Friday, September 30, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Beauty Behind the Scenes of Durga

In Awe.

Sitting in silence from 8 -10am while the priests rebuild the Durga theme for the day, (they appear to redress Her everyday with a different theme?)  The morning was the perfect temperature, the fans creating a lovely breeze, the light through the windows was illuminating, and only one other person sitting, (he appears to be the grounds person overseeing the process like a orchestra conductor and he has a special rug to sit on?)  After an hour or so passed, my mind thought--how does it getter better than this?  In a spiritual country, sitting in an ashram for spirituality, Durga energy stirred up extra during the celebration, priests intently supporting and stirring the Durga energy, the entire ashram working like a bee hive behind the scenes to support the process in a thoughtful, loving way, and I have the time to meditate in the presence of it all with no time or action requirements.  Learning about inner stillness and peace.

It still catches me by surprise the stir of deep emotion when Gurudev walks into a room.  The tears come to the surface in such an involuntary reaction to the grace, humility, and beauty that He exudes.  To already be sitting within the sanctuary of a holy offering to the Divine and to then to have a Divine Being walk into the space--breathtaking.  It leaves me in awe how exquisite our connection to life can be without doing--only being.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Living in Gratitude

The Navratra Celebration started at 6:20 this morning and will continue for 9 days.  Wow, my experience is so different this time--not just bobbing around on the ocean taking in the sights and trying to get a grasp of the ceremony.  It feels like being dropped into the middle of the ocean and going deep.

I have been giving a lot of thought to Gurudev's teaching around prashad and thankfulness.  Watching the ceremony stirs such deep gratitude for the Divine Genealogy, the Ashram, and all of the devotees who help make it all run so beautifully.  The preparation leading up to the morning start has been a lot of cleaning, painting, planting, stringing flowers/leaves, ordering supplies, and more.  As the priests start to create the adornment of Durga and the supporting Beings, it is amazing to consider that each flower necklace was hand strung, each flower adornment is so thoughtfully positioned and acknowledged, each word recited or chanted has a deep resonance and connection to the Divine, and Gurudev thoughtfully overseeing the unfolding--as he does for all of us daily.  Afterwards, prashad, tea, and a bowl of tasty rice was provided, so more thoughtful care and detail by all of the people who support and make a generous offering of their time, skills, and/or goods.  One giant prashad!

(A note of personal gratitude for the remarkable opportunity to learn and absorb teachings from all of the people who partake in the ashram community.  There isn't enough blog space to thank Gurudev appropriately, but a sliver of that for his encouragement to take pictures, videos, and share with the world beyond the ashram walls.)

 “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.” — Denis Waitley
 “As each day comes to us refreshed and anew, so does my gratitude renew itself daily. The breaking of the sun over the horizon is my grateful heart dawning upon a blessed world. ” — Adabella Radici
 “For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
 “Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live. ” — Attributed to Jacqueline Winspear
 “When eating bamboo sprouts, remember the man who planted them.” — Chinese Proverb

Monday, September 26, 2011

Amazing Clarification and Teaching

Inner Peace and Beauty

Trick question for the Guru?  Do you want to start with the easy questions on the list or the more difficult?  We both had a laugh, of course, He said that it didn't matter.

Part 1. Here goes, the simple summary of how to live life:

1. There are no answers. ( Peace on the planet while we are in the Kali Yuga equals "oscillations" as stated by Gurudev.  I think that lasts 26,000 years?  The bumpy ride continues. If you have a body, just get use to it, but there are approaches to help smooth out the ride.)

2. The only approach is acceptance for what is.
    (I asked for clarification.  Yes, acceptance for what I cross paths with personally and what is happening on the globe--all of it.)

Part 2.  (This section is very interesting) Beings and people in positions of social, spiritual, or religious change:

1. There are humans on the planet (past, present, and probably more on the way) who are inspired to create social change:  Martin Luther King, Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, and the list continues.

2. There are a Beings who are sent down from the cosmic world to take on a body and help us humans  move towards cosmic living.  (The Divine Genealogy)

*One problem, both groups have bodies.  Gurudev clarified that every form that exists in a human body will have some percentage of human faults, even if the form comes from the Divine stock pile.  BUT,  their teaching is different, since they are not trying to find their way out of the density of matter, but are willing to come into matter.  He clarified this difference. They teach from a place of love and acceptance.  Their teachings are to help us with the oscillations of living and provide some aid to creating inner calmness.

*Words are limiting and subject to interpretation.  Gurudev stressed their limitations and to keep that in mind even with his teachings. He clarified--it is up to each individual how he or she navigates the life path through acceptance.

Both groups are working for the same cause, but just working from a different starting point.

Personal Note. How cool is all of that clarification, since I am a word oriented person. Is there work to be done--of course.  He laughed when I asked about the 26,000 years, since we only have one lifetime at a time that is usually 70-80 years.  Look at that ego jumping into the picture.  I know that this information is available in many different forms. All of my spiritual teachers have been saying the same thing, but for some reason, I needed to sit at the feet of one of these Human embodied, cosmic Beings and hear it directly. Jai Guru!

Kali Yuga The 'Iron Age' of Hindu mythology. Hindu mythology posits four ages of the world: the Krita Yuga (Golden Age of Truth), lasting 4,800 years -

A Unique View

In the afternoon, the universe provided such an amazing teaching for me relating to our morning discussion.  Quite a unique moment.  There was a person who was acting quite negative and a bit aggressive towards Gurudev.  My first reaction was to move from the sitting area, but my second reaction was to practice using this new depth of being. Nothing different than what I periodically experience outside the ashram walls, but it caught me off guard to have it play out in this normally peaceful setting.  Watching the body language, other people in the ashram were a bit alarmed, so I was interested to see how The Master operated under these conditions.  He had to be firm and set boundaries, but the situation did dissolve without it becoming more negative.  Afterwards, he looked at me and I said something about just a living example of what is outside and the human condition of insanity.  He laughed while remarking about "And there aren't even any answers (from our earlier discussion)" and that it could even be challenging for him at times.  (A Guru with wisdom and a sense of humor.)

What was so remarkable for me was to watch, hear the teachings in my head, and recognize how pouring light into any situation, no matter how dark/dense, that if there is even a small crack that the light can enter--it is a start to the pathway of consciousness.  If he didn't keep holding and pouring the light onto the situation, it may have taken on a different result--like a match touching paper.  The other remarkable part was how he handled the human limitations. There was an energetic presence backed by clear body language that said no and an invitation to go.

(Please, don't get me wrong that I enjoyed the teaching at the expense of Gurudev's well being.  I may have not even noticed the lesson if I wasn't deep in the contemplation of how the theoretical and practical merge. He had even spoke about that being so individual--and the work on the path.)

Walk to the Ashram

Temple/Historical Building  Jaipur, India
There is a representation of the global condition just walking down the street from my room to the ashram.   The religious faction is represented as I start the walk by a large, historical temple.  I pass shops/restaurants representing the working faction on the planet. Ruts in the road, drainage issues, garbage representing various states of infrastructure.  There are dogs, cats, cows, pigs, monkeys, birds, and more standing in for the animal community.  Buildings are small, tall, and under varying stages of construction reminding us of the encroachment of humans through construction and population.  Pedestrians, bicycles, scooters, cars, trucks, and buses pass along the road delivering supplies to the businesses or humans to their desired destinations.

A quiet moment on the street

The experience of the walk involves encounters with friendly/unfriendly people, people trying to sell something, children, adult, men, women, locals, visitors, and animals.  Between the living faction and the awareness for dodging cow patties, human excrement, water ditches, potholes, and debris could all be a thumbnail sketch of what shows up in life anywhere in the world:  traffic, environmental issues, waste management, housing, livestock/pet management, employment, business, and the list goes on.  Sound familiar?  It just looks different on the 2-3 minute walk. The walk ends at the ashram--teachings of acceptance, love, being, and peace.

Entry to the Ashram
photo by Mataji

“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).

 “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). 

Starting to understand this statement.  Kindness, patience, and love will make The Earth a better place, at the very least.  The Master of humility in action:  a new person came into the ashram with a group.  Socks, as I learned early on, a no-no, sitting too close to Gurudev's door, a no-no, (not sure how you would know that in advance either), and no greeting of pranam.  I wasn't in that position too long ago.  The good news, he was there and quietly taking it all in thoughtfully.  Gurudev happened to need to go into his room. Did He make any fuss about the young man being in the way or the inappropriateness of his attire--no.  He just opened the door part way and made himself as narrow as possible and sidled sideways through the opening.

Photo by Mari-A

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Respect, Equality, and Opportunity

Amazing how much the ego tentacle finds a way to latch on no matter what your intention is to just "be." Growing up and living in a culture where women have probably their strongest foot hold in respect, equality, and opportunity, it is something that shows up on my radar screen with the lack of these conditions in India.  In principle, it doesn't effect the one molecule (or less) of real estate that I presumably occupy, but is that practical while inhabiting a body?  Gurudev does warn of being in India and paying attention to safety.  There is a global degree of this, but some places are more safe than others.  I will be presumptuous and say that if you grew up without it, you probably wouldn't be looking for it.  That isn't to say that the opportunity to grow beyond the norm or the surroundings is always an option.  With the interconnectedness of the globe everything is possible.

(And there is still a longs ways to go:  Women in the Obama White House: sexism and progress -*)

Saudi king allows women to vote in local elections - Yahoo! News

Yes, yet another layer of attachment on a personality level has shown up--the ease of being in and around men and women of all nationalities.  I observe Gurudev with both sexes.  I don't see any signs of male dominance, discrimination, or lack of respect.  It appears "normal" on my radar screen.  When I have asked him about it, he attributes it to where we are in our evolution, education, and consciousness.  I guess I will take out a permission slip for humanity and do my part not to lose focus on deepening into a state of being, acceptance, and love.  While sitting with this, the download came in to keep putting faith in the Divine and not get caught in the human quagmire. Found this quote:

Christ has no body on earth but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which
Christ's compassion for the world is to look out;
yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good;
and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.

--Saint Teresa of Avila

Saturday, September 24, 2011

There Are No Answers

When I started looking at the will department of my existence a couple of weeks ago, a lot of energy started to shift around my throat and head.  I have been feeling like a light cape or mantle had been draped over my shoulders.

For the past few days, I have been sitting with the experience of the new energy field from the wandering sadhu experience.  It feels both empty and expansive at the same time.  A refinement of energy that I haven't consciously known before.  As I was meditating, I felt the cloak lift and my entire "body" (inside and outside) felt uniform and clear--a sense of freedom IN the body.  While in the experience of dancing and riding, at times I felt free WITH the body which led to a sense of euphoria.  The runner's high, the dancer's high, the rider's high, or the multitude of ways this could and does manifest.

The bliss state has intensified with this perceived lightening of the internal load, but it isn't the seductive part of the shift--just an outcome.  The seduction is in the stillness and equanimity of life happening around me on a daily basis. When I fall out of it with undesirable actions, it is graphic--lint screen 101.

As I entered Pahari Baba's room, there was a picture of a young Pahari Baba that I hadn't noticed before--it looked just like the sadhu I saw at the Amber Fort.  I was a bit surprised, but I am getting less surprised by these coincidences. Gratitude and more gratitude for the remarkable teachings.

"There are no answers."  popped into my consciousness today.  "Only the state of being in the acceptance of what is."  Stirring, questioning, searching and now to discover that there may not be an answer (period!) for what I am looking for.  It was established that is wasn't on the planet and now I am looking at it not existing at all?  There was a moment of grief like some death had happened.  This lifetime has been focused on finding this inner peace and answer to life on the planet. Gurudev said that I had a possibility to find it by going deep into the place without words and mind. Cosmic humor:  I was attached to having a clear answer.  "Only the state of being in the acceptance of what is."  How many times do I need to circle around this concept before settling down? Flexibility in the ongoing process--no concrete design.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Joy of Elephants Video

Really enjoy hanging out with the elephants.  Here is a video that I made for fun.  Very cool to hang out with them in the production process too.  Making the first video with the Guru Full Moon was amazing to watch 8 plus hours of video and then the hours of editing.  It was such a remarkable immersion/teaching in itself.  I am enjoying and finding this with each video topic.

Elephants Jaipur, India 2011


 A picture of 6 blind men feeling an elephant for the first time and what they are imagining in their minds.

John Godfrey Saxe's ( 1816-1887) version of the famous Indian legend,

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approach'd the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, -"Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!"

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a snake!"

The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he,
"'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!"

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Then, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a rope!"

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

Updated and Finalized Help In Suffering Videos

Here are all of the updated videos with the suggested changes.  For fun, I made one with the elephants and other animals.  I really, really appreciated the input.  Learning curve.  There was a notification about the music use on the videos, so I need to find out how to work with that piece of the equation.  If anyone has been down that road before, I would appreciate your input.  I made the old videos private, so they will not be available for viewing.

Enjoy! Jai Guru!

Street Dogs

Help In Suffering:  Helping Animals In Need

Help In Suffering: How To Help

Elephants Jaipur, India 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Clear Unconscious, Muddy Conscious, Clear Conscious

Amazing beings

After spending several hours wandering around HIS Monday and a few hours today videotaping/photographing elephants and whatever other animal wandered into the screen, I was giving some attention to the feel of unconscious animal energy that is clear, conscious human energy that is muddy, and conscious human energy that is clear.  The first two are easy to line up side-by-side, but the third requires a sit at the ashram.

Focusing on elephants while listening to my tunes, wearing sunglasses, and a hat leaves me fairly insulated from the muddy human energy (at least in my mind...), so I was having a splendid time.  Personally, I just cannot get enough of the elephants. Plus, the locals are getting use to me, so I almost don't have anyone trying to sell me something or beg for money while I am walking around.  I was winding my way down from the Amber Fort when all of a sudden I experienced a shift in the energy field:  light, unobstructed, and peaceful.  It caught my attention as if there was an eclipse of the sun or the moon.  I glanced up and there was a man moving in a fluid, athletic way with dreadlocks, sadhu clothing, and a dot on his forehead.  He reminded me of Pahari Baba--at least what I see in the photos.  He didn't appear to want anything, we were both threading our way through a stream of tourist, but we smiled at one another.  Two beings looking so different, but there was such a freshness and honesty to the exchange.  After he passed, the energy field returned to a muddiness, but I think I got my answer.  The feel of clear, conscious human energy lined up next to muddy, conscious human energy.

The exchange "haunted" me for the remainder of the day and on into the evening.  I should be getting use to these teachings that just show up, but someone could think I was crazy.  Maybe I am?  The disintegration of everything as I knew it to be.  The acceptance of the unknown--the known is turning out to be more of an illusion than the unknown.

My Father's Gravesite

My Father's gravesite is on a beautiful hill in Berkeley, California, overlooking the San Francisco Bay, and under a big tree.  My meditation started there, but I was with my mother.  We were paying our respects to him and leaving some bright, yellow Daffodils to ease our grief.  My parents were married over sixty years, so I was emotionally supporting my mother by being near physically while mentally leaving space for her to be alone with him.  It was an emotional moment for both of us.  My father was my deepest connection to family and probably the only human who I have truly loved.  He was a gentle pillar of support who supported my drive to excel without ever being overbearing.  He was the ultimate human cheer leader.

In part two of my meditation, I returned to the gravesite as a gentle breeze somehow entwined in the loving presence of the Divine. Expansive, benevolent, and experiencing a different version of love.  I could feel the difference in love for my father versus love for the Divine.  This teaching came during the days I was exploring emotion vs. virtue.

A series of events led me to look at the pain and process around addiction. The visit to my father woke it up and other life events "coincidentally" sprang into action.  Another tentacle from the ego and another tentacle to let go of.  I know that people's use of drugs, alcohol, food, etc. is usually related to some inner pain.  Coming to terms with it is rarely pleasant.  My father may have left his undigested which led to three different rounds of cancer.  As I have moved through my own pain layers and understood more about the process, I marvel at how loving he was in spite of whatever was inside.  He had such a gentleness and kindness:  something I have appreciated and felt from Gurudev.  He may have been my stepping stone to embracing the gateway Gurudev represents to God.

Gratitude for the mystery unfolding.

Photo by Mari-A

Monday, September 19, 2011


What are distractions?  Are they really a comfort zone?  As I view a new perspective on living--mine and the surrounding population--do the distractions ever let up?  If you are looking for food in the garbage piles or rummaging for pieces of discarded life bits, is that so different than bargain shopping at the grocery store or sorting through the sale table at the mall?  How about price shopping for the caterers who will feed the guests at the next party or searching on line for the best price on a new or used vehicle?  Comparing prices on a luxury cruise through the South Pacific or bargain shopping for a new house with some acreage?  Are we so different?  The challenge of living is never ending.

My time in India has new distractions, but there is more time for what is between them and the actual distractions aren't as pleasant as I had before.  All of it becomes more of an even playing field--and then there is the ashram.  It creates an environment where the biggest distraction is my mind.   I love to sit in the Pahari Baba Temple area for an hour or two, and then relocate over to Gurudev's area to sit with the population--taking the unobstructed presence with me.  Not too different than going from the country to the city. There are layers within the ashram that allow me to work with the layers within myself. At some point, the separation will end.

Animal Community Getting Help

One of the ashram dogs was taken into Help In Suffering for castration, so I had a few hours to wander around, take pictures, video tape, observe, contemplate life, check-in with myself in the animal world, and  just be present with the situation. Sigh...  Inner stillness is becoming the preferred place and it is obtainable under more and more situations.  It is up to me to keep hacking back the tentacles of attachment and take the personality perceptions out of the road.  The unspoken conversation with all animals is still there.  There were people from the Jaipur community bringing in their dogs, cows, horses, camels, etc. because they were concerned and needed assistance. The attendants working on the animals were professional and help oriented.  The animals were patient and cooperated under the circumstances with minimal resistance.  It was all like a well orchestrated play with animals as the headlining characters.  All the participants allowed me to wander around photographing and videoing with curiosity and acceptance.

Signing in. (Note the sleeping spots for the two white dogs.) Director's chair.
Ashram dog and supporting cast waiting for surgery.
One of the rescue vehicles (a donation from an organization in Switzerland.)
Working on a dog' s leg
This was the award winning moment for love.  He was reassuring his baby calf
Waiting patiently and proudly
Adoption challenge.  No one wants them, but they are so intelligent.
Street dogs treated, neutered or whatever.  Ready for release back on to the street. (Donations help fund their care.)
It is so easy for me to be around the animals. I really enjoyed seeing the compassion from the animal's owners and concerned citizens.  I had not seen that in India until today.  The man comforting his baby calf, the woman waiting for her cow to be checked from a birthing problem, the concerned citizen who brought in a street dog that was terribly torn up, the elder gentleman with his "fluffy" dog, and the others with their beloved companions.  Truth and love. What more is there?  Sitting in the ashram with a dozen other people, I thought, most humans are at their best when they are not talking.  Peace and tranquility like hanging out with the animals.

Help In Suffering:  Helping Animals In Need

Help In Suffering: How To Help