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July 2023

Nature in Shree Muktananda Ashram II

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 revealing the golden mist hovering over the lake was absolutely breathtaking. To me, it looked like God’s divine breath blessing all of creation.

Ville St. Laurent, Canada

These fresh, beautiful daily photographs of the sacred grounds of Shree Muktananda Ashram encourage me to take my own fresh look each day at my outer and inner life, and to appreciate, renew, and reinvigorate my experience of the sanctity of the spirit within, and manifested as, the world.

California, United States

The glorious grey heron flying majestically over the waters reminded me of the freedom and purity of the Self!

Ville St. Laurent, Canada

When I first saw the photos of the beautiful, dainty fawn lying in the green grass, they filled my heart with awe and wonder at all the incredible beauty and forms that God brings us. Then, after contemplating, I realized that the fawn represents new life. Similarly, as a Siddha Yogi, I am on a blessed sadhana journey leading to new life—in the form of moksha, liberation.

Ville St. Laurent, Canada

Whenever the beautiful Ashram deer appear, my heart wants to burst. I always remember how Gurumayi loves the deer too, and it makes me feel so close to her. I am grateful for these nature photographs that transform my day, every day.

California, United States