When a spiritual person thinks or talks about retreat - most of the time they mean running away from their own mess and karma into a heavenly refuge on earth ...
The true meaning of spiritual retreat is to withdraw from earthly life for a while and find peace in an environment with spiritual guidance and protection from any distraction by your environment. Retreat means to step back - withdraw from activity - withdraw from active life - withdraw from active heavy and intense work - withdraw from all involvements with our society and relatives - withdraw from politics, hobbies, job ... from ALL.
Withdraw from all for a while requires first of all that we first have created peace, paid all our debts and are free from all as a result of all our efforts to minimize our karma by working and getting in peace in direct contact with all objects of karma around us !!!
To withdraw requires FIRST of all that you have been really and actively involved in earthly life - involved to to something that creates a basis of experience which then serves as a source for your learning procedure during the spiritual retreat.
A young person having lived from parents and studied until late teenage years or beyond has NOTHING at all to withdraw from - as such a person by searching a spiritual retreat usually wants to escape another few weeks or months from having to start working and getting involved in the actual productive world of serving OTHERS as part of LOVING others.
In modern days of theses years it is quite common that young people like to escape professional work and prefer to live in an ashram - focus on love and meditation and have others work for their living. Such kind of retreat never can be of spiritual nature - such is ego retreat as a part of escaping reality of eternal life. Even in eternal life we all continue to be useful for OTHERS and of course we contribute in full for our own living as well as for the living of others. In addition we have learned or are learning HERE on earth to find a balance of work, love and family - being useful to all creation by being useful to our planet, helping actively to make this world a better world, a more loving world a more beautiful world and we learn here and now to do this in public with our family or with our living partner.
After having done this for a few years - then it may be time for a review allowing to us to have a neutral look at all from a distant and purely spiritual point of view - and distilling the essence of all past experiences as part of our accumulated true spiritual lessons we encounter in our daily life.
By prematurely escaping our professional life - we have no essence to accumulate - no experiences to review - no changes to make as life is still all ahead.
Eternal spiritual life consists of doing with love what we love to do, what we consider fun and enjoyable to do while being of use and service to others. Such "feeling" for the right job at the right time - always and continuously adapting to the ever changing needs of human society on earth prepares us for our eternal life at home in God where we do the very same - in an even more loving and more spiritual way - for God and for all creation.
It certainly makes sense to go on a brief spiritual retreat even in young years before selecting a job - as such a retreat could be used to obtain the necessary spiritual counseling to better select a satisfying job for the coming years. That means at an age of 15-16 years a first spiritual retreat may be advisable - but at such a young age a very few weeks are enough - then it is time to start work - to start real life on earth and grow stronger.
A spiritual retreat should never be made at the expense of others, parents or society - it always should be self financed ! It is about YOUR eternal life and about YOUR present incarnation and career HERE and NOW on earth !!!
Then after a few years of real life and work - a spiritual retreat can be made even on an annual basis for a few weeks or every few years a few months. That depends on each individual family, financial and professional situation.
Before the age of 35 - 40 a spiritual retreat seldom should be more than a few months. It is important that you keep in contact with the development of society on this planet - as this planet will be your home and your spiritual learning school for the remainder of the entire present incarnation - instead of prematurely escaping into a cave or ashram or monastery it is far more important that you learn to adapt to the needs of human society, of all nature and that you use the present situation on earth to learn the difference between useful jobs and destructive jobs. Such lessons are most valuable and the essence of all your various and NUMEROUS experiences from all different jobs on earth will be the basis of your future wisdom needed to conduct a happy and loving life far beyond this planet - into the first steps of your eternal life at home in God.
Later on in life - around your pension age if ever you have been fully working for decades - then it may be time for a spiritual retreat of even a year or two giving you the peaceful environment to achieve samadhi and summarize all your lifelong experiences into a teaching and heritage you may want to forward to others - your children and all you may leave behind when returning home at the right time.
Then after you have done this extensive retreat you may return back to human society for the remainder of your incarnation to give to all your wealth of wisdom and expertise distilled to the purely spiritual essence resulting in extensive meditation and Kriya Yoga practice.
When you are in DEEP trouble at home - in war and battle with wife or husband, with family or boss, .... in deep debts to others ...
THEN it is the totally wrong time to even think of a spiritual retreat - because your karma follows like a shadow behind you and arrives just seconds or hours after you at the other end of this planet if you plan to go that far for a retreat !
When you have to borrow money and count every cent you have and calculate how many slices of bread and apples you can eat each day - then it is the totally wrong time to consider a spiritual retreat at all !!!
The right time is
There are two options and both may have advantages and disadvantages. Lets have a look at both options:
Of course you can spend a fully qualified spiritual retreat at home - the requirements are higher than if away from home and you need a very intense preparation of the following steps IF your spiritual retreat at home is planned to be a spiritual success:
The advantages of making your spiritual retreat at home might be lesser expenses, more comfortable living as you are living IN your apartment or living quarters with your own chairs, bed and furniture.
the disadvantage is of course that there might be many persons around you IN YOUR life who are attached to you, miss you and might attempt again and again to draw you BACK into normal life, going out, calling, ... hence they simply may boycott all your efforts of being away from home at home and nullify all your efforts and avoiding or reducing your spiritual benefits.
Obviously most people first think of that option - the disadvantages are of course obvious - travel expenses and difficult communication in case of problems. Consider the following when planning a spiritual retreat away from home:
You need to be free of attachments to home, to your family and relatives or friends - else you may find yourself writing letters, postcards, eMails and making phone calls almost daily - and all your peace is gone because in your mind and heart you will find yourself busy WITH your karma at home - your body may be away from home while your mind and heart may still be at home - busy with all your unfinished business and karma you left behind !!!
To stay away from home - you may want to assure you really can afford to stay away without income, having enough savings to afford to pay any expenses that may continue at home as well as all your expenses for your stay at the location of your spiritual retreat.
If you find out after a few days that you miss your home too much - all efforts of meditating may fail until you have been prepared for a stay away from home - hence in such cases of inadequate preparation you may find your self back on the way "home" after a few days - having wasted time and money just to find out home much is still to be done at home.
If you are self-employed - to make your spiritual retreat away from home a true success - you may consider a few of the following additional points:
if you have your own business - make sure all your customers are fully care of while you are away - either by yourself by being available to all your customers in all emergencies. It helps little if you go on a retreat just to lose your financial basis for your living by neglecting your customers.
you need to assure that all customers have learned to take care of themselves - hence if you have your own business - NEVER create dependent weak customers - instead help all others to be free, self dependent and strong. If you succeed so - then all they may need is your cell phone number just for true emergencies.
If you have employees - you need to be sure you have intelligent and strong employees who can make decisions on their own - here again you find the fruits of your selfish or self less policy again bouncing back upon you. If you have created strong and highly qualified honestly paid employees - then you may easily leave your business knowing well that all know what to do and will act responsible and reliable during your absence.
To make a longer spiritual retreat affordable you may want to give your apartment or housing away - ending any contract or have someone living AND paying full expenses during your absence.
Two points of view:
If you go on a retreat while still fully involved in worldly life and while still having plenty of attachments and unfinished business or unsolved problems - then the money at first for the spiritual retreat may appear fully wasted as you may fail to make ANY spiritual progress at all ...
to become aware of how many things ARE unsolved by itself alone is worth all expenses. To see, feel and become aware of all your attachments and unsolved karma with all your PRESENT surrounding is a very important step.
Hence if going prematurely and without proper preparation on a spiritual retreat - you may find your self days or little later back on the way "home" to the source of all your problems again. Knowing well what to do first before having prepared the spiritual basis of your true spiritual retreat.
If you are properly prepared - then you can KNOW in advance. You will have settled all problems and relationships the very same way as if you die tomorrow and hence NEVER return. Your phone may be quiet for days or weeks, because YOU have solved all problems, got in peace with all - hence NO one is missing you or searching you or contacting you - all is solved, all is cleaned up.
All are in peace and love with you - ready to let you go !
if THAT is what you experience for a few weeks in a row - THEN you are really prepared to fully benefit AND enjoy your spiritual retreat - for weeks or months or whatever you plan to stay away and spend for YOUR spiritual benefit resulting in spiritual push uplift for ALL others around you or somehow linked to you as well. AFTER your spiritual retreat !!
A spiritual retreat - properly planned at the right time can be worth incarnations - and never be refunded or accounted for in money - it's simply priceless and beyond any earthly price or earthly value. The results and benefits of a spiritual retreat - at home OR far from home - may be the beginning and final steps of your preparation to achieve Samadhi and oneness with God.! Hence of eternal and infinite value to all involved - you as well.
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