Guru is vital in the path and process of evolution. Because Guru is the one who is going to protect and guide till the time one meets the Guru within.
The Ashrama, as a physical entity, is like Pratimopasana. Just as we see divinity in the form of a Pratima (image). Even though Ashrama can be referred to as a state of mind, the need and relevance of an Ashrama in the form of physical space cannot be done away with, for the seekers will be at different stages of evolution and the environment makes a huge difference in the evolution of a seeker.
In conclusion, the life in an Ashrama is designed to guide one continuously towards the purpose of life. The Guru achieves this by imparting the knowledge that is necessary which are svadhyaya (self-study) through Shravana (listening), Manana (contemplation) and Nidhidhyasana (practice), pranayama, dhyana (meditation), asanas, relaxation, among others. An Ashrama is a place that guarantees protection and evolution. Life in an Ashrama is, definitely, enlightening.
Shree Guru CharanArpanamasthu.
(offered at the Lotus Feet of the revered Guru)
Sadhaka and Ashramite
Swami Rama Sadhana Dhama (SRSD)