Construction of Bayeux Cathedral began in the Roman period, under Bishop Hugues, to continue under William the Conqueror’s brother, Bishop Odo (11th Century). Following serious fire damage during the 12th Century, the cathedral was rebuilt in Gothic style in the 13th Century. Construction of the central tower began in the 15th Century, under Bishop Louis d’Harcourt, to be completed only in the 19th Century following major work by Eugène Flachat.
Excerted from an interview with Ram Dass. A Conversation with Ram Dass by David Ulrich 2017 for Parabola Magazine.
“The soul is not part of the incarnation. It comes into the incarnation. And the soul is not afraid of death because it has done it so many times. And now the ego is individual, and the world at this moment is ruled by nations which are egos. And I find, for example, that the United Nations is very ineffective. But then what would we substitute? We could substitute wise beings from different religions or different states—philosopher kings, if you will.
If you want oneness in society, you have to teach people to go inside instead of going outside, because if they want peace, they need to find it within. I remember being at a peace rally. Everybody was yelling, “PEACE PEACE!” That isn’t peace! Peace is inside, in me and in everybody else. If you want peace, you go down in.”
Sometimes a visit to a catheral like the one in Bayeux can also bring you down into the heart. The tranquility and sacred atmosphere of this beautiful interior – once the crowds have left – can be felt. It is easy to sit down and breathe deeply and find that peace in the depths of your own sacred being. We stayed for three glorious days but three days is not enough to discover all the wonderful sites in this special Normandy town. Today I offer some of my photos of the elegant cathedral in Bayeux.
This photo is provided by the Calvados Tourist Office. Photo from the crypt.
Spirit in the tree – the face in the bark, forehead,eyes,nose and lips, and neck. – Best seen from a distance.
SPIRIT IN THE TREE – For Real And Not trick photography!
From my original thoughts on seeing the face in the bark.
“I don’t know what is happening here. Certainly, I had nothing to do with it. Today, out walking in the local park of the Chateau Tronjoly just down from our home, I was busy taking photos for “My House” album, when something very odd took my attention. I saw a face in the bark of an ancient tree. So here’s what I saw, or what I thought I saw and that is a youngish woman staring back at me. You too may see the face if you look at the photographs long enough. I haven’t changed these photos other than lighten them up a bit. The manifestation occurred while I was walking down the back of the Chateau, following the steam as it meandered past the old ruins of coach-house where upon I found two unusual trees. I had not noticed them before, nor their unusual shape. There is a label on each tree. although I could not read what is written there.
The trees themselves are ancient. I would dare to say they were probably planted hundreds of years ago. The original Chateau dates from the 13th Century. The trees have not been touched or damaged due to their superb location near the Chateau and thus protected. On my first encounter with the trees, I took long distance photos at first then I moved forward to take an up close.” I pointed my camera and was amazed by what I saw looking back at me there in the ancient moss covered bark. Staring at me a nympth like face! In real life (3D) it was much clearer than in these photos. Still you can see a likeness to a nympth in the trunk of the tree, when leaning away from the computer. The forehead, nose and lips, and neck are clearly defined. The face is so clear and spirit like, the eyes, looking outward – half open, half closed. I moved around the bark on the tree but the face remained clear. I took about six pictures, all they are extremely clear on my camera, although not so clear up on this screen. I am not surprised to see such things here in this part of Brittany, so renowned for its spirit like beings, ancient druids and medieval ceremonies etc. The face is not carved. The bark is natural although he trees are under protection.” ~ eve
Here is some light reading on Tree Spirits
I have always believed in tree spirits. It just makes sense. There has been much written about them from way back. It is believed that spirits and ghosts use trees as a dwelling place when visiting the earth. This theory goes way back to the Old Testament where there are references to “sacred groves”. The early Celts, Romans and Egyptians all believed in tree spirits. The Egyptians believed that it was deities who occupied their trees. In India, shrines have actually been built under trees to gain the favor of a revered spirit. Many have believed that if you cut down a tree with a spirit dwelling in it, you will lose your life. The Celts believe that all trees have spirits. Some of the more common “spirit” trees would be ash, apple, cedar, oak, cherry and pine to name a few. Each of these trees are said to host a particular type of spirit. Are these just superstitions? Perhaps, but I continued my search for answers.
There is said to be a famous haunted tree in Gilberton, Alabama in the United States. A woman named Linnie Jenkins claimed to hear strange noises and crying coming from her pecan tree which was located on her front lawn. It attracted media attention, and by 1981 thousands of people from all over the country came to see the mystical tree. It was discovered that the house had been built on the site of an old Indian graveyard, and many believed the cries heard were from those Indians who had died.
Have you ever heard of Huna? Huna is a philosophy of ancient Hawaiian magical shamanism and healing. In Huna, it is believed that everything is “alive, responsive and aware” therefore everything has a spirit. Huna teaches that spirits are connected even if they are of different life forms. For instance, human spirits connect more closely with other human spirits. But, human spirits connect with animal spirits as well, especially dogs and horses. Huna states that human spirits also have a very spiritual link to the tree. This may be the
reason why so many people are distraught when a tree is destroyed. For reasons unknown to us, we form a connection to it. Wisdom can be gained from trees, especially old trees. Supposedly, tree spirits act as guardians and protectors. How often has a person taken comfort in leaning against a tree trunk or lying on the ground beneath its branches? This brings to mind the children’s story The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Even the book Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, refers to tree spirits.
Raked the leaves again this morning. I raked them the day before yesterday too. There are so many now. They rain down in all their rich shades of gold and crimson. Odd when they fall, they twis and twirl then lightly land on the now bare wooded shrubs. So for a short time, like every year, the garden has turned to a reddish, brownish and golden flurry of colour that is quite mystical in many ways. Looking towards the sky the falling leaves appear like a kaleidoscope when shaken as they tumble down. For me It means a long time spent outside, clearing not only leaves also broken branches and clearing bracken or pulling weeds. The hard part is lugging everything over to the large old white sacks and filling them to be deposed of. I love the crackle of the leaves under my feet as I walk to fill the bags. The whimsical way small bits of fallen branches lay on and around the garden path are a delight but some would say a mess. The real magic of this time of year are the hundreds of mushrooms growing among the clutter. More than last year, they just pop up on old tree stumps and between the slate and in shaded areas of grass. I love the smell of the earth this time of year too, its just so sweet after the rain. Especially in that part of the garden that remains untouched. There, the earth is fresh and full of ground covers and where beetles and spiders are busy about their day. The freshness of this untouched beauty, makes me think of Eden – who knows it may have originated here. I feel this will be our last autumn in the house and although I want to go, I will miss the sweet earth – the smell of bracken and broken mushrooms. The songbirds as they chirp up high in the trees. My, what a wonderful thing a garden is. ~ Eve
photos from my garden.
I would not call this meditation, sitting in the back garden. Maybe I would call it eating light on a summer’s day. Mystical traditions recognize two kinds of practice: apophatic mysticism, which is the dark surrender of Zen, the Via Negativa of John of the Cross, and kataphatic mysticism, less well defined: an openhearted surrender to the beauty of creation. Maybe Francis of Assissi was, on the whole, a kataphatic mystic, as was Thérèse of Lisieux in her exuberant momemnts: but the fact is, kataphatic mysticism has low status in religious circles. Francis and Thérèse were made, really made, any mother superior will let you know, in the dark nights of their lives: no more of this throwing off your clothes and singing songs and babbling about the shelter of God’s arms.
Mary Rose O’Reilley, The Barn at the End of the World
A brilliant Indian student by the name of Vemu Mukunda had taken science courses at universities in India. Then he left his motherland to conduct post graduate research in Scotland. He took a job in England working in the field of nuclear science. Although outwardly he seemed to have successfully established himself in his chosen field, yet he was not happy. He had left his family, friends, and culture behind and now found himself living in an environment where the advancements in technology were considered the highest goal and his only social life consisted of attending endless rounds of cocktail parties. He felt his life was empty and without purpose and this feeling came to a crisis point when his brother and sister both died back in India. Furthermore the negative use of nuclear science to build weapons of mass destruction weighed on his conscience and made him question his choice of career. He began to sink into a state of chronic depression which was only briefly relieved by the release he felt when he made music on the Indian stringed Veena that he had played since childhood.
It was during that period of black despair that a series of strange incidents occurred to bring a new influence into his life. By coincidence, a mutual friend in London had a veena at home that was badly damaged and when he heard of Vemu’s skill with the instrument he invited him to his home to see if he might be able to repair the instrument. Vemu went to the home along with some friends and indeed found the instrument so badly damaged that he was completely unable to get any pleasant sounds out of it at all. However he agreed to take the instrument back to his home and see if he could repair it.
On the way home, the friends who had brought him wanted to stop at a house where they knew the residents were conducting Sai Baba bhajan sessions (sacred singing). Though Vemu had no special interest in doing so, since he was riding with them he went along with the plan.
When they arrived at the house and went in, he saw a picture of Sathya Sai Baba on the wall and immediately had the thought: “Oh, no not him”. His parents had been followers of Shirdi Sai Baba and they felt that Sathya Sai Baba, who claimed to be the reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba, was an imposter and so Vemu had also taken on this attitude. Shirdi Sai Baba left his body in 1918 and many of his original followers were unwilling to believe that he had taken on the Sathya Sai form eight years later (Sathya Sai was born in 1926) even though Shirdi Sai Baba had told his followers just before his death that he would take birth again eight years hence.
Vemu had no interest in the bhajans and so he sat behind the other singers and took no part in the singing. However during a lull in the bhajans the hostess put a veena in his hands and asked him to play something. In an abstracted mood he began to strum the instrument and presently a tune came into his head and he began to play. The others very much enjoyed his playing and when the song ended they asked him to play another song. He agreed, playing the first tune that came to mind. At the end of the second song, he suddenly realized that the two songs he had just played had been composed by two different Indian Saints but the titles of the songs had the same meaning in the respective languages of the composers: “No One is Equal to You”.
Now Vemu looked down at the veena he had been playing and realized that it was the badly damaged one he had been taking home to repair. But mysteriously, every note he had played on it had been completely harmonious. Now he tried to play it consciously and not a single harmonious note would come out of it. He began to feel as if something miraculous had occurred and he felt the hair on his head standing on end.
He thought to himself: “Sai Baba! What power. Is he a black magician?”
After this incident Vemu began to get invitations to play professionally. He accepted whenever it fit into his schedule and strangely, wherever he played he would run into someone who would talk about Sathya Sai Baba. At home his friends in London kept pressing him to attend Sai Baba bhajan sessions. He began to feel that he was being pursued by Sai Baba!
Vemu had been schooled on the principles of science and so his confidence was more on the field of matter than that of the spirit. He felt that the realm of spirit was only a way by which some people escaped from harsh reality. And yet some part of him wanted to proceed into the spiritual realm while the other part wanted nothing to do with it. His mental torment increased and he felt himself being torn in two different directions. He continued to resist the spiritual impulse and yet, the world of physics and materialism had lost its charm for him.
Finally in a state of complete desperation he sat down and addressed a letter to Sathya Sai Baba at his residence at Prasanthi Nilayam. Although he had heard that Sai Baba does not answer directly by writing back, it was said that he would provide the answer in some more direct form. He poured out his heart’s dilemma asking Sai Baba if he should continue in his chosen profession of nuclear engineering, quit and become a full time musician, or renounce the world and become a religious devotee (Sannyasi).
As he boarded a flight to Paris for a Veena concert, he wondered how and in what form he might receive a response to his letter but nothing unusual happened on the trip. On his return to London, he began to feel an inexplicable urge to visit the same home where he had played the damaged veena during the bhajan session. This was curious to him since he didn’t even want to go there the first time. He ignored the urge for a while but finally gave in. Approaching the house, he noticed the “Om Sai” written on the front of the house. The owner of the house, Mrs Sitabai, greeted him at the door and told him she was very glad he had come because she had something for him. They went to the shrine room and she handed him a photograph telling him an unknown visitor had attended the last bhajan session and had asked that the picture be given to Vemu as soon as possible. He looked at the photograph and saw that it was a picture of Sathya Sai Baba playing the veena!
He was immediately overcome with emotion and surrendered to Sai Baba by prostrating before the large photo of him on the wall. Tears of emotion ran down his cheeks. He knew now that he had his answer. He soon quit his job and became a full time musician. His reputation as a skilled veena musician spread and he began to get calls from all over Europe, including as far away as Russia. He felt that somehow his sudden success was due in part to the guiding hand of Sathya Sai Baba and he began to feel that he wanted to return to India and visit him. At about this time his mother and father were also asking him to return to India to see them and so he began to think seriously about making the trip home. But at the back of his mind was a fear that all the events were just coincidences and the result of his own imagination and that Sai Baba might refuse to see him. It would be a great disappointment to him if Sai Baba ignored him.
He decided to write to a friend and have him ask if he should come to visit Sai Baba. Soon afterwards he had a vivid dream in which Sai Baba came to him and rubbed his sacred ash (vibhutti) on his left shoulder beneath his shirt and said to him: “Come to India”. When he awoke the dream seemed very real but he still felt that it might have been created out of his wish to go to India to see the great teacher. After several days of struggle he made up his mind to go so he canceled all his performance reservations and took a plane to India.
When he arrived at Swami’s (i.e. Sai Baba’s) residence he took his place on the grounds at the end of a line of men. One of the devotees told him that he had arrived just in time for Darshan, in which Sai Baba circulates among his devotees giving sight of a holy person. Vemu sat quietly enjoying the feeling of peace that emanated from the place and waited patiently. Soon there was a stir at the other end of the lines and he caught sight of the orange colored robe of Sai Baba as he circulated slowly, gracefully among the devotees, stopping briefly to talk to some, to create vibhutti for some lucky ones, or to take letters from others. As Sai Baba got closer, Vemu felt his excitement and anxiety increase. As he saw the robe and delicate feet approach him he could not bear to look directly into his face, encircled with a halo of hair and so he cast his glance downward onto the ground. His heart was in his mouth and his body became rigid as he noticed the feet approach ever closer. Vemu had written a letter to give to Sai Baba but he had completely lost his wits and did not even think to hand it to him. He felt Baba take the letter from his hand and then he raised him up and he heard him say in a quiet voice: “Go inside and wait”.
Vemu went inside and when at last he faced Sai Baba alone in the interview room, Sai Baba created vibhutti for him and rubbed it on his left shoulder under his shirt just as he had done in the dream. Then Sai Baba began to discuss the obstacles in his life showing complete familiarity with his career struggle, his desire to play the veena, his depression, and other details of his daily life. As the talk ended, Baba circled his hand and produced out of air a five faced rudraksha bead in a gold setting at the end of a gold chain. He gave it to Vemu to wear constantly and told him that he would have great success both in his new career and in his spiritual progress. He then invited Vemu to play the veena at a musical concert to be held at the Sathya Sai College in Brindavan.
When the time of the concert came, Vemu brought along his eighty year old father who had been a close devotee of Shirdi Sai Baba. His father told the son he would just sit outside on the outer grounds and wait. But when Sai Baba learned the father was present he immediately called him inside and in Vemu’s words: “For a whole hour Swami talked to my father like a loving mother to her child. After that my father was a changed man.” Now the entire family, Vemu’s father, mother, brother and all the other members of the family are followers of Sathya Sai Baba.
From a story that appears in its original form in Sai Baba, Avatar by Howard Murphet. Birth Day Publishing. San Diego, CA.
This book contains a whole collection of devotee’s stories as well as the personal experiences of the author with Sai Baba.
Winter is behind us now. This brings a feeling of light, hope and openness. We can look out of the window at trees and see them forming leaves. Golden Daffodils adorn our gardens once more. The snowdrops and crocuses are also bountiful. This year more than most! I like to think it is not only a new beginning but also a time to ponder on what lies ahead. Although in the quiet moments of a Spring day, reflection on what has past is often more on our minds. Dare we expect more from this new year than the last? In the old Pali dialect, the language of the Buddha (upanijjhāna), “reflection” has the self-same meaning that it does in English—it means to be like a mirror or the surface of a deep pond, to receive an impression and hold it without adding anything else. It also means to contemplate or consciously consider. To listen to the inner voice of reason.
Years ago, at Chuang Yen Monastery in Carmel, New York, Bhikkhu Bodhi spoke of this, and of the Buddha’s advice to his 7-year-old son Rahula. The Buddha told his son about the importance of honesty, telling young Rahula to practice reflection—to reflect on the inner and outer consequences before, during, and after doing something. Please consider trying this. The results are subtle but quite amazing. Consider how you feel before you perform an act of generosity, during, and after. Also consider how it feels to do something less than noble or not do something. Let’s say, not to eat or drink too much or be angry or stingy, to un-grasp the hand of lifelong habits. What is amazing is that this type of practice of reflecting on the quality and consequence of our lives is a way to expand time by opening and deepening and enriching the time we have to spare.
In meditation or just being alone with our thoughts , we allow ourselves to reflect on something that has already happened. We can allow a memory or experience to arise within us, and like the surface of a deep pond, reflecting the moon without fighting it or fleeing from it or freezing it or adding anything at all. Remember that the ancient root of the word, “understand” means to stand under, to allow the truth of something to soak in. It also suggests holding and supporting, standing under our own experience, receiving it. Think of the lake under the moon.
Crocuses in the garden
Re-written from an article published in Parabola magazine.
Might be a good idea to subscribe. They need supporting.
Making this my day of seeking spiritual beauty and soul searching. I am hypnotized by the beauty of Sufi poetry, that so speaks to the heart. Also, I have added for eye-candy purposes only, amazing images of Mosques in Iran, most of which are centuries old. I cannot think of a better offering than stunning architecture and the beauty of these priceless Mosque’ ceilings. ~Eve
“I have loved in life and I have been loved. I have drunk the bowl of poison from the hands of love as nectar, and have been raised above life’s joy and sorrow. My heart, aflame in love, set afire every heart that came in touch with it. My heart has been rent and joined again; My heart has been broken and again made whole; My heart has been wounded and healed again; A thousand deaths my heart has died, and thanks be to love, it lives yet. I went through hell and saw there love’s raging fire, and I entered heaven illumined with the light of love.
… I wept in love and made all weep with me; I mourned in love and pierced the hearts of men; And when my fiery glance fell on the rocks, the rocks burst forth as volcanoes. The whole world sank in the flood caused by my one tear; With my deep sigh the earth trembled, and when I cried aloud the name of my beloved, I shook the throne of God in heaven. I bowed my head low in humility, and on my knees I begged of love, “Disclose to me, I pray thee, O love, thy secret.” She took me gently by my arms and lifted me above the earth, and spoke softly in my ear, “My dear one, thou thyself art love, art lover, and thyself art the beloved whom thou hast adored.” ~ Hazrat Inayat Khan,The Dance of the Soul
“When the sun rises and shines,
Not all the lotus buds in the lakes and ponds bloom,
Only those that are ready, do.
The rest have to bide their time,
But all are destined to bloom,
All have to fulfill that destiny.
There is no need to despair.”
~ Sathya Sai Baba
This is the dark time before the light. The light of Spring hovers but not quite here yet. We are now through the month of the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the day when the North Pole is tilted farthest from the sun. Our ancient ancestors observed this event by watching the stars and the shortening days carefully chronicling the movement of the sun. They learned that the darkest day is followed by a little more light and warmth when a new cycle of life struggles to emerge into the fullness of the new season.
When we are left to our own devices, our thinking mind tends towards a certain pessimism that all will be dark forever. The light will never return, our minds tells us; it is always darkest before it is pitch black: that is the kind of doom and gloom prediction that often dominate us most during the grimness of the winter months. A perpetual gloom that descends and refuses to let go. Our minds are that way. We see only the dark and the cold. Educated as we may be, we are wired to a reptile mind that wants to flee from the gloom and freeze and to return to the light and the warmth. When we imagine only the dark, nothing anyone can tell us will make it otherwise. It is not until we enter the world of fresh observations, sensations and possibilities, that there is a shift in thought. When we sit down to meditate or spend time in nature, or just taking photographs as I have done here, that we rejoin the living world.
We discover or re-discover ourselves only through our travels and unplanned travel is the most exhilarating experience. Getting lost on the journey and refinding our path again is all part of the bigger journey called life. I truly believe that not all those who wander are lost even though we may think so. But for the ones who are lost, wandering is the only way to find themselves. So each little journey we embark upon and each adventure we take, is a smaller part of the whole – that bigger adventure that becomes us. We are our journey. Eve
“Stop ye travellers as you pass by
As you are now, so once was I
As I am now, soon you shall be –
Prepare yourself to follow me.
To follow you
I am not content —
How do I know which way you went?”