Fr Vyn Baily, Hermit and student of Patanjali

St Mary’s Towers Retreat Centre is set in 500 hectares of pleasant bush and pasture land in Douglas Park, to the south of Sydney. It is operated by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart: Amongst the resources of the Centre is a Hermitage or ashram.

“And out in the bush there is another place devoted to prayer and meditation. The stone meditation room is part of an Ashram which the late Fr. Vyn Baily msc began to establish in 1986. At seventy-two years of age he retired to St Mary’s Towers and chose a little clearing deep in the bush about a mile from the main buildings and put up a tent. The tent eventually disintegrated but he did not. He went on to build a one-room hut, three by four metres, with a water-tank and a pot-belly stove, together with such modern amenities as a brick floor to sleep on and a lamp to read by. He lived there for the remainder of his life, teaching meditation based on the work of Patanjali’s Yoga sutras, and living a simple life. Together with his devotees he built the stone meditation room in the early 1990s. Yogi Vyn (as he was called) died in February 2002 leaving behind this wonderful legacy for other seeking simplicity and solitude.
The key for the Ashram is obtained from the Retreat House Administrator. There are several reverences asked for on the key tag. The Ashram is not available to visitors when individuals may be in residence on solitary retreat and are promised unbroken solitude. Even a friendly visit greatly disrupts that solitude. People are often too kind to say so, so please respect their solitude. Check with the Administrator, to find out if the Ashram is available.
Vin Baily
Fr. Vyn Bailey msc built the Ashram over a period of seven years, between 1990 and 1997, after returning from time in India training to become a yoga master.

The Ashram complex comprises the prayer room, made of sandstone and the whole of the surrounding area. Numerous sacred places are scattered among the trees, caves and rock outcrops in the area. A little way behind and to the right of the prayer room is a circular area where Fr. Vyn said mass for the retreatants. Over these years, Fr. Vyn conducted many ‘Ashram retreats’, guiding people in the art of meditation, contemplation and yoga methods. For most of his years at the Towers, Fr. Vyn lived in the shed to the left of the prayer room, living the life of a hermit.

The prayer room itself is a simple rectangular sandstone hut, containing only some chairs and cushions for meditation.
The prayer room design is based on an ancient Middle Eastern temple dating from around 1500 yrs before the birth of Christ. The discovery was of a simple four-sided room with no adornments, carvings or religious artefacts. The fact of it being a temple arises from the multiple temples constructed in the layers above it, with increasingly complex adornments as years went by. Fr. Vyn built his prayer room on the design of this original temple.

It is for this reason there are no images or religious symbols in the room. It is a place where all people can come and experience God, no matter what their religious affiliation. It is a place to simply be in the loving presence of the creator of all things.”
vin baily 2
From his many years of experience and practice, studying sanskrit and yoga in India, and teaching meditation based on the yoga sutras of Patanjali, Fr. Vyn authored a book, “Patanjali’s Meditation Yoga., Translation and Commentary by Vyn Bailey” (Simon & Schuster, Australia, 1997. Viacom International, Sydney.)

Patañjali (Tamil: பதஞ்சலி, Sanskrit: पतञ्जलि; fl. 150 BC or 2nd century BC) is one among the 18 siddhars in the Tamil siddha tradition. He is the compiler of the Yoga Sūtras, an important collection of aphorisms on Yoga practice.



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