In my last blog post I mentioned that I would be going to India for a month long retreat with James Swartz, who I now consider my teacher. James Swartz teaches Vedanta, which is one of the six schools of thought under the umbrella of Hinduism. It is a vast body of “revealed” knowledge.
I thoroughly loved the retreat in Tiruvannamalai. Tiru(for short) is a little like a spiritual Las Vegas these days, especially in December and January when the weather is not too tropical. There is a different satsang on every street corner. My friends who live in Tiru gave me the low-down on who is who. It’s a jungle out there if you haven’t already developed the ability to extract the pearls from the swine! Fortunately, I knew where I was going!
An amazing sacred mountain, called Arunachala, looms over the bustling little town, and she inspires great awe. Many worshippers of Shiva circumambulate the mountain, doing pradakshina. The walk is 14 kilometres and all around the base of the mountain are shrines to different gods. Shiva is lord here though, since he apparently appeared as a lingam of light on top of the mountain to win an argument with Vishnu, about who was the greatest. A massive imposing temple is situated in the centre of town, and we got to do a fascinating tour of it one evening. Ramana Maharshi, one of the greatest Indian saints who ever graced this planet, has his ashram there. Ramana passed away in the 1950’s but the ashram is still thriving and saturated with his profoundly peaceful energy. It’s a great place to meditate.
It was a very enriching time for me, connecting with some old spiritual friends, and studying Vedanta with James. I have long loved Eastern Philosophy. As some of you know, it has been my life’s passion. Vedanta is my new love. It is everything anyone needs to know and more: a considerable body of knowledge, that when you are ripe, you can apply to dispel your ignorance. I have long been ripe and the timing was perfect. A few years ago I wouldn’t have been open to a new teacher. However, as in all good spiritual stories, the teacher found me, through my good friend Harry. It took me a while to answer the call, but I am so glad I did! Vedanta came at the right time and my life feels blessed.
Our teacher, James and his lovely wife Sundari, who is also a Vedanta teacher, has also agreed to come teach at Suryalila from 28th January until 10 February next year. How wonderful is that! Our teacher coming to us. He is going to be speaking about the three Gunas, which is a subject I am really fascinated by. He just released a book on the same subject too. Anyone out there interested in Eastern Philosophy, this is a great opportunity to come study with us! You can find out more about James Swartz and Vedanta at www.shiningworld.com