By Vicharinee Chafin
Gardeners know spring means you clean up from the winter and plant for coming months. Except that Ashram garden clean-up and planting are a whole different experience, performed as seva on Sacred Soil.
Swamiji and her team created an experience for us, jam packed with the Grace and Love only a Guru can provide. She plans each detail, down to the ingredients in an amazing scrambled tofu (recipe from Baba), leaving us “full-filled” with experiences of the Self.
Friday night began with a satsang in New Hope PA. Returning to Downingtown, we headed for bed in Lokananda. I was surprised to have a “yoga night,” as Swamiji calls it, with little sleep, lots of mantra and wonderful dreams. I realized Lokananda is an arm of the Ashram, still connected to the body (Grace). The same heart (our Guru) pumps its blood. My thoughts that Lokanada would somehow be different melted away, a welcomed relief from that dualistic view.
After Saturday morning Guru Gita at the Ashram, breakfast was prepared for us by Swamiji herself. It is so sweet to enjoy a meal with her, let alone have her cook for us. How many meals have been prepared for me in the past? How many do I really appreciate? How many come with a side order of the Self?
We began our work, propelling us into muck and grit. As we embarked, it was a balmy 50 degrees and raining. So the resistance begins. I was fooled into thinking my happiness lay in being comfortable and warm. That expectation was leading to my unhappiness, as Swamiji taught us in satsang on the night before. The rain created some mud — inside and outside. But Ashram mud is unlike any other I have worked in. This mud has always presented me with a fully blooming lotus. Dhanajaya summed it up as “Mystical Mud.”
While we worked in the gardens, two sevites lovingly prepared fabulous meals. We were so grateful for the wonderful food, as we had worked up appetites. We ended the day with a group seva indoors, plus individual meetings with Swami, closing with arati and japa at Lokananda.
As we progressively settled into our-Selves, losing personal dysfunctions and expectations, we began to glow more. Sunday brought our weekend to a close with chanting and meditation, ending with Swami Sunday discourse.
When I first arrive at the Ashram, it is apparent I am full of “shrama” (the fatigue of worldly life). As the weekend and the seva progress, the onion layers peel away in the same way as in a teacher training or yoga immersion. Each time I am changed and renovated, never to return to some of the mud I had grown accustomed to. What a relief!
I am so grateful to Swami Nirmalanda for bringing us the teachings of her Guru, His guru and of all the ancient sages, making them modern and understandable. Swamiji, thank you for the development of the Svaroopa Sciences and your unceasing efforts to have me know my Self.
Om svaroopa svasvabhava namo nama.h
Beautifully said Vicharini. It is truly a blessing to garden for Swamiji.