BRADENTON -- A remodeled Mitreya Center with twice the area of the old one will reopen Tuesday at 5318 34th St. E. for Manatee County residents and anyone else who would like to use it to seek the path of enlightenment.
The center was shut down for 20 months by a kitchen fire on May 19, 2011.
Gopi and Neela Chari, according to friends, has for more than a decade been Manatee County's "servants of the heart," helping people move toward spiritual awakening at the Mitreya Center in the Chari's home.
"The word, Mitreya, has many meanings," said The Rev. Duffy Rutledge of
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Sarasota's Center of Spiritual Awareness. "I chose to think of it as love, devotion, kindness and compassion."
The purpose of theMitreya Center is to help anyone who would like to reach enlightenment find a path by using meditation, chanting, Yoga, music, lessons and discussions, the Charis said.
"The Mitreya Center isall inclusive," Gopi Chari said.
"We believe the goal of all religions is to reach God. Each religion uses different paths but all paths are considered equal by the Mitreya Center. We study the scriptures of these various religions in detail."
The Chari's kept their work going, holding meetings with interested friends at the home of Irek Hicks in Bradenton.
The Center has a new meditation main room that can be closed off from the rest of the house to eventually provide more meditation time for users, the Charis added.
"We want to help put people on a harmonious and peaceful path," Neela Chari said.
The way the Charis look at their home speaks volumes.
"We take care of the center and live in a small area of the house," Gopi Chari said.
Asked if he has yet achiev-ed enlightenment him-self, Gopi Chari grins broadly.
"I'm working toward it and God willing it will happen," he says.
Before the fire, the center held meetings three evenings a week and usually one afternoon.
"We would usually have seven to 12 people attend, sometimes fewer or sometimes more," Gopi Chari said.
"Whenever a spiritual person came to our area, we would somehow hear about it and introduce them to our people."
If the Charis believeone can aid one's enlight-enment through thestudy of many religionsthey seem to walk the walk.
Born Hindus, the Charis are members of Temple Beth El in Bradenton, Unity Church of Sarasota and a Hindu temple in Tampa.
They also belong to The Rev. Rutledge's Sarasota church as well as theDharma Wheel Meditation Center of Clearwater and three Swamiji spiritual centers.
"We are active in all of them," Gopi Chari said,
Gopi and Neela Chariare celebrating the re-opening with seven straight days of events at the center, from today through Monday.
One of the highlightsmay be on Friday when The Rev. Rutledge leads a discussion about baptism.
"Gopi wanted me to speak on baptism of the Holy Spirit," Rutledge said.
"The Charis deeplywant to understand Christianity. They realize thegift that Jesus brought to humanity was loving God, loving self and lovingyour neighbor, which, when we have ascended, werealize is all the same thing. We, humans, have to un-derstand that we are the source of unconditional love. If we are not unfolded enough to be unconditional, that is why we have Christ or Buddha or the Mitreya Center."
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-748-0411, ext. 6686, or tweet 1-3 p.m., open discussion and Yoga Sutras; 7:30-9 p.m., "The Secret to True and Lasting Happiness," presented by Author Randall Gagne.
Wednesday: 7:30-9 p.m., Bhagavad Gita, introduction
Thursday: 7:30-9:30 p.m., Spiritual music from Friends of Mitreya Center
Friday: 6-8 p.m., Be Baptized in Holy Spirit, The Rev. Duffy Rutledge
Saturday: 6-8 p.m. Ritual and Satsang of Ganapathi Swamiji
Sunday: 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Vipasana and Retreat by Bhante Dhammawamsa of Dharma Wheel Meditation Center of Clearwater and Yoga Merkaba and other meditation practices.
Monday: 7:30-9 p.m., Satsang and Kirtan
Where: 5318 34th St. E., Bradenton