As you know, Sediba went through a very busy period during November and December.
Feedback on the Sediba Celebration retreat:
A Huge "THANK YOU" to Fr. Mike, Dr. Fritz Holscher, Sharon Olivier, Prof. Celia Kourie, Mark Joseph and his wife Marloes for their major contributions, time and energy spent on a very successful and blessed event that will definitely feature again in the future at Sediba..Your contributions to turn this into an unforgettable event were truly from the Divine Source..
There were times that we were up to 70 persons in the meditation hall...!!
I would like to share how Keren experienced the weekend and need to echo her experiences..
I would like to convey my heartfelt thanks to Fr. Mike for this amazing weekend. You guys really worked hard to make this an unbelievable experience for all of us.
I truly have never been on such an enlightening retreat. When Clare sent me the program, I didn't really think too much about what was being offered to us. I did not realise the wealth of knowledge and expertise you had lined up for us on the weekend. My mind was simply blown away by what I experienced there. I would consider this as a life changing experience. As I mentioned over the weekend, I am fairly new to meditation and spirituality, and have never heard of 'Christian Mysticism' (as you can gather, a very conservative upbringing), so this was all new and exciting for me. And whilst I still have to think about what I learned, and process it all, I know that it will definitely take up space in my head from now on, it is not something that will just pass through!
The value of a weekend like this cannot be measured, it is priceless. And the fact that it is affordable is really a blessing, I would not have been able to attend otherwise. Please convey my thanks also to all the speakers who gave of themselves so selflessly, Sharon and Fritz, Celia, Mark and his wife, what kind, generous people.
I am so looking forward to the next retreat planned, I WILL BE THERE!
Warm wishes and fondest regards
Karen (the hippy J)
Then two weeks later, we had the honour of William Keeping, Cynthia Brix and Judy Connor with the retreat Called" The Path of Divine Love".
Again, this was just another wonderful experience and we appreciate their input into the "Friends of Sediba" with their enlightened teachings.... It will always be inspirational to us all .....
As per your request, my feedback on the recent Path of Divine Love retreat led by Will Keeping, Cynthia Brix and Judy Connors (supported by Tsung) at Sediba, 29 October to 02 December 2012: in a single word, simply MAGNIFICENT! I've been privileged to have experienced Will at both the 2011 and 2012 retreats - and it is indeed literally a privilege.
Will identified spiritual practices, that truly speak to one's deepest heart, from the spiritual traditions of Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Hinduism which share surprising commonalities once one focuses on the highest common truths (as opposed to getting stuck in the relatively spoken minor differences): essentially love your God with all your heart and your neighbour as yourself. Or, to phrase it in another way, surrender to the Source. I fear that this description of mine doesn't do Will's input full justice - that would require an essay. Whilst Will's teachings were presented in a totally informal and accessible manner I was struck by both the incredible depth and broad scope of his knowledge and his fine erudition (not to mention his twinkle-in-the-eye ironic humility!) whilst offering us an abundant richness of insights.
Cynthia's gentle, humorous and at times deeply touching (actually, occasionally even truly heart wrenching) sharing of her own spiritual practices and experiences was a source of delight as well as constituting teachings in its very own right whilst simultaneously also illustrating and enriching Will's teachings.
Judy's Kundalini yoga certainly got us up early in the mornings and whilst early bird rising doesn't quite come naturally to me (!) the exquisite natural beauty of Sediba at sunrise and the kick-starting oxygen intake were most beneficial to being alert throughout the day in order to absorb the above fully in a conscious way as well as to unwind at the end of each quite intense day.
Father Mike's valuable inputs on many levels (both practical and spiritual) need to be mentioned here too.
Again, as in 2011, I witnessed those attending the retreat developing a special bond and appreciation for one another over the course of these four days, in spite of tremendous diversity on so many levels; a rare and precious quality indeed.
Looking forward to a 2013 retreat!
Charl de Villiers
The program for the rest of December
24December: Day of silence......Mass at 18h00.
Xmas Day: Mass at the chapel at 9hoo...All are welcome..
4-6 January 2013.. retreat "Moving into Presence" lead by Annika Nicol and Dai Heyne.
We would like to thank all who contributed to Sediba during the past year. We have managed to save a lot of the buildings on site from water damage due to the deteriorated thatched roofs. We will continue with this project in the new year.
Our Banking details are: Standard bank cheque account :015084434
Branch Code: 051001
Wishing all of you a wonderful and blessed festive season....
Cameron Hogg - THE CONSCIOUSNESS BEHIND SOME OF THE RITUALS
I first came to Sediba in 2000 – and immediately connected with Prashant, his teachings, and all that he stood for. As a Catholic, and pupil of CBC Kimberley, our paths had crossed in my youth, and we had shared similar experiences of South Africa in the 1970s. So I shared with Prashant the same Catholic upbringing in the Church, and the subsequent personal searching, as we embark on our individual spiritual journey in life.
What Prashant had managed to do, was to explore the many different and varied spiritual teachings available to us, and take from each of them, elements that were effective and understandable for those on a spiritual journey to embrace. He was never dogmatic, nor prescriptive in his teaching, believing that the unfolding of God Consciousness in each one of us, was a uniquely individual process that would happen in its own time. He 100% believed that all humans carried God Consciousness within their beings. And so, from the very layout of Sediba, the placing of the buildings, the choice of all the materials, the design of the routines, the structures, rhythms and rituals – Prashant had one purpose in mind, a retreat, where the most effective soul reflection was possible. A place of spiritual nourishment where individuals could get in touch with their God Consciousness.
Therefore Sediba, a spiritual retreat, and the rituals that were upheld by Prashant, are both subtle and powerful. They were in place to support and maximise anyone’s experience of their unique spiritual journey. I am happy to share how I understood them, as Prashant explained them to me – but I am sure there are people that have been associated with Sediba far longer than I, who will have their own understandings to share, and I would encourage them too to put their understanding on paper that we can have an even bigger picture of the intent we all shared with Prashant.
“The ego prevents us from experiencing the God Consciousness”.
Accepting this, it is always our challenge as human beings to dissolve ”ego”. This process is both physical and spiritual, and the first practice that is instilled in us at Sediba, is silence, “it is the quiet mind that hears the voice of God” – the consciousness of stillness is the desired overriding atmosphere at Sediba. It is in honouring the stillness, that we were are able to step out of the material world and into the inner being.
To share specifically the rituals around the weekly mass.
Your arrival in the car park is followed by an upward walk to the chapel – the consciousness starting immediately, that we are moving “Up” to a spiritual transformation. The gravel on the road, allows us to hear our footsteps and become conscious of our physical bodies and our journey on earth, and in so doing, start becoming aware, that we are during the act of the mass, going to cross the threshold into our higher consciousness.
The fountain at the heart of Sediba, is indicative of the life force, “the source” as we all know it, flowing from the meditation hall down into the chapel. The Chapel is positioned East to West, enabling the priest / teacher to sit facing the East during the service. The sun rises in the east and we therefore face east to welcome and celebrate the new day, the new life. The Chapel is circular, reminding us that “life is eternal’, and that there is no end. The circular shape also allows energy to flow freely without getting stuck. In some beliefs, corners in a room can harbour negative energy – so the circular shape, with the pyramid roof allows energy to move freely and spiritual energy to be concentrated in a downward spiral.
The removal of our shoes is a sign of respect, a disrobing, and an outer symbol of the removal of ego. Our feet connect us to earth and we are now, because our feet are more sensitive out of shoes, more conscious than before of the earth underneath us, our connection to mother earth. The steps into the Chapel are both smooth, the sleepers, and rough the gravel, reminding us that life is all about smooth steps and rough steps, the two go hand in hand.
And so, as we approach the Chapel we “descend” into this sacred place, and go down into our inner being. For life is a clockwise movement, we always enter the Chapel through the left door as you face the entrance, and leave through the right door, never going backward into our past, completing the circle is very important. The “entrance procession” therefore is a clockwise motion taking us first down and then up into higher consciousness.
The ringing of the gong calls us to start the procession; it is also a sending away of evil spirits, and a sound opening our chakra points. The sound is both cleansing and protective.
The procession starts with the left foot, starting with the female/emotional side of our being stepping into the journey. The rhythm is 4 beats that of our heart beat. Starting with the left foot, we take three steps into our journey, and then one step back to remind us of our past, and the life before. Life is never a simple forward journey. We always have to look at, and deal with the past. But we aim never to live in the past, not to be determined by the past. This is how the ego likes to control us, and at the beginning of mass we are now physically releasing the ego. Fear is what drives the ego, and our fears are related to our past, and now we consciously release them by three definite forward steps, and only one backwards.
We start the procession moving down into the Chapel and then there is the challenging ”upward” steps into the chapel itself. The procession needs to complete its circle once everyone is inside the inner Chapel. The procession must be led by the person/priest supporting us on our journey, and he sets the pace and the rhythm for us all. This process allows us to let go of our egos and take on a united, joint rhythm. This procession is vital to the threshold crossing and requires everyone attending mass to be in step with the leader. The leader will not stop the procession moving until he feels that everyone has released their egos, relinquished their individual rhythm and “become one”.
Our awareness during the first part of the procession is focussed on the icons on our left, as we enter the Chapel, and then our focus turns to our right, where we see the stone, the water, the flowers and the candle. The four elements of life: Earth, Air, Fire and Water. This symbolises life, and they are the centre of the chapel.
At the end of the procession we turn inwards holding hands, creating one body, symbolising the immediate journey we are about to take, an inward experience, and we face the centre. This grouping then forms the chalice that allows the Holy Spirit to enter the group. From here we then move to find a place on the outer circle, selecting a spot that makes us most comfortable with where we are on our personal journey. By sitting on the floor, we are reminded that we are all equal, no one is higher than us, nor lower than us, and again the act of sitting on the floor connects our energy with mother earth. This connection is important as we begin to cross the threshold into higher consciousness.
The ritual of the mass unfolds according to the priest or whoever is leading the mass. The relevant chanting during mass, is designed not to be analysed, but for the sounds to penetrate and shift energy within our being. The fresh flowers are vital in that flowers activate the will force and the forward moving of the soul. The sheer beauty of flowers is what opens the heart chakras. Flowers also depict the patterns of the soul’s movement. The incense stimulates our sense of smell, and consists of are elements that cleanse and purify the energy around us in the chapel. The water symbolises life, the source and new life, the stone, mother earth and all her creation, the flames from the candles the elements of fire, creation.
The mass itself is a uniquely personal journey for each and every individual. The silence is honoured and respected at all times in the chapel; this reinforces the sacredness of the space, and also allows people in the chapel to cross the threshold whenever they choose to.
At the end of the mass the sacred dance/circle dance now starts to the right – clockwise – supporting us gently out of the higher consciousness, and back into the material/earth world. Again the rhythm is in four beat, and reminds us of our heart beating within us. The swaying and movement awakes our life force and prepares us for leaving the chapel. On the completion of the dance, we close our palms in honour of “life in others” and turn outward to leave the chapel.
The exit from the chapel is clockwise to the right, and again we pass icons, ancient and modern, finishing with the mirror, in which we observe our own godliness. A final reminder that we are made in the image of God, and that is what guides, protects and supports us on our journey through life. We walk upwards, out of the Chapel on the steps with shoes on now, to partake of tea/coffee, by way of nourishing the body, after the nourishment of the soul.
I hope this sharing adds to your enjoyment of the amazing spiritual experiences obtainable at Sediba.