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December 2021

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 morning I eagerly await the fresh images of Shree Muktananda Ashram. My heart opens with gratitude. I feel as if I am setting foot on holy ground. Inwardly I bow and kiss this sacred space. As I do so, I experience the ground I am on as sacred also. I feel Gurumayi’s heart is with me and everywhere. My Guru’s generous heart loves and includes me and everyone. Distance dissolves, separation dissolves, and I experience that divine unity reigns supreme.

California, United States

Almost every day, I delight in contemplating the magnificent photos of  nature on the sacred land of Shree Muktananda Ashram. Yesterday, I found a phenomenal heart high in the sky, formed by hundreds of birds in flight.
I see in this incredible choreography of soaring birds a visible manifestation of Gurumayi's “Season’s Greetings,” in both the physical and celestial worlds. That video is brought to life in the sky of the Ashram. How awesome! Here, hundreds of birds—that is to say, a whole community—have answered the call of the golden Heart. What a piece of collective art!
As I contemplate this shakti in action, it reminds me of a beautiful teaching in “Gurumayi's Guidance: Gladness of Spirit.” There Gurumayi reminds us, “The earth is alive with Consciousness,” and similarly for the water, the air, the fire, and the ether—all are “alive with Consciousness.” When I contemplate this exquisite photo, this teaching becomes alive for me.

Quebec, Canada

My daily dose of taking joy in nature begins early every morning as my eyes revel in the beauty displayed in the photo gallery, “Nature in  Shree Muktananda Ashram.” Today I especially loved watching the two starlings in the green grass. It was pure ambrosia  looking at the different forms of God.

St. Laurent, Canada

I am very grateful for these exquisite images. Their delicate composition and beauty (and sometimes humor!) are among the first things I view every morning on the Siddha Yoga path website. They provide an easy and graceful way to immerse myself in stillness for a moment. They show me that nature has so much to say in its silence.

New York, United States

As I looked through these inspiring and restful images, I felt my breath slowing, my heart opening, and my mind growing quiet. I experienced a sense of simple peacefulness emerging.  

In the commentary, I found the perfect words to describe my own experience. I have always loved nature. The Guru has taught me how to deepen that love by showing me why I love it and by what grace I can come to truly know it.

Washington, United States