Second visit to Anandamayi Ma Ashram Omkareshwar
I remember my second visit to India. Drawn strongly to the spritiual side of India, I felt terrified that I was going to be called to renounce my western life, give away my possessions and become a nun. That's what I thought it was to be spiritual. So I ventured around India tentatively seeking masters, gurus and temples and was thankfully consistently dissed. Phew, made it safely back home.
But as you'll all be aware my journey has continued over the years and now I have a yoga studio and teach yoga and meditation with a lot of passion. A lot of passion about helping people to be true to themselves and where they are in their life. The teaching of Anandamayi Maa emphasises that all is one, that no one or no one's life is better than any other. She says, as many people as there are in the world, so there are many paths to God (or realization if you prefer). The life of a monk is the same as the life of someone living in the world. We all have our role and how we truthfully recognise our role and respond to it's call is the success of our spiritual life. This year, this has been evidenced when our ashram's lovely American Swami Mangalanda, with Baba's (the saint and guru of the ashram) blessing renounced his renunciation (12 years a monk) to marry and resume wordly life. Although this will be hard for a traditional society to understand, Baba's formal statement has emphasised the importance in responding to his truth in making this difficult decision.
So, I wanted also to share again words of another - a friend that has joined our retreat in the ashram for the second time and how blown away she has been. She is now teaching english to Tibetan refugees in Dharmasala, tolerating cold weather, cold bathing, but continuing to experience the joy and bliss of being so close to Mother Nature.....
Another second visit
There will be lifetimes yet before there is true understanding that all is One and that everything is, and will be, as it should be... without the need to do anything at all. Lifetimes before the cessation of judgement and the drawing of lines between..... you and me... dark and light.... now and then.... justice and injustice... sound and silence....problem and solution.... illusion and reality.... beginning and end.
Lifetimes before everything can be accepted equally - poverty, violence, death and suffering.... hatred, joy, love and creation. Lifetimes before the heart is opened, the mind transcended, the spiritual eye engaged and there is eternal remembrance that we are all the same universal consciousness.
Many lifetimes yet, it is expected, but here it seems easier. Where the Narmada river cleanses.... fire purifies.... mantras run through my mind.... bells ring and chants fill the ears... the sound of the conch pierces..... rocks crunch under the hooves of the donkey train as it proceeds along the river bank... cows come down to the water to bathe and drink and Maa welcomes all with open arms.
I didn't know what I was doing the first time I came here. I felt like a phony, a fake, like I shouldn't have been here. I rejected, rebelled, struggled, kicked, whinged ad wallowed in negative thoughts (not all of the time). I was full of doubt and fearful that I was being sucked into religion. I put up a fortress to protect my "I", my seperateness. This time I've had no expectation and yet a clear direction has arisen that is opening my heart, filling it with love and oneness. I feel embraced by Maa and filled with bliss.
Jai Maa, Tam's friend.
In India things seem possible that do not seem possible anywhere else - sab kuchh malega! Our western society is set up to give us the feeling that we have control over our lives and this gives a sense of stability which is reassuring, but things do go 'not according to plan' boy to we lose it. In India, the minute I land I realise I have no control over anything; I have to surrender and each year I return refreshed by this surrender to the flow of life. A life that contains pain and joy - a more open heart and a clearer mind.
Look forward to seeing you all, if not now, over the coming months.
Jai Maa (the usual salutation in the ashram, that means victory to the Goddess - or the spirit as is manifest in the creative principal of the world)