There are many spiritual traditions that subtly or not so subtly discount or make wrong parts of our humanity. Examples of this are the concept of original sin in Christianity or this punishing god found in the Old Testament or the Koran. Many Eastern traditions are interpreted to be saying that the world is simply an illusion or maya and must be transcended. and that being incarnated is a fundamental problem or fall from the divine. This often leads to psychic and emotional violence against the body and inner child.
There are tradtions that see a schizm between (life / manifestation / the feminine / change / form / birth-death) and (God / The Self / emptiness / Consciousness). When people hold this schizm and value Consciousness over manifestation this often leads to fragmentation and even self-violence in the practioner. There is still value in teachings that have this orientation, but we want to be clear about it as a community, and see the overall ramifications of these teachings.
We actually have a lot of discrimination at GaiaYoga Gardens around spirituality. And while there are numerous paths we support and trust that they serve the practioner in coming to greater wholeness and spiritual maturation, we see there are definitely paths that actually lead away from this, despite their "advertising" to the contrary.
It's important that we are able to have open, respectful, but challenging conversations around spirituality with people who stay here and that people are open to looking at their spiritual approach from a permaculture perspective. By this we mean looking at the design and basic structure of the spiritual approach and see if it actually works. Is actually sustainable over time, does it actually support the integration of God-and-Goddess or Consciousness-and-Manifestaion? Does it support a functional, healthy, aware life?
In simplest terms we see that there are two primary faces of Spirit. The Divine Masculine - which is the consciousness or emptiness sought through meditation - and The Divine Feminine - which is the energy of birth-life-death often sought through sacred sexuality, art, prayer, music, and ritual. We encourage people to engage spiritual practice that serves to integrate the Divine Masculine and Divine Feminine, that values both, and helps us deepen in our realization and manifestation of this union.
Teachings and practices we've found to support this kind of spiritual orientation include: Waking Down, Nonviolent Communication, pagan ritual, 12-step recovery, Re-Evaluative Co-Counseling, nature communion, shamanic journeying, Tantra, The Michael Teaching, guided visualizations, prayer, and various yoga and meditation techniques. There are many others that we're not so familiar with that we imagine we could also embrace.
While we don't fully embrace any of the well-established world religions, we see aspects of almost all of them that we appreciate. We find spiritual wisdom and support in many of the forms of Buddhism, Christianity, Taoism, Judiasm, and also in the teachings of Osho, Adi Da (Da Free John), Ammachi, Saniel Bonder, Rumi, Malidoma Some, and many indigenous spiritual traditions from around the world.
Our overall dream here at GaiaYoga Gardens is to create a community that integrates Spirit, self, community, and Earth in a full and sustainable manner. Obviously, spirituality is an essential part of this. While many communities have spirituality as their core, for us the core is slightly different. Our core is balance itself, wholeness itself, integration itself - the approach we call GaiaYoga. We've seen many spiritual communties that are actually out of balance because of an over focus on spirituality. This over focus is a structural issue that becomes possible when spirituality is put as senior to balance itself, wholeness itself, integration itself. So, while spirituality is an essential aspect of our life here, it is held as equally and interconnectedly along with self, community, and Earth.
Probably the greatest gift we offer people here is spaciousness. There's real space here to fall into yourself, to unwind and have the time and support to explore your spirituality and find what is true for you. If you have any questions about our approach to spirituality at GaiaYoga Gardens please feel free to ask us.
One thing worth mentioning is that most people have a concept of what a spiritual community looks like and we almost always do NOT fit that picture. Both Melekai and Ano are not in the active "spiritual" seeker or traditional "spiritual" practice phase of their live. They are much more karma and bhakti yogis than meditators, chanters, hatha yogis, etc. Because most people associate those type of spiritual practices with what a spiritual person should look like, many people are disappointed or confused by what they see here. But it is actually the foundation of spiritual and holistic practice that allows them to do what they are doing here. It's inherent, not often overt.
We invite you, if you come here, to look past your ideas of what "spiritual" looks like and acts like, and realize that there is a very deep and mysterious process alive here that is very guided by and rooted in Spirit - but it's almost certainly not what you think it will look like.