Living Together

"Living together" Retreat
Auroville, Pondicherry, South India, Jan' 2020

“The Retreat itself was a wonderful experience. Of course, there was great food, daily yoga classes, trips to the ocean and the nearby attractions of Auroville with likeminded people. From the West and India.
That in itself was wonderful, but what really struck me was the caring, the overall sense of togetherness and friendship. The retreat was really an exploration what it means to live together in mutual respect and care. A real inner Yoga so to say.
And somehow, we all created the experience together and could explore our own tendencies and reactions in the encounters with others, catalysed by the Satsangs and kirtan session.

In one of the daily Satsangs Sri Anish said something like: “If we just could learn to all live together peacefully – that in itself would liberate us. And I think that is an aspect of spiritual life which is not always, if at all, emphasized – or seen at all: It is not about “ourselves” alone, doing the right practice, remembering a complicated mantra, acquiring the right knowledge, or having great experiences-
but only in daily life, in relationship with others and the world – in the world right here and now – we can actually see where we really stand in our inner journey. For that we don’t have to have a big bag of knowledge, but overall (Self-) Acceptance, honesty, the wish to connect and to open the heart to ourselves and others.
This, one could sense, is the relief of suffering and the joy of life: to experience oneself as part of the whole web of life – like holding hands with our fellow travellers and supporting each other on the journey back home.”

~ Ralf Schultz, Yoga teacher, Germany


5 Dimensions of kirtan

Five Dimensions of Kirtan

Through our journey of sharing kirtans, we have consistently felt a joy, an ease, a happiness, and meditativeness in ourselves and in the friends we share kirtan with. We wanted to share this beautiful distillation by Sri Anish, a great appreciator of kirtans from all the different tradions, Sikh, Vaishnava, Lovers of Shiva, Sufi, and vedic chanting. We have opened this up as an exploration for us all to dive deeper into our journey with sound to the silence within…

Kirtan is more than just music. Its a journey to uncover the depths within… We’ve discovered that participating in kirtan has incredible effects on many different layers of our being…

Physical

Kirtan helps you to come to the present moment. As you start to participate in the process of kirtan singing and chanting, the body comes in harmony with the rhythm and a beautiful centering is experienced.

Cellular

This is deeper then the physical aspect, because kirtan is sound based, it is vibration. These soothing vibrations affect every cell of your body.

Since it is vibration, it’s affects goes beyond the participant; it affects everybody and everything around you. The positive vibrations of kirtans ripple out.

Emotional

From the physical, now we are entering into the heart. Through chanting the mind starts to become centered, each cell starts to vibrate at a higher frequency. This is when the door to the heart gets opened.

We start to get connected with the light & divinity within. It is at this dimension when the longing of the seeker for divine becomes purified and intense. This third aspect of kirtans is the dimension of Bhav.

Gratitude

By entering into this process, you start to realise that you are not everything in this existence; you are a subset of the whole. You start to recognize the whole as whole. You are part of it, hence you too are whole.

And you start to bow down to this wholeness of life. The gratitude starts to arise in your heart. The ego start to dissolve and you realize “Thy is everything”.

Silence

Once you have touched the door of gratitude, suddenly everything stops. You start to experience a deep silence which you experienced when you were in the womb of your mother.

It is an utmost relaxing silence, which each sentient being is longing for.  That’s the state from where you have come from. This is our innate nature, the absolute love & light filled silence. And this is the fifth dimension, the culmination of kirtans.


Retreat to Glastonbury Oct 19

Retreat to Glastonbury

October 2019
Buddha’s 4 Brahma Viharas

“The hills are alive…”

A thick blanket of fog surrounds the hill we walked up in Dorset, so that despite being at the top of the highest point for miles around, all we can see is grey mist.
It is not depressing though, as I am with beautiful friends Martin and Tatjana and my my mother. We know the way round the hill and my mum chirped reassuringly that on a clear day you can see for miles around.

“…With the sound of music…”

This trip up the hill happened after the recent visit of Sri Anish and Anandi to us here in the UK. We spent 3 weeks sharing kirtan, food and dialogue sessions with friends in the South of England.
Sri Anish, after giving up a high flying corporate position began a quest to discover the truth within, spending many years in solitude in the Himalayas. I have a feeling that he found the spot on the highest hill and saw for many miles around. Only the hill that he ascended was within, giving him deep insights into the secrets of existence. Since then, he has dedicated his life to sharing his perspective and guiding others on their journey of inner seeking.

Anandi, who was a top interior designer in India, was drawn to the Himalayas with Anish and other friends in order to live the life of the heart.
After planting hundreds of trees and nestling herself into a (designer) mud cottage in Dharmshala, she has found an utterly beautiful expression through music and sound. The effects of this are both outer and inner in my experience. Anandi has been conveying her understanding of sound and feeling to many by means of kirtans (songs to the divine which also involve the collective participation).

So for three weeks, we three…Neil, Sonya, Daisy and friends) journeyed together with Sri Anish and Anandi under the collective vision of “Saadho” which is a joyous recognition and greeting to all the seekers on the path.

“AhhAaahhh….”

By opening up our homes to each other we learned to truly let one another in. Feeding each other, without fear of lack and without expectations in return bought abundance in our hearts. Through Sri Anish and Anandi’s lived example, we found that these simple gestures can do so much on a deeper level and warm the hearth of the heart.

The dialogues or Satsangs led by Sri Anish were incredibly profound, yet utterly applicable to our everyday, western lives. When someone speaks with such clarity, authenticity and love, you can’t help but take a pause and listen with all your being, which knows that there is no agenda. It can be truly transformative and help clear the fog that sometimes clouds our minds. For myself it has been a truly incomparable catalyst to inner growth.



The trip culminated with our trip to Glastonbury. A space that was already dedicated to the teachings of Buddha, was the cozy setting for 30 friends to gather and absorb 4 fundamental teachings of Buddha. Don’t be deterred by the fancy name “Brahma Viharas… the 4 pillars of awakening” These were 4 of the most down to earth teachings one could imagine.

Focussing intensely on the first pillar which is “friendliness” or “unconditional love” (without attachment), we deeply understood that any spiritual practice that does not first cultivate this attitude of friendliness towards fellow humans and nature is likely to be limited. We are inter-connected beings, and relating with each other can unlock the doors to our heart.

The next two unfolded from the first; Compassion (but not pity) and empathetic joyfulness (but not indulgence). Again, nothing fancy if you really think about it! But with far reaching consequences of deep relating and uplifting those around us.

Finally, the 4th pillar of equanimity, balance (but not… Indifference.) This is the capacity to feel deeply yet not lose ones own rooting in any given situation.

And sharing sound & kirtans in the collective space gave us the felt experience that togetherness can truly empower and enrich our journey within.

Anandi Ma taught us the mantra Buddham Sharanam Gaccami, Sangham Sharanam Gaccami, Dhammam sharanam Gaccami….” Which means take refuge in the buddha and all the buddhas, the sangha (collective) and the Dhamma (laws of nature)…

“The hills fill my heart with the sound of music”

So finally, the trip actually culminated again. If that is possible or allowed? A full November moon seemed to shine for 3 nights! And the final gathering at Yoga Junkie in Fareham was a meeting of many friends, old and new. It was a celebration. Even my mum came away stating that she really really enjoyed the togetherness of it all. And I reflected on how truly beautiful it was for me that my journey of spirituality could include and not exclude my parents.

“My heart wants to sing every song it hears”

Ok the final line from the sound of music. But this is genuinely what you start to feel after three weeks of inspiring company. Its not really talking about the songs on the radio. Or even about songs. But when you start listening to the heart… in all manners of ways, start keeping company with those who are speaking from the heart. It is like this…

The song is the very vibration of life… we become conduits for connection and authentic expression, and so beautifully opening up leads to more opening up and for those all around.

It is not always easy, but it is simple and the song of the heart is this… to rediscover ourselves and one another’s capacity to love and care for each other and the whole of existence.

Love Daisy, Saadho Kirtan


Reflections on our Roles... Dialogue in Pune

Reflections on our roles… Dialogue in Pune
23rd January 2020

Yesterday in Pune, friends young and old from medical college students to a retired army officer gathered for an unforgettable dialogue session with Sri Anish.

Sri Anish gave food for thought with this question “when you go to a wedding why is it that the guests seem to have a much better time than the host?” Because the host is concerned about getting good feedback, entangled in expectations to earn respect and appreciation from guests, whereas the guests are just visitors and enjoying the party!

If we relate this to our life, there are a number of roles we have taken on- parent, child, employee, boss – we create a web around us. Is there any issue with this? No. But why are we suffering? Because we take these roles too seriously, we identify with them too much and in doing so we forget who we really are…

As Sri Anish put in “Can you be a good host whilst knowing deep in your heart that you are just a guest here?” something to contemplate on friends…!

It felt like family as we shared food and kirtan and ongoing discussions. The young drinking in the wisdom of older friends and vice versa…


Glimpses of a beautiful meeting

Glimpses of a beautiful meeting...
22nd January 2020

Glimpses from our first satsangh and kirtan gathering with Sri Anish, Anandi and friends at Koregaon Park in Pune, a very special place for all of us. A city and place of our beloved master OSHO. Some very beautiful, loving and receptive disciples of Osho participated and made it into a deeply enriching experience for all of us. Special thanks to Pratima Ma for inviting us and organizing this beautiful gathering… 💐🙏💐


Reflections on Jagat Kalyan

Reflections on Jagat Kalyan...

20th January 2020

Last week we had a very interactive dialogue gathering in Mumbai with Sri Anish and Saadho friends. Thanks to our dear friends Jhankar Goel and Manu Goel for organizing this at their lovely home. There were a few recurring questions in everybody's mind about family responsibility, work, future security and ambition in the light of spirituality.

Sri Anish explained beautifully that ambition is not a negative thing. But “when your ambition is limited to just your own self which might include your family too, it will lead to suffering. But when you include everybody's well being in your ambition (Jagat Kalyan) then it surely leads to everlasting contentment, peace & bliss”.

This opened up a very lively dialogue after which one participant asked what is the “take away” from the satsangh. To which Sri Anish compassionately answered that there is no conclusion to give, no answer to take away. Our minds want an answer because that makes it feel comfortably numb, in the illusion of knowing and it stops questioning temporarily, but what helps on the path is to break concepts, not create new ones. Can we contemplate on the question rather than be fed with an answer? A blessing indeed... 💐🙏💐




What is a True Satsang?

What is a True Satsang?

August 2019

Recently in Pune a beautiful gathering took place with many friends and seekers from all age groups. The dialogue started with a simple yet meaningful question ‘What is a true Satsang?’ Our dear friend Sri Anish unfolded the answer with a touching poem.

Moving forward, we collectively pondered on the question ‘What is happiness?’ The subsequent discussion helped us identify the difference between true happiness and the state of excitement/anticipation that we often confuse with happiness. True happiness is the state of silence and ultimate relaxation when we are not busy pursuing happiness outside and the whole goal of spirituality is to stabilize oneself in this inner state of blissfulness.

The discussion then steered towards the multitude of experiences but the one experiencer behind them. To help us bring closer to the experiencer we are, Sri Anish guided us through a small experiment. It was understood that the experiencer never changes; but the content of mind keeps changing and unfortunately we keep identifying ourselves with the latter. While the truth is that we are like a blank screen, where all the flavours and fragrances of life are appearing and disappearing. We are not being affected by it. This is who we truly are.
Sri Anish spoke about creating a space/ecosystem which can support everyone in touching the peak of humanity. All spirituality, religion and sadhana is only done to touch this state of deep compassion. A state where your ‘sukha’ and my ‘sukha’ is one and the same. How beautiful it would be!


A Himalayan Retreat: An Experience To Remember, Bliss To Cherish

A Himalayan Retreat: An Experience To Remember, Bliss To Cherish

10th October 2018

Being our first association with Saadho Sangha, there was a lot of excitement while starting our trip from Delhi to Gaggal Airport to Zostel Bir. The morning gathering at Zostel provided the perfect start to the togetherness we were to experience during the Yog retreat at Rajgundha forest.

After a sumptuous breakfast, we were all off to Billing – the start points for the paragliders. Watching the paragliders jumping reminded me of the inner urge we all have to be free and to be guided by the hand of nature. The element of trust/faith was clearly visible while letting go by the paragliders. Being first time trekkers, while being informed by our guide of a 14 km trek in the mountains to reach our destination, we as well had let go of our inhibition of such a long walk.

Walking through the forests, steep climbs and smooth descents reminded me of life and its ups and downs. How much could we learn from nature but for our thoughts that take us elsewhere. During one of the breaks, Anishji reminded us of the purpose of the trip and the need to remain silent and listen to the silence of nature and how it touches our core. Anishji asked us to consider this trip as a pilgrimage as many rishis and saints have travelled this path and have meditated in caves and the forest and we should all take benefit of the energy available.

Being a 6.5 hrs trip, stopping for lunch, introduction amongst ourselves, guidance from our guide – Pawan, we reached our destination – Ishant Guest house just as the daylight faded and we were welcomed by chill in the air and the clear view of stars in the sky.

The next day started with Yoga lessons by Shivani in the open. The yoga lessons were a wake-up call to the way we treat our bodies. The emphasis by Shivani for the need for all of us to push ourselves, was a lesson in discipline that is needed to allow energy to flow freely in our body. After some lazing around in the open, it was time for a Satsang which was held in nature by Anishji.

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The snow peaked Dauladhar range, Greenery all around, the soft rumble of the river and a cool noon, provided the perfect backdrop or a session on how to live the spiritual journey. A reminder by Anishji for starting from the basics to ensure a strong horizontal base and the talks revolved around being able to manage the I/Self, practicing inclusiveness and invoking the Cosmic energy was the way to leading a spiritual life.

In the evening after a revision of Yoga exercises indoor was another Satsang session held. Anishji shared with us the process to follow to lead a conscious life. The need to start with the body – its postures, its movements and the breathing awareness are the first steps. Practicing inclusiveness. Followed then by the awareness of our thoughts and our emotions. There are 3 types of emotions – Emotion of Food, Emotion of Sleep & Emotion of Lust. Ensuring awareness for Food & Sleep would assisting in reduction of lust. And last but not the least, Invoking the Cosmic energy. Absorbing these teachings, it was time to snuggle in bed for a good night sleep.

The next day started with a nature walk to the river. A steep descent got us to the river Uhl, which was flowing in its full glory from the melted snow of the Dauladhar range. The chill waters were inviting some of us for a dip and we obliged. A steep climb back and after rest, we had an indoor Satsang again. This time on a question of how to invoke the cosmic – Anishji shared the need for human beings to imagine a form while invoking the super consciousness. This method assists all of us to remain in sync with the cosmic awareness and experience our true self. Anandi & Atul took us through a bhajan session with their melodious voice & Guitar respectively. A perfect end to the Satsang and a reminder of higher consciousness presence amongst all of us.

On the last day, we had reminder lessons from Shivani on Yoga. A 6 km walk to our vehicles and a trip back to Zostel Bir had many a memory to reflect upon. The stay in nature, pristine beauty, spiritual talks, Yoga and the sumptuous simple food that we experienced in the last few days could be summed up as “THE ESSENCE OF BLISS”.

Param


Do We Have Capacity To Receive The Love We Are Looking For?

Do We Have Capacity To Receive The Love We Are Looking For?

4th October 2018

Have you ever met someone who just seems love others with no agenda whatsoever and wanting nothing in return i.e. total selfless love?

Why is it that when we come across these beings, we feel jittery around them? Why is it that we feel the exact opposite feelings than the feelings of love and connectedness spoken by them? 

When love (or what we think is love) is a coupling love or a one to one relationship to the exclusion of everyone else, it seems so often to attract a drama like a Shakespeare play where we shout from the roof tops “I LOVE YOU”, “I WOULD DIE FOR YOU”, or “I HATE YOU”, “YOU HURT ME”, “YOU ******* *******”. It is like our happiness depends on the other, because it is so personal.

With this being our most common experience of ‘Love’ relationships, when we experience authentic love in another being, being poured on everyone but which can feel as intimate as a one to one relationship with nothing expected in return, it challenges all our notions and previous conditionings on love.

I am sure we have all met someone whose love and affection appears limitless, such that it can feel overwhelming, too intense even. We can only take it for a certain amount of time before we need to leave the room.

What makes these beings unforgettable, is that their love is available to everyone – it is not tied up to one person, there is no personal love in it. Which is why we feel it is so deep and transformative. But at the same time it stings our ego, which always wants a personal love, to be held out as special, to be the ‘one’. We are racked by the need to be special. And so the very love that is all encompassing and which attracts us to these beings, can trigger our ego like nothing else. And all hell can break lose internally and externally.

Oftentimes, we recoil when we are met with so much love. We don’t understand it. We question why are they doing it? There must be a reason…. When something is too bright, we shrink back. And at the same time, we are attracted to the magnetic force of that love, like a moth to a flame. So we want the love, but we also want to shrink back. We want the love, but we cannot withstand the ‘ugly’ feelings that come up when met by such love. We want the love, but we cannot give ourselves totally to that love.  And in the end, we want to be saved by that very person we are shrinking away from. Like in the movies.

This love however, is more expanded than anything we have ever experienced in everyday relationships or watched or read about.

So, when we do not make ourselves available to receive this unending love, because our ego cannot accept the impersonal nature of it, we ask questions of that being like “why do you not want me?”, “why are you rejecting me?” We put this on the other person rather than taking full responsibility that we are not ready to receive such love and the consequences of it. We are almost looking for a verbal expression of rejection so that we can say “I KNEW it!” and allow ourselves to spiral into a vortex of negativity. Or we want them to say “I do want you” and then we are soothed momentarily until the next barrage of thoughts come to tell us otherwise.

But these beings. They have no agenda. They are simply available. Their love is pure. And it shines a light on all that is in us that is not pure, negative and inauthentic – and that does not make us bad and nor should we judge ourselves for this, but it is an opportunity to observe our thoughts and see ourselves more clearly. By seeing ourselves more clearly we can discern the truth of our being and our connection with each other. And that is the blessing of being with those who love.

Our saadho sangha family are blessed to be guided by Sri Anish, a friend whose love knows no bounds. 

With gratitude to the masters known and unknown who have shown us nothing but Love.

Sonya


Sark Roots Festival

Sark Roots Festival

18th September 2018

We are fresh off the boat from the Sark Roots Festival which took place on a teeny tiny island on the English Channel and where the UK Saadho Sangha shared kirtan, mantra chanting and a set of specially composed English songs by our dear Daisy Bowman. Our crew consisted of Neil, Sonya, Daisy, Abhi, Matt and Mike.

The Island of Sark is unique in that there are no cars on the island. NO CARS!! And if it wasn’t for the music festival, the loudest noises would be that coming from nature itself. The air was clean, nature was thriving and the ocean was crystal clear blue.

No wonder that upon looking up at the night sky, the stars were so bright, and so voluminous that you felt that you were in a planetarium. I can’t remember seeing the Milky Way so clearly before, with its mysterious misty cloud like blanket wrapping around the stars, nor have I seen so many stars sprinkling the sky, a sure reminder of how tiny we are in this great big wondrous cosmos.

The music festival took place on a large field overlooking the ocean. It was a very pretty festival – beautifully draped teepees consisiting of a healing tent, an eco tent, a music tent, a food tent, a bar and outdoor seating with a games area.

Upon arriving at the music festival the organiser mentioned that there may be accommodation available for 2 people to stay with the King of Sark (his official title is the Seigneur of Sark but we like to call him the king!). Needless to say we jumped at the opportunity. When I say ‘we’, that means Daisy and Sonya.

 The boys stayed at the festival campsite. 

Daisy And sonya Greeting the
An earthy setting for our kirtan!
Arriving on the island of Sark!

At the music festival we played one set of English songs, and two kirtan sets. The English set (with songs written by Daisy ji) was on the main stage. The music was beautifully received and Daisy’s voice as we know can touch your heart in an instance. The feedback we received mostly was that we looked that we were a well gelled group, who love playing together. And this is what we felt too. Playing together in rhythm and harmony was a reflection of the sangha spending time together.

The kirtan was different again this time. Hardly any setting up, no formal beginning. Just a group of people singing our hearts out to the starry sky. People from all around the festival seemed magnetically drawn to sit with this group of seekers singing mantras in a different language and to a deep drum beat, many of whom had never heard of kirtan before. It really felt like a family sitting together. And speaking to each other after sharing such moments of togetherness, meant that we could talk straight from one heart to another and exchange blessings as well as email addresses. This always astounds me. The clicks of connection that take place when our heart is open.

What really touched us was how the festival was organised itself. A beautiful couple (Lazlo and Roz) pour their heart and soul into organising such an event each year to open up the island and share its beauty. This attracts volunteers from all over the world to give their time energy and devotion into making the festival what it is. We saw so many dedicated volunteers in the background keeping things ticking over; maintaining the toilets, cleaning the tents, cooking the most delicious food; running the bar and selling the tickets. Lazlo told us that the first year they ran the festival they made a profit. Last year they just about broke even. This year it looked like they were going to make a significant loss. The marquees they were allowed to use for free last year were sold to another company who charged £1,500 for their use. The music acts were also much more expensive. When met with this predicament, the people Sark donated money to allow the festival to take place. And a massive push to sell tickets meant that in the end the amount of tickets they needed to sell were sold.

To enjoy these moments with our sangha was icing on the cake. Shared experiences make for a deep web of connectedness. What I really noticed was how we took care of each other and supported each other not out of any trying, but naturally… and long may we continue to do so…every step of the way.