INDUSTRY — The sound of Lemon Stream flowing over the rocks deep in the woods gives one the feeling of peacefulness.

No power lines hum overhead. It is quiet except for the sounds of nature.

Nestled in this quiet setting is the Hridaya Hermitage, a Shaivite Hindu yoga community.

“Everybody here is an aspiring yogi,” Bhagavan Das Lescault, nicknamed “Shug,” said, as he led the way up a dirt path to the Hermitage, a 50-acre spiritual community, where the residents practice an ancient form of yoga from India.

Two gurus, 11 adult disciples and 11 children live at the ashram — four families plus single and older individuals. Everyone here has the last name of Lescault.

Guru is a Sanskrit term that means teacher or master in Indian religions. The word literally translates as “dispeller of darkness” or one who helps to remove the darkness of ignorance from the heart.

Followers believe that within every human the potential to enhance and expand all life exists. “It is our natural state and the answer to what we are all looking for, to feel alive and happy,” Shug said.

They believe that if a small group of people with this intention committed themselves to awaken this latent potential inside, the effect would create a choice for all, a revolutionary way of thinking and living, Shug said.

“If we are going to get out of this world situation, we need to realize that our current thinking isn’t working, we need to expand our minds and open our hearts to think outside of the box. Yoga is the method to awaken this potential.” Shug said.

Three things make you alive, according to this philosophy: consciousness, energy or life force and embodiment, the practice of yoga works to expand these inside yourself. Embodiment is a path of awakening that views the body as the doorway, not the obstacle, to personal growth and spiritual transformation.

“The body has the ability to self heal and regenerate. If we see that the world is an interconnected organism and we are like cells on that organism, capable of regeneration, what can we do for the world?” he asked.

One of Shug’s four children, Shakti Das, a 12-year-old boy, walked down the path to meet his father. After a few words, Shakti, dressed in a dhoti — an orange bottom cloth and a top cloth or shawl made out of homespun cotton — goes to a hand pump for water.

There are a few modern conveniences, such as solar panels on the roof of an office for electricity and a satellite dish for Internet service.

They use a composting system for waste and food. They are vegetarians and eat a yogic diet. They heat with wood.

The children are home-schooled in a structured environment.

“Everything we do here is very practical, very rationale, very science-based,” Shug said.

He then walked up the stairs toward a straw-baled structure. Halfway up, he stopped and again rang a bell before entering the sacred place. It has stucco walls and bamboo flooring.

Every morning, they have yoga practice there.

Community members built all of the buildings, including 12 main structures. A couple of residences sit nearby, one is fashioned after a traditional Mongolian Ger, which resembles a yurt.

Shug walked along a wooden-planked walkway to the VaShi Mandala Lingam Temple. He removed his shoes and once more rang a bell before entering the building where they meditate at night.

They have visitors that come for retreats and healing and other aspects of yogic practices. They also hold festivals and have a public part of the ashram.

Ramji, a 15-year-old boy, sits on the grass and plays a Native American flute.

There is an outdoor shrine, that looks like an amphitheater, where wedding ceremonies are held at the base of a mountain.

From there, it is uphill. A series of trails spiral around the mountain to get to the top. People walk clockwise to be respectful of the sacred place above and glean energy to bring inside themselves.

Once at the top, Shug takes a covered, round mallet and rings a gong before he enters a shrine.

It is the place of the Gurus practice, the highest point on the Hermitage grounds and the spiritual epicenter of the hermitage.

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The mission of “Hridaya Hermitage is to practice, emanate and disseminate the reality of the Divya Deha, the divine immortal body, gained through the pure authentic practices of Yoga in the VaShi lineage, with the ultimate goal and expression, being the alleviation of all suffering in the world through humanity reaching their ultimate potential.”

— www.hridayahermitage.com


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