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Hello everyone

Bonjour tout le monde

War has started in Ukraine: a real tragedy. In 2020 the Spring GA should have taken place in Kharkiv, but it was cancelled because of the pandemic. Now this city has been heavily bombed, and it seems like a bad dream, yet it is a dramatic reality for Ukrainians and our colleagues of the Ukrainian Federation of Yoga. We stand with them and call for solidarity and peace meditation. The EUY has created a Facebook group (EUY Ukrainian Refugees Help Centre) where people within our European yoga community can offer to host Ukrainian people and yogis. Please share this link (https://www.facebook.com/groups/euyhelp)
as much as possible.

In the autumn 2021 the EUY celebrated its 50th anniversary with a series of online lectures and practices, and in this newsletter we look back once again at that long history, this time through a tribute to Gérard Blitz, co-founder of the EUY and Zinal Congress. All being well, that Congress, the first one of which was organised in 1973, will once again take place in person this summer, and we hope to see many of you there. In the meantime, the Spring General Assembly will again be online.
 
The EUY working group focusing on ‘Emphasising Spirituality’ recently began meeting again, so we report here on their work, and publish other articles relating to the theme of spirituality. We would be delighted if other teams or working groups would like to share a summary of their current activities.
 
Upcoming newsletters will focus on Teacher/student relations (deadline April) and news from the federations (new projects and initiatives). Your feedback and contributions are important, so if you would like to offer a short article on these topics, or suggest any others, please contact us via newsletter@europeanyoga.org. If you wish, you can also post your response to the question ‘What is your experience of spirituality?’ on the EUY Facebook page and on Instagram.
 
With warmest wishes.
 
Isabelle, Joy and the Meeting Team on behalf of the EUY

From the social media pages of the Ukrainian Federation of Yoga - March 2022

 
Dear English speaking friends and fellow yoga practitioners, thank you for your support.

We feel your sympathy and concern. We are very peaceful people who happen to be in the middle of a war, happening on our streets. Even now, while I am writing these words in Kharkiv’s city centre, explosions and shooting are heard. It’s awful but valuable spiritual experience which is leading to an inevitable understanding of one’s position. Now we are standing up for freedom of choice.
Our people, as all free people, want to decide what to support, where to go/integrate and how to live our life. We don’t want to live under a totalitarian regime again, because we still remember what it was like and see the sad experience of life in Russia.
 
I am sure one day we will all meet again.
 
Kind regards,
 
Andriy Safronov.
Chief of UFY (Ukrainian Federation of Yoga) and Yoga society of Ukraine

Tribute, in memoriam
 
On 28 February 2022 Gérard Blitz would have been 110.
 
A great man, in terms of generosity, height and achievements.
 
A keen player of water-polo, he co-founded the Club Méditerranée, helped Taisen Deshimaru to spread his teaching of Zen in France, assisted J.Krishnamurti in extricating himself from a complex disagreement with his publisher and, particularly important for us, created the EUY, with the help of several people who were important at the time: Eva Ruchpaul, André Van Lysebeth, Babakar Khan, Roger Clerc, Nil Hahoutoff, Dr Lonsdorfer and the president of the National Federation of Yoga Teachers, Claude Peltier. He asked TKV Desikachar to help him draw up a first draft of what would become the EUY’s minimum training requirements.
 
Thanks to his charisma and energy and his ability to convince important teachers to participate in the adventure of Zinal, we were privileged to be taught by Jean Klein, Vimala Thakar, Svâmi Satchidananda from Madras, Svâmi Venkateshvânanda from South Africa, Svâmi Satchidananda from California and many other famous people from the world of yoga in the 1970s. Marie Madeleine Davy touched the hearts of many participants, as did many guests who spoke about spirituality, such as Arnaud Desjardin. 
 
We should not forget to also mention Jean Herbert, who, along with his wife, did so much through the ‘Spiritualités vivantes/Living Spiritualities’ series he created with the publisher Albin Michel to make the Indian spiritual masters better known.
 
All this came about thanks to Gérard Blitz and for that he receives our thanks.
 
François Lorin

Emphasising Spirituality

The EUY group working on ‘Emphasising Spirituality’ met again in January 2022 after a break of a few months, and agreed to draft a survey for delegates and federations. This would aim to gather information about how spirituality is defined, both within federations and schools and by the individuals who compose them. It would also seek to determine how spirituality is manifested in the Yoga Teacher Training provided. The questionnaire has been considered by the Executive Committee, and will be presented at the General Assembly on 1 April.
In addition the group is working on an online programme on spirituality which would include lectures on spiritual themes and meditation sessions, and with a view to collecting more personal (rather than organisational) responses, the question ‘What is your experience of spirituality?’ has been posted in several languages on the EUY’s Facebook page and on Instagram.

Luc Bael and Joy Charnley


True spirituality is knowing ourselves as we essentially are.

To the question "Who are you?" most people will answer "I am a woman", "I am a man", "I am married", "I am 52 years old", "I am French", "I am a bank manager", "I am slim", "I am intelligent", "I am Muslim", "I was dumped by my ex", "I am a supporter of Real Madrid", etc. The various answers would show that most people identify themselves with physical or mental characteristics, a nationality, a political, religious or other conviction, a marital status, a function in the family, at work or in society, a pleasant or unpleasant life story, etc. On the basis of these various forms of identification, most people feel that they are a separate individual, set apart from the rest. This feeling of separation is the source of all forms of suffering and conflict. In order to be liberated from this feeling of separation, the individual undertakes all sorts of activities and relationships and seeks happiness in the so-called external world. However, the happiness found in objects, situations or persons appears to be limited in time. Some persons, resources or situations that initially made us happy turn out to make us unhappy after a while. This realisation usually starts the spiritual quest.

If we examine all these identifications, we find that they are based on experiences in the form of sensations in the body, perceptions with the senses, thoughts, feelings, relationships and activities. However, none of these experiences appears to be permanent. The only constant factor in all these experiences is consciousness, that through which the experience is known. When we are no longer absorbed by the objects that appear in the experience but become aware of the element in us which experiences, a shift occurs. It is like someone who watches a film on TV all the time and suddenly becomes aware of the screen. The various experiences are like film images and consciousness is like the screen. The images are just modulations of the screen but have no reality in themselves. Knowing ourselves as Consciousness, the screen on which every experience appears, is true spirituality. Experiences can have all kinds of qualities. They can be pleasant, unpleasant, violent, calm, intense, etc., but that which experiences, Consciousness, is peace itself. That is why it is described in the Upanishads as Sat-Chid-Ananda. It is Being, Consciousness and Bliss.

Happiness is not a passing experience depending on outer circumstances but a property of our true nature.

Luc Bael
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