Last weekend, July 17-19, Rambhoru Devi Dasi, a respected Srila Prabhupada disciple, Interfaith Chaplain, and Clinical Pastoral Educator, revisited New Vrindaban to offer a three-day workshop on the topic of “Bereavement after Loss and Self-care.”
Rambhoru Devi is a certified professional in her field. Her formal training includes a bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies, a Master of Divinity Degree, a Masters’ Degree in Patient Counseling, and Board Certification from the Association for Clinical Pastoral Educators. She served as resident senior chaplain at Virginia Commonwealth University, became the Director of the St. Camillus Center for Spiritual Care: Urban Interfaith Chaplaincy program in Los Angeles, and recently started her own ISKCON-endorsed educational institute called Karuna Care Education to provide interfaith ministry education for ISKCON devotees who wish to provide compassionate care for people in crisis.
Last month, Rambhoru Devi had assisted New Vrindaban devotees in dealing with grief and shock at the loss of our beloved community member, Venkatachalapati prabhu. This time, she broadened the scope of the discussion to address various kinds of loss, such as losses due to divorce, estrangement, moving to a new home, ending addiction, loss of trust, and so on.
Since everything in this material world is temporary, loss is an experience we all must go through. Rambhoru Devi encouraged participants to look at the different losses they have undergone throughout their lives and create a “timeline of loss.” With the help of a “feelings chart,” she guided us in understanding the emotions connected with those losses and exploring how certain feelings such as fear hold us back in various ways.
The workshop was attended by a small group of local devotees as well as GBC for New Vrindaban Anuttama prabhu and his wife Rukmini Devi who drove all the way from Washington DC to attend the event. Participants were deeply affected by Rambhoru Devi’s expertise, generosity, and genuine love. All agreed that the workshop was transformational and left them feeling lighter and more positive about the future.
One devotee who inadvertently walked into the yogashala during one of the sessions related how the workshop enabled him to make personal progress on deep internal issues which had been causing distress to himself and others who are close to him. He was grateful for Rambhoru Devi’s assistance in this and acknowledged that it was, in fact, Krishna’s arrangement.
A therapeutic harpist, Rambhoru Devi began and closed each session with a soothing harp kirtan which lifted the atmosphere to another dimension. She also delighted everyone by teaching a song based on the Bhagavad-gita which she had written for an interfaith gathering. The following is the refrain which all sang in unison:
You’re the cause of all Creation,
You’re the wonder that we see.
Nothing can exist without You,
Splendid spark in all that be.
Of Lights, You are the radiant sun,
Of stars, You are the moon.
Of purifiers, You are the mighty wind.
Of seasons, You are Spring.
You’re the Soul in every body,
Inner Guide and dearest Friend.
You are all-pervading beauty,
Gracious Love that never ends.
You’re the perfect taste in water
And the fragrance of the Earth.
You’re poetry in Music,
Cause of everlasting Mirth.
This song points to Krishna as the cause of everything. Nothing in our lives happens by chance, and the losses that we go through are all episodes expertly crafted by Krishna to help us learn valuable lessons in this lifetime so we can overcome material attachments and attain pure love for Him.
Through this Self-care workshop, participants were able to open their hearts and come a little closer to this sublime goal. Without a doubt, the great sense of camaraderie that was generated among the participants is something that will keep them enlivened on their ongoing journeys toward self-realization.