The Retreat of the Vedanta Society of Portland
Located in Scappoose, Oregon
The visitors are permitted to enter in the Vedanta Retreat and walk only through its trails.
There is no charge to visit the place, however, donations to maintain the Retreat are welcome and appreciated. Donations can be given in the boxes kept for it.
Please park your car at the Gilkison Road and enter by the side of the gates.
The whole property is considered as a holy shrine therefore please enjoy the serenity and peace of the place being a contemplative witness.
This is a No hunting, No firearm, No smoking, No intoxicant and No noise zone.
Please mind your child/children and keep your dog on leash and pick up its waste.
Kindly help us to keep this natural shrine clean.
In a remote, wooded setting, only 25 minutes from downtown Portland, Oregon, is a unique spiritual retreat owned and managed by the Vedanta Society of Portland since 1936. The Retreat serves its members, friends, neighbors, and those from many different spiritual traditions. The Retreat’s mission is to provide a peaceful environment to pray, meditate, or carry out personal practices that move one closer to God. It is a sanctified place made holy by the sincere intentions of hundreds of pilgrims. People from every continent have come to visit and typically have left more fulfilled.
Presently, it provides a facility for Portland Vedanta Society members to gather often during the year to participate in ancient chants, devotional songs and meditations. Once per year, on the Fourth of July, the Vedanta Society organises a gathering where it invites one or two guest speakers, offers a multimedia show focused on Vedantic teachings, and provides a guided tour of all nine shrines and trails. Finally, the Retreat is used by members for personal renewal.
The Retreat’s unique mission began in response to a vision attained by Swami Vivekananda when he was travelling in the Swiss Alps in 1896. Vivekananda, after introducing the ancient Vedanta teachings to both the United States and Europe, pondered deeply as to what was needed to promote the spiritual growth of mankind in this relatively materialistic era. Inspiration came to him to establish Ashramas in the West similar to those of the Himalayas. What would make the Western Ashramas unique would be to allow monks and householders, men and women to practice the life as promoted in the Vedantic scriptures.
Swami Devatmananda, the third minister in charge of the Portland Vedanta Society (1932 to 1954), understood Vivekananda’s prescription for the modern world. Thus, in February of 1936, to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of Sri Ramakrishna, the 120 acre Scappoose Retreat was purchased. He and the pioneer members of the Portland Vedanta Society planted hundreds of trees, dozens of flowering shrubs and sacrificed through the Great Depression to nurture and shape the Retreat. By 1953, they saved the funds necessary to build an octagonal Main Temple and dedicated it to Sri Sarada Devi commemorating Her 100th birth anniversary. Exhausted, and in poor health, Swami Devatmananda returned to India leaving the new Temple building, fledgling plantings and Society leadership to Swami Aseshananda in 1955. Swami Aseshananda and the Society used the Retreat weekly for many years, increased the planting of hundreds of new trees, and in the mid-1970’s, built eight shrines (one for each of the major world spiritual paths), numerous meditation sites and forged trails connecting them. Following Swami Aseshananda’s passing in 1996, the new minister in charge, Swami Shantarupananda, continues the tradition by blessing those that visit the Retreat.
Every spiritual tradition in the world recognizes the importance of solitude in the spiritual journey. The Scappoose Retreat strives to preserve such a space to continue meeting that need.