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December 2022

Nature in Shree Muktananda Ashram I

Nature in Shree Muktananda Ashram

by Pamela Roberts

The scriptures of India often describe the ashram of a spiritual Master as flourishing with vibrant gardens, abundant wildlife, and the entrancing beauty of nature. It seems that all of life celebrates the presence of a great being in its midst. Why is this so? The scriptures reveal that the grounds of an ashram are infused with the presence of the Guru’s shakti, the benevolent, divine power of grace and spiritual awakening that is beneficial to all living creatures.

The photographs of nature in this series all originate from Shree Muktananda Ashram, the abode of Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, the Siddha Yoga Guru. Month after month, year in and year out, we are given an opportunity to witness the movement of the shakti that continuously arises and flows through the seasons, manifesting as the majestic natural world of infinite variety, perfection, and mystery. By engaging with these images, we may discover the transformative power they can have on our inner state and awareness.

When I looked at these photographs for the first time, I felt a gentle, blissful energy stirring within me. After viewing the last image, I sat motionless, in silence and in a deeply peaceful state. Gradually, a thought arose, and I realized I had been in meditation. I had always loved nature, but being with nature had never drawn me inside in this way.

Contemplating this experience, I realized that I had connected with the shakti that pervades the grounds of Shree Muktananda Ashram. I understood that these photographs had provided me with a way to experience the play of supreme creative energy as it manifests in nature. Inspired by this understanding, I began a regular exploration of the natural world through the exquisite purity and perspective of these images.

Any one of these photographs can take us within, where we can experience our oneness with nature—and our own divinity. Each time we prepare to view the photographs, it is good to set an intention—for example, the intention of connecting with the shakti. As we center ourselves, our approach might be like entering a temple, the sacred temple of nature. Before looking at the photographs, we might begin our meditation by focusing on the breath and repeating the mantra. Then, as we press “play” or scroll one-by-one through the images, we can coordinate our breath and the mantra with the movement of nature before us. When we are drawn to a specific image, we can pause the image to contemplate it, asking ourselves, “What do I learn from this photograph that I can apply to my life?” In this way, we are engaging with the images as a spiritual practice.

By viewing the photographs regularly, we can observe the harmony and balance that sustain the natural world. And because we are an intrinsic part of nature, we can contemplate how our own lives can benefit from nature’s peerless example. Over time, by learning to immerse ourselves in the divinity of nature through these images from Shree Muktananda Ashram, we can transform our experience of nature wherever we live and wherever we go on this planet.

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One of my favorite things in life is to see Gurumayi laugh, as I can see in one of the photos in this gallery. I know that when I laugh so fully, it is such a free feeling.
I feel grateful to have received these photographs of the holiday satsangs and dancing saptah at Shree Muktananda Ashram, since the joy captured in the photos reached out and touched my heart.

Hawaii, United States

The lovely image of a frozen, white Lake Nityananda underneath the bluest of skies filled my entire being with a sense of expansion and freedom. What an exhilarating way to begin my day.

Ville St. Laurent, Canada

Oh, what a joy to see Gurumayi this morning welcoming Rohit at such a happy gathering! It made my heart jump with joy! Then I viewed the images of Shree Muktananda Ashram covered with snow—snow adorning the trees around the Temple, around the lake, covering Lord Shiva Nataraj. How divine! 

New York, United States

I am grateful to see the images of the joyful satsang on Christmas. Jolly Santa’s presence put a great big smile on my heart! Happy Holidays!

Ville St. Laurent, Canada

trees receive
crystalized snow
beauty unbound.

New York, United States

The magnificent photographs of nature at Shree Muktananda Ashram evoked a little poem in me.
Beyond Art
I feel like
you give me visions
of the perfect sacred world of light
to remind me of the goal
to keep me
going   going   going
every single day

Hindelang, Germany

As I viewed the beautiful winter photos in this nature gallery, I found so many photographic masterpieces there. At the same time I realized that in the nature galleries in the other seasons, I have also felt that they contained photos that were wonderful. I realized that during our human lives we too experience different seasons, and that my commitment is to find the masterpieces inside each season.
I wish to thank Gurumayi for guiding my sadhana with so much grace!

Rome, Italy

I so look forward to looking at these nature photos every single day, and to be taken on a tour of nature at Shree Muktananda Ashram, which is so dear to my heart. It is the sacred place of my soul, where I was awakened to the divinity inside me and where my beloved Guru lives.
Seeing these photos makes me feel like I’m there on those sacred grounds, moving through the seasons—the seasons of love. I’m so grateful for this gift. The snow on the Temple is exquisite and magical and warms my heart, my whole being. I am so grateful to Gurumayi for this daily dose of joy.

California, United States

The pristine-white winter wonderland views of Shree Muktananda Ashram inspired me to contemplate how Mother Nature seems to be in a spiritual retreat mode. In contrast, springtime to me is when Mother Nature emerges from her winter meditations and is ready for action once again.

Ville St. Laurent, Canada

I’m transfixed by the first image in Part I of this collection of photos. It shows trees reflected in the water, their trunks and branches reshaped into rippling squiggles by the movement of the water. I’ve taken an interest recently in suminagashi, the Japanese art form of marbling paper using water and ink. (Suminagashi, in Japanese, literally means “floating ink.”) To me, the photograph looks uncannily like a suminagashi painting.

Time and again, I am astonished and moved to discover the many synchronicities—the points of resonance—between what is revealing itself on the grounds of my Guru’s home and what has become meaningful for me, in my own life.

New York, United States

The most recent images of Lake Nityananda are extremely vivid to me. The textures come alive with the Guru’s shakti in a remarkable way. Through these images I experience multiple senses merging and flowing and am transported into the image. I hear the colors and feel the sounds; my mind quiets and my breath deepens.

Maine, United States

Looking at the image of the trees reflected in the waters of Lake Nityananda inspired me to contemplate my life. I thought about how I often tend to take everything so seriously: the daily news, work stress, the drama of interacting with others. But I can see that, just like the reflection in the water, these things are part of the maya or illusion of the world.
This contemplation has reminded me of why it is so vital to dive into the Truth through meditation.

Ville St. Laurent, Canada