Light of the Spirit Monastery

Light of the Spirit MonasteryLight of the Spirit Monastery is a monastic community for those men who wish to follow the paths of Original Yoga and Original Christianity in their search for God.

Original Yoga

Our major spiritual practice (sadhana) is meditation on Om. Therefore we begin each day with three hours of Om Yoga meditation as described in the eleven principal Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Though we place the highest value on Shankara’s writings, including his commentaries on the aforementioned scriptures, we ascribe to the Sankhya philosophy which is the basis of both the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras (Yoga Darshan).

Original Christianity

Jesus Christ spent over half of his life in India studying yoga and philosophy until returning to the West as a missionary of the Sanatana Dharma (Eternal Religion). (See The Christ of India on this website.) After his crucifixion and resurrection, he returned to India and lived the rest of his life in the Himalayas.

We believe that Jesus was a great Siddha (perfected being) and a teacher (acharya) of the stature of Shankara and Ramanuja, and we honor him and them accordingly. We revere all great ones such as Krishna, Buddha and Lao Tzu. We believe that the individual spirit (jivatman) is eternally one with the Supreme Spirit (Paramatman), and that each one of us is destined to become exactly what Jesus and those other great ones became.

Jesus told his disciple, Saint Thomas, to also live in India, which he did, first living with Jesus in the Himalayas and then in Kerala at the southernmost tip of India. (See The Apostle of India on this website.) There he established the Ishanni Sampradaya as an integral part of Hinduism. Later the Ishannis came to be called Saint Thomas Christians. We follow the original principles of Saint Thomas Christianity and our Apostolic Succession comes from Saint Gregorios of Parumala, a nineteenth-century Saint Thomas Christian bishop.

Generically, we are Oriental (not Byzantine) Orthodox Christians, deriving our Apostolic Succession from the Syrian Jacobite (Saint Thomas Christian) Church of South India. We are all that remains of a mission established in the United States by the Indian Orthodox Church at the end of the nineteenth century. Always esoteric in its approach, the mission early on adopted the liturgical and sacramental forms of Bishops James I. Wedgwood and Charles W. Leadbeater which they had formulated for use in the theosophically-based Liberal Catholic Church. (See The Yoga of the Sacraments on this website.) It is these rites that distinguish us as Saint Thomas Christians, otherwise we are virtually identical with a sannyas ashram of the Shankara tradition.

Original (Saint Thomas) Christianity is based on the wisdom found in the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. Our perspective is this: whatever (including the Bible and Christian writings) is in harmony with those two sources is worthy of acceptation; if not, it should be ignored or discarded. In our opinion the true interpretation of Jesus’ teachings can be found in the writings of Paramhansa Yogananda. The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ by Levi Dowling is considered by us to be the most authentic and reliable source of Jesus’ true teachings, though not absolutely perfect and certainly not infallible.

Light of the Spirit Monastery (Atma Jyoti Ashram)

Our monastery is dedicated to the teaching of Original Christianity and Original Yoga through both the internet and printed books. The monastery’s service to others is the ocoy.org website through which it makes available spiritual writings and instruction which we have found to be of spiritual value and relevance.

As a physical entity the monastery is devoted to sadhana and the sannyasi (monastic) life. Those who persevere in the monastic life eventually become professed in the traditions of both the (Syrian Jacobite) Benedictine Order and the Swami Order of Shankara–Giri branch. Our monastic clothing is Indian style (kurta and dhoti), and professed monks wear the orange (gerua) color.

Our daily schedule is very simple with little variation. We arise at four in the morning and meditate for three hours. After breakfast we engage in various forms of work until lunch which is followed by more work until three in the afternoon. A rest period is followed by reading from the Bhagavad Gita, the Aquarian Gospel and other spiritual texts. Dinner and free time follow until we end the day at eight in the evening.

On Sundays and Christian holy days we have the Holy Eucharist after meditation.

The monastery life is totally communal, all members engaging in the same schedule with common meals and a common dormitory. Each member engages in several hours of assigned work daily.

We are vegan, never eating animal protein or anything derived from it to any degree. We also abstain absolutely from nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, and mind-altering drugs.

The monastery is located in Cedar Crest, New Mexico, near Albuquerque, in the forest of the Sandia Mountains bordering the Cibola National Forest. Its uninterrupted quiet is conducive to the life of contemplative stillness.

We do not accept short-term residents who do not intend to lead the monastic life, nor do we have provision for those interested only in a work-study program.

Visitors

Visitors, male or female, who wish to come to the monastery for an hour or so visit are welcome, though they should notify us beforehand.

The monastery has limited facilities for male visitors wishing to stay overnight or a few days. There is no charge for staying here, but visitors are expected to meditate and work along with us, keeping the same schedule. Visitors have their own sleeping quarters.

Those who are seriously interested in becoming members of the monastery may contact us and express their interest, giving us some information about themselves: personal history, spiritual practice, present philosophical outlook, aspirations for the future, and what they consider their mission in life.

Front of Light of the Spirit Monastery June 2012
The front of the Monastery building