Monday, May 30, 2011

Saki Bowl

In my daily Saki Bowl, I read this: "...spirituality means respect, advancement. Man shows his evolution according to his respect, his consideration, his thoughtfulness."

Clear and simple.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Soaking in the vibration of sound

Went to a lovely concert. The instruments he played were beautiful, but the quality of his voice was amazing. Interesting to hear him play all of the different flutes and compare them to his own flute. The tones and nuances of the voice are so remarkable. It was an intimate setting with everyone soaking in the vibration of sound.

DEVAKANT has explored the sacred musical traditions of the world, including Gregorian chant, Indian Classical Music, music of Zen monasteries, Tibetan Temples, and shamanic traditions of Central America. From these roots he creates a unique blend of sound and silence taking the listener into a world of mystery within: a place of peace, harmony and well-being. It is ideal for meditation, healing and energy work, relaxation, & the pure enjoyment of beautiful music. (

Friday, May 27, 2011

Thank you Yo-yo

After posting my friend's dog's death, I found out that Yo-yo, the little puppy at the Pahari Baba Ashram, died of poisoning. I had just emailed inquiring into how his leg was healing when I got the news. Whether or not you believe death is final or a transition, it does punctuate a moment in the flow of what we experience as living presence. For me, it led me to a place of reflection: how was I touched by that small,four-legged, ball of energy? He helped me to rekindle my animal heart and feel its place in the bigger presence of Gurudev, the ashram's energy field, and the infinite. He led me to the vet hospital and an experience with the animal care giving services in Jaipur. He showed me how Gurudev, "Nature" Baba, and a disciple worked together to support a healing opportunity for his leg. And on a very personal note, he always greeted me with his wagging tail and puppy eyes while I made the transition from walking, to taking my shoes/socks off, and heading into meditate. He was often in the shoe area or out front for the send off too. Such gratitude for his heart opening presence and the power in the silence of his teachings.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Animals have been my family. I couldn't pass up sharing this beautiful picture of a beloved dog, Madison, who has transferred his soul to a passing hummingbird. I didn't get to meet Madison, but there is such truth and beauty in his expression that it has touched me as deeply as many other mystical experiences. Thank you for sharing Liz.

Lesson opportunities from the western world

The trip back to California is turning out to be yet another opportunity to observe and find the humor of my ego. I don't need to have children begging, men staring, or animals sleeping in discarded refuse to highlight my ego's ability to run the show. Training horses is easy compared to working with the ego. I just keep smiling at how inventive "she" is to stay as a main actor in my personality production.

Sitting in stillness in India gave me enough undistracted space and time to get to know a part of me that feels separate from the ego--somehow a "true" self. I always refer to my real work as training my ego to sit quietly with hands folded in her lap--observing, hanging out, but not running the show. I have been reading about this concept for years, but the trip back to the US has highlighted that new found place. Being back in my "familiar" role, but with a new interior perspective (that isn't stabilized), is helping me to understand this longing to become anchored in my heart. I continually experience myself acting or thinking in the old way, while the new part just quietly waits in bliss. When my ego quits jumping up and down, having opinions, and acting without consciousness (or takes a time out on the coach), the heartfelt beauty of stillness and unity is ever present. For now, it feels like a lantern of shakti radiating from within. My body takes on an almost transparent outline that is immersed in limitlessness. The remarkable feeling acts as a marker to show me that I am near or in the zone, (probably some ego requirement...) I cannot say the feeling is the goal, but it is a lovely outcome.

Today, I began to know my "true" self while in the western world container. Another breakthrough.

In my efforts to get things crossed off the list in order to return to India, I am falling into ego driven ways. I suspect that isn't going to line up the grace of the universe. Deep breath, more softening and opening into what is.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Satsang In Temecula, California

First satsang post India. I went to a gathering of seekers at Francis Lucille's house in Temecula, California. The house was on top of a mountain that overlooked the world at large. It wasn't too different than being on the wall at Amber Fort or the Ganesha temple. The more I travel, the more similarities I experience in the world. It is no different than seeing a full moon and reflecting upon where you have experienced different moons. With the current full moon, I was remembering South Africa and India and how the moon has the same beauty everywhere. A few days ago, I drove by a lake in Escondido and missed seeing the floating palace that is in Jaipur's lake.

Getting back to the satsang, it was lovely to experience a different group of people who are equally devoted to being on the realization path as many are in India. Different clothes, different skin color, but same intention. I was surprised that I found the verbal teaching so distracting. I wanted to just sit in the silence of the group and drink in the shared experience. For me who asks 10,000 questions that was an amazing shift. At one point in the discussion, Frances acknowledged the beauty of people joining together in the shared pursuit of love, peace, and truth. So simple, but so beautiful. It created a deep silence in the aftermath of his words. For me, it felt like a portal into that intense heart opening that I experienced in India. Crazy as it may sound, all I want to do is immerse myself in the depth of heart opening until the universe says enough. Maybe there is something more beautiful beyond that concept, but for now, I cannot even imagine and have no longing for more.

In preparation for my return to India, the unraveling of life is separating me from 6 hours of meditation a day , but while sitting in silence driving to the event, I could feel those same shakti-drunk feelings that I would get walking to the ashram. Life is so cool! I know that it isn't the attachment to bliss, but it is so fun to be part of the Divine's science experiment.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Lady Gaga's 3 year rise to Global fame

During my past three years of studying influential humans on the planet, I have followed Lady Gaga's remarkable rise to fame. She just topped Oprah Winfrey as the most influential celebrity on the Forbes 100 list of influential people. She is very controversial for her lyrics and her clothing style, but her intention to self empower her "little monsters," appears to be authentic. She gives the credit to God and that she is only a vehicle. One of her passions is to create a respect for being "Born This Way" (her new album to be released on May 23,2011) and for there to be social tolerance. Interesting article posted in Forbes talking about the power of the feminine and her Kaliesque qualities. Hinduism mixed with Pop Culture--the world is evolving!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The newest layer unfolding

There were times in the ashram that I felt like I was a formless presence inside a structure with two eye holes, like a kid dressing up as a goblin for Halloween. I was aware of my surrounding and these layers to my "self." It was very peaceful. I could be sitting in the middle of the evening rush of people visiting Gurudev and experience very deep stillness. My life appears to be taking on that quality. I am in the middle of an unusually emotional/financially charged sale of a horse and I feel like I am experiencing it looking through the two peepholes of a goblinesque sheet. One difference is that I am not physically or mentally separating myself from the stress, I am in the stream surrounded by all of the chaos and it is still peaceful. The second surprising part is that I am experiencing it all as shakti as if the action of stress is as beautiful as if I was experiencing the shakti from a human's normal perspective of beauty--a flower, a positive emotion, a fragrance, a taste...

When I asked Gurudev permission to return to India and continue my spiritual growth in his presence, I shared that my "goal" was to anchor into love and peace at a level that I could be anywhere, with anyone, and in any situation and stay rooted in that vibration. He said that was possible. Maybe this is a small sampling of that capacity? If it is, it is awesome!!! Nothing like feeling stoned on shakti when all hell is breaking loose. Going through all of the pain of living and waking up would be so worth it--(laughter) the ego has to hold onto something.

The guru concept

A timely article/book that may help people learn about the guru concept.

Is Guru a 4-Letter Word? by Mariana Caplan

The can of worms is open. Opening up the question on my last blog of “How To Find a Spiritual Teacher,” or whether we need a teacher at all, tends to incite even the most dormant of creatures. We have strong reactions, powerful opinions and oftentimes righteous convictions regarding this topic, as was seen from the many and varied, but never lukewarm responses to my last post. In fact, when I toured an early version of my book in 2002, there were two uprisings in bookstores where I spoke — one in Manhattan and the other in Barcelona. In both cases, the movement was to incite the crowd to see that spiritual authority comes from within! I have absolutely no problem with this approach, nor with those who deeply feel the need for a teacher, or those who are confused, but why so much energy?

Is Guru a 4-Letter Word?

I have spent time with gurus who are living proof that “guru” can be a four-letter word. Nobody has asked me to drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid, but I have been offered plenty of other substances. And most of the other crimes of power and passion one hears about in relation to purported gurus have been perpetrated upon me and people I know. After 17 years of experience on four continents and 10 years of research in the field, I am both personally and professionally all too familiar with the kinds of shocking abuses of power that have been committed in the name of spirituality. Yet I cannot denounce spiritual teachers in general, any more than I can denounce all men simply because I have had some less than desirable lovers.

I have learned that when one writes or speaks publicly on this topic, four potential positions can be expected: 1) The strong assertion that the guru and the source of all spiritual authority comes from within, and that people who seek from without are essentially deluded. This group speaks the loudest and the strongest, usually with a slight edge of disdain towards those who have or want teachers; 2) The people who have a particular guru and not only think that the Guru Road is the only destination in town, but more specifically that their guru’s home is the center of the universe. They want the world to join their guru’s mission because they sincerely believe that the world would be a better place if this was so; 3) One step down from this are those who believe that we need a teacher, but that it need not be their teacher. This group is less likely to proselytize their perspective; 4) Those who are either questioning whether they need a teacher, or are looking for a teacher but cannot locate one — this group is humble, open, curious.

Not Always So

If there is anything I have learned over 20 years of study, practice and research on the spiritual path, it is the truth of the teaching propagated by Zen master Shunru Suzuki of “not always so.” There is not one clear-cut road of beliefs and practices to suit all human beings. There are well-trodden paths and religions that have proven to be helpful to many people in indescribable and irreplaceable ways. Yet whether we practice in one of these traditions or find our unique path through the labyrinth of life, we each walk the path differently, in a way that only the inimitability of each of our beings can do — our “unique self.”

I now understand that there are as many unique paths to spiritual unfolding as there are human beings. I remember when Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, my Sufi “uncle,” and Huff Po blogger, told me this. I was a die hard seeker in my twenties. Although in theory it made sense, inside I secretly believed, “But my path is the best path, or at least one of the very best, and there is a best way to follow my path.” Now, almost two decades later, it is clear to me that each human being follows a unique trajectory in relationship to spirit, truth or God.

The Need for Discernment on the Spiritual Path

Spiritual discernment, called viveka khyātir in Sanskrit, is said to be the “crowning wisdom” on the spiritual path.

The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali say that the cultivation of discernment is so powerful that it has the capacity to destroy ignorance and address the very source of suffering. According to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, to discern is “to recognize or identify as separate and distinct.” Discrimination, its synonym, “stresses the power to distinguish and select what is true or appropriate or excellent.” Those who possess spiritual discernment have learned this skill in relationship to spiritual matters, and they can consistently make intelligent, balanced and excellent choices in their lives and in relationship to their spiritual development. Their eyes are wide open and they see clearly.

Viveka khyātir is believed to be such a powerful tool that it has the capacity to pierce all levels of the physical, psychological, energetic and subtle bodies of the human being. In “Light on the Yoga Sūtras of Patanjali,” B. K. S. Iyengar explains that through this unbroken flow of discriminating awareness, the spiritual practitioner “conquers his body, controls his energy, retrains the movements of the mind, and develops sound judgment, from which he acts rightly and becomes luminous. From this luminosity he develops total awareness of the very core of his being, achieves supreme knowledge and surrenders his self to the Supreme Soul.”

I believe that more potent than any of our current spiritual convictions — which if we observe closely and honestly within ourselves over many years, we discover, do in fact change no matter how certain we were of what we believed — is the capacity for discernment. The degree to which our discernment is refined is the extent to which we can move through the complexities of the spiritual marketplace and the deepening of spiritual life with effectiveness and wisdom. We make radiant choices that serve others in smaller and larger ways, and become part of the evolutionary and healing force in life, instead of what George Bernard Shaw calls, “a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making me happy.”

Do You Need a Spiritual Teacher?

Is there a point in one’s spiritual journey when reading books or hearing lectures isn’t enough and the student hungers for a teacher, in the flesh, to learn from directly? In a culture where a distrust of authority is considered a healthy trait, Americans tend to be justifiably suspicious of gurus and spiritual leaders. How do you find a teacher worthy of trust and devotion, or should you?

The Guru Question: The Perils and Rewards of Choosing a Spiritual Teacher (Sounds True, June 2011) is a new book by Mariana Caplan that offers advice on what to look for—and what to avoid—when seeking a dedicated spiritual teacher. The book includes a foreword by Robert Thurman.

Drawing upon her knowledge as both a scholar of mysticism and lifelong practitioner of spiritual traditions, Caplan delivers a candid, practical, and daringly personal examination of the student-teacher dynamic, featuring:

  • Are you ready to be a student? If and when you should consider making a commitment to a spiritual teacher
  • The path of the conscious learner—how to retain your power and autonomy while accepting a mentor’s authority
  • Spiritual scandals and predatory gurus—tips for avoiding the inherent pitfalls in the student-teacher relationship
  • The true source of power—how to recognize the inner light of divinity as it manifests in the imperfect human guise of your teacher and yourself

With The Guru Question, Mariana Caplan helps readers develop the discernment that is crucial when seeking a teacher—and reveals the immeasurable rewards that can come from having a trustworthy guide on the spiritual path.

Mariana Caplan, PhD, has spent over two decades researching and practicing many of the world’s great mystical traditions. She is a psychotherapist, a professor of yogic and transpersonal psychologies, and the Co-Founder of The Center for World Spirituality. The author of seven books on cutting-edge topics in spirituality and psychology, including Eyes Wide Open (Sounds True, 2009), Mariana lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit and

Friday, May 13, 2011

Animal guides

This dip back into the western world is turning out to be quite remarkable from the standpoint of perspective and where I would like to head next. I have always struggled with how to train horses to do a human oriented task (riding, driving, etc.) and keep their signature spirit in tact. After traveling and experiencing/seeing horses in new conditions, I am more convinced than ever that all of it is a compromise. They are not designed for these tasks, but we persevere in our beliefs. ( Now I can add camels, elephants, donkeys, and oxen, to the list of living under the "rein" of man's appropriation of animal harnessed power.)

For over four years, I have questioned my role in the horse community. Some believe that I am a compassionate beacon in the horse community who helps set a standard for humane training. But I never felt it was good enough. Now I understand why. There are very few animals that physically and mentally fit easily in to the role of riding or driving horses. Yes, they can do it, but can they do it naturally? Can a Sumo wrestler jump over a high bar? Can a marathon runner shot put? Yes to both, but can they do it with ease?

After my experience with Gurudev and now being back with my animal family, I have even more gratitude for their presence and teachings on this planet. The communication with animals is mostly from within. The conversation relies on body gestures, mental images, and sensing into the energy field. As my horse nuzzles me, the cat is rubbing up against my leg, and the goat is resting her head on my knee, it doesn't matter that we all have different appearances. The four of us are silent, but sharing a moment together out of caring. These are the moments that I would take refuge in when the world at large was stressful. I found this place while sitting in the ashram, but without my animal family. Over the years, the animals kept leading me to this place ("You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink."), but now I am ready to drink or deepen into the watering hole experience.

The emotion of sadness comes up with the thought of leaving them all behind, but my heart now leads me to this watering hole. A very deep, inner longing to know this place more fully: to finally know myself and who I am. "Who dwells inside this skin sack?" How is this speck connected to the whole? At the ashram, I had small glimpses of the limitlessness and the "reality" behind what we (humans) consider real. The quietness of the ashram, the guidance of the guru, and limited life distractions support taking a long drink instead of just a sip.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


As I continue on my return pathway, I have never felt such gratitude for being a US citizen: the safety, freedom, abundance, health, spaciousness, and opportunity that surrounds us. It is a country of limitlessness. I remember feeling this after returning from living in Europe and now reconnecting with what is easy to take for granted. Although, India houses the spirit of the internal soul/heart. My return to India will be for deepening into that aspect and see where it leads.

On another front, Bill and Jane (the owners of Sterling Farms) have graciously offered to house my cat, Sophie, while I am away--permanently or until I live somewhere that makes sense to have a cat again. She has been my buddy and family member for 8 plus years, so this is a massive check mark next to my departure criteria. Jai Guru!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Light into dark

"Beauty surrounds us, but usually we need to be walking in a garden to know it." -rumi

Transition from late afternoon into evening is as seamless as the ebb and flow of the tide. I forgot how loud the ocean is. Should I be surprised given its' vastness? I was remembering the picture in the Pahari Baba Room of someone sitting on a rock facing the ocean and it swirling all around. The ocean is an 'in your face" experience of being part of it all. The sound drowns out any distractions that might be heard, the repetitiveness of the waves mesmerizes, and the shear immensity humbles--the teachings of nature. (If you have never been to the ocean, try to put that on your 'to do' list in this lifetime.)

Meditation in nature

The ocean as a site for meditation. The sound, the power, the movement, the vastness all make you feel like you are part of the ocean even when you are sitting on the beach. Where does it all begin and end?

Friday, May 6, 2011

All oars in the water.

All oars in the water: listed the car for sale, advertised/contacted people about Ultimo (the horse), couch and a few plants found a home (little by little dismantling process), working on the details for health insurance abroad, found out I can unlock my IPhone so I can use it in India, almost finished with the initial phase of the Selfseeds site, having a page designed on the PhoenixEQ site for submitting custom jewelry requests (a start up business from India), contemplating the cat, started back at the gym (the walking and in hotel exercise program saved me), riding horses, and meditating (although not 5-6 hours a day.) As I put on one of my riding shirts and noticed the holes from riding in the South African brush, it felt like a lifetime ago.

Very little in my western life supports an eastern spiritual practice ,(other than trying to be mindful every waking moment.) I was curious if I would start doubting my desire to move back to India given how easy everything is here, (other than needing to work like a maniac to pay for it all.) No!!! The desire to deepen into that process is as strong as anything I have pursued whether it was riding, dancing, or fitness. Now for grace to get everything lined up as easily as the trip to South Africa and India.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The heart journey continues

Wow, this journey of the heart takes on many facets. The time at the ashram was like living in a giant heart incubator. All actions in the presence of Gurudev were executed with mindfulness deeply rooted in the heart--some sort of synchronizing process that linked the mind and heart together.

At the end of the first day back, I was reflecting on what that felt like in my normal environment. Everything and everyone was in fantastic order, healthy, happy, and appearing seamless. I got reports that a couple of my plants tried to die immediately after my departure and the animals were a bit lost, but life moves on... The animals all greeted me with their various voices of recognition and body actions of anticipation. It was lovely to be in their presence and the quiet beauty of the farm. In the past, that would have been all I looked for and quickly busied myself in some other capacity. So what was this intense heart pain that I was experiencing. My ego appeared to have some need to be recognized and greeted by the population at large that Hi, I am back. Is this a reflection of our western society and the independent nature that is created in it? Or is this a reflection of the independence that I have personally created within the human landscape? Whichever one it was, it took me into the depth of isolation and what it must be like for people in rest homes, hospitals, and isolated living conditions who have human contact as a result of daily functioning, but different than the outside contact reaching inward out of free will. Wow, that thought hadn't been on my radar screen before. I learned from birth to not put that expectation on my list. Some serious lint had been taken off the screen to find that section of my heart. Pain is good too.

At that point of recognition, I probably could have reached for a cigarette if I smoked, an alcoholic beverage if I drank, a box of cookies if I food indulged, turned on the television as a distraction, or whatever else would have worked to give me temporary comfort. Instead, I decided to meditate and connect to this newly discovered heart petrol system--connecting to the source of who I am instead of who my mind thinks I am. New territory for sure, but it did help me out of the rabbit hole. Thank you and pranam.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Final flight

I had a couple of hours at the airport to start catching up on phone calls, sharing how our lives have continued to evolve in the three months of my absence, and what appears to be ahead. As I settled into my seat for the final 6 hour flight from Washington DC to San Diego, my soul insists that I sit quietly--no reading or watching the inflight movie. In the stillness, a mini version of the "harpooned heart" feeling comes flooding in. Some of the feelings are familiar as introduced in the ashram and then I recognize something new added to the mix: the feelings of love and presence held by my friends while I was away. The invisible web in which we are all connected. The tears of gratitude come welling up in response to the beauty of this interconnectedness. Nothing else matters. 2 hours pass and we are now over Nebraska.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Global Sharing

One thing about traveling is getting to meet all of the other travelers and hear about their journeys. There are a lot of choices out there. Traveling around the world is still on my to do list. Had a chance to chat with a South African who grew up in the transition of the Apartheid era and to hear about life then and now. He had also traveled in India for a period of time and ended up in an ashram as a refuge from the hustle and bustle of India's lifestyle. We started to talk about the work of the heart and how much peace it brings to one. It was so lovely, as he was remembering/sharing his pathway and recognition of its significance, he started to cry from the beauty of the memory. He also recognized how easy it was to get distracted from that place. I heard the Indian's who visit the ashram lamenting on the same point. We were examining the concept of what this planet would be like if we all lived out of that place in our hearts. I have only had a small taste of it, but it convinced me enough to want to uproot everything and deepen into that capacity.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A day in South Africa

South Africa for a day, one step closer to home. Although, I am feeling like home is inside of me now and that it doesn't matter where my body is, it just a skin sack with bones inside to give it some shape. I can see the benefits of India's lifestyle for this thinking. They are more connected to the spirit (abstract) than the form (concrete.) And the West is opposite. Wow, this is too cool integrating all of it back together. What a gift learning how to be comfortably present in both environments. I picked up two books at the airport: one is about Gandhi and his process in South Africa/India and the other is Eat, Pray, and Love, ( a book about a Western woman's spiritual search through Italy, India, and Indonesia.)

Already experiencing such gratitude for having a recall button that taps into the divine grace of the Pahari Baba Ashram experience in its totality. I know this is just a start and that there is a lot of surrendering ahead, but wow. Pranam to the possibilities and what has already unfolded.