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January 2023

January
Nature in Shree Muktananda Ashram III

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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I am thankful for this pictorial winter wonderland tour of Shree Muktananda Ashram. As I looked at the photos, I imagined I was actually standing in the setting of each image, smiling. In this way, I felt that I was taking in the exquisite beauty of a sunset, breathing in the cold air, and feeling the snow as it floated to the earth. I was able to watch as the snowflakes landed in the dancing circles, on the path around Lake Nityananda, and on the rooftops. I felt as though I was right there as the snow gently enrobed the Shiva Nataraj statue. As I went through the photo gallery, my mind became still, my breath deepened, and I connected with my heart.
 

Maine, United States

Gazing at the gorgeous picture of snowy trees by Lake Nityananda made my mind stop. I felt a unique sensation of peace. Everything in the image seemed to be in order—perfectly arranged by Mother Nature to be clean, beautiful, and spacious.

I am very thankful for these inspiring pictures. To me, they are like a work of art. They help me to perceive God in nature.
 

New York, United States

Upon embracing the views of the sacred land that is Shree Muktananda Ashram, my heart informed me to embrace wherever I stand as sacred, this moment as sacred, and this life as sacred. I am so grateful to have a Sadguru alive on this earth and alive in my heart.
 

California, United States

When my eyes first caught sight of the red-orange flag flying high above
the Ashram near the Bhagavan Nityananda Temple, I felt my heart starting to glow with ecstasy.
 
Just as this flag signifies the Guru’s physical presence in the Ashram, so I could feel the Guru’s presence in my heart.   
 

Ville St. Laurent, Canada

I am in awe as I gaze at the serene greatness of Bade Baba’s presence, his exquisite attire, his cape and shawl perfectly draped around him, his turban of gold, his big garland, and the gorgeous arrangements of roses surrounding him. He seems so alive, and everything around him seems so alive. I see the freezing landscape outside and the warmth inside the Temple. The golden curtain behind Bade Baba looks to me like a shower of pure shakti.
 

New York, United States

The two photos of the Bhagavan Nityananda Temple at night, with the dark clouds and swirling winds outside, remind me that no matter what the outer circumstances are, my inner Self is so full of light, love, and protection. It’s such a sweet image to hold in my heart.
 

Michigan, United States