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July 2022

Nature in Shree Muktananda Ashram V

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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It has been delightful to discover, in looking through July’s “Nature in Shree Muktananda Ashram,” the photos of the moon in all its phases—waxing to brilliant fullness on Gurupurnima, and then slowly waning. 
One photo of the moon in gallery V is particularly mesmerizing for me. Taken in the predawn hours, this photo captures the luminous halo of the waning moon—one half reflecting the sun’s light, the other half shadowed in darkness. It was just a few days away from becoming a new moon. And I noticed a planet very close to the moon, which I discovered was Mars.  

Georgia, United States

Looking through the fifth set of these July nature photos taught me a valuable lesson about being in nature: to be sure to look up, to look down, to look more closely—and more slowly—than I usually do, and to see with new eyes.

In viewing the photos with that approach, I saw that one Black-Eyed Susan had an especially prominent central cone that to me resembled a chocolate birthday cake with candles. So I imagined it was offering a birthday cake to celebrate the birth of another glorious summer day. I was also immediately drawn in by seeing the delicate fawns as they made themselves at home on the Atma Nidhi lawns. It was delightful to sense how comfortable they felt, visiting the Ashram and nuzzling its greenery. And the surprising swaths of deep blues among the trees near the lake in another photo created a stunning abstract painting for me.

As always, I was grateful for the chance to take a virtual stroll all over the Ashram grounds myself!

Illinois, United States

I was blissfully chanting along with the powerful recording of Om Gurudev as the slides played on the screen, with the nearly full moon shining through the window. The captivating images stirred great delight in me. I experienced deep and tender appreciation of nature; it was a truly gratifying experience.

Washington, United States

The beautiful photographs on this minisite always seem alive with grace. Still, I was suprised to discover that number 93 in the second series is actually a short video of a running stream with a lovely deer in the background. It seemed so alive, I thought I could hear the water trickling over the rocks. It was so good to feel that I was present on the grounds of Shree Muktananda Ashram during this wonderful month of Gurupurnima.

Sydney, Australia

I love visiting the Siddha Yoga path website several times a day. That’s how, on a repeat look through this gallery, I spotted a sweet, still baby deer sitting gently in the reeds. I hadn’t noticed it before.

This is why I love visiting the website multiple times a day. It provides a treasure trove of beauty, of learning, and of opportunities to have a deep experience of the Lord within.

New Mexico, United States

This gallery makes my heart overflow with tenderness, sweet devotion, and coruscant light like a rainbow—especially the images of the daisies, Bade Baba’s Temple, the chipmunk, and the photo of the blue geraniums with soft red robes in the background. The same blue geraniums bloom in our garden with soft red sage behind them. As I look at my geraniums, it will bring me back to this experience of darshan. This is one of the precious gifts I have already received during this month-long satsang!

Plougonvelin, France