PS: I am also one of the many people who is forever on the lookout for Nirvana. This is just a tongue in cheek post about the economics of Nirvana. I attend the retreats describe below myself and will continue to do so.
Nirvana is big business these days. Spiritual holidays are gaining popularity. Flirting with mysticism has become the order of the day. Meditation retreats rival Five Star Hotels in popularity, pricing and the facilities offered. For those who do like to go in troves, you can have a package customized for you. The guru’s have a fan following that will put the movie celebrities on the back bench.
All of these are available of course at a price. A price that is not affordable if one is on a shoe string budget. Having said that, there are quite a few ashrams, which will offer concessions to the middle class budget too. But then, you will have to seek them out, explain the situation and maybe offer to serve or help around in return for the promised bliss. It does take a lot of energy and money to run these retreats, so the price is definitely justified.
First one works hard to be able to spend for the retreat. Then the harder choice of which one to go to. I am not even going to go into the area of “Faith” and “Religion”. The choice is based on the location, the price and the inclination of the retreats. There are several “secular and spiritual” workshops being offered too. Irrespective of the choice, the universal fact is pricing. They are expensive.
Then you need a certain kind of clothes to blend into the circle. Depending on whether it is meditation, yoga, tai chi or “do nothing but be silent” kind of activity, the clothes have to be tuned in for the activity. The more rustic looking the better charm, they have. A khadi shirt is more suited than a powdered blue button down collar shirt, for these kind of environments. And gone are the days, when Khadi was cheap. The hand spun, one of a kind, with imperfections that cannot be found any where, are expensive. Do not worry, you do not need to shop around for this. They are conveniently located in the premises or near the workshops.
Attire is taken care of. Now the accessories. Yoga mats, folding chairs, pillows for sitting cross legged on the ground etc etc. All these are also available conveniently, at a price, of course.
The many people who serve us at these centers, are more tuned into their Sales per day, profit per day, footfall to conversion ratio than into the Nirvana metrics. Not the Guru or the teacher/organizer’s who are unfolding the mysticism, but the many people who manage these events. For them it is yet another day of business. They are challenged by the same metrics, that we do when we are not in the retreat or when we are not busy seeking trying to “fill the emptiness” inside us.
If we really want to find Nirvana, it is right inside us. Every one of us. Be Honest, Be Good to every one, Do your duty without attachment to results, are the commandments we need to live by. That is it. But in the harsh reality of the world, where every second of every day, we are bombarded with people, messages, campaigns to work hard, succeed at any cost, acquire more, make more money. More of every thing except peace of mind. To escape from this environment, it does become necessary to go to these retreats, if at least for a few days, where the environment is conducive for reflection. Whatever techniques we use, Yoga, Mediation, Silence, all these help in rejuvenating us and putting things in the perspective.
I am for these retreats even if they are expensive. For those who cannot pay but really want to, there are many ways to accomplish the same. Strong will is what is required to find the way. All in all, gone are the days, when you could just sit in silence and be in bliss. Nirvana is expensive.