Camp(ing) at Chinmaya International Foundation
An unparalleled divine experience
A camp according to popular meaning is defined as a place with temporary accommodation of huts, tents, or other structures, typically used by travelling people or a complex of buildings holiday, with recreational facilities or a summer holiday program for children. None of these meanings will apply when you visit Chinmaya International Foundation (CIF), Adi Sankara Nilayam.
What then is a Camp at CIF? It is a unique experience which cannot be conceived as a mere physical experience that one encounters at tourist spots. It cannot be compared to emotional experience at a music concert, nor can be compared to experience which is a combination of intellectual, emotional and physical enrapture at the same time. For once in our lifetime we are in touch with that core being within us bared by the divine experience and we come to understand what is true bliss. The heart yearns for such an experience to remain forever and one would be willing to give up everything else for just being there inside this transcendental contact with the supreme bliss. We are some much used to accessing things outside to give us joy and for the first time when we are able to touch the source of bliss within us, it is as though an eternal fountain of joy has opened within us. We can bask in it and also share this with everyone around us.
Effect of a Spiritual Camp
‘ an eternal fountain of joy has OPENED WITHIN us in which We can bask at will and share it with all around us wherever we go’
SPIRITUAL CAMPS AND ITS EFFECT
An insightful article from Chinmaya International Foundation
Camp is an event which takes us out of our comfort zone and plunges into an experience which involves at once our mind, intellect and body. This plunge is like the first dip into the icy waters of the Mother Ganga at the heights of Himalayas.As we acclimatize to the different kind of experience, gradually we start to understand the uniqueness and spiritually rewarding nature of this experience.
When we watch a 3D movie the 3-dimensional nature of the experience is superior to a 2-Dimentional movie – right? When we actually are visiting the place just seen in the 3-Dimensional movie the experience now gets extra dimensions, as we feel, smell and touch the reality behind the movie. In the same way when we read books on spirituality by learned authors and grapple with complex terms and explanation we struggle with the same and yet enjoy it as a conversation breaker in parties and social gathering.Then we come across texts written by the masters like Swami Chinmayananda, Swami Vivekananda, and so on, and suddenly we no longer think of it as mere words of wisdom but realize that they have deeper meaning which appeals to something deep within us.Now when we take up the study of these texts under the guidance of someone who has renounced everything else so as to remain close to this elixir of eternal life – then the effect is spellbinding. This is what camps that are organized at CIF aim to provide. An experience which is beyond the ordinary, an experience hitherto unheard of an experience hither to unseen anywhere else.What makes these Camps unique?
1. The texts are carefully chosen for study during these camps after deep research into their depth.
2. Deep and hidden meaning of the texts are cogently presented.
3. Focus is on its practical aspect in day to day life as well as to enable significant progress in our spiritual path.
4. The content is presented in simple English or local languagesso that people can easily understand and carry the message forward to apply it for themselves and also to share with friends and family
5. Guidance to seekers is given through the group discussions, doubt clarification sessions, etc
6. Meditation sessions are an integral part of all camps so that seekers are allowed to rise themselves to receive this highest Knowledge.
7.Access to Library for follow-up review and studies related to subject is availed during camps.
8. Comfortable accommodation and boarding with healthy and tasty cuisine allow for uninterrupted studies.
9.The divine blessings of Bhagavan Adi Shankaracharya pervade through the Ashram set in a serene and tranquil atmosphere.
10. Friendly Staff ever smiling and willing to serve help meet all kinds of special needs.
11.Pre-screening for camps on advanced studies ensures that seekers are not overburdened.
12. Easy online objective assessment for certain advanced camps ensures the understanding is progressing in the right direction.
Knowledge of Self is not a mere by-hearting and reproducing kind of exercise, it requires Atma Kripa, Ishwara Kripa and Guru Kripa. While the first one is gained by self-effort, the past karmas will confer the Grace of the lord but to gain Guru Kripa, Guru Upasadana (approaching the guru) is a must. The proximity of the compassionate Guru ensures that unseen hurdles in grasping the scriptural purport are removed. The Knowledge is retained and abidance becomes easy. We would advise all seekers to actually come in person to gain the last benevolence from the Guru. While remote sessions through audio-video etc. are in vogue today, yet for a fulfilling spiritual experience one should not miss the opportunity to be there in person as much as possible. That is when the fourth dimension of experience opens up.
How many camps should we attend each year? This would be question that comes to all of us. There is no limit, as many camps we attend that much closer we get to liberation. Unless compelling reasons are there one should not miss any opportunity that is presented to us. Which kind of camps will be of benefit to us? This will depend on the internal state of our mind. Advanced seekers benefit from camps which take up advanced Vedantic treatises. Those who are still get their hands-on terms and basic Vedanta – would like to attend camps on basic texts and Bhakti texts. Those who are looking for insights into path of devotion are encouraged to attend the Bhakti camps and Puja camps. Irrespective of which camp you attend the grace of Bhagavan Shankaracharya will be always there with the seeker.
Who handles the camps at CIF? – Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda ji makes it a point to hold at least one camp every year. These camps are well received and the feedback is one of being ‘eternally grateful’. Advanced camps are conducted by senior Swamins of Chinmaya Mission and cover both Bhakti texts and Vedantic texts. These camps are well received by people of all ages and gender. Brahmachari(ni)s and sevak(i)s also conduct camps for children.
Camps come in many flavors so which will suit me? – Irrespective of the camp we attend, the grace of Bhagavan Shankaracharya will be always there for us.