Out of the Rabbit Hole
Before the amazing August 2023 retreat and intensive, I contemplated writing my upcoming blog about: What characterizes my rabbit holes (that which leads me away from God)? How do I get there? By ‘chance’,....View Now
Nityananda Shaktipat Yoga Weeklong Shaktipat Meditation Retreat.
Our Glorious Weeklong Shaktipat Meditation Retreat!
by Shanti Harkness
Audio Version of This Blog Post
Sat Chit Ananda Guru Ki Jay.
The theme of this year’s week-long Shaktipat Meditation Retreat was “Permanent Release from the Bondage of Worldliness.” Sadguru Kedarji began the retreat by speaking about Mumukshutva. Mumukshutva is the burning longing to be free, out of which manifests Bhakti, devotion to God and the Guru. He shared that this devotion is actually devotion to the instruction and commands of the living Sadguru. This is why God takes the physical form of the Sadguru.
We were reminded that Sadhana requires vigilance. And, to stay vigilant requires Mumukshutva and Bhakti, in order to face our karmas, our kriyas. We were also reminded that the Guru’s Kriya Shakti brings out the best and the worst in each of us.
This last statement led me to experience an intense Kriya, or movement of the Shakti. During the contemplation period for this lesson, I completely broke down and began crying hysterically. “The Shakti brings out the best…” What on earth could be the “best” in me? I’m not the best in anything! Not the best friend, or employee, and certainly not the best Disciple! I’m mediocre at most things, at best.
During this Shaktipat Meditation Retreat I wondered how I could cultivate a burning longing to be free if I couldn’t see what’s good in me. How can I accept my Guru’s Love, God’s Love, if I don’t see anything good in me? What is this “best” in me that the Shakti is bringing out, because I wasn’t seeing it. In sharing my Kriya with others, they also shared having this same question.
In asking Sadguru Kedarji the question, “How do we see the “best” in ourselves?” he responded by saying that we see the best in ourselves by remembering that God dwells within each of us. This is what Sadhana is all about, and what the practices are for. He reminded us that everything in this world-appearance would have us believe we are separate from others. But this is just Anava and Mayiya malas causing us to believe we’re just the body, mind, and senses, and that we’re separate and unique from others.
In this weeklong Shaktipat Retreat, Kedarji shared that this play of the impurities weighs heavily on us karmically, and reinforces notions that keep us bound to ignorance and worldliness (aka: the ego-idea). He shares that this is why remembrance of who we really are IS the practice. Our connection to the Guru and following the instruction for our Sadhana is how we remember and experience our True Nature.
Hearing this was like an explosion going off and there was this huge weight that lifted off my shoulders and my heart. Of course! The Shakti bringing out the best in me has absolutely nothing to do with things I’m “good” at, or accomplishments, skills, achievements, etc. Those are all ego expressions! But how clever and sneaky of my ego to try to convince me that there was nothing ‘good’ in me!
This is why the leadership of an authentic Shaktipat Sadguru is so important. I could never have seen this tendency and false notion if it weren’t for my Guru and this Shaktipat Meditation Retreat. And I certainly didn’t have the correct understanding of the utterance! Kabir says, “The ego is like a black bug on a black rock on a moonless night. How will you ever see it without the magnifying glass of the Guru?”
Sadguru Kedarji shared an utterance from the Viveka Chudamani, which states, “A person’s life of bondage to the world of birth and death has many causes. The root of all the causes is the ego, the first begotten child of ignorance.”
During this Shaktipat Meditation Retreat, others also shared having similar experiences of breakthroughs and Aha moments as well. One person shared that he realized he asks questions to be clever, due to his ego attachments. In the course of the retreat, he realized that he has everything he needs, so there’s no longer any use for clever questions.
Another shared her realization that her ego was like a deadly serpent, and that anything other than Love for God was her ego. A person shared the realization that any doubt or fear she experienced was just her ego resisting. She was reminded of the importance of reaching for her mantra in the moment, rather than her ego expressions.
Another realized that she gives power to her ego-idea, and therefore, can remove that power by changing her thinking and understandings in the moment. She shared that this realization helped remind her that peace, joy, and her Guru are only ever one thought away.
Many shared the realization that Sadhana doesn’t have to be hard when we surrender our attachments and ego-idea from moment to moment. We need only to remember our Guru to know that we are perfect. After all, the goal of Nityananda Shaktipat Yoga is to lead us to a state of being fully present with the Self in every moment of our existence.
Another big take-away from the retreat was the reminder to observe and embrace where we’re at in Sadhana today – so that we can take the necessary steps to move our Sadhana forward to where we want to be. We were encouraged to work on our weaknesses one at a time, and to love ourselves as the Self. Sadguru Kedarji tells us that this is the foundation of compassion for ourselves.
We are reminded again that everything – EVERYTHING – is a blessing of the Guru’s Grace. And because we forget, we are also reminded that we always have a choice. In each and every moment, circumstance, or situation there is always a choice. We just have to remember to be attentive to what is actually taking place so that we can embrace the message of our kriyas and continue to have breakthroughs. Every step we take in Sadhana matters because each step is cumulative.
Our week-long retreat culminated in our Shaktipat Blessing Intensive in honor of Shri Bhagawan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri. In this Miracle Weekend Intensive, attendees shared experiences of receiving Sadguru Kedarji’s Blessing of Grace through the receipt of Shaktipat.
One attendee shared that it seemed almost useless to her to try to describe her experience because words just couldn’t do it justice. All she could say was that she felt a presence and Grace, and was overcome with emotions.
Another shared that he felt blissful and immensely grateful for the Guru. He shared how everything that isn’t useful simply melts away by Grace, and that the amazement of how Grace works is beyond his imagination.
Another shared feelings of complete stillness and calm after the receipt of Shaktipat. She shared her experience of hearing various chants welling up from within her, and waves of peace washing over her.
Another shared feeling a powerful wave of energy wash over her, shaking her body, but that she felt great stillness and joy. She shared seeing a golden form appear in front of her that said, “I am your very own Self.”
During this weeklong Shaktipat Retreat, so many of us felt Calm, Peace, Love and Joy. We also experienced the inner strength to surrender to our daily spiritual practices and the instruction of the Guru – practices and instruction that free us from the bondage of worldliness and our ego-idea. There are so many more experiences and breakthroughs that people experienced throughout the week-long retreat and the weekend Intensive that simply won’t fit in a blog post. You’ll just have to come and experience the mysterious power and blessing of Grace for yourself! We hope to welcome you to a program or retreat very soon!
Sat Chit Ananda Guru Ki Jay!
Shanti Harkness volunteers as the Secretary of The Bhakta School of Transformation. She sits on our Board of Directors and also volunteers as a certified staff teacher and program leader for Nityananda Shaktipat Yoga. She works in the marketing field.