As a Kalikalos staffer I read all the writeups from the summer programme before the season starts. When I read the description of James Eatons’ June 2013 workshop Exploring Reality I didn’t get too excited. It looked like a workshop about abstract Eastern philosophy which regards our everyday reality as illusory. I figured that if I joined that workshop it would be a waste of time for me, because my truth is that whatever disconnects us from the world, the body and the feelings, calling them illusory, would be the wrong track. I believe that you have to go into these things in order to transform them.
But because I’m interested mainly in our spiritual workshops and have a deep love for the East, I opened up his video. When I saw and heard that man, I felt his being and immediately wanted to know more about what he would be offering. Therefore, I decided to take advantage of the possibility to attend. (This is one of the perks of being a staffer here that we do get to go into the workshops when we have enough volunteers to cover the work of servicing the workshops.) In the end Exploring Reality went way beyond any of my expectations. All my projections and concerns dissolved like ice in warm water, once in the workshop sitting 1-1 with James.
For two months I wanted to write about my experience in this workshop and constantly found myself in the position of trying to find words for something which I can never describe by words.
One thing I know for sure: something on a very, very deep level has changed in my life. Something shifted, is different now and remains. What amazed me the most was the way he looked at every one of us, unfolding a gentleness and intimacy which I had never before experienced. Many times I felt that the presence of his being opened a door in which I could just walk in and be immersed in a universe of Love.
As he mirrored back without judgement and complete acceptance of whatever I felt, or thought, or considered what I believed was me I realised that I had been holding on to behaviours and beliefs I thought I had to have fight for. I found that in the pure love and acceptance that James offered, many of these things dropped away. He didn’t do anything, he just “was”; I saw in his eyes an immense lake of love and when I dared walk into that lake of love and risk my vulnerablity, I met myself in him!
Although we never touched this subject in our sittings, a quality of hardness I had in me transformed itself without me being aware of it. Days after the workshop I realised that in some life-situations I had been acting in a way to hold defenses that were no longer necessary. I also saw that the illusion advaita speaks about means the identification with our character and our conditioning built up in a lifetime.
Experiencing Being with James gave me so much love and security that I could let go of defensive crutches which had been substitutes for security. All this happened very naturally and easily without any effort on my part.
James says, “don’t believe anything you cannot experience”. I liked that attitude—you can throw away whatever you have read and find out for yourself if it is true what the spiritual texts of any tradition say. So don’t even believe my words, come next year when James comes back and experience yourself.
Friederike Ernst, Italy
Flowers rained down on our taxi as it pulled away from Kalikalos a couple of weeks ago. Standing above the road, several members of the staff smiled, waved and blew kisses. This beautiful send-off capped a wonderful week and epitomised for me the ethos of this special place.
I had arrived a week earlier for James Eaton‘s non-duality workshop, and to escape the cold and rain of a British summer. James’ meetings turned out to be most profound. Through dialogue and sitting together in silence, James helped me to clearly see my assumptions about what life is and who I am, and how they contradict my direct experience in this moment. Beliefs were seen for what they are and began to fall away, leaving me with a sense of awe and deep gratitude for the mystery of existence. Outside of the meetings, watching the birds circling and swooping across the lush green valley I had a couple of a-ha moments of deep understanding.
I knew nothing about Kalikalos before coming and had no previous experience of community living. I came purely for the workshop but was very pleasantly surprised by what I found outside of it. Sharing in the cooking, cleaning and gardening proved to be a great way to get to know the staff and volunteers and engendered a true sense of community spirit, something that I feel is quite lacking in the Western world. During my time living in Peru I witnessed a strong sense of community, where people truly look out for their neighbours, friends and extended family. I think this provides a vital contribution to their level of happiness and sense of well-being in spite of material poverty.
And so for me it was wonderful to see people in Europe living this way. The connection I felt with people at Kalikalos and their sister centre at Anilio left me feeling uplifted and blessed. We danced in the forest, swam in the sea and had great conversations around the fire. There was even a rendition of Dolly Parton accompanied by ukulele. What more could a man ask for?
I very much look forward to returning to KaliKalos next year, to connect again with the hard-working and generous community and to teach an Introduction to Astrology workshop. And, hopefully, to receive another flower-strewn farewell.