A ten day workshop at Vérité showed us how to consecrate our daily lives to ‘remembering and offering'.
“One of the simplest instructions Mother and Sri Aurobindo have given for practising Integral Yoga is ‘to remember and to offer',” says Bhavana who ran the course. “As Aurovilians striving to become willing servitors of the Divine Consciousness, it is what we should be doing before every action of the day, before and during every effort we make for building the City, for building our lives together, for building our own being in the world. But it is so difficult to remember to remember!”
This is the third Consecration Workshop Bhavana has run. They are designed for busy Aurovilians and guests. They meet in the mornings, meditate and do some yoga together, eat breakfast in silence then set off for work. They meet again at lunch time to eat in silence and to renew their intention, then go back to work. At supper time they again silently share a meal, followed by a ‘sharing' with each other of the inner and outer experiences of the day's attempt at consecration. Readings from Mother and Sri Aurobindo, and other teachers, on consecration are made available.
Says Bhavana, “Often the effects are magical – for is it not said ‘Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I amongst them'? We gather in the name of the Divine and the Divine must and does manifest.” There were 18 people on this course, 13 guests, two Aurovilians and three Tamil children from Udavi school. “The presence of the children was a joy. They brought us down to earth when we became too serious and introverted, and when they were tired they just lay down and went to sleep.”
A German participant who is a long-term guest at Vérité describes her experience of the ten days. “For me the most striking thing about the course was how similar it was to an intensive Vipassana retreat I had been on. The process works on a very deep level – it goes on invisibly. We spent most of the day going about our normal life, yet the seeds we had sown in the morning sessions blossomed throughout the day and were cultivated by the lunch and evening sessions.
“Several of us were not clear what ‘consecration' meant and we were encouraged by the facilitators to develop our own interpretation. I must admit it often brought up a lot of resistance. A lot of sadness and anger came up and I often felt the only thing I wanted to do was go back to my hut and read a silly book. But after those difficult days I often experienced the sparkle of heightened perception, just like I had experienced on the intensive Vipassana course.
“Silently sharing the meals served on banana leaves while listening to a reading was very beautiful. I must add that the food prepared by Anandi was remarkable.”
Anandi describes her experience; “For me and my helper the experience of cooking, sharing and consecrating the food was a powerful process of learning to give with an open heart. Several of the participants found our daily routine of meditation, yoga and silence stirred up sickness or resentment and they began to miss a few sessions. Our group presence supported them through these sticky times and inevitably they came back to join us.”
Bhavana says she would like to see the next Consecration Workshop have a slightly different format in that there would be a “solid weekend” of coming together at the beginning and at the end. During the week the participants would only meet at meals to consecrate and remember, and this would cut down the amount of coming and going. Also she would love to see Consecration weeks set up in communities. “It is very easy to do; all you need is the commitment of a few people, and a quiet place to meet. You could have meditation, Savitri readings, yoga or dance sessions; it all depends on who is there. You could meet in the mornings and evenings, share a meal in silence then have a “sharing” in the evening. It really does have a deep effect, even in the middle of a working day.”
All the participants agree that it gave them a deep sense of connecting with Auroville's real purpose which is easily lost in busy daily life. It showed them how the separation between spiritual practice and the day's activities need not be so wide. Indeed, someone suggested it could be called ‘The Ultimate Auroville Workshop' for its simplicity and authenticity of purpose and form.