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In January 2017 the Awakened Life Sangha had their second annual retreat together under the guidance of Project co-Founders and Teachers, Peter and Cynthia Bampton. 45 people of many different nationalities came together to meditate and to inquire deeply into what it means to stop seeking and surrender to the Non-Dual Truth of Spiritual Freedom here and now.
What occurred over these 5 days together was a profound and ecstatic emergence, unprecedented in the history of the Awakened Life Project, as everyone progressively surrendered their search and any insistence that there was anything fundamentally missing from their experience now. This individual and collective willingness to surrender opened a door for a spontaneous, vibrant surge of love and devotion. Participants discovered and deepened their awakening to the always already shining, Radiant Transcendental Consciousness as their undeniably True Self. In conjunction with this Awakening there was a deeper understanding of the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which the self-contraction of ego is an illusory superimposition on that Reality of who we always already ARE. There was a deeper appreciation for what it really means to let go of seeking to be completed or fulfilled through experience and the intense aspiration, commitment and continuous sacrifice that is required for this Awakened Ground to be sustained.
In the final days of the retreat there was a spontaneous recognition of a shared field of awakened intelligence, which was the living truth of non-duality being lived and expressed through the collective. The sacred power and sheer inconceivability of this potential vibrated in the in the Consciousness field in and between us. As we explored how the spiritual culture that the Awakened Life Project is dedicated to manifesting goes beyond the liberation of the individual and also beyond the traditional hierarchical Guru-Disciple/Teacher-Student model, the famous saying of Buddhist monk Thicht Nat Hahn was mentioned and rang in the shared space between us with undeniable potency, "The Next Buddha will be a Sangha". This evolutionary potential was felt by all to be pulling us forward.
Peter & Cynthia's approach to leadership is dedicated to fostering a dynamic "natural hierarchy" in which everyone involved is empowered to live up to their deepest understanding. They were as astonished as everyone else present to see this potential becoming realized. And what was making this possible was the deepening recognition that it can only occur when the individuals involved take full responsibility for their own liberation.
In this video taken at the end of the Retreat, Sangha members transmit the essence of their Awakening...
In the testimonials below you can learn more about their experience of the retreat and the transformational work that the Awakened Life project is engaged in...
Laura (UK), member of ALP for 7 years
I am completely blasted, wondering how I am functioning - quite well I think! - and not even attempting to unpack the last five days in my mind. I am simply being myself and the concept of moving from that seems remote and strange. I am also seeing movements of ego in the fresh and illuminating light of seeing them as seeking. This light is like a searchlight not only highlighting the movements in an absolute and inarguable way but also penetrating to the root of the movement so I can see the movement as simply the choice to doubt the truth of who I am. No matter how complex the ego activity seems to be (which is as complex as I make it), it always starts with doubt. I am with you always. I love you all.
Raquel (Portugal), member of ALP for 4 years
What an amazing Sangha retreat! This retreat showed me that we can always go further into the Unknown... always! 5 Magical days. There was a quality between us that was unknown for me. This quality was not even between us, but it was us. I experienced it very simple, transparent and loving. I fell in love with every face that was around me. All my sisters and brothers, and me, were shining, were Divine. I felt that my dream was coming true during these 5 days. I didn't even know why I felt this, but it didn't matter! I was resting in life, in all the shapes that it had. I was resting in Love. I was resting in all experiences that I was living. This retreat showed what Reality can look like. Real relationships. Real inquiry. Real rest. It gave space for one to see ego movements as they are, with distance, in such a new way! I am in constant amazement with the new culture that we are creating, where life is seen/lived as it is and where we can rest in a Divine Reality. I want to express my gratitude to Cynthia and Peter, our teachers. To their simplicity and every expression of love. To their constant life of surrender. To the way that they led this retreat. And I feel very grateful to be part of this Sangha. To the women and men that are co-creating this amazing new culture, here and now!
Joel (France), member of ALP for 3 years
I am blown apart by the retreat we just had together, and not quite sure what happened. I just have no doubt it was a profound and extraordinary event. We were one and no one and what made it possible was the depth of our collective and individual surrender to the Absolute. Our collective declaration of love for Reality had no hesitation: it came from Itself. We were acknowledged to be nothing and that became the ground for God to step in. All that we ever sought or loved was made tangible between us. In that moment only God was left and everything else vanished. What an extraordinary blessing!
Mafalda (Portugal), member of ALP for 2 years
My experience of the Sangha retreat was one of immense relaxation. A relaxation on so many levels, and an ease of Being so Big and at the same time so very Natural and Simple. The inquiry from everybody´s own knowledge went deeper and deeper, and the reality of Unity was very tangible. There was really something inside that acknowledged that the search is over, that seeking is unnecessary, and that every movement away from that pure Being is nothing but a conditioned habit that doesn´t really matter or change anything about who I AM. I know, since then, from deep inside, that fundamentally ALL is well, and that makes me want to embrace life in its totality and give myself to it, to give all my life to LIFE, because that´s all there really IS. Coming back to “out of retreat life”, whenever my experience is not one of Joy, or Presence, or Ease, or Love, and some feeling of “having lost it” may appear, I just remember that there is no way I can lose or be out of IT, because I AM IT. And that is so Simple and Beautiful, that deepest knowing that whatever happens, ALL is ALREADY perfect as it IS. And that is pure DEVOTION to life, and to GOD.
Miriam (Germany), member of ALP for 2 years
Being part of our 5 Day Retreat has been a new, extraordinary experience for me. From the very beginning to the end it has been effortless and joyful - thanks to every single one of you who gave yourself to it with your strength, intention and passion. Every single session, every single day revealed a deeper understanding of freedom, of our Sangha, of life itself to me. The simplicity and power of what we are doing together has been very present for me and still is. What changed is my understanding of freedom and with it my responsibility to engage in life, to fully embrace it and face every challenge or situation with an open heart and mind. When there is nothing to search for then there is nothing to overcome, every moment is perfect by itself whatever it presents to me. And by accepting, by simply being myself with all my imperfections I don't only stop seeking - I discover that their has been no search in the first place. All their ever is is God, is Consciousness, is Reality. No escape, no excuse, no postponement. I bow down to the limitless potential, the ungraspable truth, the grace of God - which is in me, is in you, is all their is. I'm very grateful for the time we had together and the Sangha we create everyday through our actions.
David (UK), member of ALP for 3 years
Wow! What an amazing few days we shared together. I am still reveling in the beauty and simplicity of it all. I really appreciate the time we spent going deeper into the movement of seeking. I notice a much deeper relaxation into myself, which is allowing me to be more available to really be with people and to respond to life with open arms. This is what keeps coming to me actually is being available, that is the posture I most love to be in. I see the movements of seeking in me, looking for some sense of fulfillment in the outside world, but I know it can never be so, I am already full, whole and complete. I just want to give and be with you all, responding to what life is asking of me. I am really looking forward to go even deeper into what it really means to be free. I feel an excitement and joy of immersing ever deeper into the teachings so that I can too respond and inspire in others what has been inspired in me. I am grateful for the Sangha, I am grateful to all of you and particularly to Pete and Cynthia, for leading the way. This really is a beautiful journey and my heart breaks sharing it together with you.
Lotte (Holland), member of ALP for 1.5 years
In this retreat I learned that it really does not matter what happens to ‘me’. With ‘me’ I mean the small personality that I think I am. This person can experience all things, anger, frustration, joy, happiness, but ultimately it does not mean anything about who I really am. Who I really am is way beyond understanding and yet is is very real and alive every moment. When we come together to dive deep into this understanding it is beautiful what can happen. We can see what can be real for us in every moment. When we are on retreat we can really lean in and be present to this truth in every moment without any distractions. So I see this retreat with all this beautiful dedicated people really as the practice. I love to have a Sangha to help me on this journey and to discover the beauty of life with!
Sara (Portugal), member of ALP for 5 years
To discover there are no limits in so many areas of our lives where we attach so many showstoppers. And even to go beyond this, into an Unknown that soon we discover to be more familiar than anything we have experienced before in life. An Unknown that breaks through and shines light on limiting beliefs we carry in the body or as thoughts and ideas. To do this and recognize it in a collective context of friendship, enquiry and non separation is an overflowing experience of gratitude and joy. The individual is diffused into the collective as we realize our similarities and complementarities, so one's speech and small realizations builds on another one's sharing. Over the course of 5 days together it becomes palpable that we are one body of curiosity and knowledge. And also over the course of 5 days together our unique expressions become more vivid and unmistakable. It was this strong diversity complementing the similarities that glued us into the one body that grows and builds on itself. And again the realization and feeling of limitless "everything" was and is indescribably amazing. A different retreat, this one, that bound us as co-creators marking the start of a new phase for this Project and us as a Sangha.
Ricardo (Portugal), member of ALP for 5 years
What touched me the most in this years Sangha retreat was the openness, vulnerability, devotion and love that was coming from everyone! Like never before I saw us as one body, open to receive all that was being realized, with a clear mind and an open heart! I felt a deeper vulnerability coming through everyone and that was an invitation to rest in and as the truth of who we really are, always! The devotion, to ourselves, to each other, to life itself was present in every moment, through every gesture, word or silence. And the love was just overflowing from every heart, blowing our minds and shedding a new light into the human condition. And this hasn't stopped after the retreat ended, what I see and feel is a continuous blossoming of the endless beauty and infinite potential that lies hidden in everyone, and that wants to be fully lived, anew, in every moment. Thank you all for not just dreaming about a better world, but for making it real, with courage, determination and joy, through the conscious creation of a new and more meaningful culture :-)
Katja (Switzerland), member of ALP for 2 years
In this retreat I experienced what happens when 45 people are just themselves, completely real and authentic. My understanding about Reality, to live beyond separation and limitation dropped much deeper in my heart. Also I saw that I’m used to constantly seeking which gives me the impression (so called illusion) that there is something wrong; that there needs to be something different, that I need something in order to be content. I could see that this seeking movement can become very elaborate, a very big castle in the air. The amazing thing was that it was not only me seeing that and wanting to live and walk on the ground of Reality, there were 45 people recognizing what I just described. The result was mind blowing and yet it felt so simple and natural, just to be and to be with everybody. Thank you.
Jutta (Germany), member of ALP for 7 years
I am just coming out of the meditation room after 1 hour of meditation. It is incredible how present all of you are in this room as many and as one. I don’t know what happened during this Retreat, but I know the One Heart got very real, the One Body got very real and that unbearable and overwhelming love is breaking my heart. Fear is arising, the illusion of lack and one thing I know: it is not true. And then the heart wants only to expand and that very sweet pain IS BEARABLE. It is such a good coming home. I don’t know how to express my gratitude to Pete and Cynthia and all of you for your commitment. Without that none of this would have been possible.
Pedro (Portugal), member of ALP for 4 years
As I entered in the meditation Room at the day 3 of the retreat there was a feeling that something much bigger than me and that I’m a part of has been ignited and pulled to a stream of sacred and ungraspable reality. As I heard the chanting for the first time my being was plugged in to one single collective voice expressing devotion and will to surrender to Love. I have no doubt that what happened in the retreat is quite significant and implicating to all of us. The collective emergence of awakening to our true nature expanded significantly in real time and there is no turning back; it’s real, it’s true, it’s all that is. I was and I’m still particularly overwhelmed with how much understanding has been expressed individually in those days and the consequent continuum of collective growth that has been manifested since then. I bow down to my teachers and my brothers and sisters, for the willing to an unending availability to give and serve an higher expression of Life.
Poul (Denmark), member of ALP for 6 years
I do trust my teachers, Pete and Cynthia Bampton, more than I trust myself in spiritual matters, so when both my teachers asked me if I would like to share from my 3-week solitary retreat that I had just come out of when I joined this retreat, I accepted it as a possibility, even though my voice chords had been out of use for so long. The unfamiliarity of speaking was the smallest obstacle, I discovered. My inner experience would tell me that, what I was sharing, didn’t make sense and that I was quite useless together with these people that I know and cherish, some for several years. But I couldn’t lie to about the profundity of these three weeks with our Sangha, because while my "ego inner voice" was going off in one direction the most astonishing reactions where expressed by several of my brothers and sisters in the group as I spoke. They felt that there was a strong transmission. Cynthia proclaimed that it was obvious that I was in the place of My Deepest Heart's Desire. It is a humbling fact, and one that makes me rest in the Truth of who I am, and in the faith of the goodness of the All. Being where my Hearts Deepest Desire is, in spite of the inner protests, is still making be smile big time!
Suma (UK), member of ALP for 7 years
I have never felt such totality of Love before, one Love for a group of people. It’s not a personal love, from me to each person, though It is that too. It’s more that in this group we realize that Love is all there is. It is not dependent on what I know about each person, how long I have known them, or any specific quality about them, even though, as I said, all that is included. It’s that we are all in touch with God as Love, as all there is, and each of us is conscious within that, so it is simply One Love. So why is that so important, one might ask, when there’s so much else to be done in the world to improve it? Because it’s the core to everything else, the healing of the belief in separation. Anything else, valuable though it may be, is going to be transitory, a patching over, a limitation to evolution.
Teresa (Portugal), member of ALP for 5 years
This retreat was an explosion of LOVE manifested in so many ways. I believe that we as a group see more and more the maturity of what we are creating together and we are resting in the truth of who we know ourselves to be individually. I was amazed from the first day how organically our family moved naturally from taking care of the kids and also supporting each other and being involved in the activities. I feel in my experience that the "I" is disappearing and what is left is this leaning into just being with what needs and wants to happen at every moment, so even though I was not present at every session, I never felt I was missing something or I was not part of it. At the end I was left with a sense of magic wonder of a single cell/holon/sangha that moves together in one direction. We are no longer a group of individuals, we are a living organism that breathes at the same rhythm, devoted to the mystery of LIFE and the air we breath is Evolution. I just so much LOVE US!
Filipa (Portugal), member of ALP for 6 years
The feeling I am taking from the retreat is Family! I arrived at the retreat on the weekend, right in the middle of it.. But right away I felt like I was there all the time. Truly I was there with my brothers and sisters! We went deep together in the understanding of the seeking movement and I could see that just by stopping seeking I could be really present with everyone and with myself. And with that I could really give myself to this Family and also receive what they were giving me! It was a fantastic and evolutionary weekend!
Marko (Austria), member of ALP for 6 years
When I was looking out over the rice fields in the meditation room at Avidanja, what was emerging there between us and through us felt like a sunrise ( see ALP logo!) into what I call Deep Reality. “Deep” reality because I saw clearer then seeing with my eyes. The contrast of that Light also revealed more of my shadow to me. It became quite a lot clearer to me that I am young, arrogant and proud. And of course - how could I not be? Absolutely nothing wrong or abnormal about that (I feel like hitting my own forehead - dahaaa!). A part of me feels stupid and a bit embarrassed to have ever assumed something different. But that’s just how we are before we see more and do the sacred work of real transformation.
Fiona (Ireland), member of ALP for 2 years
This is what has changed since the Sangha retreat... before I had great care for people and a lot of love, but I could never understand why people did not feel this or return the love to me. Now I realize that before I did not like people, or more precisely, trust them. This would make me close my heart to them. So my love was not obvious and my care would be seen as interfering or even aggressive. I was always defending myself and this was where they were seeing the aggression which now I can see was often there, due to my own fear. Today I see that I love people and I can trust myself enough to show this love. I can dare to be open to people without needing to know what they think of me. I am Love and with my heart open my love / the Love is there for anyone that wants it. Thank you all, it was amazing to realize the first night of the retreat that I actually loved you all. It was then my heart opened. As the retreat went on I saw more of myself and could allow myself to rest in all my imperfections and my intention to be Love which is Freedom.
João (Portugal), member of ALP for 4 years
Very relaxing and impactful this retreat at Avidanja. It feels great to strenghten the bonds between spiritual brothers and sisters, to feel the spring of ever new energy, enthusiasm and ideas. I’m blessed to be a part of this Family and grow with it, to grow on my own and to make my own family grow. God bless you all! Walking into the retreat for the weekend was very pleasant and I got the empowerment that I needed from the field of love and unity that everyone was participating in.
Helder (Portugal), member of ALP for 3 years
I am amazed to recognize such a beautiful and mysterious intelligence and support from Life - the Invisible Intelligence . In the Sangha retreat, I witnessed the sacred care and guidance from God, through the Sangha and the beautiful teachers (Cynthia and Pete). What I was experiencing during meditations was been later shared and exposed; and what was shared and exposed was given to me later by direct experience. I thank you all for this opportunity to walk and grow aside you. With Love and Gratitude.