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September 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 photo of clouds looks to me like two angels flying with fluffy white wings in the blue sky. What a blessed way to begin my day!

St. Laurent, Canada

When I began to look through the third series of nature photos for September, I felt scattered. My mind seemed out of control and I was unable to settle down.
When I beheld the photo of the spider gently embracing the bright orange flower, I instantly felt held, relaxed, and contained. My mind became settled as I, too, felt embraced by a sense of tender benevolence. I am reminded of how the practice of meditating on nature, given to me by Gurumayi, repeatedly brings me back home to who I really am.

Alaska, United States

Every time I click to view a photo, I repeat the sacred mantra Om Namah Shivaya. As I engage with each image in this way, I feel a deeper sense of connection to the sacred grounds of Shree Muktananda Ashram. At the same time, my heart opens more and more. I am infinitely grateful for the power of the mantra.
I am grateful to Gurumayi for simply everything.

Hilversum, Netherlands

This introduction reassured me about my practice of imbibing my connection to nature in all her forms. I remember how walking the silent path between Atma Nidhi and Anugraha at Shree Muktananda Ashram filled me with delight and revelation. As my pace slowed, my breathing flowed easefully, and my senses communed with the birds, flowers, and water in a dream-like way. The path became an exquisite darshan to be treasured.
And so, ever since the beginning of the pandemic’s challenges, I have taken to walking in my neighborhood every day with Ashram sensibilities! I feel that Gurumayi has answered my need for upliftment by directing my awareness to the birds, flowers, and water fountains in my own surroundings.
I begin each walk with the intention to receive Gurumayi’s guidance. My pace naturally slows, as my senses open to refreshment and joy. The feeling of union that I experienced at the Ashram returns.
When a butterfly comes close, I say aloud, "Hello, Gurumayi. Thank you."

California, United States

shifting shape
paint a story
on the canvas
of blue sky.  
I read cloud-speak
as saying:
Be assured
all distinctions
above    below    in-between
into the moment
of stillness.

New York, United States