Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi

Taiwan Seminars 2015

by Stoma (Stephen Parker)

From their travels in Korea, Ashutosh, Swami Ritavan and Stoma moved on to Taiwan for some teacher training events and other seminars, culminating in a silent retreat at the high mountain guesthouse owned by the family of former Gurukulam student, Shunyaa Tsai.

They started off in Taipei with events for the teacher trainees on May 13, 15 and 18. These were question-and- answer sessions that produced a variety of interesting discussions. During the weekend of May 16-17, they conducted a public program for about 50 people at New Taiwan University on the subtle practice of yoga and its connections to Kundalini and the cakras. It was a very pleasant setting with the hotel a 20 minute walk away from the venue through a college campus and also close to a double Olympic sized outdoor pool, so they were able to get some much needed exercise too!

There were also a number of mantra initiations over the course of the two weeks.

On Thursday and Friday of that week, the group split and on each day a pair of teachers took the High Speed Rail to Tainan to do a similar workshop for 45 students there in the yoga studio of Ms. Wang. On Thursday Ashutosh and Stoma held forth and on Friday it was Swami Ritavan and Shi Hong (Shri Hamsa) from Hong Kong.

On a free day they took the train to Taichung and visited Sun-Moon Lake, a large reservoir tucked into the mountains and visited the Chai Tung Monastery and Temple, a contemporary Buddhist temple that is only about 15 years old. It is a mammoth institution built with great care and artistry. One of the monastery’s nuns gave a guided tour which included a glimpse of their enormous manuscript library and a chance to meditate in the dome on the 37th floor!

During the next week, May 20-24, Ashu, Stoma and Swami Ritavan led a silent retreat in the mountains outside of Hsinchou. The guesthouse is owned by Shoonya’s family and Shoonya helps to maintain the place. They have made it their mission as a family to provide retreat space for students of our tradition and it is a beautiful place for a retreat, situated high up in the mountains. Our weekend was the recipient of continual and often very heavy rain which added to the contemplative atmosphere. It was also a blessing for the island because they had been lacking significant rainfall for the preceding six months and were beginning to have significant water problems.

During the last evening of the retreat, Stoma was telling a story from the Yoga Vasishtha about the Yogi-Queen Chudala and her husband Shikhidvaja and her any adventures in trying to lead him to liberation. The story stretched over two evenings. On the last evening, just before the lecture began, there was a power cut. So with candles all around we gathered in the dark to complete the story. Just as Stoma reached the critical moment where Shikhidvaja finally understood and was immediately liberated, the lights came on! Enlightenment!! The whole room dissolved in laughter. (Silent laughter, of course.)

In the final circle the next morning there were many tears even from people who never show emotion. It was a very beautiful four days. I hope that some of you have a chance to visit this beautiful place and receive some of the peace and joy that we found there.

On the return to Taipei, the team conducted a final practical examination for one of the teacher trainees and was able to certify them. A fitting ending to a wonderful visit.

Editor’s Note:

Stoma wrote on his Facebook page on 24th May: “Last night I was telling a story from the Yoga Vasistha in the Taiwan silent retreat, the story of Chudala and Shikhidvaja. It is a long a complex tale that I had begun the night before in a session that lasted one hour. For last night's session we had a power cut and so I came to the class with a headlamp in order to read some sections from the text. I got through all the wonderful twists and turns in the story of Chudala trying to enlighten her husband and just I as I was saying, ‘And Shikhidvaja finally understood the nature of true renunciation and was liberated’ the lights came on: "Enlightenment!," I said, and the whole room dissolved in laughter. Then I looked upwards and said, ‘Thank you, Sir!’"

Taiwan Himalayan Yoga Meditation Association is an affiliate center. The contact email is ahymsin.taiwan@gmail.com

Pictures courtesy of Stoma Parker and Shunyaa Tsai.


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