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September 2023

Nature in Shree Muktananda Ashram

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 mesmerizing view of the crystal-clear lake reflecting the blue sky and the fluffy white clouds reminded me of Shri Guru’s teaching that everything outside of us is also inside of us.

St. Laurent, Canada

Every image in this gallery seems so fresh, so spectacular. They invite and encourage me to be awake, to look at each moment of my life with fresh eyes, and to experience the spectacular divinity unfolding in each moment. This reminds me of Baba’s teaching about the value of changing the prescription of our glasses.

California, United States

How splendid—this golden lake and sky
filled with holiness and grand majestic light.
The grass and trees—how fresh and lush in green
with sparkling happy raindrops in-between.
And laughing children—how very sweet!
Their joyful giggling is for me an energizing treat.

Hindelang, Germany

The image of the tree with one of its branches cut off and the resilient new shoot growing in its stead touches my heart. It’s a perfect metaphor for me: no matter what occurs in my life, Gurumayi’s teachings always encourage me to choose to be noble, generous, and loving. They inspire me to offer myself for the upliftment of our precious world, for the sake of preserving nature and humanity. This picture expresses for me the divine manifestation of the Self in everything.

California, United States