The report on the “Life in an ashram with Jonas Masetti on Globo Reporter” prompted us to write a little bit about of what it was like to participate in the program and to clarify some questions from internet users. For those who wish to access the original video we have posted it here and it can also be seen at Globo Reporter website. Since it is in portuguese we are also placing an english translation:
“…In an ashram retreat dedicated to spiritual evolution in Coimbatore, southern India, classes are given by a guru – a master who guides students in the interpretation of sacred Indian texts and the mysteries of life – along with hours of study, long readings, prayers, and mantras. Among the retreat’s international student body, the Globo Reporter team came across 31-year-old Jonas, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“At first, I came across yoga, asanas, postures, and some philosophy. Then, little by little, I realized how yoga, as a lifestyle, could make a difference for me”, stated pupil Jonas Masetti. A mechanical engineer, ex-Army Lieutenant and partner of a successful consulting firm, Jonas had a solid career and an easy future – yet he felt incomplete. “It was as if life was passing through my fingers. I had a good job, I had relationships; I had it all – yet I was not getting the result that I was expecting”, explained Jonas.
Single, Jonas decided to leave everything. Last year, he sold his stake in the company and went to India for a life without television, internet and luxury: sleeping on the floor in one of the small rooms that only has space enough for a desk and a small altar. After completing the two-year course, Jonas wants to go back to Brazil to teach and guide Brazilians in the search for self-knowledge – which has taken him so far away.
“The truth is that we don’t even have to step out of ourselves to discover this happiness and peace. It is already our very nature”, said Jonas. Places like these attract those who really want to get to know themselves. Everyone must choose their own path…”
The Globo crew was in Coimbatore for several days. Though we met them in the city many times, they were only able to go to the ashram on one occasion when all the filming was shot. As everyone noticed, the filming took place on a Maha Ganesha Caturthi, the special day for celebrating Ganesha, the Lord of Obstacles. The crew arrived when we were in the temple, as can be noted in some scenes with the low background noise of people singing Ganapati Atharva Shirsha.
Scenes were shot walking through the ashram, some in the cafeteria, the interview in the temple that gets a lot of exposure on Globo Reporter, also the room that was cleaned and tidied up especially for the occasion.
As for the filming, we think the scene cuts and the description were very well done and we are satisfied and grateful to the crew. We can imagine how difficult it must have been to try to show something attractive for the general public while at the same time try to maintain integrity on something unknown. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Globo crew director Noberto Oda, reporter Cláudia Bomtempo, producer Gionava Vitola, cinematographer Rogério Rocha and technician Luís Finoti, who – besides being great professionals – are also great people.
Since some have asked, two things must be clarified. First, we have internet at the ashram, thanks to a research center that brought the technology to the forest reserve, although it is still something new here. Second, while some do “sleep on the ground” there are beds and basic mattresses we can use. However, given the size, the quality of the mattress and the size of the room “sleeping on the ground” is often more convenient.
The course started in 2010 and is expected to last to the end of the second half of 2013. However, the date has yet to be announced by the guru.
Below is a set of questions that were answered previously at different times and may be useful for those who want to learn more about the “Life in an ashram with Jonas Masetti on Globo Reporter”.
How do the yoga community and the people in Brazil benefit from such reports?
In the world of yoga, since we are dealing with an Oriental theme, we do not have an established understanding of what it is about; we know it comes from India and that it is possibly connected to health. So a report such as this one, although it is not a direct means to teach about spirituality, shows people a little of what life is like for those who study yoga and vedanta. A number of important points were mentioned throughout the process, such as the presence of a temple, the master who teaches in Sanskrit and not through any type of meditation, which is open for men and women of all ages in the world, also requires a certain detachment to be able to focus on the studies and even if the purpose of all the entire study is greater understanding about one’s own self, which is completely connected to our happiness.
What does one study at ashram, yoga or vedanta?
According to the Vedic tradition, both words mean the same thing, however they must be looked at from different angles. The word vedanta points to the part of the Vedas that is studied with the aim of self-knowledge – anta means ‘end’, so vedanta means the end of the Vedas. Now the word yoga is the term used by these texts to refer to the process of preparing the individual for this journey, which includes not only the physical postures called asanas but an entire range of disciplines including meditations, prayers and therapeutic activities. Thus, the study of vedanta or yoga refers to the same journey of self-knowledge, sometimes we say vedanta is knowledge and yoga is preparation, but both terms are interchangeable most of the time. Note that, although the asanas are not the focus, they are part of our day-to-day routine and are present throughout the course; however, since most are experienced practitioners, the asanas are done individually or in small groups.
What is Swami Dayananda’s three-year course about?
It consists of a systematic exposure of the students to the teachings of the main texts of the vedanta, combined with the study of Sanskrit, the practice of mantras, asanas, meditation and puja at the temple of the ashram. During this period, students are not only exposed to this range of knowledge but they live side-by-side with the swamis, which is a great opportunity. By observing how they live, how they think and how they act, people are inspired to make the changes that are necessary for the journey of those who seek spirituality.
In its current format, the course was created by Swami Chinmayananda, guru of Swami Dayananda, the course’s main teacher. The course is administered by him and his substitute, Swami Saksatkrtanandaum.
The objective of the course, therefore, is to create a moment in a people’s lives where they can be immersed completely into themselves, and with the assistance of the teacher and the Vedas to acquire self-knowledge as well as to master the tools that make them independent to study and teach in the future.
What is the motivation for someone who is planning to join a course such as this one?
The motivation is, without question, the vastness of this knowledge. When we study and see the reality of our problems and conflicts dissipate like soap bubbles, we see ourselves as free, despite of all the problems of our body and mind. So, there is a natural motivation to follow this path. For those who are able to invest 3 years of their lives, this course is the best when it comes to being exposed to the knowledge of the Vedas.
And for those who are unable to attend?
The teachings do not have to have a three-year course format and in fact, it is not the best option for everyone. Indeed a course with a beginning, middle and end exposing the auxiliary tools of this tradition give stability to those who embark on the adventure to teach, but everything that is learned there can be diluted and learned progressively. This is what the Swami’s ex-students do, teaching in different cities throughout the world.
What is the difference between the Swami’s ashram and the others?
Swami’s ashram was designed objectively for the study of vedanta. Everyday it is organized with this in mind: meditations, rituals, mantras, and naturally vedanta classes, which are the focus of all the teaching. Different from other ashrams where the focus is satsanga (a festive gathering or socialization as therapeutic processes in different levels), Swami Dayananda’s ashram the focuses on teachings of the Vedas, contemplating their meaning and meditation. When there is satsanga, it is basically to clear classroom and Sanskrit questions.
The routine changes from person to person and the moment that is being lived by him/her, but to give an example: we get up at 4:45 am and go to sleep at 9:45 pm, on average we have 5 hours of classes a day plus meditation, temple and our daily chores.
Have your expectations about this course become a reality?
This question can not be answered directly, because during the studying process the person who starts the course full of expectations and fantasies is replaced by another person who understands that s/he is not in control of the learning process and accepts what comes to his or her way, objectively and truthfully. So, it is as if we ignored our expectations and everything became a big surprise. Needless to say, this process is not easy.
What did Jonas do in Brazil before going to India?
“I’m a mechanical engineer; I worked at Morning Star Consulting, a consulting firm of which I was one of the founding partners. However, in 2009, I wasn’t even thinking about the course, but my life was already leaning towards this knowledge. I lived by myself in an apartment near Vidya Mandir, where I studied and shared this knowledge with some friends. When the course began, I simply vacated my apartment and packed my bags.”
For those who wish to visit the ashram, what do you suggest?
The ashram is far from being a magical place that is perfect and people are focused and balanced, where only true seekers are present and live in harmony – although it may seem so for those only spend a few weeks. Actually, it is a place for normal people with common problems and the both people and places are far from perfect. And honestly, that’s the beauty and magic of the ashram: it helps us understand our basic reality as individuals as well as within that micro-society.
Moreover, when the mind feels secure, the subconscious “vomits” all the hidden pain and trauma. In general, it is a very intense experience for everyone. So, the recommendation is to drop preconceived ideas and judgments and do the best you can, leave the rest for the ashram, for the teacher, and Ishvara.
After 3 years studying and living in the ashram, what did you learn that was most important?
The course teaches the nature of the individual, the “Self” that iscompletely free, and no longer needs to change the world in order to be happy. Poetically speaking, we can say just like in the TV program, we do not need to exit ourselves to find the “blessed” happiness, because it is and has always been our nature.
What are your plans when returning to Brazil?
“Nothing is definite yet, I’m open for whatever comes my way. When I think about my life going back, I would like to share this knowledge with people and all that I have learned. I feel fortunate for being given the opportunity to study, not just for getting here, but for all the background that Prof. Gloria Arieira built and for all the friends in this tradition, with whom I studied, and without whom the course would have been different. In the same way I was helped, I would like to give back to this tradition by participating in the most useful and necessary way possible.”
- There are four …
- The Crescent Moon yearns for fullness – the trip to happiness!
- How much does a yoga class cost?
- Life in an ashram with Jonas Masetti on Globo Reporter
- Or visit our archive