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JAugust 2021

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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The gorgeous fluorescent-green hummingbird stationary in flight, shown in the first series of photos, took my breath away! It reminded me of the lightness, freedom, and strength of my Self.

St. Laurent, Canada

I love looking at the exquisite photo of the bridge surrounded by lush, green trees. The image conveys to me a sense of flow and movement over the bridge. Yet the far side of the bridge is hidden from my view.
I perceive a metaphor for my sadhana in this special scene at Shree Muktananda Ashram: Shri Gurumayi’s teachings are my bridge, connecting me to the Self.

Colorado, United States

As I viewed these images, I felt my longing to be in Shree Muktananda Ashram. But as I continued to view the images, it seemed that the Ashram was coming to me! I became aware of the presence of the Guru in my heart. I am truly grateful for my connection to the Heart; it is priceless.

Oregon, United States

I love viewing these photos. Meditating on nature with my eyes open always takes me right to the Self. I experience a sweet, serene meditation that fills me with the presence of Gurumayi inside and outside.

Today I am particularly drawn to the image of the dragonfly with the translucent wings and black body. I am remembering a time many years ago in Gurudev Siddha Peeth when I saw so many beautiful red and orange dragonflies. During that time I had the experience that I was seeing everything through Gurumayi's eyes. That experience stays with me today and fills my heart with the Guru's love and grace.

Florida, United States

One picture in the August Nature Gallery shows a body of water reflecting the light of the sun. To me, the reflection looked like the golden form of Bade Baba sitting there in all his glory.
I was amazed. Thirty years ago, I received a spiritual name from Gurumayi, and it’s the name of a river. And here is Bade Baba, seated in this small river, bestowing his divinity and light all across the flowing water. What a wonder to see this in the auspicious month of his Punyatithi!
I wish to always remember and be in touch with my true identity—as suggested by my spiritual name.

Hindelang, Germany