• Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi
      AHYMSIN NEWSLETTER, ISSUE - January 2016 

    My Experience with TTP

    byFrancine Kuo (Sujata)

    Editor’s note: Francine Kuo (Sujata) received the “HYT-TTP 500 Hour” certification during the November 2015 HYT-TTP retreat at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama.

    I was asked by Carolyn Hume to write an article about 500 hours training. Before I start, besides Gurudeva, Swamiji Veda, Swamiji Ritavan, and all the faculty and my mentor Maryon, I want to thank Carolyn for many reasons. The most important one is that she was my first window link to Himalayan Tradition. She was my first and only window, and she was very patient and lovingly so I felt I was embraced right at the first moment. Swamiji gave the only shawl to her during 2013 Sangha gathering, and I think she did deserve that. Ever since then, she guided me silently by giving me opportunity to do small services, showed me the love in her own way.

    Now back to the 500 hrs things. I did not expect this to come for I registered for 600 hours of all three levels at a time for making me systematically qualified to become a good student of Swamiji Veda. I had a promise to Swami Veda and myself. I vowed secretly to complete TTP all three levels in 3 continuous years and I wished to take this small achievement as symbolic the bundled wood on the back of a disciple to surrender all my karma to Swami Veda. There was a moment that I could not accept the fact that he had left his body without witnessing my graduation in his presence. I even wanted to quit all of this, the continuous study and assignments of TTP for a moment. I did not have energy to continue all of these at some point after his Mahasamadhi. However, in the middle of evening meditation in Swamiji’s initiation room right after his funeral, I realized how ignorant I was. He will never leave us behind. I know that Swamiji was and always will be by our side and he will be in the presence of every coming graduation after all. This retreat reconfirmed this in many indescribable ways.

    Someone shared with me a little bit of the background of this brand new transition of level three curriculums. It was all supervised under Swamiji when he was still in his physical body. I have to admit that when we just learned about the new change in the beginning of August, we were all puzzled. Some teacher in the ashram (pal, I won’t tell ;-)) told me that they joke about/behind us to say that this retreat is actually a TTP (Teacher Torture Program). It is in some level quite the truth, although we tried to play and enjoy later on. In the end, I think everyone agrees that it was quite an amazing experience for each one of us. We learnt so much from each other, and I really feel honor to be able to accompany all these beautiful souls.

    In the beginning, we were told there will be a chance to get 500 hours certificate during our level three retreat, and we don’t need to come back for the fourth year to take the final exam. First of all, I don’t think coming back to ashram is an obligation. I plan to come back often anyway, so I was kind of not sure why this was happening in my turn to level three because there are so many new rules and prerequisites and exams ahead. Many of us (there are 10 registered for this first new level three) thought that this new 500 hour retreat seems more challenging than the old 600 hours certificate.

    Although there are some arguments about whether you should go for 500 or 600 hours, the point remains that both certificates are all issued by our beloved Himalayan Tradition, and those who got their 500 hours are still encouraged to take 600 hours after completing their level three assignments. It does not matter how many hours we got; as my colleagues during the retreat said: we are disciples for this tradition for more than 500 years, even the prior life doesn’t count, it indeed took much more than 500 hours to come this far. Some said that we deserved to have a 1000, 2000 hours maybe. It is a joke, of course, yet it described some serious points here. I am sure that getting one or two certificates is just a by-product of learning in TTP for most of us. We are gathering here from the calling from our prior life master, the same one in this life. Many of us shared their stories about why they “end up” with TTP during the Level Three retreat. Some did not even have any yoga experience before they came to the TTP, but we all follow the arrangement of Gurudeva and Swamiji. As we always know, Guru always has good reasons. Those reasons are gradually manifested in the path of sharing knowledge of yoga, and we need to be very cautious to do our best to honor those blessed reasons.

    The meaning of this qualification to me is a reminder that I am still very far from the goal of being immersed into the Ocean of Yoga. The more I learn, the more I realize that I need to learn more. As I told in the beginning, I think this fruit should be presented to Swamiji as a symbolic bundled wood on the back of a disciple to burn one’s ignorance. As Gita 4.37 said, as a well-kindled fire turns all kindling into ashes, so the fire of knowledge turns all acts, even of past lives, into ashes. (from Swami Rama’s commentary). Little by little, no matter how slowly I am stepping, I know with the guidance of Gurudeva, I am on the path of true knowledge. Getting a certificate simply means the learning is just beginning. As Stomaji always said, before and after enlightenment, one does the same, practicing chopping the wood and carrying the water. Here, we simply need to replace the term enlightenment into getting certificates.

    After I joined TTP, there are many wonderful changes in my life as a yoga sharer. One is the sharing becomes natural and effortless. I always invite Guru’s present before the class, and the class will just flow.  Another is that I found that more and more seekers who are suffering from different aspects tend to come to my class for the guidance of Guru. I don’t want to enumerate how many miracles I had seen in my class; I think those are the miracles manifested by Guru, I have nothing to do with that. Swamiji said that the only 2 certificates we should get are: a puzzled heart leaving class with peace and a hurt heart feeling love in the class. I consider that those peaceful hearts and loving feelings all come from the grace of Gurudeva as well. I know that Guru spirit will never abandon us, because after all, we have been together for so many hundreds years, and my ignorance is still so much, so I am sure I have more hundreds years to go with my Guru.

    Many of us may come to the TTP with the expectation of enhancing or deepening our yoga teaching, but we all share the same experience that TTP is not simply training us how to teach, rather, it transforms us to be a better human being. We come to this program, and the deeper the learning the more egos we dig out and gradually surrender. It is really a self-searching journey. We found more negative prospects about us, and we also found dormant good prospects could be developed further within. In this full of surprise and amazement journey, a good guide and good company are indeed very important. I am very proud to say that we are so lucky to have one of the best guides, rarely seen faculties and beautiful sanghas in this tradition. It is our responsibilities to carry on the learning and to share little by little to the people who need this sparkle to light up their own inner light.

    In the end, let’s read Swamiji’s teaching again and again. Om Shanti~

    In Memory of Swami Veda Ji

    "You've taken the very first step in your teacher training. Your teacher training does not end with your getting a certificate. Two points I'd like to make: Your certificate comes from your students. What is that certificate? That the student goes out of that class and says, ‘I went into that class; I was very disturbed, and I came away with a very peaceful mind. That when I saw the teacher, I felt loved.’ If you have these two certificates from your students, then you're a teacher. That someone came into your presence disturbed and went away feeling at peace.

    “It is not how efficiently you teach an asana. You are not teaching asana; you are teaching persons. You are teaching life. You are teaching a philosophy of life. You are teaching the philosophy of life by your personal example. Your personal example is that you are at peace.

    “You come to your teaching seat before the students come, and you meditate, so that your love awakens, so that your peacefulness awakens, so that your connection with the sages and the masters of the lineage awaken.

    “When you meditate in preparation for the teaching, you surrender your seat to the Guru, to the Master, to the Guru Spirit. Let them teach through you. Then the teaching will be effective; it will be beneficial, it will be successful, it will be magnetic because people will be drawn to you as a piece of iron is drawn to a magnet."

    ~Maha-Mandaleshwara Shri Swami Veda Bharati

    Some photos from the retreat (Click photo for full size)

    Day and Night in the Knowledge Center

    Day and Night in Knowledge Center during Level Three Retreat


    Members of TTP

    Members of “Teacher Torture Program”


    We are so tired!

    Oh…we are so tired, we need to stretch out….


    Thank you all!

    Thank you all !


    Class Photo November 2015 Level 3 TTP

    Level Three TTP Students and Teachers, November 2015


    Editor’s Note:

    For more about HYT-TTP (Himalayan Yoga Tradition – Teacher Training Program), we invite you to visit their website: http://hyt-ttp.com/




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