Monthly Archives: November 2020

Receiving & Thanking

By Gurudevi Nirmalananda

You have no reason to give thanks unless you receive something that is meaningful to you.  Genuine thanks is a rare experience, unfortunately.  Americans, particularly, are very good at mouthing the words without inflection, “Thank you.”  I’ve heard it called the American mantra.

I remember being taught to say thank you to my elders when I was small, even when they were giving me something I had no interest in.  It felt like I was being trained to lie, except that they also told me I should never lie.  The phrase became meaningless to me; it stayed that way for a long time. 

At one point I even decided to stop saying it.  When a waiter brought food to my table, I didn’t thank him because it was his job, for which he was getting paid as well as getting a tip.  If he did well, I gave a larger tip, which I figured was meaningful to him.  It seemed sensible to me at the time.  But my adolescent children said I came across as rude.  Worse, it was embarrassing them.  So I went back to saying words that I didn’t mean.

I could see that the words acknowledged someone who did something for me, like hold a door open when I was approaching.  But did I feel grateful?  Truly, I have to say no.  I didn’t feel gratitude much.  It turns out that was the real problem.  It wasn’t that the words were so difficult; it was that I wasn’t feeling grateful.

I tried doing the gratitude jar.  I could list things that I knew I was fortunate to have, but did I really feel gratitude?  Instead, my head and heart were full of complaints, along with unrealistic agendas and expectations that fed future complaints, enough to last me a lifetime.  It was a very uncomfortable way to live but I didn’t know another way.

When I got Shaktipat from Baba, everything changed.  There was bliss arising within, from a source I couldn’t find and didn’t understand, but I loved it anyway.  My many complaints began to dissolve, along with my ideas of what everyone else should be doing. 

Better yet, I had an inner sense of purpose.  I was working on something important, even beyond self-improvement.  Eventually I learned it was called Self-discovery, even revelation and realization.  Since I was finding fulfillment within, the outer world wasn’t so frustrating to me.  But still I wasn’t grateful.  Why?  Because I still wasn’t receiving.

I had received Shaktipat, the initiation that opened up the inner realms for me to explore.  Unknowingly, I thought of it as a one-time receiving, like when someone gives you a tissue when you need it.  But Shaktipat opens the floodgates of Grace — it just keeps flowing.  I was living in the flow without recognizing it.  It was only when I went to meet Baba in person that I could see that more was going on, much more than my puny little mind could understand.  It took me three weeks of living in his Ashram to finally get the point — it was all coming from him.

Swami Muktananda

It was a bit shocking at first, that anyone could be so spiritually advanced that they could zap me open.  I could see his depth, power and love, but I didn’t understand that he freely shared it with us.  Once I figured that out, I still didn’t know how to receive, so I asked him to help. “Baba, please help me open myself to you.”  He smiled and nodded, obviously delighted with my question.

It worked!  I got more than I’d ever dreamed possible, with profound meditation experiences and incredible insights blossoming forth within.  And I saw that there was still more for me to receive.  So I’ve been developing my ability to receive ever since.  And my gratitude has grown exponentially.  The more I receive, the more gratitude I feel, both to Baba and more.

My gratitude extends to all of you, that you want to know the profound dimensions within.  My gratitude extends to the sun, to the earth and rain, to all the things I was always supposed to be grateful for.  Only now it’s real.  I’m grateful to my body and mind, that they give me a way to experience the Divine Reality masquerading as this world and everyone in it.  My heart melts in gratitude, which means I get to live in the melting.  It’s the only way to live!

OM svaroopa svasvabhava.h namo nama.h

If I Were Stranded on an Island…

By Lori (Priya) Kenney

Stranded on a sunny island, able to partake of only one Ashram offering, I’d choose seva.  My seva requires having a computer and being in touch with the Ashram.  I would have my laptop and solar powered batteries, fueled by my faithful companion, El Sol. 

We humans need to act.  I’m quite sure I tried the cave in other lifetimes.  Since I’m here again, I know that didn’t work.  It’s not only my compulsion to “do, do, do,” however, that makes me choose seva.  

Seva is purposeful action directed toward serving Consciousness.  Regardless of the content of my seva, I am serving the Guru.  I do what I’m doing for her and the Ashram.  This focus helps me move toward my goal of making everything I do in service to God/Guru/Self.  When I act from that place, I know tremendous freedom.  I pour my energy and attention into focused action and emerge in the ocean of Consciousness.  No matter my state when I begin, I’m in a better place when I finish.  I am lighter; I’m more my Self.

Thankfully, I’m not limited to only one of the Ashram’s plentiful offerings.  So I also have chosen the priceless offering of the Vowed Order.  Since taking Vratin vows a year ago, I’m aware of undeniable inner steadiness.  The moments of being my Self are continually expanding.  The Vowed Order enabled me to make a more serious commitment to the Guru.  I was devoted to my practices and Gurudevi before taking vows.  Now I know for certain that Gurudevi is my lighthouse.

This commitment and association with like-minded yogis means the most to me.  All are on the path to Self-Realization.  Each reflects the light of Consciousness in a unique way.  Each has a special perspective, a unique wisdom that I learn from.  I am so grateful for the loving support.  I cherish the candor about struggles on the path, the entanglements, frustrations and breakthroughs.  Hearing from these yogis about their spiritual progress and their lives is joyful.  Learning how they are working to merge the two into one beautiful ocean of Consciousness is inspiring.

How I act in the world has changed.  My family notices my increased equilibrium.  This year of Covid and wildfire smoke in the West where I live has been challenging.  Issues in my immediate and extended family have also been taxing.  Even so, I am less reactive.  I am more my Self.  I understand life and the holy process of dying better.  I know my life’s purpose.  I am grateful for the tremendous support of this Vowed Order, headed by Gurudevi with the contributions of our wonderful new swamis and the other vowed members.  It is also a continual reminder and nudge to do the hard stuff.  It keeps me focused on my goal of knowing my Self. 

I benefit from all the Ashram’s offerings.  Yet the online Meditation Club is another highlight.  Rising every day at 3:00 am (Pacific time) to meditate with Gurudevi and other devoted yogis from all over the world is priceless.  Truly, my meditations have deepened, as have I.  This offering is incredible.  Besides chanting and receiving a daily reading from Gurudevi, we’re graced with powerful and mesmerizing pop-up abhisheks.  Periodically, Gurudevi gives a pop-up longer talk.  Saturated with Grace, I sink deeply into the ocean of Consciousness.  Last, but not least, the free Japa Club is a wonderful homecoming.  Along with the Meditation Club, Japa Club gives me the opportunity to Zoom into the Guru’s presence three times a day.  Crashed onto life’s hard rocks, I used to go home to the family farmhouse.  I am so aware how that place is no longer home.  Now it’s the abode of my beloved mother in her final days.  Home is the mantra, the Self, the expansive and limitless ocean of Consciousness.  OM Namah Shivaya.