Deva Prem writes about Kio-o, a new retreat center in Canada.
Quebec has always seemed to have more sannyasins per capita than most places in the world. There are several hundred of us, mostly in and around Montreal and Quebec City. For 25 years most groups, retreats, and gatherings took place at L’Auberge du Lac Carré, a run-down old summer camp in the Laurentian area north of Montreal. Charu ran the place with love, and as her one-time partner Ati said, the place was held together by love and coats of paint! The lives of countless people were transformed there, and how many fantastic parties we had!
But the building would not last much longer, so in 2013 Charu had her eye on a fantastic retreat center for sale, also in the Laurentians. Negotiations with the owners were long and arduous. They had created this wonderful meditative space, and I guess they had trouble letting go. For over a year Charu worked on this project, despite all odds. An I Ching reading with my beloved Anadideva encouraged her to struggle on (though she doesn’t really believe in that sort of thing!). A lot of money was needed, and several of us pitched in with loans, but it was not enough. Then unexpectedly my brother Tushar felt the call to join Charu as a business partner. Tushar is known to those who have been involved in the Path of Love and the Freedom process at the Resort in the past eight years. In a critical three-day period he raised the rest of the funds needed.
Tushar and Charu are both high-energy people, so this is how it went. The owners still had objections at the moment of signing the deed of sale in the notary’s office. The Satori/Who-Is-In? retreat was starting the next day, and Charu was determined that it would take place in the new center. So Avinash was waiting in the moving truck, and Anadideva and I and other volunteers were also parked in the pitch dark on the dirt road by the entrance gates. Charu and Tushar finally arrived keys in hand at 11 pm. We emptied the truck and broke open the champagne by midnight. Next day I assisted Chandrakala in the Satori retreat, as I do every year. Charu and her staff did not yet know where to find towels or toilet paper, but they served us outstanding vegetarian meals, and all the participants loved the place. Since then Charu, as managing director, has more than doubled the number of visitors to what is now known as Kio-o (Ki for the circulation of vital energy, O for the deep truth of being and union between the tendencies, O for a circle/unity).
Two of my most favorite things in life are participating in Satori retreats and making trails. Anadi and I own 150 acres (60 hectares) of forest on which we have made many trails over the years. Kio-o has six buildings around a small private lake sitting on 125 acres (50 hectares) of forested land. There were no trails at first, so Anadi and I had a whole new playground to enjoy! You can now walk for an hour in the woods on trails we designed and built with the help of other volunteers. In winter these trails are used for snow-shoeing and even dog-sledding!
The wilderness is pristine. There are a couple of view points over the Laurentian Mountains. These are really hills because they are part of the oldest mountains on the planet and have been ground down over time by erosion.
As I write this it is January 2015 and another 5 day Satori/Who-Is-In? retreat is happening this month. There will be another one in July. We have a group of long-time sannyasins that come to this retreat every year. In August there is the annual weeklong Sacred Movements (Gurdjieff Dances) retreat. Though we live our lives in French here in Quebec, most of us speak English, and these retreats and many others are offered in both languages.
Previously published in Viha Connection
Deva Prem was working as a psychologist when she took sannyas in 1991. She spent many winters in Pune, eventually working in the Mystery School where she led heart groups. She now lives in the dream home she built with her beloved on a private lake. Aside from making trails in the woods she enjoys choir singing, travelling, long-distance hiking, and hosting meditation and celebration events in her home.