This past week I was at Ram Das Puri, which is in the mountains above Espanola, New Mexico for the 3HO Summer Solstice Sadhana Event. Every year in mid june people from all over the world and from many backgrounds and religions come together for this beautiful spiritual event. It was an amazing week! This year I think there were around 2,000 people who attended! Having this mix of people really makes it interesting.
I like to think of the event as the "pressure cooker". In this short week people are "cooked" in this speed "cooker" and uplifed and changed. From early morning till late at night there are so many things going on. You don’t have the normal luxuries of your home but it doesn’t seem to matter. Camping out in the high desert mountains of Espanola, New Mexico in this "mini city" for the week is a real experience which can be challenging at times. Wether you are a movie star, high profile CEO, or just a restaurant dish washer, everyone has to go through the same thing. It is such an equalizer, and wordly status doesn’t seem to stand at all here. Everyone is just another spiritual seeker working on themself in some form.
In the morning after Sadhana meditations I watched as people lined up to bow their heads before the Guru. It was so inspiring to see the longing for the Guru and the emotion that was being felt. During the day I would go and sit in the Gurdwara as the Akandh Path was being read and there was always a stream of people coming in to bow, mediate and sit with the Guru. So many of the people looked like they were from other religious backgrounds and very new to Sikhi. When they came in and bowed their head I could see that longing for the Guru in their eyes. There was that fresh feeling in the air of something so spiritual and sacred. It’s hard to put it to words.
I wouldn’t categorize the summer solstice camp as a "Sikhi Camp" compared to your typical Sikh camp, but because their is such a strong Sikhi element in the camp many people are drawn to this path. I think the event is quite inclusive and accepting. While mistakes are probably made and some people might do some things which might be considered improper, I find that in spite of that people are moving forward. It reminds me of the early days in the 70’s when my parents generation were first learning about Sikhi. This was such a new thing and I’m sure many mistakes were made along the way. This was part of the growth and the learning process. If there was someone judging them all along the way they might not be here as they are today. So, I think if you were to come to Summer Solstice you would have to have an open mind and just experience things, otherwise you might get caught up in finding faults in people, rather than seeing the bigger picture and going within yourself.
When I move up to the campsite and setup my tent I don’t like to leave for the whole week. There is something about being up there the whole time and disconnecting from my normally every day life which is so impactful. It’s always feels odd coming down the mountain after a week of meditation and being in the the little "Summer Solstice Town" for the week. I always feel a major positive shift in myself and my spiritual practice after this week. Being with the Sadh Sangat on this sacred land is so beautiful. I felt so much emotion every time I sat before the Guru and listened to Gurbani or meditated. Sometimes you have to take yourself out of your normal life to recognize and feel that longing for the Guru.
It was really cool seeing so many people from International places. There was a big group from England and so many people from Spanish speaking countries (South America, Mexico, etc). So often we think of Sikhi as Punjabi, but more and more this cultural base isn’t there as people become Sikhs from different cultures. It is awesome to see this growth and change in the face of Sikhs. It’s like seeing the little seeds that have just sprouted up and popping up all over the soil; watching it grow slowly but steadily.
Overall the week was beautiful. My son Narayan had a so much fun. Once he was up on the mountain he just roamed wild with his friends and we used our walkey talky radios to locate each other when needed. It rained a bit almost every day so it didn’t get too hot.
I did a test live broadcast of some of the event and it appeared to go well. I broadcasted the whole International Peace Prayer Day Event, Sunday Gurdwara and the Last evening of the All night Rensabhai Kirtan. Maybe next year we can do this again, but get the word out officially.
Here are some pictures from this past week. I didn’t want to post them individually because there were too many, so I am posting a slide show.
When the slideshow move your mouse over the picture and then click on the "i" button in the middle so you’ll see descriptions with the photos.