With the course of time and especially with strange experiences, some of which I have told you about in the past days, we have learned to tell people clearly what they can expect at our Ashram. We have a list of people whom we welcome and a list of people whom we don’t welcome at the Ashram. We are really very clear – but nevertheless we had another experience, not very long ago, of a guest for whom we were actually not the right company.
It was an American man with Indian roots who got in touch with us by email, inquiring about a journey that he wanted to book with us. He told us in a short introduction that his parents had immigrated to the US and that he would visit some Indian members of his family after the retreat with us.
We were welcoming as always but also made it very clear straight away that we are completely non-religious. On journeys where we are taking a complete group, we will not go to famous pilgrim towns and we are not going to visit temples. If there is time where the participants can do something on their own, they are free to go to a temple or do their worship but as we are focusing on the experience of other things, it may disappoint a religious person who actually expected a pilgrimage and not a tour as we do it.
When we pointed this out, we received a very positive reply that immediately convinced us that there should be no problems. The man wrote that he had read many pages of my diary and that he was doubting and asking for reasons for a lot of traditional habits. According to his words, he questioned everything – a statement that he later repeated in person. He had looked for a guru but had been terribly disappointed by all their dirty behavior, their focus on money and their worldly interests while they preached detachment.
We got a few very nice mails of him that displayed him as a person who was just on the same way of changes that I had already taken. We said to each other that we would have a nice conversation once he would be at the Ashram.
He booked and came. There was not much time before he left with others on the journey but we did manage to squeeze in a small talk. During this talk already I understood that this man was not as non-religious as he had told in his mails! In one of my diary entries, I described a part of our conversation. It thus did not surprise me very much anymore when Yashendu and the participants told me after their return that he started teaching them how to pray, as if he was a guru or spiritual teacher himself.
He even mentioned ‘Oh, what I am doing must seem superstitious to you’ – which means that he was aware of our opinion and although he had previously asserted that he completely agreed with me when it came to this topic.
Well, I can only take the conclusion that it is not only up to us to show honestly who we are but up to our guests, too. You know what you can expect with us and you will know whether you can enjoy in that way or not. So be honest with yourself and with us and take your decision to come only if you are sure. We will happily welcome you in any way – but you will enjoy it much more if you and we are clear about it beforehand!