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August 2023

August
Nature in Shree Muktananda Ashram
IV

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 morning, I visit the Siddha Yoga path website and drink in the beauty of this gallery. Recently, I traveled to Shree Muktananda Ashram to offer seva. While there, I noticed a particularly gorgeous sky. My first thought was that it was as if I was living in the gallery itself. That recognition reminded me of how powerfully connected I feel to my sadhana and the sangham through the Siddha Yoga path website.
 

California, United States

I have always seen a rainbow as a colorful arch in the sky. But when I saw the photos here showing a rainbow with golden and coral color underneath it, I suddenly got the impression that the rainbow is like a huge umbrella or dome, and only the outline of it is seen as multicolored.
 
My feeling from this impression is that the dome is very soft and delicate. It has a protecting quality, with a smile and love within it. It feels to me like a hand gently stroking someone’s head. The golden-coral color reminded me of Gurumayi.
 
I always feel excited and joyful when I see a rainbow, but the next time I see one, I want to remember this impression and envision once again the subtle, delicate dome. I thought, “Maybe a rainbow has even more dimensions than I can imagine.” Just thinking this leads me to an attitude of greater wonder.
 

Hindelang, Germany

With each scintillating image in this gallery, I viscerally feel a throb of shakti that, with Guru’s grace, reveals that I am one with nature, with creation, and with the Creator.
 

California, United States

It’s my daily practice to visit these galleries at the end of the day. What I experience is a profound tranquility within. I feel Gurumayi’s presence in nature at Shree Muktananda Ashram—through the animals’ safety, the clean water, the trees’ freshness, and the flowers adorning Mother Earth.
 
Recently, what has impressed me is the reflection of the light through water, or light through trees, as an image of the inner world. I feel that Gurumayi’s light permeates nature at the Ashram, and nature reflects it back in infinite ways.
 
I feel so connected to these galleries, which make me ready to meditate more deeply and allow my being to reflect Gurumayi’s light through my prayers and blessings for the healing of Mother Earth. I’m grateful to Gurumayi ji for this practice that allows me to reconnect to my heart and experience the divinity within.
 

Bhandara, India

The pristine-white moon hiding behind the black velvety clouds reminded me of the sudden appearance of the Self in my meditations—as a dazzling white light.
 

Ville St. Laurent, Canada