Saturday, April 30, 2011

Animal Kingdom

As an animal person, one of the lovely parts of India is feeling like you live in the animal kingdom night and day. You don't have to go to the zoo to see exotic animals. You just go out on the street and open your eyes. Someone asked if I missed riding the horses--not really, surprisingly. I have been in a long conflict (years) around the consciousness of training animals. I have never been satisfied with the training techniques, (as witnessed in my earliest blogging), I impose on animals for the sake of human pleasure. People tend to include me in the humane animal training group, but I have always searched for clearer communication and less confrontation. Would I miss being around animals--terribly, but I enjoy interacting with them more than training them at this point. I so enjoy saying good morning to the camels and the cows during my walk.

Even though the animals in India are often overburdened, lame, poor nutrition, wounds etc., it is somehow different not to be responsible for them. My time at Sterling Farms, San Diego has allowed me one of the most ideal attempts for animal management in my career to date. I have been able to find quite a big dose of peace around how the animals live--their quality of life.

My step back into a horse world (South Africa) that inflicted pain, overlooked lameness, etc. stirred up an incredible amount of pain. I don't seem to be able to overlook the abuse when my hands are directly connected to the problem. It isn't comfortable to observe it either, but somehow getting some of the blood on my own hands is more unsettling. This is what stirred me to start all of this" journey of the heart." Could I become cold hearted enough to shut down and not care? It didn't work for me, it almost killed me on several occasions. Could I increase my heart capacity enough or have techniques that afforded me peace in the presence or action of something inhumane? Is it a greater capacity for humility and love?

While my ego was making one last (or maybe it will spark up again?) big effort to discourage me from moving to India for the pathway of spiritual deepening, I realized the futility of the ego's arguments. It doesn't mind falling into the same mud hole or stepping on the same land mind. In sort of a sick way, it appears to thrive on it. (Ekhart Tolle talks about the pain body and its need to feed in "The Power of Now.") I don't know if I will return to training horses, but there is no going back to not taking this next step, (or whatever step appears next to know more.)

As I have 14 hours layover in the Doha airport, more than enough time to reflect, I can already sense that I am more a part of the web of human life than just a bug stuck on the web. I am very curious to experience "my" world after these life changing 3 months.

Details of life

A few updates: the puppy got a cast a few weeks back (and now she is running on it), the cow with the broken leg was picked up by a humane treatment for animals group, and the camel's nose is getting better.

The bathroom at the new place is coming along. He actually tiled it! We are working out the details around the shower spraying directly on the power switches which might lead to electrocution, (that would be some serious shakti downloading!)

I went to a power yoga class for women with the wife of the hotel owner. It was really fun to meet and hang out with a group of women in another culture. The instructor was helpful and patient (thank goodness for the one lesson from Karn.) They all seemed to be surprised that I could hang in there with no fan and on a very hot day. Sometimes I take for granted the years of physical training, but I appreciate it more and more as it allows me the chance to explore cities and countrysides by foot, jump into varied physical activities, and a freedom of its own. There is a lot of motivation to keep up with the fitness and nutrition as long as I am able.

Bonus! Yoga lesson from Gurudev

The sitting situation is getting better, but I am thinking this is a several year project. I have increased my cross-legged sitting time from 15 minutes to 45, my overall sitting time to 3 hours if I change position every 30 minutes or so, and my overall sitting time in two session to 6 hours. I have been trying to focus on not losing my core connection even if I need to change my leg position, because that seems to keep me centered over my seat bones the best. For awhile, it was a trade off between my back getting tired and needing to lean on something, to not sitting over my pelvis in a way that was creating sore seat bones (at least that is what I call them from riding.) There is a point after three hours, that my knees just say no, so I take a break and go for a walk. When I come back in the afternoon, my knees are usually saying no cross-legged stuff, but my core is strong enough to keep with the back posture. It is starting to get more comfortable to not lean on something unless I want to abandon the body all together and just melt into the energy part. Remarkable fitness and flexibility training. If everyone just worked on their posture all day, it would be an amazing fitness challenge.

While I was sitting, I noticed Gurudev was sitting with his legs folded in a way that I hadn't noticed before, so I thought I would try it. One side was sort of working, but the other side wasn't so well. I guess he noticed, so he gave me some help on my yoga practice. Bonus!!! He did say it was much easier if you started this stuff from youth, but the most important was the straight spine. I asked him to check my straightness to see if I was in the ball park and he said that was fine and that he had noticed that I tend to keep that part together, (thank you for years of riding, ballroom dancing, and fitness training.) All of this is so amazing, now I have my homework assignments: inner energy field and spine straightness.

Do energy fields have different textures and qualities?

Chewing on the new found inner wattage. Somehow it feels like what I have been looking for on the outside is now on my inside. (Of course, it has probably always been there, but I had to move from a mud hut to a lint screen to notice.) I had a chance to meditate for an hour while Gurudev was out supervising the new temple building at the Wishing Tree (I might have that name wrong?) and explore how to find that place again. I started with visualizing Gurudev and Pahari Baba inside of my heart and little by little, the images turned into an energy hole that continued to enlarge. Sort of like starting with the one bedroom apartment and moving onto a multilevel apartment building. Of course when Gurudev came into the area, it automatically increased to multiple, multilevel apartment buildings. I am curious where this leads too, but I appreciate finding it again.
I took a last trip up to Amber Fort to sit in the Kali Temple. While I was meditating, I was able to find that place inside again. It started out a bit wobbly like a bad internet connection. Curious thing happened (not that all of this is not curious...), it started out in the Gurudev/Pahari Baba energy feel and once it got going, it was like a new feel of energy started to flood in and fill the space. Maybe it was the Kali Temple energy field? It had a softer, more feminine feel to it. Unfortunately, I am leaving tomorrow, so no more opportunities to go energy field sampling at the different temples.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The nature of the symbolism

It is so lovely how I get mini teachings from the disciples of Gurudev. One of the women graciously explained about the evolution of the different spiritual beings (Durga, Shiva, etc.) in the practice of Hinduism. What they represent, how to incorporate and be inspired by their symbolism. It isn't as much the form of the divine being, but what is behind the form. For me this all helps, since I have never been "religious." The authenticity of animals and nature have been more of my inspired core of beliefs. Anything with skin/bones/two legs tends to be cause for suspicion, so this is another reason that I am so struck by Gurudev's purity. I keep hearing how each guru has their personal "style" and Gurudev's is love, peace, and compassion. While living in India, I would be interested to experience other gurus not unlike experiencing the different wild animals in South Africa--all animals, just different spots, ways of moving, etc.

Sometimes people who speak English as a second language use words in a more direct and literal way than native speakers whose familiarity with the words can lead to generalities and vagueness. I often find it refreshing and it brings new life to the truth of the spoken word. The idea of unconditional surrender was brought up and it struck me, because my brain wanted to go automatically to unconditional love. Cousins by nature, but what could be learned by the word choice of unconditional surrender? A lot! Probably the next door to open or potion to drink, (Alice...)

A small group of people at the ashram have been curious to read my blog and see how I am experiencing all of this as a westerner, so there is an interest for me to keep blogging and see what happens in my California life as a result of the teachings. How cool is that! Oh, I just noticed that people have made comments on the blog entries--on the blog, so thank you (not to leave out mentioning all of the amazing emails too!!!)

This evening, I spent a few minutes reflecting on "one day left" feelings. Was I sad, happy, anxious, relieved? Probably fragments of all, but the best part is feeling like I am taking home some new sense of inner being and peace that can be connected to no matter where I am in the world. It isn't really a goodbye in the way we typically feel leaving friends and family, but only a relocation of a new inner light. Maybe it is like the Olympic torch that is carried from one Olympic site to the next without ever being extinguished? Of course, I will miss the direct feed, mega-wattage created through Gurudev, the holy company who attend the ashram, and the spiritual lineage, but he mentioned the word "nature." Instead of going to the ashram, I can go to the beach and take in the peaceful expansiveness of the ocean or sit under one of the amazing trees in the area or...

Integrating the West and the East

Morning spent running around looking at horse art work and inquiring about making jewelry from our Phoenix EQ logo. A fun part of the Indian experience/education too. Oh my gosh, the artist showing me his paintings proceeded to paint "Lena and Susan visited India" on a single grain of rice to demonstrate his abilities. Crazy!!

I arrived at the ashram later than usual and in more of a business mode. Curious to see what would happen, since this is more of the reality when I get home. When I sit alone in the area where Gurudev hangs out, I am probably cooking around 125 degrees, the minute he shows up--easily add five, six, seven hundred degrees or more. Ok, then I spent an hour of the three hours meditating in tears, because of the amazing sense of love and peace that radiates through his presence. Today, I felt like I touched into some new level or realization of what could be the future. Interesting to go from western business mindset to this in an hour and I am still in the same body. Obviously, I am limiting this as a regular state of being. Slow learner... What would it be like to have this amount of love and humility as a way of being in the world? It felt limitless, formless, no edges. Just some sort of formless being in a space bigger than an ocean--maybe a universe in size. I was aware of my body, but it somehow didn't restrict this sense of limitlessness. All of this in a lesson without a single word. He only commented about how many different sweets that I have experienced in India, while I was looking at the bowl of prashad, that graciously showed up. And yes, there was a sweet that I had not seen or tried, date wrapped around some sort of pistachio filling.

I had a little giggle that we are like mobile bags of plasma with assorted things floating in the plasma. Poor Gurudev sees all of these bags approaching, he sees what is in them, but we don't have a clue. He helps us put our bags through dialysis. He never runs off, refuses anyone's presence, always makes time to answer questions, be thoughtfully attends to all of our needs like we are his children (you experience more unconditional love then any human has offered, family or not), and lives in the world at large. Super Human!!!

Drive home

I was offered a ride home from the ashram last night, (people are very kind to drop me off at night, even though I enjoy the quiet and coolness of the night), so as I was piling into the car in an altered state of reality, I was marveling at the driver's ability to navigate a car. I don't think that I would be safe to drive in that state, sort of like taking an overdose of antihistamines is the closest I could compare it to. They started to ask me what I was experiencing, so I was trying to find words--it made it sound so crazy (fortunately, they were both much farther down the spiritual path, so it probably didn't crazy to them.) Then they asked if I felt anything from the 9 days of the Durga Celebration. I explained that after 5 days of attending, I took one morning to intentionally miss the ceremony, so I could compare if I was feeling anything different. Yes, significant different loading dose of shakti for the day. Then they wanted to know if I had experienced any extreme bliss states. Hard to say if leaving your body or feeling like you are going to die from a shakti overdose counts? Interesting questions to field when it is all so new.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Photos of the area around the living quarters

The room is above the store (the building with the ladder leaning on it is the new bathroom.) The elephants were walking down the road behind the room.
View down the street to the ashram.

View from the rooftop of the new living quarters

As I flipped on the television to accompany my hotel workout, Alice in Wonderland was starting. How appropriate. Alice was getting proposed to, but then she decided to follow the rabbit down the hole instead. I think that sums up everything pretty well right now. I am living my conventional Western lifestyle on a beautiful ranch, perfect San Diego weather, fantastic owners of the ranch (the best!), super thoughtful clients (superb!), abundance of everything material, and I decide to do what? Go down the rabbit hole in India? Well, the good news is Gurudev is in the rabbit hole.

Spent 48 hours really wrestling with my ego on the final decision. If I was a horse tied up to a hitching rail, I was sitting down and pulling back. The funny thing is when horses break the rope, they only have freedom for a moment, until someone catches them and ties them back up. I was realizing that returning to Utopia still wouldn't satisfy my internal answers.

After asking Gurudev permission to continue my internal process at the ashram (he agreed), a room several hundred yards down the road from the ashram for $20/month (not including electricity but ridiculously inexpensive by Indian standards...) manifested. Magic! I am investing $70 into constructing a bathroom with a shower head, basin, and western toilet, and faucet--making it luxurious. The good parts are the price, proximity to the ashram, and the view. We (Karn, the yoga instructor, is renting the other room) are on the edge of the city, so there is access to the parks and hills outside of our door. I must have done enough walking purification to warrant the location.

I will still be returning to San Diego next week, to extend my visa, sell horses, help sort out my clients next steps, animals relocated, and possessions/car put into storage (or sold), before returning to Jaipur for an open ended length of time. Not sure how long the sorting will take, no stress--it is all unfolding.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

An end leads to a new beginning

Photo by Devdutt Ashram flower

As my three months of seeking is coming to an end, I also know that it is only a beginning --a rebirth of sorts. Experiencing the essence of nature, animals, and human nature has led me to the truth, beauty, wisdom, and love of what lies behind. Now, to step into this unfolding and see where it goes...the door is open, so returning is inevitable.

A journey of the heart

Gurudev has this ability to just walk by you and create such a deep inner twinge in your heart that it catches you by surprise. Nothing said, no string, no stick--just his presence. Maybe he has a secret garage door opener type of device that I cannot see, but it is for opening your heart. I have had these twinges in the past, but now they are becoming more conscious twinges. I am using them as sign posts on my heart journey.

What am I going to do without my walk everyday--my life teacher. I am going to need to start a walk at home or just use my life as my walk. The usual group of kids came running towards me, but instead they ran past me. There was a busload of tourists who had just arrived. Cool for me, maybe not so cool for them. As I continued my walk, there were two young boys without shirts/shoes and a large bag picking up litter in the park. As I approached, the young man nearest to me asked for something. I made eye contact, but kept walking. (He didn't cry out, run after me, pull on my clothes....) About three steps more, I was feeling the lint feeling starting. Why did I say no? What criteria had I created that eliminated him from the giving action? Was my presence still with the other kids who work as a pack? I turned and headed back-handing over a packet of cookies. He gestured to his friend in a way that felt like kindness instead of greed. I handed over a second pack and turned to continue my walk. I wouldn't say it was a lint free gesture, but something had shifted. As I was walking, I hear a cry out of "thank you." I turned to wave and that twinge from my heart was activated. The young boy with no shirt/shoes was my teacher--ever so humbling.

As I was meditating/contemplating, I was recognizing some feeling that I had when I was at the door of this heart opening process. I was questioning whether I was worthy of this path. It felt like a huge privilege and that you probably needed a heart passport to sign up. If I was Catholic and imagined that you handed the priest a slip of paper every time you went for confession, I was going to need a dump truck full of paper slips backed into the confessional. After the teachings of the young boy, how does one ever gain enough humility, scrape off enough ego, or open the heart enough to set foot in the line marked "humans with hearts."

I have watched programs like CNN's Heroes where people are doing amazing things in the world or people like Angelina Jolie are taking on humanitarian efforts and I wondered how you start? The reading and teachers keep saying that you start with yourself--living and acting with whatever level of consciousness you possess. Somehow it is the pebble in the pond idea: creating a ripple effect. My ego always felt that was so slow and insufficient. Good job ego. Where else could one start?

After feeling like a harpoon went through my heart, I started to sense that the "work" is in expanding my heart container. It isn't the doing as much as the capacity for humility, love, and peace, so that each action can be in alignment with those principles. At that point, I think I was hemorrhaging. I stumbled down the stairs from the ashram's Pahari Baba room to find some ground, breath, and digest this finding of truth. Of course, as I am trying to find my earth legs again, Gurudev is asking me if I would like prashad, lunch, etc. How could I be thinking about food when I just uncovered such a gnarly/awesome fact of reality (not to mention the offering is from one of the most humble humans on the planet?) I think it might be a guru ploy to help with grounding. I have noticed this before... It took me an hour to regroup from this lesson, so I could start my walk.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Meditating in rush hour traffic

While I was starting my morning routine of stretching, crunches, band work, and jumping rope, I turned on the television. Crazy to see a program that is based in Las Vegas. I watched the same program in Las Vegas and Oceanside while working out at the gym. Parallel universe...

Didn't need to watch that again, so when I switched the channel, Mrs. Doubtfire was on. It happened to be the part of the movie where the husband has the petting zoo come to his house. After being in India, that doesn't look as strange. I was marveling on my walk, how often do you pass 5 elephants strolling by within arms length, a dozen or so camel hanging out for camel rides, ponies trotting by with small carts loaded with goods for the market, cows and dogs hanging out everywhere, and an occasional mini burro to throw into the mix. It is going to be so boring having only mechanized vehicles on the road.

As I started my walk today, there was a man who looked like he was in deep meditation sitting on the curb-- completely at peace. You would never know rush hour traffic was passing with the usual chaos of honking vehicles, rickshaws, animals, pedestrians--you name it and without lines on the road. Wow, that is an awesome goal.

Had a brief, but lovely chat with one of the Indian disciples who read my blog. The part she loved was how I understood that Gurudev teaches from inside: he guides the consciousness development by opening the heart to peace and love. She shared some of his methods and her experiences. It sounded like a print out of what I was looking for. How cool is that. She appreciates how he works with each person and his or her uniqueness. He doesn't impose his "way," but he guides the unfolding to a place of higher consciousness, inner peace, and compassion. Also interesting, she said the guru picks the people they have some "contract" to work with. This is the second time that I have heard this idea, so I am curious to learn more.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Super human qualities

Reflecting on the apparent super human qualities of Gurudev. He is the living example of spiritual and practical world integrated. He meditates and reads the paper in the morning. The current days consist of overseeing the building of the new temple at the tree shrine, developing parking, sitting in silence, tending to each and every ashram visitor as if they are his own children, answering the phone and disciples questions, paying bills, overseeing the development of the new ashram (finishing off the inside details.) Not sure when his day starts (early) and goes until 9:30/10:00 pm. And he is in his late sixties!!! And he appears to know what people are doing when they aren't present too.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A sense of unity

The first time I experienced a sense of unity with time, space, history, being--everything existing past, present, and future was meditating against a giant Redwood tree. The second time was when I touched Gurudev's feet for the first time. The third time was this morning sitting in meditation while Gurudev was reading the newspaper. A moment of being nothing and a part of everything.

As I walked today, I stooped beside the cow lounging in a pile of litter and complimented her wisdom for accepting what is, I didn't redirect my eyes as I looked at the lake edge full of discarded human debris and thought how beautiful the water was sparking amongst the other objects, and I stood looking in the eyes of the begging children and noticed how we are one and the same: all part of the divine.

Such gratitude for the satsang via email and the opportunity for this remarkable unfolding.

What is the seeker seeking?

The secret of happiness is hidden under the cover of spiritual knowledge.

Bowl of Saki, April 20, by Hazrat Inayat Khan

Commentary by Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan:

The soul in Sanskrit, in the terms of the Vedanta, is called Atman which means happiness or bliss itself. It is not that happiness belongs to the soul; it is that the soul itself is happiness. Today we often confuse happiness with pleasure; but pleasure is only an illusion, a shadow of happiness; and in this delusion man may pass his whole life, seeking after pleasure and never finding satisfaction. ... Do you think that if these people gained their desires they would be happy? If they possessed all, would that suffice? No, they would still find some excuse for unhappiness; all these excuses are only like covers over a man's eyes, for deep within is the yearning for the true happiness which none of these things can give. He who is really happy is happy everywhere, in a palace or in a cottage, in riches or in poverty, for he has discovered the fountain of happiness which is situated in his own heart. As long as a person has not found that fountain, nothing will give him real happiness.


A Marathi poet has said, 'O mind, my restless mind, my mind with its thoughts of a thousand things which it supposes will make it happy, saying, 'If I had that, I should be happy; if I had this, I should feel life was not wasted.' O, my mind, will you tell me who in this world is happy?' The mind says, 'if I had the wealth which I see others have, I should be happy.' But are these others happy? They in their turn say they would be, if they had something still higher!

The secret of happiness is hidden under the veil of spiritual knowledge. And spiritual knowledge is nothing but this: that there is a constant longing in the heart of man to have something of its origin, to experience something of its original state, the state of peace and joy which has been disturbed, and yet is sought after throughout its whole life, and never can cease to be sought after until the real source has at length been realized. ... It is only those who are blessed by perceiving the origin and source of all things who awaken to the fact that the real inclination of every life is to attain to something which can not be touched or comprehended or understood. The hidden blessing of this knowledge is the first step to perfection. Once awake to this fact, man sees there is something in life that will make him really happy and give him his heart's desire. He can say, 'Though there are many things in life which I need for the moment, and for which I shall certainly work, yet there is only that one thing, around which life centers, that will satisfy me: the spiritual attainment, the religious attainment, or, as one may even call it, the attainment of God.' Such a one has found the key to all happiness, and has found that all the things he needs will be reached because he has the key to all. 'Seek, and ye shall find: knock, and it shall be opened unto you... Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you.' This kingdom of God is the silent life; the life inseparable, eternal, self-sufficient, and all-powerful. This is the life of the wise, whatever be the name given to it; this is the life which the wise contemplate. It is the face of this life that they long to see; it is the ocean of this life that they long to swim in; as it is written: 'In Him we live and have our being.'

These are the ones who are really happy, who are above all unhappiness, above death and the destruction of life.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Construction attire

Gurudev in his construction attire: the integration of a holy wardrobe and the practical.

Monday, April 18, 2011

This says it all

Giving it all up!! Great photo taken by Uddhava. This was a moment of digesting one of the most intense heart opening experiences of my life--meeting this amazing, older woman. She effected all of our hearts in such a profound way.