Spring – The Miracle of Rebirth – Photography

Crocus in the rain –
my garden

This article originally appeared last year in Rhythm of the Home Magazine. I’m reprinting today in honour of the Spring.

When we align ourselves with the primary action of each season, we can harness the energy that permeates the natural world and, thus, facilitate our own transitions. During autumn, as we witness the falling of leaves, we open to the energy of shedding and ask ourselves, “What is it time to let go of?” In winter, as we watch the stillness settle over the land and notice the hibernation of our own soul, we ask, “What arises in my quiet and solitude?” In spring, the literal and metaphoric seeds that lay dormant for several months tentatively poke their heads through the warming earth then burst into full bloom. And in summer, we celebrate the fruits of our labor and enjoy the days of water and sunshine, asking ourselves, “What is it time to celebrate?”

On the threshold of spring, we begin to notice a quiet awakening within. The intentions that we set during the long days of winter, both for ourselves and our children, may have lain dormant these past months, but now we see the first green heads pushing through and realize that the dawn of something new is upon us. Spring is the season of hope and renewal when, encouraged by the increase of light and warmth, we find the energy to take the necessary action that can push the tentative new beginning into full awakening. Now is the time to ask yourself: “What is longing to be born? If I set intentions on New Year’s, how can I draw upon the energy of renewal and call those intentions into action? What changes and rebirths do I observe in my children? What seeds of new beginnings were resting in the underground caverns of my child’s mind and are now bursting into fruition?”

Spring is green, tender, and alive. It’s the childhood stage of the seasons of transitions where innocence and purity permeate the atmosphere. As nature wakes from her winter slumber and you observe the first pale green leaves unfolding out of the buds, ask yourself, “What is childlike inside of me that wishes to come out? What is it that is longing to be born? What do I see in my child that is aching for release?”

The early weeks of spring often bring a restlessness. As hopeful and optimistic as this season is, there’s always an element of discomfort in the world of transitions. Said bluntly, change is hard, so even when the change is positive – like birthing a new part of yourself or watching your child master a new skill – there’s an itchiness of psyche that occurs when the old self or skill level falls away and the new one hasn’t fully emerged. In summer we celebrate with joyous abandon, but spring is still tentative, and there may be days when winter settles her snow over the land and we’re pulled back into the silent, underground world. When we understand these natural cycles of death and renewal, we can make space for them in our inner lives and help our children make sense of the process of change.

If winter was a season of sorrow, allow the light winds of spring to wash away the residue of grief. If winter was a season of sickness, let the freshness of spring restore you to health. If winter was a season of loss, notice the new life and rebirths that surround you. If winter was a season of silence, invite the birds of spring to bring song back into your life. If winter was a season of hopelessness, connect to the perennial signs of hope that rise up in the natural world as if to say, “Today is a new day. Today I can start something new and find that place of beginning within. Today I am alive and for that I am grateful. Today I see love manifest in the miracles of nature and I whisper a quiet but certain ‘Yes.’” Photography by Eve. Photos taken with a Lumix LX7 camera.

Wild Violet growing all around
Anemone in the garden
Violas in a pot
growing with the Rosemary
Kitchen Window Box in March
In the shade of the old Weeping Ash Tree – Primroses

Ah, how wonderful is the advent of the Spring!—the great annual miracle…. which no force can stay, no violence restrain, like love, that wins its way and cannot be withstood by any human power, because itself is divine power. If Spring came but once in a century, instead of once a year, or burst forth with the sound of an earthquake, and not in silence, what wonder and expectation would there be in all hearts to behold the miraculous change!… We are like children who are astonished and delighted only by the second-hand of the clock, not by the hour-hand. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Kavanagh, 1849

Macro – tulip stamens
Tulips in a vase

The Lake Under The Moon – Metta Teachings

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.

The Guest House – Rumi

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Vinca Major - found it growing at the very back of the garden
Vinca Major – found it growing at the very back of the garden

 

 

The Guest House

 

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Jellaludin Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks

 

All photos are my own and taken today while out in the garden. The top photo is of spirea buds, the rest are of crocuses under the Weeping Ash Tree, and along the garden path. Eve

 

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Under the Weeping Ash Tree
Under the Weeping Ash Tree

 

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Crocus
Crocus

 

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Goddesses – Video

A magnificent you tube defining the Goddess, her strengths and her beauty. The photos are amazing, the music magical. 🙂

A little about two ancient Greek Goddesses – Demeter and Persephone and the rites of the divine bee.   Here goes in a few words.

The fifth century BCE Greek historian Herodotus relates the importance of bees in ancient Greece, pointing out that the honey of neighboring countries was made using fruit, while the honey of the Greeks was produced by bees. The significance of this difference lies in that, to the Greeks of that time period, bees were considered to be divine insects, and were revered in their myths and rituals. Among the most celebrated of these myths was the story of the fertility goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone. Demeter restores her gift of fruit and grain to the earth, but she also gives a greater gift to humans—the Mysteries.

The Eleusinian Mysteries were an initiatory tradition that played an important role in the lives of those who experienced it. In these rites, the initiates, known as mystai, were led on a procession toward Eleusis by the priests and priestesses of Demeter. This was a symbolic initiatic journey in which they purified themselves in preparation to ceremonially return Persephone from the underworld and take part in other sacred acts. As in the wider Greek culture, the bee symbolized divine concepts of life and death, so in the Mysteries and other traditions it took on the connotation of initiatic death and rebirth: that is, of personal regeneration and transformation.

Debbie Rilley - thanks for bee pic.
Debbie Rilley – thanks for bee pic.

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from the garden
from the garden

CATCH A FALLING “STAR” – Sathya Sai Memories

Isaac's Krishna with flowers
Isaac’s Krishna with flowers

 

Catch a falling star, put it in your pocket and save it for a rainy day. Those few words from the song of the same name, sum up my experiences I had this year in the Puttaparthi Ashram. I had given the post another name, but feel this title is more in keeping with the post.  So here goes.

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On my visit to Puttaparthi this year, I noticed so many changes. Gone were most of the small cafés I’d enjoyed eating in. Gone too was the prettiness of the ashram. The huge concrete buildings were in need of a lick of paint, the pathways that meandered around the darshan area, all were in need of repair. It was noisy. I remember one day a young seva dal worker walked up and down the walkway in East Prashanthi, with a placard that read: “Please be quite.” There seemed to be such a lack of awareness that this was supposed to be a place of peace, quiet, and reverence.

I opted out of sitting in the darshan hall this year, preferring to sit in the gardens at the back of the Ashram. They were beautiful and cool. The Bougainvillea and other tropical plants painted the landscape brightly while providing shade. The statues all around the garden, freshly painted, were a reminder of times gone by when everything had been spick and span. I used to sit there on the stone bench under one of the Neem trees, watching exquisite black and red butterflies dancing from branch to branch. The Neem trees were in full bloom while I was there, and as the tiny blossoms reached out toward the sun, all kinds of insects came to settle. My! the chirping sounds of those insects added a sense of the sublime to the whole scene. The birds too chirped their mantras and whooped, often it seemed, keeping time with the Vedas being chanted in the darshan hall some five hundred feet away.

The bench under the Neem tree was my favourite place to sit. The gardeners watered the area in the early morning, leaving everything wet. A smell of fresh earth embraced us.  The temperatures also dropped sharply after the thorough watering. It was simply the best place in the ashram to stay cool.

Isaac Tigrett’s ‘Krishna’ status stood directly under his 4th floor apt. It, too, had received a fresh coat of paint. The dark blue colour shone in the sunlight, and if one looked sideways at the statue, it appeared to have an aura. I am not sure what optical illusion made this appear so. Anyway it was enchanting to the eye.

Isaac’s apt was high up, in full view of the canopy of the Neem trees. How I envied him that special place. I never saw him in or around the ashram but sensed he enjoyed his apt. and its spectacular view! But he is no longer there now. He gave up his residency this June. Apparently his “Mission” had ended.

Isaac outside the ashram gate on Guru-Pournima celebrations this year.
Isaac outside the ashram gate on Guru-Pournima celebrations this year.

He’d lived there for seven or more years. On Tuesdays and Fridays, he’d held early morning bhajans there in his apt. I attended only twice in 2008. Isaac at that time was pretty overwhelmed by the amount of ladies attending. Obviously the famous former owner of the Hard Rock Cafe was centre of attention – that is after Sai Baba. He had not expected on his arrival, he could create such a stir. But human nature being what it is he was very much in demand. It was like everyone wanted a piece of him, and he later retaliated by withdrawing.

Isaac had gone through many up and downs during his stay in Prashanthi Nilayam. He arrived a few years before Swami’s demise, and had weathered all the political storms that were to come later. Although respected and admired on his arrival, he had difficulty settling in.

I’d not known Isaac personally and, after 2008, I hardly saw him. He’d told people he had no friend’s there. I am not sure that was altogether true, but perhaps he felt that it was. He’d hired young men to run errands or to assist him with his projects. I was told that even his assistant had been less than loyal and had been let go. Yet, he was generous in supporting the local villages, and was well-liked by those who lived outside of Puttaparthi.

bench3Catch A Falling Star

I remember seeing him two years ago in the Mandir hall. He’d looked much older. His hair once dyed black now was white, his untrimmed beard didn’t help his appearance. I guess he’d ceased to care much about his looks, once under the influence of Sai Baba. Gone also, I thought to myself, was the image of the chic entrepreneur of the famous Hard Rock Cafe. He looked somewhat awkward and out of place. I watched while he did his pranams to Swami, then as he got up, he glanced over at the ladies in an embarrassed way, and slowly walked out. It was around that time he stopped visiting the Mandir. I had a strange feeling at that time, his days there were numbered.

Isaac deciding to leave the ashram marks the end of an era. I arrived just after he’d given a huge cheque for the SS hospital to be built in 1991. Everyone was talking about him. They all said that with the building of the hospital, things would be great for Sai Baba. And weren’t we the lucky ones to be there with Him at this time?

Well, in my opinion, that was an unlikely truth. The ashram had certainly changed with the great influx of money though not altogether for the better. Now that he has gone, will things settle down to the slow pace of life that the ashram enjoyed before Isaac’s mission? I suppose so, but Isaac Tigrett will never be forgotten. He left his mark there and as for the hospital? No one can erase his memory from that. What a sad ending…

 

Bamboo in the garden. The garden is the heart of the Ashram in Puttparthi
Bamboo in the garden. The garden is the heart of the Ashram in Puttparthi
In the garden after the rain
In the garden after the rain
Ashram Gardens
Ashram Gardens

Finally, this writer is most cautious in posting articles that may be contensious  I always check with people who are mentioned in my posts. It is only good manners to do so. I contacted Isaac Tigrett, before the final draft of this blog-post was released. I have always done that with his posts (those on this blog) and for others too. thank you..

Love Poems – Jalad ad-Din Rumi video

Creating  videos is hard work but thoroughly enjoyable. I made this one today. It is hot off the press or should I say off the computer. I do hope you spend a few mins. (Two actually,) watching this you tube.  Made with all my love, joy and  much happiness for the gift of inspiration from those enchanting words of  Rumi.

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The ecstatic poems of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, a Persian poet and Sufi master born 807 years ago in 1207, have sold millions of copies in recent years, making him the most popular poet in the US. Globally, his fans are legion.

“He’s this compelling figure in all cultures,” says Brad Gooch, who is writing a biography of Rumi to follow his critically acclaimed books on Frank O’Hara and Flannery O’Connor. “The map of Rumi’s life covers 2,500 miles,” says Gooch, who has traveled from Rumi’s birthplace in Vakhsh, a small village in what is now Tajikistan, to Samarkand in Uzbekistan, to Iran and to Syria, where Rumi studied at Damascus and Aleppo in his twenties. His final stop was Konya, in Turkey, where Rumi spent the last 50 years of his life. Today Rumi’s tomb draws reverent followers and heads of state each year for a whirling dervish ceremony on 17 December, the anniversary of his death.

The transformative moment in Rumi’s life came in 1244, when he met a wandering mystic known as Shams of Tabriz. “Rumi was 37, a traditional Muslim preacher and scholar, as his father and grandfather had been,” says Gooch. “The two of them have this electric friendship for three years – lover and beloved [or] disciple and sheikh, it’s never clear.” Rumi became a mystic. After three years Shams disappeared – “possibly murdered by a jealous son of Rumi, possibly teaching Rumi an important lesson in separation.”  Rumi coped by writing poetry. “Most of the poetry we have comes from age 37 to 67. He wrote 3,000 [love songs] to Shams, the prophet Muhammad and God. He wrote 2,000 rubayat, four-line quatrains. He wrote in couplets a six-volume spiritual epic, The Masnavi.”

During these years, Rumi incorporated poetry, music and dance into religious practice. “Rumi would whirl while he was meditating and while composing poetry, which he dictated,” said Gooch. “That was codified after his death into elegant meditative dance.” Or, as Rumi wrote, in Ghazal 2,351: “I used to recite prayers. Now I recite rhymes and poems and songs.” Centuries after his death, Rumi’s work is recited, chanted, set to music and used as inspiration for novels, poems, music, films, YouTube videos and tweets (Gooch tweets his translations @RumiSecrets). Why does Rumi’s work endure?

The inward eye

“He’s a poet of joy and of love,” says Gooch. “His work comes out of dealing with the separation from Shams and from love and the source of creation, and out of facing death. Rumi’s message cuts through and communicates. I saw a bumper sticker once, with a line from Rumi: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

“Rumi is a very mysterious and provocative poet and figure for our time, as we grapple with understanding the Sufi tradition [and] understanding the nature of ecstasy and devotion and the power of poetry,” says the poet Anne Waldman, co-founder with Allen Ginsberg of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University, where she is a professor of poetics. “And the homoerotic tradition as well, consummated or not. He is in a long tradition of ecstatic seers from Sappho to Walt Whitman.”

~courtesy of Culture BBC

Beauty Redeemed- Inspirational Quotations

Hellebores from my garden
Hellebores from my garden

 

 

Being overwhelmed by the news and the continuing ordeal of the Charlie Hebdo events, I took off to the garden to take photos. I hope another post on the delights of the camera is not over doing it.

Often, during the winter, photography is not an option. The sun is hidden behind dark, low clouds, all looks grey and listless. At least they do here. There is little hope, with such weather, to take even a decent outside photo. It’s only when the sun suddenly and unexpectedly peaks through the clouds, perhaps at lunchtime some days, when I can venture into the garden to see what’s growing. There is one beautiful flower that somehow thrives in the darkest winter months – that is the Hellebore. The flowers of the Helleborus are almost a threat to the darkness of winter, for they are one of the most beautiful of all flowers. I have several Hellebores in the garden, from darkest purple to creamy pink. Here are some photos of the creamy pink one. I don’t even think the camera can do them justice, still I try. Here’s a few from today.

Youtube, at the bottom of this post, is quite special, a time lapse nature clip with amazing photos of butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. What can be better than to watch such beauty on a cold winter’s day. 🙂

Camera Lumix LX7 – macro flowers, edited in Topaz Clarity, and Ribbit, although not too much editing on classic flowers.

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A Favourite Quote

With our faith invested in the lies, we no longer see the truth. The lies blind our faith, the power of our creation.  ~ Don M. Ruiz

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We Are All Connected – You Tube
(Beautiful, breath-taking time lapse photography)

Flowers In The Garden – Rumi


Beauty Of The Arts
Beauty Of The Arts

Imam Ali once said, “be like the flower that gives its fragrance to even the hand that crushes it.”

 

We humans are like seeds. We belong to the garden. ‘But of what garden?’ we ask. ‘From what planting?’

We admit to pondering little about the matter of our growth in this Earthly garden. We barely discern the seed-like nature of ourselves; that the outer-life is a flower or husk, protecting or concealing our fragile inner life, an embryo of a new being-ness. Both pod and flower have a part to play if the whole self is ever to be born.

We search for ways to harmonize these often quarrelsome aspects. Will we ever succeed? If not, the difficult task of bearing new life onto the planet, life and vision and will, is bound to fail, with seeds falling on fallow ground.

Traditions also speak of the calamitous consequences of ignoring this enormous human responsibility. All this knowledge, the good gardener knows, and probably more. Doesn’t the gardener remember where control over conditions ends?  Nature is far more powerful than us. A good gardener is well-practiced in sprouting seeds, and getting them to grow. But the ‘Garden of the Heart’ needs cultivation, to bring forth the blossoming of spirit and of a new consciousness.  

 


Here’s a short story about ‘The Wisdom of  Rumi’.

 

One day Sirajuddin, a Khalifa of high initiate of Rumi, went to the garden of Husamuddin and picked a bunch of flowers for Rumi. When he again entered the house, he saw that many important and learned people were sitting and listening to Rumi give a spiritual discourse. Sirajuddin was taken by the talk and forgot about the flowers. Rumi turned to him and said that whoever comes from a garden should bring flowers with him, as whoever comes from the shop of the sweet-seller is expected to bring back some sweets.

Rumi once said in such a discourse that God had a collyrium that, when applied to one’s eyes, opens the inner vision, and  allows one to see the mystery of existence and know the meaning of hidden things. One also can be illuminated by the gaze of a Sheikh. Rumi reminds us that when the inward eye is opened, one sees that the flowers that grow from Earthy plants live only for a day or two, while the flowers that grow from reason and wisdom are ever fresh. The flowers that bloom from the earth become faded while the flowers that bloom from the heart produce joy. All the delightful sciences  known to us are only like two or three bunches of flowers from God’s Garden. We are devoted to these two or three  bouquets because we have shut the Garden-door on ourselves.

“Behold our words!” Rumi said. “They are the fragrance of those Roses, while we are the Rosebush of certainty’s  Rose Garden.”

The fragrance of the Rose can lead one to the Rose itself and even the Rose-seller. But somethings Rumi was anxious about – that time should not be wasted, as he indicates in this poem:

 

My poetry resembles Egyptian bread;

When a night passes over it you cannot eat it anymore.

Eat it at this point when it is fresh,

Before dust settles upon it.

 

photo source - Beauty Of The Arts