Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The spider web

Growing up in a household where what wasn't said was often as important, (or more), than the spoken word,  one learns to be very observant and sense the vibration of everything.  It creates an operating style based on mistrust first and then move towards trust if the coast is clear.  I am sure everyone does this to some degree, but it can create an internal hard wiring that is always a little bit "on" while in the wake state.

While sitting in the presence of Gurudev,  I find that I am sitting with that vibrational level of reluctance to really trust this entire picture.  Is it discernment?  Or is it remnants of my unwillingness to trust fully?  He doesn't say much to me and he made it clear not to pay attention to what he is telling others, since it is directed to their specific situation and not mine, (that was a group offering.)  He is always very kind, patient, and willing to answer my questions.  So as I merge into all of this, I find that thread--like a spider's web thickness--strong but thin hanging on.

I have fallen down a couple of deep caverns and there was a helping hand.  I have mentally spun out on a few topics and there was only love.  I have had bad mental behavior and there was only patience.  I have had intense anguish and there was only compassion.  I asked if I should be practicing something I read about, (like Kriya Yoga) and there is no need.

He keeps making it easier instead of harder.  Keep it simple, just keep with what I am doing--meditating and contemplating what comes up while sitting or that appears in the action of living.  No practices, no rituals, no statues, nothing...  Listen to my heart and keep evaluating my actions.

Verses all night

Morning parade

Not sure what the celebration is, but they have been chanting over the loudspeaker all night.  Usually the road behind my window is quiet for a few hours (midnight until 4:00am or so), but last night there was a steady stream.  Just like the sitting, I am losing some of my sound sensitivity too.  When things get dropped or there are loud noises (which is rare) in the ashram, I barely notice.  The blasting of verses has a very different quality than listening to music on youTube/iTunes--more to learn.

Water is always available

50/50 chance that we won't have water in the morning, but it has never not showed up--eventually.

When you are in your late teens/twenties you have less expectations for how you want to live your life.  You are so busy doing that the quality of life isn't always as important.  I have very simple requirements, but I can see that I do have a few desired requirements.  At some point, I can always take a break and spend a few days in a hotel.  I am one of the lucky ones, I have choices.  The people who live below us and own the rooms,  have a tougher go of it--no windows, small concrete rooms with no ventilation for the bathroom and bathing area, multiple people to a room.  Ignorance is bliss?  There is a mental corruption of sorts from knowing a different quality to physical life.

Always a lot to think about from the world at large:

 Burned Gadhafi family nanny being treated in Tripoli -*

 Surfing legend shares lessons in life -*

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Faith and Food

Spending a few days eating little to nothing has reminded me of the importance of food.  In the past, I have done week long fasts and fasts once a week, but they were by choice.  There would be a little section in the beginning to adjust and then staying hydrated was a key part of it being relatively easy.  Over the years, I have conditioned myself to multiple small meals, more of a grazing approach, because of working physically and it not being comfortable to ride horses with too full of a stomach.   Another observation is that when I am on my slim weight, the body feels less forgiving about missing meals/snacks.  All of this got me thinking about faith and food. When my body decided it wanted to eat again, I was finding that being hungry was very distracting for my meditation--and I am not starving.  When I read about many of the disaster areas of the world where food is not available--they often mention their strong belief in God.  I have a lot to learn.

The unfolding of inner stillness

300 or more years old?

All of this sitting/meditating and spending a day immobile from sickness has made me appreciate what a new gear that I have developed.  I had kind of maxed out the doing mode, so now to be patient and even desiring the stillness.  Before, I don't think I could have had a job putting bottle tops on bottles all day, but now I probably could.  At times, that would even be too much "work."  The adventure continues.

The stillness isn't always so still and there is no place to go.  There are no edges for distraction.  Only an infinite container supporting the process.  New rules.  And they are dissolving too...

From The Gems:

"Stillness" Stillness is the means of allowing the God vibration to take over your whole being.

"The biggest attachment of the ego is to the illusion of free will." In reality, Mother Nature is the doer (do-her).

Monday, August 29, 2011

One of the beautiful Jaipur hotels

More animals on the walk in the country

Ground tied at a new level
Tree decoration
Thinking of Persephone
Friendship in many forms
Need the bird book for these

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Elephant loading area

Greyhound bus stop for elephants

Patiently waiting side-by-side with ears acting as fans

One of many
There is a walk I enjoy taking from my room, to Amber Fort, through part of the little city/Fort, and back over the hill to home.  I finally found where all of the elephants wait to be ridden up the hill by tourists.  Still looking for where they actually live.  Like many aspects of India, this is an absolute marvel for me to see, so many elephants waiting.  I have seen quite a few a circuses, but this is amazing.

Lunch Break?

Heading out with the owner on foot

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Guru Full Moon iMovie

So amazing, Gurudev let me look through the 8 hours of video from the Guru Full Moon celebration and make a little iMovie.  It is about 7 1/2 minutes long. Be patient to let it download  It may take a few minutes.  The idea is for it not to go on Youtube, so it is semi-private.  I am hosting the link on Dropbox in my mailbox, so there is some control.   It is such a privilege that I really, really respect this opportunity and hope everyone supports the respect of the video's life in the world.  If you cannot view it or need help in some way, please email me directly at   With humility, love and gratitude...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Outward and inward awakening

Doorways: out and in

Whether it is selfish or selfless, one thing I have always been directed to do is ask questions.  I have always gotten in a lot of trouble seeking the truth of what I observe, hear, and experience.  It feels a bit like that territory again with my questions around the animals, naked men on the street, and so on.  The difference is that there is love and compassion in my heart while I ask.  I see the beauty and love of these people and I want to understand what looks so disconnected.  With gratitude, I am getting answers.

I also see that in my transformation process, the animal world is where the knife needs to go in order to help me to continue to 'wake up.'  These moments of falling down the stairs backwards are always opportunities to grow.    No one has all of the answers for how to move forward as a human in an ever growing interconnected world.  I can appreciate how viewing the differences is so powerful for my growth not to mention that of global consciousness.  Interesting too as I continue to listen to Eckart Tolle's audio of his book The New Earth, there is a way to effect people from a mental plain--reading, studying, etc, but the other more traditional way is from the spiritual--the internal spark, energetic transformation.

(Just look at how different the clothes not to mention the rest of our worlds--but I am humbly reminded that it is only a point of psychology/mental construction...)

While sitting in the ashram, I was reminded that staying present is the only hope for not separating into pain.  Learning to stay present in life--that is a continuous challenge and learning.  The ashram environment definitely lends itself to supporting that aspect of the lesson book.  While I was listening to Eckhart on my walk, I was reminded of the same, but more from a mental point.  Same information.  I have read and listened to that point countless times, but the "living" example is so powerful.  It is all still up to me:  what I do with the teachings, how I interpret them, and how I integrate them into my life practice.

Whenever there is an opportunity to ask Gurudev a question,  I am always deeply struck by his answers--  so to the point and 3-D at the same time.  How could this be?  He always includes the facet of the gem that we don't see or consider.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The fire is lovely

Silence, sitting, and emails all great for generating a new balance point.

Do I understand how the majority of people walk by the dying animals and debris?  No.  Do I want to get to a point within myself that I harden my heart, so I don't have compassion for them?  No.  Am I grateful to come from a country where I don't have to think about such graphic aspects of living on a daily basis?  Yes.  Do I have gratitude for the teachings from Gurudev and the refuge of the ashram?  Yes.  Do I feel a need to dive in and do something?  Sometimes.  Do I want to lose the option for service and action?  No  Do I want to run away with my hair on fire?  Sometimes  Do I feel a deep unfolding of love and bliss?  Sometimes.  Did I sign up for this?  Yes.  Am I glad that I signed up?  Yes.

Do I understand that staying present in the moment would help the pain?  Yes.  Do I experience the difference in consciousness around animals?  Yes.  Do I have gratitude for someone like the English woman who started Help in Suffering?  Yes.  For the continued support of an organization like that?  Yes.  And the multitude of other organizations that help with suffering?  Yes.

Will I continue to take walks?  Yes.  Will I practice being present and evaluating the call to action?  Yes.
Will I smile when I have pictures sent of my animals happily hanging out while I am here?  Yes.  Will I look at the world differently as a result of these experiences?  Yes.  Will it all make sense one day?  Probably.

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated"  Mahatma Ghandi

"We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals"
 Immanual Kant

Cow and prashad

Something happened on that walk, but not sure what.  Searching for answers that I don't even have questions for.  Patience and stillness maybe they will help.

As I went to pranam to Gurudev, he offered that the goldfish was doing well today.  Nothing went through me, only words of gratitude.  Was this suppose to be a bone after my walk?  I went to sit in the Pahari Baba room.  Some of my deepest teachings have come from sitting in that room.  Slowly, some shadow of feeling started to seep back into my form--it felt like a bunch of mosquito-sized fairies repairing the mantel of my body.  What next?  Patience.  Stillness.  Wait for the inner guidance.  

Walking home was lovely.  Coming out the gate, I knelt at the first resting cow.  She ate the two sugar balls so gently and delicately from the bowl--so unhurried as if it was normal to have prashad served to her.  Why not, she lives outside a holy place and near a holy tree.

Human-animal bond to be discussed at book signing - The Frederick ...
The human and animal bond is so strong that Wayne Pacelle has written a book about ... societal effects on the human-animal relationship and how to be good ...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The incinerator walk returns

Progress on my "goal" to have inner peace in any situation, with anyone, and in any location?  I  was able to dive into the welfare section of the animal community and come out without feeling crushing despair.  (I have found that this usualy preempts some avalanche of a test showing up...)

I was preparing to walk to the market with my sunglasses and headphones and see if I could repeat that amazing walk of feeling like musical sound with two legs....  As I got about 100 feet down the road, I hear piercing dog yelps, so I turn around.  There is a cute little black and white puppy who was just hit by a car. The local people were looking, but not doing anything.  Ok, so I walked over to the puppy to find she had a broken hind leg (hip, back too?) with the skin peeled back like a skinned drumstick.  No one is moving the dog off the road.  I know she is very upset and I was thinking about the rabies idea from the Help in Suffering visit yesterday, so I found a piece of cloth (one advantage of debris readily available) and wrapped the puppy up, so she could be moved without touching her and avoiding her teeth.  The young men started to jump in and help.  They loaned me one of their phones when I explained that I had the phone number for animal help in my room.  They trustingly let me walk off with their phone to my room where I was able to find the number, they called, the dog was moved to a safe place away from the side of the road, and medical attention was coming.  All good.  Sad about the dog, but at least we were able to do something.  (One thing that has changed considerably in my sensory perception is now my entire body reacts instead of just one area, so this did send me over the edge for a brief period of time. I have been wondering how people deal with the insane health and pain issues that they are presented with--one friend is looking at back surgery for a severe back and sciatic problem and a relative is dealing with a broken back in addition to recovering from a bone marrow transplant/experimental drug treatment.)

hanging out dog

The visit from yesterday got me really thinking about the street dogs, so I put some more attention in that direction while I headed back off to the market.   I took a picture of one dog hanging out with a street vendor.  The next dog was trying to eat out of a pile of garbage on the side of the road.  Ok, living proof of what Jack had been talking about.  This one looked really rough, so when I looked a little closer, skin and bones, because his lower jaw was hanging--a broken jaw!  He wanted to eat (the rest of him looked functional), but he was starving to death because there was no way to get food into his mouth or chew. I was contemplating, "What to do?"  This dog was starving, but mobile.  It cranked up those inner feelings of helplessness, abandonment, anguish...  I was trying to stay present and accepting, but the next thing I know the world is starting to turn disappear.  What would happen if I passed out on the side of the road?  Would anyone notice?  There were people working within a few feet of the starving dog and plenty of foot traffic, cars, etc. passing on the busy road, but no one appeared to notice.  I pulled it back together and decided that maybe I need a few more tools in the tool box to stay that unfiltered in those situations.  Now, I have to be one of those people who turn a (painfully) blind eye and keep walking.  My walk continued, but instead of being music with two legs, I was bliss gone wrong with two legs. 

dog with a broken jaw
The buying of goods at the market was a welcomed distraction.  

Now for the return walk.  I continued to digest what I saw and tried to have gratitude for the learning opportunity.  I wondered if I would have that severe of a reaction if I saw a human in need--appearing to be abandoned etc.  Wouldn't you know, there just happened to be a man squatting in my path (not using the pavement as a bathroom), with no clothes, and quiet.  I didn't even stare now that I know these things are possible,  but I did stop to offer a blessing (even if it only soothed my ego.)  I did get an answer to my question.  My reaction was one of sadness, tears, etc. but I didn't have the same deep feelings.  Why?  It was 'a human' in need instead of 'just' an animal.  Animals don't have a voice--they are at our complete mercy.

Could there be more?  A little farther down the path, there appeared two dogs.  One was thin, but he was okay.  His friend was thin, scruffy and had something on his neck.  As he jogged by, I could see that he had a fist sized hole in the top of his neck that was filled with maggots and that unforgettable smell of rotting flesh lingered in the air.

As I passed the place where the dog with the broken jaw had been, the garbage was gone and so was the dog. As I reached the place where the puppy waited for the animal ambulance, the guys came over with enthusiasm to tell me that the doctor had come.

The answer for peace must be inside of me or beyond Gurudev and the ashram walls.

It started with the goldfish

I like looking at the ashram's fish everyday--a touchstone to the animal community.  I noticed for a couple of days that one of the fish didn't appear to be doing well--hanging out listlessly at the bottom of the tank.  It brought up that internal feeling of "What can I do?"  Do you let destiny run its course or do you make some effort to expose the situation and then stand back?  Maybe I was just in a very reflective mood as I anticipated my appointment to meet with Dr. Jack Reece at Help in Suffering, the Jaipur's version of the Humane's Society.  I am checking into volunteer possibilities in the city. (You can click on the subtitles below for more information or email me at

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Welcome to HIS-India

Help In Suffering is a registered Indian charitable trust working for the benefit of the animals of India. Help in Suffering was founded in l980, on two acres of land in south Jaipur and has grown into a large animal welfare organisation with a number of projects based in the compound. A new specialised Camel Rescue Centre has been built at Bassi, a village on the Agra road, to serve draught camels.
Jaipur is the state capital of Rajasthan, and the Help in Suffering shelter-hospital there employs about thirty-five staff and has three rescue ambulances and two mobile clinic vehicles. Six separate animal welfare projects are conducted, each headed by a vet.
Inside the peaceful, garden-like grounds of our compound, Help in Suffering provides refuge for many animals, works as a veterinary hospital treating all species, and aims to re-home as many unowned animals as possible.
We welcome visitors to our hospitals. If you are in Jaipur please visit to see our work.

Site updated: November 25, 2010

I went with no expectations--only an open heart and my usual curiosity.  As we drove into the driveway, there was a feeling of a sanctuary emanating from the trees that provide shelter and greenery from the outside world and a guard who was thoughtfully securing the entry and exit of each animal and human.  I was introduced to several officials on my way to meet Dr. Reece, Jack.  Jack who is a veterinarian from the UK has been coming to Jaipur for 17 years to "help with suffering."  He was very gracious to spend 2 1/2 hours showing me the facility/animals, talking about the services provided/ philosophy of the center, and sharing about his journey/commitment to the animals/humans in India. The organization and facility was founded by an English woman who wanted to make a difference. They originally helped any human or animal that was in need.  Interestingly most of the funding comes from outside India--UK, Australia, US etc..  India doesn't really have an internal process for helping animals. I was wondering about all of that when I was trying to find help for the young cow with the broken leg. A large part of the Indian population thinks about donating money to a spiritual/religious center rather than an animal welfare center. We both ageed that in the UK and US it was more likely to be the other way around.

I saw dogs, cats, tortoises, camel, dogs, cows, donkeys, monkeys, birds, dogs, burros, and dogs.  There was a very good effort for cleanliness and order.   The animals were contained in reasonable cages and their needs were looked after by an enthusiastic staff.  I did see quite a variety of wounds, recovered broken appendages, skin conditions, and more.  It must be overwhelming given what I see on the streets.  The where do I start question comes to mind with neon lights.  Well, this woman (now deceased) started and helped to create facilities in multiple cities and education standards for other cities to follow.

Why so many dogs?  One of Jack's biggest contributions is his strong belief in reducing the number of people in Jaipur who get rabies from dog bites. The focus is on catching roaming city dogs, spaying the females, and vaccinating all for rabies.  The dogs are a big problem, but the underlying problem is the amount of garbage/refuse available for them to eat.  They have a lot of opportunities to scavenge food--especially that the vultures are almost extinct.  (I was reading about the severity of the lack of vultures in Jane Goodall's book.  The vultures are critical for cleaning up the city, but they have been poisoned by all of the medicines given the animals which then are passed onto the vultures when they are feeding on the dead animals.   One of those life cycle situations that are often not considered until it is a massive problem.)  The idea of focusing on the females is to help reduce the numbers in the most effective way.  There happened to be a stray dog that wondered onto the facility while I was there, so I got to see a humane way of catching a dog.  Once a year, they do a scientific survey of the dog numbers and they have been reduced considerably, but no time to take a nap!  The dogs are caught and rereleased, so funding is a must, since there are no owners to finance the medical attention.  Periodically, other factions poison, electrocute, and brutally murder the city dogs, so Help in Suffering is a very positive alternative.

There are lots of other animals and each one has a story just like each human.  There was a camel with a large section of it's back/hindquarters covered in burns (they looked like some sort of chemical burn), tortoises with cracked shells (glued back together), calves with broken legs (wearing casts), (cows that eat plastic bags are out of luck because of their stomach design, so they starve to death), a cow with a broken horn, birds with broken wings, monkeys that were raised from absentee mothers who were electrocuted from the overhead wires, cats (it was a good decision not to bring Sophie with me....), and dogs with skin problems, etc.

Wow, a lot to digest!  When I left, I didn't feel sad, overwhelmed, angry, and so many other emotions that go with witnessing living beings in despair.  I was thoughtful, but appreciative of the people who are out there working on the front line to make a difference.  How could I help the most in this situation?  Help direct funding towards the organization, since the inner workings are running smoothly and efficiently.  Why would someone donate to an organization in India versus their own country?  It probably comes down to feeling positive about helping somewhere that is meaningful.  I donate to organization all over the world and I wonder what happens to the money.  In this situation, I can see directly, inside the program and what they are trying to affect.

Thank you Jack!!!  And all of the people at Help in Suffering!!!

Here is a heartfelt video of an elephants returning to friendship and retiring.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Courtship

Radiating truth, beauty, and peace

Getting to know the Guru.  It is an interesting courtship of sorts.  Is the Guru kind?  Is the Guru wise?  Is the Guru trustworthy?  Is the Guru attentive?  Is the Guru loving?  Is the Guru patient?  What is the Guru?  Who is the Guru?  Is the Guru a reflection of who you are or who you are not? I start to understand that the Guru is pure enough to be a guide to your true self.  He or She can hold the mirror up in a way, so you can see the truth within yourself.  Not holding the mirror in a way that you only see the best angle or light, but to see who you are--the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Of course, the mirror is held with humility and love, so there is only the smallest amount of distraction from still being in a body.

As I sit and reflect everyday,  I see that the pain is my own.  The waves on the ocean are coming from me and how I move through life.  As the disturbances on the surface become less, I experience a smaller and smaller place that I need to be as a human-and not a diminished place from hiding, but one from balancing on a smaller inner place.  The deeper I know myself, the more easily it is to balance without using the people and/or environment around me as a distraction.  When there is a ripple in the inner peace, it is up to me to examine why I lost my balance.  Sometimes it is like cutting yourself with a very sharp knife, you don't feel the cut, but you see the blood.  All sign posts for going deeper.

With animals, there is a sacredness to making eye contact.  So much is imposed or exposed in a stare--or even in a glance.  Why do I feel that it is almost excruciating at times to behold Him? But there is such a desire to look at such a remarkable light.  When I first came, I thought who is this "guy" wrapped in an orange sheet?  He possessed a quality unlike anything I had experienced radiating from a human.  As I move through the courtship, the core qualities of love, humility, and grace have never wavered.  My discernment antennae is always available, but I see that the wariness is against the truth of my nature.  He doesn't point his finger, raise his voice, use a stick, or ask anything of you.  He is the stillness of the water below the surface and he is inviting you to join Him.

The inner journey, unlike any trip or vacation I have ever experienced before...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Krishna's Birthday Celebration-midnight

One of the temple areas was transformed for celebrating Krishna's Birthday. Midnight was the significant moment, but the ceremony appeared to start at 10:30 pm.  These celebrations are like traveling to a foreign country within a foreign country.  It made me reflect on American holidays:  Christmas with a decorated tree and lights, Easter with eggs in a basket, and Thanksgiving with a turkey.  Holidays are creative punctuations in the calendar.

The building outside where I live was dressed up to celebrate Krishna's Birthday

Night Walk

Walking along the area in front of the floating palace is like visiting a mini version of Las Vegas:  lights, a festive atmosphere, abundance of foot traffic, people in costumes (that aren't really costumes...), glamour.