Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year From The Ashram Puppies

Those Eyes!
Coming out of their den
Seven Total
Photo line-up
Rolling Over
Everything is new, even a leaf

A petal on his nose
Getting tired
Nap time

Friday, December 30, 2011

Transparency 101

In the process of opening
It is sort of like boxing, only instead of hitting back you just stand tall and let the punches fly.  I had reached this point for moments before when I was okay with atrocious situations for myself or the "bring it on moment,"  but I obviously lost it.  Sitting in the pain from the dog and not asking for help, the pain did dissipate.  New understanding.  The transparency is being the spirit instead of the form.  No lint on the filter when one stays in spirit instead of identifying with form.  Spaciousness was revisited and my "heart" was wide open--a bus could drive through it now. The energy field feels like that of the Divine--what I have experienced in the presence of Gurudev or Pahari Baba.  When the little fairies have worked on my "energetic body" it has this same light feeling.  The other night, it felt like the fairies were working on the top of my head to create a little cap--the size of a flour tortilla.

Detachment struck me as being heartless, so I was really looking at how to work with that road block.  Transparency carries an image of openness, compassion, allowing, acceptance....formless. Amazing grace again to find this path so quickly.  Gratitude for the support who help to keep the markers in place and may the dog find it's own peace.

Swinging Up Now

Animal family enjoying life at home.  Not looking for relief, but it showed up in my mailbox.

Winter in Northern California  Jaz


I have decided to start a blog on my "raw" animal experiences.  Many of you may want to avoid the emotions and whatever else turns up.  I will include everything to do with animals and their plight in the world.  Feel free to send me things to post: photos, articles, sites, videos, etc.

"Raw Dog"

"Thank you God for designing such remarkable pain tests."  Watching the humans and all their ways of existing was okay.  Seeing the dog that was as thin as the one with the broken jaw and it had a gaping hole the size of a melon on the side of its' neck trotting through the busy streets....  Progress?  I didn't almost black out and now I feel like my heart fills out my entire outline.  Great, more surface to add salt.  Don't know what else to give, surrender, let go of.  The animal list continued today, but I was at my maximum with the "raw dog," so was I detached or just numb? Speechless.  Not asking for relief.  Just accepting and sitting in it.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Zone

From what I can tell,  I need to take most if not all of my ego based emotions to the surrender pile to stay in the "meditation" zone while interacting with the life outside of the ashram.  It is like being in a pleasant neutral zone so far--no real ups or downs.  It doesn't feel like emotions can exist, but maybe that is just the initial reaction like switching from whole milk to fat free.  It is helping to keep me out of trouble mentally.

The Cow Bar

Cow Bar
Stuff is dumped at the corner, so the cows (pigs, dogs, and more) rummage at the site.  The cows are so friendly, more like pet dogs, so I leave my banana peels and other organic matter on the wall like a drink at the bar.  The bus stops there too, but I haven't seen one get on yet.

This adorable cow lives down the street.  I like the winter wear.

I keep looking at all of these left over coconut husks and think there must be some recycle program that could generate money from them.  The new delivered and the old waiting to be picked up.

The wet is drainage--afraid to ask from where....
There are new road improvements everywhere except I think they missed my street and went for how to make a road worse.  You have to walk down it to fully appreciate it.  The phone line at the ashram has been down for 5 days now?

Jaipur Renovation

Everything appears to be under renovation with new paint on the walls, designs renewed, freshly paved roads, walls repaired, you name it.  I thought it might be the usual annual winter repair, but it is a big gathering of foreign Indians who use to live in India and might be interested in reinvesting in their place of birth.  The city is getting a make-over in order to make a good impression.  Remarkable how quickly new roads can go in when you don't worry about marking lanes, shoulders, reflective markers, etc.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Only Path

Ashram Glory

When you are kneeling at Gurudev's feet looking up into his eyes and he tells you that love is the only path...  A hauntingly beautiful image that stirs every cell of your physical being and beyond.

A New Bridge

Deep Inside
While walking home from the gym, I was observing a local taxi driver approaching a tourist family with the hope they would need a ride somewhere (their t-shirts only had $ on them.) Fair enough, but it gave me a moment to observe the event instead of being a part of it.  I respect both sides: the driver's need to earn money and the tourists who would like to enjoy the view and some privacy.  As I neared the familiar driver, I didn't want to put on defense gear, but I had run out of tactics.  For a moment, everything got quiet, like it does in the ashram before I hear "the voice."  Having never heard the voice while walking, I was surprised to hear a string of coherent observations and sympathies coming out of my mouth as I spoke to the driver.  Only the voice was doing the talking with me as the puppet.  There was no ego, attachment, emotion, or pain--just an exchange of thoughts and words from my side.

More learning.  I have been in that place of deep listening without judgement while sensing horses, meditating, and sharing with close friends.   Wow, a new tool downloaded from the Divine once again!!!

The day before, I had re--asked Gurudev if there was anything I should change in my meditation approach, (I had gotten some more ideas from the book I had just finished), but he said "No, just keep doing what you are doing."  Now I can see how that sequence (mind agitation--#3 on his list of ways to disturbance), stillness, and "cosmic voice" can operate in the physical world. A new bridge and way to travel over the troubled land.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Flower Power

Every wave of the sea, as it rises, seems to be stretching its hands upwards, as if to say, "Take me up higher and higher."
                        Bowl of Saki, December 27, by Hazrat Inayat Khan
Commentary by Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan:
However disappointed a person may be at not being in a particular profession or in a particular calling or rank in life, he develops enthusiasm and energy as soon as he sees some scope for progress. His disappointment is only there when he sees no more scope. Even if he were in the depths of the earth, it would not matter as long as he could think that he would some day rise to some height.

Another wonderful thing we see, which supports this philosophy, is the tendency of everything in nature to rise. The tendency of earth is to rise as mountains and hills. When we see the mountains and hills, and how high they are, our hearts also seem uplifted. When we climb them then our heart becomes uplifted. As we look up to them from below, it seems as if the earth itself is desiring to rise and go upward.

Then when we look upon the perfection of water, of the ocean, we see that it also rises as waves. And every wave, as it rises up, seems to be stretching its hands upward as if saying, 'Take me up, take me up, higher and higher.' It is the same desire that is behind all nature, making it strive to rise upward and to reach something higher.

The whole striving of the mystic is to raise his consciousness as high as possible. What this raising of the consciousness means, and how it is raised, can be better understood by the one who has begun to practice it. The best means of raising the consciousness is by the God-ideal. Therefore, however much one has studied metaphysics or philosophy intellectually and found some truth about one's being, it does not suffice for the purpose of life; for the culmination of life lies in the raising of the consciousness.

We can see this tendency in the rising of the waves, always trying to reach high and higher still. When they cannot go any farther they fall, but again they rise. ... A man who climbs a steep mountain is always apt to slip. But if this slipping, which is natural, induces him to go down again he will never climb anymore. If he slips and then tries to go on he will become more sure-footed, and will learn how to avoid slipping. Perhaps he will slip a thousand times, but a thousand times he will go forward again. It is nothing to be surprised at if a person slips. It is natural. The mountain is steep. It is natural that one should slip. The best thing one can do is to go on after every such slip, without losing courage, without allowing one's consciousness to be impressed by it; to think that it is natural and to continue the ascent.

White, Woman Walking

Finally, I might be getting to the root of undesired attention while walking to and from the grocery store.  I still feel like I am wearing a shirt that has two sides--one side says "fuck me/free sex" and the other side has "$, I want to give to everyone."  The funny part is that I am wearing long sleeves, long pants, hiking boots, and a ball cap, so it isn't like I am dressing in some seductive fashion.

I have asked the wealthy, the middle-class, the educated, the uneducated, the not so rich, and more about this response.  The most coherent reason was given today:  education.  The uneducated look at you without manners and the educated either don't look or only hold the thoughts in their minds.  We all have minds and I am sure there are times we are all thinking things that are not to be shared.  I did find out that there are foreigners who come over and have affairs that give the impression that all white foreigners act in this way.

Interesting to be an adult looking at bullying and discrimination.  I have tried a lot of positive and negative techniques for addressing it.  Not giving up yet.  One of the differences for women is that there is a layer of physical violence that "tips its' hand" when men are acting inappropriate. Do we overlook it or turn on safety/survival mode.  Repeatedly, I am told that the men are not to be trusted and to be careful.  It does turn out that the native/local women even run into this problem. A suggestion was made to take a bus everywhere, but standing wedged inside of a public bus doesn't feel any better.  At least I don't have to touch them while walking.  I was also told that the police action against someone who bothers a foreign, woman is very strict.  Too bad it isn't for all women!  Plus, the idea is not to have something uninvited happen.

On a positive note, I did use the water heater the past two days to take a warm bucket bath.  Wow, small pleasures in life!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Night Teachings

Ashram Flower on Fire

Getting night courses.  It is so awesome.

Tiger lesson--ultimate surrender in the face of intensity or whatever shows up.  Tiger had his mouth wrapped around my neck.  No struggle.  Only stillness, love, and belief in unity.  The tiger didn't bite down.

Walking/being in freedom in love at the core of existence.  Being in the feel in the dream.

I don't usually "dream," so the past couple of days have been interesting.  These "dreams" feel more real than my day to day life.  It has been a question from childhood, "Which one is real?"

Steps to Inner Peace

Ashram Flower
When I woke up this morning, I experienced having to get back into my human suit similar to how I feel sometimes after meditating.

So amazing to have the living oracle to ask questions!!!

Steps to Inner Peace (Gurudev teaching)
1. Recognizing the disturbance (or separation):
    a. material superiority
    b. personality part of ego
    c. power part of ego
2. Turn it all into heartfelt love (I checked with him on #2, since I felt that just the recognition wasn't enough.  He approved it.)

Duality to Unity--over and over again....

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Very Special Santa Came To Town

Grace, Beauty, and Wisdom

Multi tasking as usual--in photos, taking photos, answering the cell phone and being Gurudev
After meeting Gurudev, I feel like I understand the Christ energy and spiritual meaning of Christmas more than the material celebration of Christmas that I was raised with.  I have not been associated with any religion, but my family does celebrate Christmas.  Growing up, I had friends that were Jewish, Greek Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, and more so I was able to sample different holiday traditions.

Merry Christmas Decorating 3 Living Trees

Christmas Tree for the day (1 of 3)

Gurudev Ornament
Baby Christmas Tree

Artificial Flower as an Ornament

In spite of not always being nice, Santa did find me in India...  Happy Holidays!!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Beautiful Bounty of Flowers

Can you believe this is December!  The day before Xmas!
A beautiful group of potted flowers were brought to the ashram.  Gurudev had gotten a new camera that was as light as a bird and he suggested that I take some pictures with it.  It had a great micro-picture taking capacity, so I learned a new technique which also worked with my camera.  Amazing new photo details!!

Do you see the face of the angel and wings?
I was meditating that Gurudev was in the middle of one of my favorite shots as an offering of love (looks like an angle inside) and then somehow it got turned around that I was in the flower center receiving his love.  So beautiful!  The desire to move, think, do, speak, act, was zero.  

Friday, December 23, 2011

No Internet Either

Thank you Mari-iA--all time favorite photo of Gurudev

The internet service was down for three days.  How cool is that?  No phone, no car, no internet, etc....  But Gurudev came home a day early!!  It was so awesome to see him!!  I have been sitting at the ashram and meditating everyday, but his presence is so remarkable!!!  

A Day Of Luxury

View from the 5th Floor (Green hotel with solar panels and more.)
Spent a day hanging out in a luxury hotel, eating home cooked meals, walking in a beautiful garden, working out in a gorgeous gym, taking a hot shower, sleeping in a heated room with a real bed, and following around the owner.  She is a very generous, heartfelt, honest person who was busy getting hot samosas/tea for 150 people from the Leper's Colony, bottle feeding 5 puppies, arranging transportation for a vet to give a second opinion on an elephant that had hurt his back legs falling into a hole (he might have to be euthanized), selecting plants for the landscape, overseeing the progress on the house construction, looking at fabric clippings for new hotel upholstery, picking up a canister for more chicken broth to be sent over to Help In Suffering for the dogs, and more.  What a great day to immerse myself in the physical world.

Following a ride home, we stopped at the ashram for a few minutes, so she could see it and know where it is when she comes back to meet Gurudev.  I had one of those overwhelm moments when I felt what I call the Divine's energy field.  Another great opportunity to check on my commitment to the path.  

Monday, December 19, 2011

Being Alone

Someone asked me a wonderful question:  what has enabled me to make the transition to 100% surrender.  A major point I didn't relay was loneliness.  When you spend a lot of time alone, you don't always look at the obvious.  As I kept looking at my "to do" list, I was repeating many points on the list, but was there something obvious that I was missing?

Being in a foreign country without friends or family is an obvious point for being alone.  But what is the inside of loneliness?  Can you face being alone for ever?  Can you face being alone because you are forgotten?  Can you face being alone because that is ultimately where you stand without distractions?  Is being alone different from loneliness? I thought I was a professional at being alone, but I found out there was some pain around loneliness.  I can always find something to do, but what about truly embracing the emotion of loneliness?  It is sort of like falling off in a nettle patch--not too fun.  Circling around the center of that was what Pema Chodrin calls "hot loneliness."  I wanted to get to "cool loneliness."  I got there, but with some of the same elements of relinquishing an addiction.  What was left behind was spaciousness with a love and understanding of myself--partnering to the Divine becomes a remarkable dance step instead of something to put water on a fire.

The deepest part of me wanted to make the transition out of love--not fear, anger, pain, or need.  Thank you for the question.  It gave me a chance to catch my mind up with my heart.

Communities Rising

Do you remember Kavita?  This was the program behind her remarkable process.  Look at what they have accomplished?  Congratulations!!

Communities Rising
Holiday Greetings from Communities Rising
Dear Friend,
Our first two years have been filled with interesting challenges, rapid growth, inspiring partnerships, and exciting opportunities. Our student population has expanded from 45 to800 students studying at 7 after school centers, and our staff has grown from 5 to 17 teachers. Over 100 volunteers have worked in our program. We now have 3 computer centers and a waiting list of villages interested in hosting a CR program.
There have been many “firsts." During the past 2 years, we have:
  • Started the state's first Lego robotics program 
  • Set up the area’s first primary school libraries
  • Organized the area’s first reading day for over 4000 students
  • Held area’s first residential summer camp for primary school students
  • Started  first swimming program for primary students
  • Conducted the area's first Digital story-telling program
  • Instituted first primary school arts program
We know we are doing something right when our students tell us that they are “bored during
vacations and can’t wait to come back to after-school;” our parents tell us that they “believe in CR
because everyone is treated equally and kindly, and for the first time, our children love going to
school;” and our teachers tell us that they love CR’s system of “joyful learning.”
In January, we are introducing an exciting new program called ATOM | Art To Many – a
program designed to teach art without art teachers. Under the direction of Fulbright Scholar
Kathleen Fritz and in partnership with the Srishti College of Art Design and Technology in
Bangalore, we have designed a curriculum that will bring regular art classes to all 800 of our
students. On January 3-4, our staff will be trained in the program’s curriculum and teaching
methods and the program will be introduced in our centers. On December 27, student volunteers
from Camp Hill High School will  leave for India to help with ATOM.

We invite you to see photos of our students and volunteers and learn more about our work
 in our Annual report. 
Without your  support, none of these programs are possible. Please help us
continue our work with the world's poorest children .

On behalf of our Communities Rising family, I wish you and your family
a happy and healthy holiday season.

Elizabeth K. McCoy
President, Communities Rising

DISHA Hippotherapy Part 2

A day at the DISHA hippotherapy program:

Part of the line-up
Getting Ready for the second ride
Great team effort and helmet in place
Assisted riding for the one's with no lower limb/trunk control
The group at DISHA are so enthusiastic and inspiring.  They had rounded up helmets for the children, proper shoes for the side-walkers, and a plan.  We worked with some children that were more disabled with little or no control of their trunks, so we created a couple of adjustments in the plan.  Unbelievable how smoothly everything went.  The guys from the military were compassionate and thoughtful towards the children.  The horses were once again quiet and dependable.  Everyone from the school was professional and positive in their approaches.  A few of the children were coming for a second time and we could already see a big change in their posture and confidence.  We were able to give some of the children a second ride.  One of the new girls who had no control of her lower body was the one who wanted to go twice.  The young man from last week who was afraid to ride was asking to ride with someone this week.  He started out trembling, but was relaxed by the end.  Another child who was more chaotic became very quiet from the ride.  Magical to watch how the horses helped to invigorate and create calmness at the same time.  The big smiles on the children's faces were priceless.  I felt like I was in the enchanted garden with beauty all around.  Thank you DISHA for letting me take part in this remarkable experience.

Learning to check alignment of rider from behind
Learning to observe safe side-walking practices
Learning to observe safe mounting and dismounting practices
Kindness and thoughtfulness from the riders.