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January 2024

January
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 image of the leaf with a single, dangling drop of water reflecting the forest stirs my heart. It inspires the joyful knowledge that I exist everywhere as the Self, and that the Self of all exists within me. The video of flowing water allows me to feel as if I am present on these sacred grounds. I experience that each image in this gallery has been so consciously and beautifully captured and presented. The photos remind me that God is present in each moment, and it is up to me to have the eyes to see this.
 

California, United States

I very much enjoy this gallery, which is filled with extraordinary beauty. Looking at each picture and listening to the great silence each one evokes gives me so much peace. Everything seems to be in perfect harmony. The images of the white snow outside, the Bhagavan Nityananda Temple’s pristine interior, and Bade Baba’s murti clothed in red like the color of the heart make me feel completely nourished.
 

Milan, Italy

I have noticed that, after spending some time looking at the images of nature in Shree Muktananda Ashram, the mantra begins to repeat itself, my mind becomes calmer, and often I experience the Self. The more attention I pay to the images and the more I slow down, the stronger the experience.
 
It is for this reason that, in recent months, I’ve made the intention to view these galleries at least once a day. I see the act of observing these galleries as a wonderful and practical way to practice the third line of Gurumayi’s Message.
 

California, United States

For over a year now I’ve been coming to the Nature Gallery most nights before bed as a way of connecting to the divine. I feel God is inviting me to see through an uplifted lens, as though I am seeing the images through the eyes of Shiva. This vision is exquisitely pure and vibrant, scintillating with light and color.
 
This practice of receiving the beauty and energy of the grounds of Shree Muktananda Ashram creates a space of deep peace and connection to the Guru before sleep. It is a reminder to release the day and its activities, to enter the sublime presence of divinity, and recollect the purity and pulsating energy of nature.
 
I am delighted to see that this is a way I can practice Gurumayi’s Message for 2024.
 

Rhode Island, United States