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Preparing Spiritually to Reflect on Religion and the Shadow

By Paul Chaffee


This issue of TIO, focusing on the need to confront the shadow-side of religion and the culture at large, again and again comes back to the point that fighting fire with fire burns everyone up. The only way to transform the shadow – in ourselves, in religion, in the culture – is to take full benefit of the light, of all that is good and true about faith and its practice, including justice for all and caring for the Earth, including the humility and honesty to consider where each of our traditions has been harmful.

A festival day at Anubhuti Retreat Center, in Novato, California – Photo: Anubhuti

This journey is rarely easy, forcing us to confront what we’d rather ignore and often requiring huge courage. So, preparing for this difficult ‘discussion,’ it seemed appropriate to start with spiritual reinforcement.

Sister Elizabeth Padilla is a Brahma Kumari and the Creative Director of Anubhuti Meditation & Retreat Center. In 2005 she was theproject planning manager forproperty development and assistant to Sister Chandru Desai, West Coast Director of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Organization (BKWSO) in establishing the retreat facility.  Anubhuti is in Novato, California, less than 30 minutes north of  San Francisco. Before joining the BKWSO a little less than 30 years ago, Elizabeth starred as Snow White in San Francisco’s (still running!) musical extravaganza, “Beach Blanket Babylon.” Since joining the BKs in 1985, thank God, she kept singing, ever more beautifully. She has graced dozens of Bay Area interfaith programs as a performer, teacher, and activist, has held staff positions at the San Francisco Interfaith Council and served on the Board of the Marin Interfaith Council for 6 years. 

Sister Elizabeth returned home last month from a sabbatical at Mount Abu in northwest India, the home and headquarters of the BKWSO. (On her way back, she led an interfaith workshop in Dubai, titled “Heart to Heart - A Conversation.”) While in India, the BK media shop, Godlywood Studio, recorded her singing “Om Shanti Om, I’m a Peaceful Soul.” She graciously consented to let TIO use the video as a way of preparing us for this month’s theme.

Whether or not you read the rest of the April 2014 issue, treat yourself to this 5-minute recording. You will not be sorry.