OPINION: Voices from Denver House — ‘We are all called upon to create a relationship with Spirit’

A backyard with a tent and garden
The backyard of the Denver house is home to a tent, a firepit surrounded by two beds, a hammock structure, two garden beds and an outdoor bedroom at the rear. (Talia Bernstein • The Student Life)

Following TSL’s publication of an article last week about the spiritual group living in the off-campus Denver House, we solicited guest pieces from members of the group explaining their beliefs. Below is one from Isabel Kelly PO ’20.

Individuals are no longer confined to practice the spiritual and religious pantheons in which they were born and raised. Being raised in an atheistic family, I was literally given no tools growing up to understand and investigate the true nature of my Soul and Spirit.

I was six years old when I first experienced a profound feeling of spiritual longing, and it wasn’t until the summer after my first year at Pomona College that I actually began finding solace from this feeling through my own spiritual investigations and explorations.

I do not believe that Spirit’s longing to know itself is a product of having a spiritual or religious upbringing. For even those who are raised in religious households oftentimes develop an aversion to their parents’ beliefs and practices due to the ways they are forced upon them.

Rather, Spirit’s longing to know itself is something that happens seemingly without cause or reason, and as my six-year-old self can attest to, it can be painfully arduous to try to interrogate it when such a longing presents itself in one’s consciousness without any way of understanding its true nature.

I believe we are all called upon to create a relationship with Spirit, but many factors of the modern world make it such that it’s increasingly difficult to hear this call, or increasingly difficult to listen to what this call is asking of us.

The beliefs, pantheons and spiritual disciplines I choose to incorporate into my sadhana (spiritual practice) have come from paradigms and pantheons that have provided me with the deepest solace of my Soul’s longings. Again, we no longer live in a world where individuals’ religious and spiritual beliefs need to be isolated to one paradigm.

I choose to practice what I practice and believe what I believe because of the inner solace they have provided to my Soul. I do not wear Hindu deities or crosses or sacred symbolisms for their mere aesthetic value, but rather because they constantly remind me of the latent potential I have to love myself, to love others and to serve the Divine as I understand it.

I have deeply personal relationships and understandings of the symbolisms and teachings that I incorporate into my sadhana. Explaining to someone why they resonate with me so deeply would be like trying to explain to someone why I eat the foods that I eat.

I could provide some handsome detailed explanation in hopes of properly describing the reasons, but just as I cannot accurately capture a flavor on my tongue through words, I cannot properly explain to anyone the shifts in consciousness and inner transformations that have been products of my spiritual cultivation.

Everyday I am deeply grateful to be on the path I am on, to have been revealed to such profound spiritual wisdom and to have met the brothers and sisters who walk with me. I apologize to anyone who has been hurt or disturbed by any of the recent articles published.

I hope you can see that behind all that has been written are real individuals who are striving to live a path of Love, service and constant improvement. I have nothing to hide about my beliefs, practices, my home or myself, and am open to communicating with anyone who is genuinely eager to further understand anything that has been raised in the aforementioned publications.

Isabel Kelly PO ’20, whose spiritual name is Sundara Shakta Vinyasa Ananda and is a resident of the Denver House, is majoring in religious studies with a focus in mysticism.

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