By Kashi Interfaith Ashram
“It is rare when I find myself flying between two snowcapped mountains, but this was the case in May when Swami Dhumavati and I were on a small ten seater seaplane completing our trip to Hollyhock, Cortes island, 100 miles north of Vancouver, ” said Swami Durga Das from Kashi Interfaith Ashram in Florida.
Hollyhock was the venue for the annual Holistic Centers Gathering, which included 60 leaders representing 40 centers from around the world. “HCN prides itself on the spirit of collaboration. Kashi has been a member for three years and I am inspired by the work we are achieving collectively ‘Changing the planet one center at a time.'”
Durga Das grew up at Kashi and is now the CEO of this inspiring community. “One of my major goals is to be an empty vessel and allow Ma Jaya to guide me throughout. Ma’s teaching to embrace all, one heart at time, rang true for me again this year at the Gathering. It was an excellent space for Kashi to share, as well as to listen and learn from leaders of other Holistic centers.”
The theme of the gathering was the ‘Intergenerational Transfer of Leadership.’ Many centers operating for over 30 years are working on this transition, including Kashi, which was founded by Ma Jaya in 1976. It is a profound topic. Swami Dhumavati taught Kali Natha Yoga one morning, exposing others to Ma’s sacred teachings and Kashi’s lineage. “The gathering also allowed her to learn what best practices we can bring home to Kashi as we evolve in the years beyond Ma’s passing.”
One major challenge was keeping Swami Dhumavati indoors. She was hard pressed not to explore the amazing outdoors of the pacific north west and came back freezing and yet exhilarated from an afternoon sailing and birdwatching adventure. She did a great job balancing all the opportunities on offer during the Gathering!
In the words of Swami Durga Das, “Christine Lines, the Executive Director of HCN, wove together both the content of the gathering and the needs of the individuals with care and strength. Christine allowed the space to be a container to hold both new and old concepts.” Swami Dhumavati added, “I am deeply impressed and indebted to Christine who calmly, kindly, helms the ship of HCN, weaving a tapestry of light to guide our planet through this turbulent time!”
The gathering covered subjects such as Marketing and Technology, as well powerful subjects, such as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “I am grateful that Christine was able to relax and recharge at Kashi earlier this year so she could continue her incredible work, traveling to many centers around the world, network weaving along the way,” continued Swami Durga Das.
There is no denying Mother Nature at Hollyhock. “The surroundings were awesome and I did my best to bring our Divine Ma as well, asking her to give these global leaders an awareness of the collective love which is needed to ease pain and feed everyone,” he said. “Our planet’s suffering is overwhelming and alarming. It is amazing to think that a gathering like this we can begin to alleviate pain ‘one center at a time.'”
“As a first time attendee at the HCN Gathering it was wonderful to meet dedicated professionals from a diverse array of holistic centers from around the world,” said Swami Dhumavati. “What was immediately impressive was that despite any outward differences between the centers, there was a commonly held deep passion for caring and healing – for people and for the planet – often together. The conversations between sessions were often as pivotal as the sessions themselves, which were educational, helpful and on point! The atmosphere of collaboration, of assisting each of our efforts to be sustainable and successful, was nourishing and heart warming.”