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Monday, June 24, 2019

Spiritual Retreat at the Vedanta Society

By Suprabha Tripathi, Ph.D.
(The author and her husband live in Colorado, and she visits her daughter, Tara, at Brown University during the summer months.  Suprabha serves as Sr. Director, NTT Data Services.)

Swamiji’s persuasive nature prodded me to attend the first ever Spiritual Retreat in my life.  The Retreat presented an opportunity to explore something new.   I was initially reluctant to attend but now at a certain phase of my life, the Retreat presented itself as an offering that was left to be taken.  I hemmed and hawed, not wanting to open myself up so.  After inquiring about my daughter’s schedule and Swami Yogatmananada’s urging, I decided to indulge myself in the pleasures of a Retreat.  

Our honored guest, Swami Kripayamayanandaji from Toronto, expounded on two discourses.  The information he shared was not unknown perhaps to most of us.  Yet in his words there was an element of clarity and awakening that led to an interesting Q and A session, providing insight between the seekers of knowledge and the knowledgeable.  My takeaway was simple.  Seeing the divine in others is a conscious decision.  It is intentional and enlightening.  It seemed as I sat there, years of loneliness and emptiness melted away. I felt younger and lighter as I walked out that day.

As I internalized and reflected the following day, I began my metamorphosis.  As if as an outsider looking in, I started to react differently.  My eyes creased with cries of laughter, not tears. My walk had a new spring.  I got to know more intimately the nooks and crannies of the Vedanta Society building and the people who flitted in and out of it, as one would in their home.  I became one of humanity.  I joked with Swamiji, as he did with me.  I drank tea with green chillies--something that would have been incomprehensible in the past--and liked it! I opened up boxes of food sitting at the dining table and ate it with wild abandon.  And yet, in a long time, I felt understood.  

What made me behave this way?  Outward appearances are deceptive and often misjudged.  As I had others, so had others judged me.  And yet the words, “See the Divine in Others” kept ringing in my ears.  That alone took away all negative afflictions.  Judgment, falseness, carelessness.  Had not Swami Kripayamayaanandiji mentioned all of this?  I looked at my notes.  Yes, yes.  Right there in my chicken scratch, sprawled across that small white paper.  Aha, I remembered.  And yet, did I need to?  Did I not know that about myself?  

Afterwards, I received an email from Swamiji, “Suprabha, why don’t you write about your experiences?” I could have written about other aspects of my experience.  I chose to write this today, because I felt the Retreat allowed me to truly open myself to many opportunities of learning and self-discovery.  To both Swamijis, the volunteers and people I met at the Vedanta Society, including the kindred souls in Connecticut, thank you.  My journey had begun a long time ago, and I am realizing it today.  

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