The Retreat of the Vedanta Society of Portland
Located in Scappoose, Oregon
“This Ashrama had been conceived of, and planned with the expressed object of presenting to the seekers the fullest opportunity possible to cultivate their spiritual life. Herein the natural setting of quiet and solitude, away from the bustles and hurry of city life, they will be able to cultivate introspection and discipline, in order to bring out the Divine Perfection within, to its fullest manifestation.”
Revered Swami Devatmananda
The then head of Vedanta Society of Portland
Defined the purpose of the Retreat on the occasion of its dedication.
This Retreat is owned and maintained by the Vedanta Society and is not a Public Park.
The whole property is considered as a holy shrine therefore please enjoy the serenity and peace of the place being a contemplative witness of the beauty.
Kindly help us to keep this natural shrine clean.
The Vedanta Retreat can be visited from "Dawn to Dusk only".
The visitors are permitted to enter in the Retreat and walk only through its trails.
There is no charge for visiting the Retreat, however, donations to maintain it are welcome and appreciated. Donations can be given in the boxes kept near the notice boards.
Please park your car at the Gilkison Road and enter by the side of the gates.
Please do not block the entrance at any time.
This is a No hunting, No firearm, No smoking, No intoxicant and No noise zone.
Fire open or for smoking, firearms, intoxicants are strictly prohibited at all times.
Please mind your child/children at all times.
Please avoid bringing your pet keeping in view of the wild habitat in the Retreat.
If it is unavoidable for medical reasons please keep your pet on leash and pick up its waste.
This forest is maintained as per the guidelines of the Multnomah County.
In View of COVID 19 please follow CDC directives
Please stay at home if you feel sick.
Visiting is allowed with members of one's own family only.
If the Retreat appears crowded, please come back at another time.
Please wear a face mask. Homemade is fine.
Cover your cough with a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
Stay at least 6 feets away from people who aren’t from your household.
Leave no trace: Pack out everything you bring with you.
Stick to low-risk activities to reduce your stress and on the health care systems.
Restroom is not available in the Retreat. So you may keep your visit short.
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.
For more photos of the Vedanta Retreat at Scappoose please see our Current and Historic galleries.
We are happy to inform you that the adjacent property has been added to the Vedanta Retreat on March 17, 2020. The map given below is under developement.