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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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After I have spent time looking at the pictures in “Nature in Shree Muktananda Ashram,” I usually go for a walk. With every step, I feel the aliveness of nature around me more deeply. I feel I am one with it. It is such a beautiful experience. 

Washington, United States

I am exceedingly grateful for the nature photographs. I’ve been noticing that each time I look at them, I am awash in grace. I feel like I am present in them, observing a chipmunk, standing by the lake, offering pranam to Bade Baba. I am so grateful for grace.

Washington, United States

Part of my daily practice is to visit Shree Muktananda Ashram by looking at the photos in this nature gallery. This is something that I look forward to every single day. I am always excited to discover what images of beauty and wonder I will get to immerse myself in. Viewing these images brings the light of joy and deep peace.

California, United States

I was taking in the beauty of the lake in the recent series of photos that capture the perfect reflection of the sky and treescapes. I focused on the deep stillness the lake provided to make these moments happen. In many photos I have seen, the lake is as smooth as glass. I made up a little story to account for this. I told myself that Shiva and Parvati must be passing by, high above, and that Shiva had asked Vayu, the god of wind, to be still so that Parvati could check her hair and the fall of her garment as they passed above the lake. I nicknamed the lake, in its pristine stillness, “Parvati’s Mirror.” In my mind, a perfect reflection can be rendered only in this stillness.

Texas, United States

As I took in the beautiful image of the trees and skyline at sunset, at first I did not see the sliver of moon at all. Thankfully, I became present for its darshan. As I begin my meditation this morning, I am keeping that lesson in being conscious with me. 

New York, United States

Such astonishingly still reflections of the Self, rendered so beautifully. Looking at these photographs stills my mind completely.

Hawaii, United States

For me these images are fresh, alive, and filled with shakti. Even though I am not physically present at Shree Muktananda Ashram, through these photos I feel my subtle body is being invited to walk the sacred grounds. This fills me with awe, gratitude, and love.

California, United States

I love practicing mantra japa and experiencing the stillness of nature while viewing these stunning photos. When I do this, I feel like I’m on a japa walk with Gurumayi!

Pennsylvania, United States