At the Ashram we are very busy at the moment – we are having the house full of participants of the Ayurveda Yoga Holiday and everybody is enjoying their time together. The participants have their massages, do their yoga and in between they just take part in the Ashram life. Yesterday evening I talked with one of the participants about being here. She loves her time here and said what a beautiful place the Ashram was, with the children who live here, those who come to learn at school and the daily massages that she receives. She asked ‘Who would not enjoy that?’
Well, I explained her about our experiences and what kind of people would really not be very happy here. There are religious, spiritual and superstitious people who come to India for having a religious experience. They go to an Ashram because they want to be in a daily schedule of rituals and ceremonies. They want to go to that Ashram in that time when the guru is there so that they can get his blessing and maybe witness a miracle. But even if they go when he is not present, they have a daily program of chanting, praying and offering at the altar. In this way they get their blessing, too.
This is not what we can give anybody. We don’t have a temple. We don’t have a four o’clock morning ceremony and we don’t do chanting or rituals. We don’t even have a guru! No, there is nothing in this place that could satisfy such expectations.
We have had guests here at the Ashram who had come with wrong expectations and who then obviously could not enjoy their free time or playing with the children. They did not feel like joining our family for nice talks among friends but wanted me to give a speech about spiritual enlightenment or similar topics.
This is how we started giving as much information about us online as possible. Who are we? How are we different? What can you expect here and what should you not expect? I even wrote a diary entry characterizing those people whom we welcome and one for those whom we don’t welcome.
Finally, when someone gets in touch over email, the other one usually gives a short introduction of himself and if we get the idea that someone could have different expectations, we explain right away who we are. Or better, who we aren’t. We tell people straight-out that we believe our Ashram is not the right place for them and it would not be a nice experience for them and neither for us if they came here.
With this step, things changed and less and less people came who did not know about our philosophy of freedom and non-religion. More and more people came who were actually looking for an Ashram free of the religious atmosphere, a place where they are not forced to believe in a guru or take part in ceremonies but where they can organize their day the way they wish and simply get to know a loving Indian family.
I am happy to hear of our guests that they came because they read that we are how we are. After all, we welcome them in our home and it feels good to be with people who agree with your main ideas of life. And then it is nice to share time with each other, to talk, to laugh, to play, to dance and celebrate.