Date : 31 Aug 2018
Jai to Generations!! The first of its kind retreat conducted at the Chinmaya Tapovanam in Flint, Michigan by Teacher Sri Vivekji in August 2018 was a great success. To witness the multi-generations, toddlers to Senior citizens, coming together and engaging in 3 days of Spiritual activities and Sadhana was a real joy.
Which grandparent does not grow younger when interacting with lively grandchildren? Which child does not aim higher when placed in a loving family environment? Which adult does not feel happier when choices they have made lead to the right path? It is these questions that made us realize how beautiful our lives are when we are integrated, and share in the creativity and mindsets of other generations. The Intergenerational retreat comprised of three groups: the Pioneers, the Bridge, and the Future. During the Tapovanam reunion, each group shared in the good fortune they have, and have had, to be a seed, a sprout, and a potential tree in the Chinmaya mission family. This reunion gave a unique opportunity for each group to express, the direct or indirect, impact that His Holiness Swami Chinmayananda has had on their lives.
Flint, Michigan compared to other US cities, is rather small with about 150 Indian families. However, it is large spiritually with a strong group of Pioneers who have been conducting bala vihar classes, satsangs, and hosting Mission Swamis and other Spiritual teachers for many years. In great regard to his inspiration and influence, the families of Flint’s Tapovanam remain cohesive and rooted in Gurudev’s teachings. Thus, when a reunion of children and families, who grew up together in one of the earliest Chinmaya Mission centers in US, was suggested, there was an enthusiastic response. Nearly 125 members from all over the country reunited for the First Intergenerational Retreat.
Swami Chinmayananda was a beacon of light for many early immigrants and young parents, who were anxiously raising their children in a foreign country. Gurudev’s arrival to Flint in the 1970’s was a timely blessing. He paved a path for these young and inexperienced Indian parents to teach and uphold the rich, timeless spiritual values of Sanathana Dharma. Within no time, Swamiji had motivated devotees to build one of the first Hindu temples in the US, the Paschima Kasi Sri Vishwanatha Temple. The temple became a center of religious and cultural upliftment for Flint and the surrounding areas. Parents & children were drawn, regularly, to the center to celebrate and experience the vastness of our Hindu Heritage. To promote further spiritual growth and learning, Chinmaya Tapovanam was also established in Flint in 1990 and was inaugurated by His Holiness.
Many of The Pioneers, or first generation, had the grace of meeting Swami Chinmayanandaji between the years of 1978-1990 when he used to visit and conduct camps in Michigan. They were sincerely motivated to provide Balavihar classes and emphasize Gurudev’s teachings to their children. These children, the Bridge or 2nd generation who are now adults with children of their own, continue to be spiritual seekers. Rising to the role of parents and professionals, the Bridge generation embraces the opportunity to observe the full circle of knowledge from receiving it, to now carrying it on. Finally, the Future, or 3rd generation are undoubtedly aspiring learners who can appreciate the culture and values of their Indian heritage. Nonetheless, the fact that each generation is imbibing the teachings of Vedanta by participating in their local Satsangs & Geeta Yagnas, and encouraging young ones to attend bala vihar and Seva groups in their respective cities is a mere indication that Gurudev had left an indelible mark on this small community.
Sri Vivekji was instrumental in making this retreat an amazing experience for all. Shedding light on various shlokas from Chapter 4 of The Bhagavad Gita, The Supreme Science of Knowing God, he shared the philosophy of the Guru Parampara. It was a very appropriate text to help understand the essence of knowledge passed from the Teacher to the Student, and from the experience to the inexperienced. He discussed the qualities of an ideal teacher, as well as the attributes of the student, and how teachings are shared and recieved. Thus, we see in our parent and our grandparent a teacher, who we respect and appreciate; we see in our child and our grandchild a student, who we adoringly guide and mentor. Ultimately, we are all seekers of the knowledge of truth, which is attained only by going back to the Original source, God.
The Intergenerational Retreat was a weekend to reflect, to revel, and to rejoice. Together the groups meditated, sang bhajans, did Yoga and Seva, played games, and enjoyed each other’s company. The Pioneers shared stories and experiences from their interactions with Gurudev; the Bridge arranged fun activities for bonding & growth, and the Future participated and witnessed the love shared in this special community blessed by his Holiness Swami Chinmayananda.
Jai to each generation that holds the torch of this great mission, and treads in the beautiful footsteps of Gurudev.