Silence in Hungary

by Riemke de Groot

For four years, I've attended the Dutch silence retreats in October. Those are 5 days (3 days silence) and I always enjoy them, but I was also longing for longer guided silence. This year, I attended the  retreat in Hungary. A whole week with Stomaji and Ashutosh that fitted perfectly in my already planned holiday period. Anna from the organization answered warmly on my request mails and made me feel welcome. So I took the train to Hungary (nice long ride with plenty of time to listen to Swami Veda's lectures) and spent a day in Budapest before going to the Himalaya Center to ride along with other participants to the retreat site: Radhe Resort in Somogyvamos. A lovely place, south of Balaton Lake, run by a HareKrishna community. It was already silent there, even before we stopped to talk.

I was the only one in the group of 60 who didn't understand Hungarian, but luckily Stoma and Ashu spoke English. The translators had wonderful soft and melodious voices and because the Hungarian language was so completely strange to me, I just could listen to the sounds, not trying to understand anything. After every English spoken sentence, there was this soft translating sound that made me just go deeper into the silence.

I enjoyed the six days of silence, beautifully guided by the teachers, step by step. Letting the inner processes just unfold and be aware of them. Joy, resistance, frustration and tears and then joy again. Everything was allowed to be there. I remember sitting in the grass leaning against a tree (one of the few shady spots during the hot days) and just breath in and out with tears rolling down my cheeks and feeling resistance and sadness flow away. Every silence retreat I'm amazed again how this process of emotional purification works. Some more habit patterns being unravelled and in that making the mind more free. And it worked not only for me. In the closing session we shared or experiences and it was visible on everybodies face: we were shining from within.

A 24 hour akanda japa with the "Akanda Mandala mantra" ended this retreat week. Singing together the first mala and then letting the mantra go on in silence. I fell asleep with it, and the moment I woke, it was there again. This day I went for a walk to the large piece of land nearby where the Hare Krishna community lives. I walked there silently with the mantra. Being greeted now and then with the friendly words "Hare Krishna" and seeing these people live their simple devoted lifes in this beautiful place, awoke in me a longing for paradise. And I realized that this paradise is right within me, within everyone and everything. As we ended the retreat by singing "Purnam adah, Purnam idam....." I was aware that the fullness is always there, and I didn't have to feel sorry that the retreat had ended or that I had to go away from this place. (Many people stayed for another week, with the Hungarian teahers)

My holiday finished with a few days along Lake Balaton and a short visit to Zagreb, where I visited Patricija, my TTP1 kalyana mitra. And now at home and at work again, I still feel the silence as a fundament within, with gratitude for the Himlayan Tradition and its teachers. I can recommend everyone to attend a silence retreat with our family in another country and hope you do enjoy it as much as I did.

(Photos by Stephan Parker [Stoma])



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