Phanganist learns more about the Agama Spiritual Library with one of the team.
Hello, tell us how you got involved with Agama and the Spiritual Library...
Like most people involved I came for Tantra and stayed for the yoga, or is it the other way around? As for the library, we come to classes and workshops, you can hear about the library, go and have a look and see what an awesome library it is and we offer to help out.
Is the library open to anyone?
No. This sounds mean but we can’t really do that for practical reasons.
What books are on offer?
Lots! Close to 3000 now. We have several hundred books that fall into the Literature or Foreign Languages categories. The foreign language ones are either ‘spiritual’ in nature or simple novels.
The rest fall into the broad Spiritual category, that is books that help you grow, reflect on life or yourself, question yourself, heal yourself (physically or otherwise), expand your knowledge, expose you to new ideas/concepts. Books from numerous masters from various schools of thought are available, not just Agama canon textbooks!
More specifically, we have books on these subjects:
Yoga, lots of them!! (Masters’ teaching, reference texts, practical books)
Health and diet (Ayurvedic and Western)
Religion (Christian, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.)
Many of those books are quite difficult to find. We have a large and outstanding selection in several categories. I dare to say that we’d give a run for their money to most normal libraries out there (Europe, etc.) in those categories. So, considering that we’re a tiny library with very limited means on a remote island, we’re doing pretty well!
Why do you thinking reading and books still have a place in this digital age?
Let’s say that I don’t think anyone will get enlightened by reading one liners on Facebook or posting selfies on Instagram. Reading is second best to actually meeting Masters or learned people and spending significant amounts of time under their direct guidance which can be difficult and unpractical nowadays.
Also, some concepts and teachings require time to digest and assimilate. Reading allows you to go in depth into any topic, not only spiritually related ones.
But this doesn’t exclude other more modern means like videos. It can be very enriching and inspiring to watch videos of contemporary Masters like Eckhart Tolle, Mooji, etc. Also, one can read on ebook readers like Kindle. Reading/books and digital age are not mutually exclusive.
And how does reading help one's spiritual path?
I kind of answered to this already in the previous question. Most spiritual paths have two-fold approach: knowledge/teaching and practice. The knowledge aspect necessitates time and effort. Usually these topics require depth.
You might have heard the story of that man looking for water. He dug a 5 meter well but didn’t find (of course…) any water. So he dug another one. And another one. And another one until the whole field was filled with holes. Had he dug just ONE 50 meter well, just anywhere in that field, he’d probably have found water long ago. Books help acquiring knowledge and depth. As much as I like Wikipedia, one doesn’t become an expert in anything by reading its articles.
Do you have any events or special aspects?
Not as standalone but we support various Agama school events however we can. We hold levitation workshops a few times a year but that’s about it.
Do you enjoy working at the library?
Yes. We meet nice people, sometimes ending up having lively and interesting discussions in there and we could have very positive effects on people. One good book can potentially change someone’s outlook to life.
And leave us with the Agama Library philosophy...
Amongst the 10 Yama/Niyama from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, there is Svadhyaya, Self-studies. This one is generally less known than Ahimsa (non violence) or Satya (truthfulness) for instance, but nevertheless is an extremely important one.
It can refer to the study of the scriptures, experiences from previous seekers and the acquisition of knowledge in general but perhaps even more importantly, the study of oneself. That is the reflection upon our actions, thoughts, emotions, etc. in order to improve ourselves and potentially become realised. That’s what a spiritual library strives to support.