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May 2022

May
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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For me, the images of nature in this gallery are so inspiring. A sweet bird perched on a tree branch, a bee feasting on a juicy flower, the forest reflected in the lake’s water—all speak to me of the interdependence that exists in nature. Each picture brings peace and joy to my heart and reconnects me to the beauty in our world.
 

Paris, France

It’s difficult for me to leave the two photos of Gurumayi’s cupped hands holding the clear glass diya with the perfectly still flame in offering to Bade Baba—the photo in Nature Gallery II and the one in Nature Gallery III. It is so difficult to break away that I have installed them in my heart.
 
I am so indelibly moved by Gurumayi’s exquisite worship.
 

Texas, United States

The golden hands
holding a golden lotus
and the white flame
waving arati
to golden Bade Baba
 
The golden voice
singing Jyota se Jyota Jagao
I feel the golden Heart
melting my heart
 
I read the chapter
in Play of Consciousness
“A Golden Lotus
Falls on My Head”—  
a touch
from Siddhaloka
 

Hindelang, Germany

When I look at the image of Gurumayi’s hands cupping the flame, I feel that, in the same way, the Guru is holding my heart in her love and protection.
 

Thornbury , Australia

The light illuminating the tulips in this gallery evoked in my mind the flame in front of Bade Baba’s murti. As I continued to view the photos, the light in all of them drew me to the light inside myself. My eyes rejoiced in this beauty and my heart opened. I felt gratitude for the sharp eye of the photographers, and I wished for this light to illuminate my understanding when in a difficult situation.
 

Sarrebourg, France

Looking at the “Nature in Shree Muktananda Ashram” photo gallery is one of my regular practices.
 
In looking at the gallery today, I saw a burst of spring color that lifted my heart. It occurred to me that the winter stillness and beautiful ice crystals are like Lord Shiva, still and indrawn. Today, when I saw all the flowers, the raindrops, and the arc of a rainbow that was like a beautiful stroke of calligraphy in the sky, it felt like divine Shakti had just burst forth!
 

Hawaii, United States

The lovely crystal-clear transparent splash of raindrops on the emerald-green leaf reminds me of the refreshing wave of calmness and peace that I experience during my meditations.
 

Ville St. Laurent, Canada