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November 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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Each day I visit the nature gallery and see myself taking a meditative walk on the sacred grounds of this blessed place. This daily practice creates a bridge between my mind and my heart, a bridge that gently restores harmony between these two parts of me. Day after day, this meditative walk elevates me and quenches my thirst for wonder! Fall is my favorite season, and throughout the month of November, I have savored its many splendors through these wonderful photos. In the wind, the rain, and the falling leaves, I see a natural union—a perfect and delectable harmony. I experience it as the dance of Shiva. For me, this dance is a sacred offering where fire, air, water, and ether unite to nourish and honor our Mother Earth, the generous one, who gives us everything.

Québec, Canada

The images of the snow-laden hills surrounding Lake Nityananda in the “Nature in Shree Muktananda Ashram IV” gallery brought up sweet memories for me.
I recalled my japa walks around the lake during my visits to the Ashram. As I repeated the mantra, my mind would become tranquil and quiet, and a feeling of unity with everything would flood my entire being. It was a truly sublime experience!

Ville St. Laurent, Canada

The image of the fallen autumn leaves resting calmly on the surface of the still water of the lake soothes my heart. It seems to me as if each leaf is like God’s finger touching the water. Or, from another perspective, the photo looks like the reverse image of a starry night. Everything is so still, so peaceful. At the same time, looking at the image, I am able to feel the motion and transformation of the seasons and of life itself.

After viewing the “Nature in Shree Muktananda Ashram I” gallery, I sat for meditation, and these tender, gentle leaves reappeared in my mind’s eye. This image is so calming to me; I could stare at it the whole day long.

California, United States

The photos of young people dancing with fluffy seeds floating in the air in “Nature in Shree Muktananda III” inspired this poem in me.
          Waltz of Peace
This day is an auspicious day
Just dance, my heart, and sing:
The air is filled with harmony
tune in to unity
See the blessings gliding down
like subtle elfin hair
See the breeze conveying seeds
the core of unity
Receive the seeds and take some in
as mighty therapy
for the aching partial mind
to find entirety
Plant the undivided seed
within your shiny cave
water it with diligence
its sprout is empathy
Tend the plants with holy care
so they will flourish soon
and come to bear the juicy fruits
of great abundant peace
Let’s celebrate this blessed day
with pure united hearts
let’s dance and sing the symphony
of happy harmony
Let’s pray that all humanity
would see this blessed breeze
May our precious planet Earth
receive the crown of peace

Hindelang, Germany

The chickadee shown on the fountain’s rim reminded me of an experience I had a few days ago during a japa walk in my favorite park. Its walking paths are beautifully lined with emerald-green coniferous trees. All of a sudden, a tiny black, grey, and white chickadee flew into a tree branch just one foot away from me, singing at the top of its lungs, “Chickadee—dee—dee.” It was so heartwarming! I experienced it as a blessing from Shri Gurumayi.

Ville St. Laurent, Canada

A clarion of
silken light
finds its way
to join
beauty amidst
the fanfare
of sunlit dewdrops’
momentary appearance.

New York, United States