Memories from Slovakian retreat

It is now over a year since the retreat of the Gnostic movement took place in Slovakia. It was my first big spiritual retreat which had about 50 participants from different places around the world, such as Canada, Australia, Greece, UK etc. We were accommodated in chalets in the middle of the Carpathian mountain. Close to us flowed a big stream which added a lot to the atmosphere of the place. As we arrived a teacher gave us a room schedule, and after we were accommodated the retreat has officially started. We set our main subject of practical investigation for the duration of the retreat. That subject was astral travel and the goal was to investigate astral projection and to increase chances of having it through methods such as waking up in astral from dreams and projecting directly to the astral.

The next day we went for an awareness walk in the morning in an amazing natural area. We soon arrived at a big meadow surrounded by mountains full of trees, with a stream flowing close to us. After sitting in a circle we commenced with a meditative practice followed by a discussion about some practical aspects of the esoteric teachings. The walk continued and we set a goal to do at least fifty reality checks. (Reality checks are checks where one questions the reality in which one is in, with the purpose of waking up in a dream.)

I have found this particular walk to be very strong. I was uplifted by the group strength and group effort to be aware of the present moment, which made it easier for me to be aware. I felt peaceful and in tune with the nature around me. After that we had practical discussions and practices such as mantras, concentration and astral projection.

On a third day a teacher who organized the retreat surprised us when he arrived to the retreat with Edith Pritchard. She is the wife of Mark Pritchard (Belzebuub) and has many years of experience of teaching and practicing esoteric teachings. Edith started by giving us an inspirational talk about astral projection and how to achieve it. At that time we were in the main hall of our accommodation centre where we gathered throughout the retreat for talks and some practices.

The next morning at breakfast Edith told us some insightful things about awareness and its relation to spiritual work and astral projection. After that we met in our meeting hall that I previously mentioned. This was a very interesting moment. All fifty of us were there, sitting in silence and doing our best to be aware. Soon Edith came and commented how the energy of the room is now much better. I found this interesting because there really is a lot to our internal state and its influence on environment.

That day we dedicated our entire focus to increasing chances of astral projection, whether through regular practices, reality checks, awareness etc. At the evening we gathered around a bon fire. Teachers that came all the way from Australia guided practices and gave us some insights about astral projection. At one point during that evening we vocalized a mantra which helped me enormously to overcome some negative internal state that I was experiencing. Mantras can be really powerful and can clear our internal emotional and mental mess so that we can see things clearly and objectively.

The fifth and the last day was the most powerful day for me. It was a sunny and pleasantly warm day. We started by having an awareness walk in nature, guided by Edith. Before lunch Edith guided a practice which entailed visualizing ourselves flying out of the planet Earth, into space, flying out of our solar system, through our galaxy and out of it, and then trying to fly beyond all galaxies, with intention to see what is there. We did that while laying down in a meadow. Even though I didn’t have any substantial results from it, I felt something very nice by doing this practice.

Throughout that day we did various practices and had discussions and talks. Edith explained to us some important thing about spiritual path, and those who had questions about it asked her. After dinner she guided a practice which entailed laying in a meadow and looking at the stars. She told us that when we feel down or overwhelmed by our inner negativity, we can look at the stars on a clear night, which can give us strength to move on along the path.

After that we went back to our hall where she gave the last official talk for the retreat. The talk was about the spiritual journey and our spiritual potential, and some other things related to it. After that we all gathered around the bon fire, and just contemplated the fire and reflected on this retreat experience. I cannot put into words how positive was the effect that this evening had on me. Positive is not an adequate word, but I don’t know any word which would describe how I felt then. I noticed that everyone was spiritually affected. There was silence around the fire. It seemed like words were unnecessary at that moment, the moment which I believe was for all of us so alive and filled with deep mystery.

On the next morning we went back to Vienna and Bratislava, from which people caught their airplanes, trains and buses back home. The retreat was over, but the feeling of it stays. Hopefully we can all use what we have gained from that retreat so that we can get closer to that which is real. I’m very grateful to everyone who participated in this retreat, without whom this retreat wouldn’t be what it was, and also to Edith for her precious talks and guidance.

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Maya – The Source of Illusion

Maya is a well known concept in Eastern religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Sufism, etc, and it is more and more known in New Age circles as well as in Esoteric traditions worldwide. The concept entails that the entire third dimension in which we live is a material dimension created for beings to learn through suffering and paying karma, and to eventually start removing animalistic and negative impulses which consequently leads to knowledge of oneself and the reality of existence. The substance used to create this third (material) dimension is illusionary in comparison to higher planes of existence. Some traditions go even deeper and say that all created dimensions are illusion and that only that which is uncreated (Absolute/Source/God consciousness), which always was, is and will be, is real.

However, Maya doesn’t relate only to external illusions, but also to internal ones. Internal illusions are thoughts, emotions, drives, impulses and sensations which we feel within ourselves. All those inner states are like colored glasses through which we see the world around us. Sometimes they make us see things in a positive and sometimes in a negative way, but nevertheless none of what they present in front of us is real.

Many people get scared and angry when hear that thoughts and emotions are part of Maya and not really us. Those who are able to go beyond this initial reaction of fear and anger, and are willing to apply spiritual techniques that enable them to remove those inner subjective elements, will eventually verify through direct experience that we are something far different from our thoughts and emotions. Those people will also learn about the nature of those subjective energies and the illusionary way they make us see.

Our inner illusion is very powerful. It keeps us in an almost constant state of daydream, controlling our life through mental and emotional images with which we identify and think that they are reality. I remember a situation where I was waiting for a tram on a square in a city where I used to live. There were many other people also waiting for the same. At one point I noticed a woman sitting a meter or so from me. She was staring at one point and it was clear that she is day dreaming, unaware of what is going on. She had unusually big insect on her face, from under an eye all across the cheek. I stretched my hand and waved in order to chase it off. The woman noticed me waving and confusedly leaned back, still not aware of what’s on her face and why I was waving. This experience showed me more clearly the state in which we are all in.

The more a person is practicing the spiritual teachings, the more one is able to see the nature of both inner and outer Maya, as well as the reality beyond it. Techniques such as being aware of the present moment, self-observation, elimination of animalistic drives and subjective elements, and some other techniques, transform our sleeping psyche and make us see the world around us as it really is. We awaken to the fact that the world is asleep and driven by negativity, yet capable of becoming better due to the Divine spark that each human being has within. This Divine spark (soul/consciousness) which is the real us beyond the veil of Maya, grows and increases our capacity for love and compassion if we do the spiritual work. We then gradually see the Maya more and more clearly, both within us and in the substance structure of this dimension. Getting free of it requires a lot of effort, dedication, persistence and truly knowing what we want out of life.