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July 2021

Nature in Shree Muktananda Ashram II

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 hard-working bee gathering pollen from the lilac-colored flower is teaching me the virtues of steadfastness, patience, and loyal duty to one’s life’s destiny. Nature is such a great teacher!

St. Laurent, Canada

There are two pictures of daisies following one another in the Nature Gallery. In the first image, the daisies are in full bloom. To me, they look so happy as if they were smiling. In the second image, the daisies are droopy and withering. This made me think of my life-- sometimes I feel like I’m in full bloom and sometimes I feel like I ‘m drooping.

Through the teachings and practices of the Siddha Yoga path, I have learned to remain centered in the unchanging inner Self—the core of my being—and I remember that full bloom will be followed by withering, and withering by new, happy bloom. 

California, United States

In the photo of the bench, I love seeing the play of sunlight and its countless diamond-like sparkles on the glistening waters of Lake Nityananda.
Observing the light on the lake, I remember the truly awesome play of Shri Guru's light within me during meditation.

St. Laurent, Canada

The bright magenta hibiscus flowers outside the Nityananda Temple in Shree Muktananda Ashram touched my heart so deeply. I felt especially connected to the one hibiscus with the statue of Lord Ganesh in soft focus in the background. It brought to mind the red hibiscus I had seen in Gurudev Siddha Peeth. As someone who lives in Hawaii and sees hibiscus flowers all the time, I marveled at this “hibiscus connection.”

Hawaii, United States