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January 2022

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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Every time I see the Nature Gallery, I am completely mesmerized and before I know it, my breath becomes silent, a stillness draws me within, and a deep silence reigns. Today, I told myself, “I will look for a teaching from each photo or give it a title.” Humility and Resilience stood out as two beautiful qualities of nature for me to imbibe and practice.

New Delhi, India

The image of the snow-laced tree with last season's leaves was so exquisite, I simply dissolved into my heart. Distance disappeared and I felt I was present at Shree Muktananda Ashram. Bade Baba's statement, “I am everywhere,” flowed through my consciousness. Then the beginning of the actual experience  of  “being everywhere” unfolded for me.

What an amazing world and existence we have with Guru's grace! I am filled with gratitude.

California, United States

When I saw the beautiful photo of the willow cotton, an image of Gurumayi appeared in my mind. When I look at the photos of the Ashram garden, I feel as though I am with Gurumayi.

Unterlangenegg, Switzerland

When I saw the picture of the blue jay sitting calmly on the snow-laden branch of a tree, I immediately remembered the Blue Pearl I sometimes see in meditation. This lovely bird filled my heart with joy and delight! 

Quebec, Canada

The golden sunlight shining through the trees of the forest is a sweet reminder of the golden light of the Self suddenly flashing through my meditations.

Saint-Laurent, Canada

I was especially taken with the photo of the lone little bird standing in a field of snow. I felt its courage, curiosity, and stamina fully from within and fell in love with it. I cherish each photograph in these nature galleries as a loving present to me from Gurumayi.

Ajijic, Mexico

The rainbows in the ice are so beautiful! I have never seen that prismatic effect. The beauty of God’s creation is ever new and astonishing!

Hawaii, United States

As my eyes marveled at the trees in winter facing the icy blue waters of Lake Nityananda, I experienced a feeling of utter calm and silence.

Ville St. Laurent, Canada

I am so thankful for all of the abstract photographs. They often take me inside, as they frequently are about form, color, and light more than a literal place or object. The photographs still my mind and have a mystical quality.

Hawaii, United States