2003 SLTS Retreat
The 2003 Theosophical Retreat was held on November 8 and 9, 2003 at the Turi Beach Resort on the Indonesian island of Batam, in the Riau Archipelago. Coincidentally, the dates of the retreat coincided with a rare planetary formation known as Harmonic Concordance when six planets formed the Grand Sextile pattern, representing the six-pointed star as shown in our Theosophical Seal. According to astrologers that weekend was very auspicious and most conducive for spiritual pursuits. Indeed celebrations were conducted around the world that very weekend to celebrate this rare planetary arrangement. Quite by accident, we appeared to have picked the right weekend for our retreat.
Forty-one of us boarded the 8 a.m. ferry on Saturday, from the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, that took us to Batam. Arriving at 7:30 a.m. (Indonesian time) at the Nongsapura Ferry Terminal we were transferred by coach to the Turi Beach Resort where we had our welcome drink and checked into our rooms. After a light breakfast, the participants were ready for the workshop in the Hang Tuah Conference Room by 9 a.m.
The theme for the 2003 Theosophical Retreat, Courage, Patience and Hope, was inspired by the words of the Masters. During the formative years of the Theosophical Society a number of early members were privileged to receive written communications from the Masters of the Wisdom. Amongst the members so privileged was Mr. A. P. Sinnett who took special care to preserve all the letters he received from the Masters. These letters were later published by the executor of his estate into the well-known book, The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett. The original manuscripts were subsequently donated to the British Museum where students today could still go to refer to them.
One is at once struck by the profundity of these three simple words, which become a powerful source of inspiration for those facing the challenges of life. Students of the Mahatma letters will find one or more of these three words scattered throughout the Mahatma letters. Read in the context of the letters, one cannot fail but be encouraged and inspired by the Masters’ words. We often find inner strength to carry on, in the face of adversity, when we recall in our mind, these wonderful words of the Masters. As a matter of fact, we know that these three words in effect describe three eternal virtues which man has to develop in the course of his evolution. Attainment of Courage, Patience and Hope, will indeed be the attainment of Peace. So the theme of this year’s retreat could be subtitled, The Path to Peace.
In the workshop of the 2003 Theosophical Retreat, participants were referred to the occurrences of these three words in the Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom. The workshop was made up of four modules and the participants were divided into four work groups. The first module dealt with the virtue of Courage, the second Patience, the third Hope and the fourth Resolution. In the first three modules, participants were asked to explore and reflect on the respective virtues and each group made a presentation on how that virtue had helped the group members in their lives, how the lack of that virtue had caused them consternation and an enumeration of the situations where that particular virtue had been required. In the fourth module on Resolution, each work group made a presentation on how the group members resolved to develop the three virtues. The workshop ended on Sunday at 5 p.m. There was a general sense of accomplishment and the participants unanimously agreed that the workshop had helped to emphasize the importance and desirability of developing these three virtues. Many were greatly inspired to change for the better and indeed, some immediately put what they had learnt into practice, mustering up enough courage to make presentations to the group!
As in the past retreats, participants were treated to sumptuous vegetarian meals consisting of two lunches, one dinner, one breakfast and four tea breaks with snacks. We even had some time to walk on the beach and enjoy the full moon night on Saturday when we had dinner by the pool side. It was most memorable to see the silhouette of the pagoda on the little island against the beautiful full moon. At last, we had to head for home on the last ferry from Batam, arriving in Singapore just after 8 p.m. Participants bade each other farewell and left with greater Courage, Patience and Hope from that point forth in their lives!
By Lily Chong