Moved By Love Retreat March 2015
"A flock of geese fly together in a particular formation usually, where each of them has two geese behind them flapping their wings in unison. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in V formation the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front. When the Head Goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point. A particular trait noticed in them is that if one of them gets injured or wounded during the flight, he leaves the flock and goes down to the ground to recover. Two geese also follow him to make sure he is fine and stay with the injured goose until he is strong enough to fly again or until he breathes his last, after which they again join the flock and fly."
People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.
With this beautiful story shared by Shaalini, we opened the March 2015 Moved by love retreat at ESI. As 35 of us sat together in a sacred opening circle, the seed question of "what is our highest value that we honor or wish to honor in our lives." got each one of us thinking and many heartfelt stories were shared by each participant.
Sister Asha spoke of selflessness and how she decided to make one girl smile everyday, while Shweta shared how she wishes to find happiness and joy within herself at all times. Aditi shared how a rickshaw ride changed her perception towards the power of prayer and instilled deep faith within her, whereas Anil spoke of the power of truth " to thy own self, be true." Vipul spoke of how earlier he valued only clarity but later he realised that clarity without compassion is a knife that cuts through everything. He now tries to balance both clarity and compassion. Rish shared how the quote "Be Kind. Everyone around you is fighting a hard battle" inspired him to be more compassionate.
Ritika had tears of joy when she realized that the universe had guided her to ESI, Sughad for a retreat just when she was really thinking deeply about sanitation solutions for tribal women she was working with near Mumbai. Mona shared how we could feel the oneness when we remove the conditioning that divides us. Meghna shared how every moment is an opportunity to practice love and Monica shared how she practices non-violence in Karma, Dharma and Vachan - as she was growing up, if she happened to step on an ant, her mother would say "You just killed someone's mom or dad." Many such beautiful sharings set the intention for what turned out to be a magical three days as we all put our values above people and even above ourselves.
As our values became our roots, and love became the manifestation of those values, the presentations contained stories of various ecosystems, individuals and pilgrims purifying themselves through Satsangs, seva and Sadhana and even the young children who seem to be playing outside during the retreat, but are definitely soaking and learning from the environment they are in as was apparent from the various stories we heard.
An energetic and insightful 'Improv' session with Rish and Sima, broke the ice and got us all bonding together which further turned into a beautiful celebration at Seva cafe with some wonderful spirited sharings by Harish, Ritika and Ani didi alongwith soulful music offerings by Nimo, Bhumika, Sahil and Vipul. Harish from compassionate clowns shared how his 'turnover in love' keeps increasing while Ritika spoke of how she does not want to 'speak to impress but would rather speak to bless'. Ani didi spoke with love and compassion of her wonderful journey to Manav Sadhna and how it changed her life.
The second day of hands too had us all in different groups heading to villages, schools or ashrams to serve. As each person had their own unique experience with seva, whether it was cooking at the Kabir Ashram or clowning and singing with the kids at Sughad school. In the evening as we gathered back, some beautiful reflections were shared by a few of us. Dipankar shared how as he held a small child in his arms in the village, he went through a wave of emotions and felt like a mother in that moment. He was filled with compassion and love for all of life and with tears he called up his wife to thank her for all the support she offers him in his life. Catherine shared how when she came to Ahmedabad last year and cleaned the streets, she found it filthy and thought she was cleaning garbage, whereas this time she felt a shift as she picked up litter at The Kabir ashram. She felt a deep connect with mother earth and felt that she was purifying the earth, nourishing it and allowing mother earth to breathe as she collected the layers above the ground.
Through hands, we serve..
Through service, we love..
Through love, we create a more beautiful world..
We had the blessing of meeting 93 year old Dwarko Sundarani ji (one of the last living disciples of Gandhiji and Vinoba) during the retreat as he swept us all of our feet with his wisdom, grace and presence. He spoke of Samuhik chitta Shuddhi (Collectively raising/purifying our consciousness), Satyam (truth) Sanyam (patience) seva (service) as tools on the journey and stressed on the importance of "Maata Sadi" (the century of honouring and cultivating the qualities of a mother with love and compassion within each one of us). Arun Dada, a loved and respected elder and disciple of Vinoba too shared his poetry, songs of wisdom with us and blessed us all with his presence full of love.
As we reflected on the blessings of having such compassionate beings amidst us and the grace we received, we bowed down in humility and surrender to the universe following the sacred pilgrimage of three steps and a bow with a simple message from Rev. Heng Sure " Forget the harvest, As much as you seek, thats how much you will be obstructed. Don't seek enlightenment, just Bow." Mukesh bhai, who never fails to be with us in almost every retreat and brings so much stillness and calm amongst us with just his presence and years of inner cultivation through silence and meditation led the way for us as we bowed to the universe.
Each of us carried within ourselves reverence and tears at what had unfolded before us and within us and prayers and blessings flowed through all with a simple message from Jayesh bhai as he said that a collective should honour its values above everything else. A true Sangath (collective of conscious souls) is formed by expansiveness of the heart and inclusion of all.
Love all, Serve all.
Jai Jagat (Victory to the world)