Cosmic Christ – Living The Holiest Of Myseries

Cosmic Christ was created between 1999 and 2000 with oil paints on a wood surface by artist Alex Grey. It is surrounded by and part of a carved wooden frame. It is presently the centerpiece of the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors in New York, his personally created sanctuary for the inspiration of other artists. It is not only a wonderful representation of the work that he does, but an incredibly powerful and symbolic piece of art.
Cosmic Christ was created between 1999 and 2000 with oil paints on a wood surface by artist Alex Grey. It is surrounded by and part of a carved wooden frame. It is presently the centerpiece of the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors in New York, his personally created sanctuary for the inspiration of other artists. It is not only a wonderful representation of the work that he does, but an incredibly powerful and symbolic piece of art.

 

 

“About Fr. Bede Griffiths. The first thing he taught me was that the true Christ path is terrifyingly humble. He would never claim enlightenment. He would never claim to be a master. He would never claim to be a guru. He absolutely loathed hierarchy and separation” ~ A.H.

 

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Hari Dass, a yoga teacher in India, once wrote on his chalkboard: If a pickpocket meets a saint, all he sees are his pockets.

For those folks reading this, we all understand we are on a spiritual journey. We may also understand that, from within the illusion of our separateness, what we perceive is relative reality, what in India is called  maya, the projected illusion of subject and objects. All around us, there are various levels of relative reality. When we begin to awaken to our predicament that we are trapped in illusion, we begin to see through the dreamlike quality of the veils of illusion. Everything we thought was real we now see as maya or (illusion.) So when we polish the mirror of illusion, we find staring back at us is our own habitual desires, created by our perceptual universe. In that sense we can say our reality is a projection of how we identify ourselves. Hari Dass, a yoga teacher in India, once wrote on his chalkboard: If a pickpocket meets a saint, all he sees are his pockets.” – how true is that? A good teacher will be one filled with light and humility who does not see seperation. One who will dust our  Self-Mirror and redirect us towards the light,  the truth and away from our own false habitual mind.

 

 

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From the writings of Andrew Harvey

And it was then that I met the man who changed my life. In 1993, when he was eighty-six, I met Father Bede Griffiths, and that brought everything that I had hitherto experienced together, because here was a being at the very highest level of awareness, who married the Eastern traditions with the Western traditions, who came from England, who had been to Oxford, but who was living out this utterly brave, naked, evolutionary life in the middle of India, fifty miles from the place where I was born. So I believe that we were destined to meet. I was destined to be at the feet of this transcendent and holy and beautiful man, and he was destined to break my heart, and to break my heart open, and to teach me by his presence three things.

The first thing he taught me was that the true Christ path is terrifyingly humble. He would never claim enlightenment. He would never claim to be a master. He would never claim to be a guru. He absolutely loathed hierarchy and separation. For him, Jesus had communicated in the tenderness of ecstatic friendship, and that was the way this great truth of the divinity of human beings was to be exchanged.

The second thing that he communicated to me was that the relationship with Jesus and the Cosmic Christ—Jesus, both Jesus the being and Jesus the archetypal face of the Cosmic Christ— that relationship that Mechtild of Magdeburg ecstasized over, that relationship that drove the whole life of Theresa of Avila, that relationship that gave the Cure of Ars the power to go and heal day after day after day in his tiny parish, that relationship that drove Francis into the arms of a divine love that enabled him to re-experience the crucifixion—that relationship was not some poetic, tender fiction. That relationship was the relationship that was clearly transfiguring this holy man, and it was something to him more naked and more real than anything else. And so it became so for me.

 

painting from the late and great mystic Daskalos
painting from the late and great mystic Daskalos

And the third thing that Bede communicated to me—and this is the key of the key of the mystery that is coming through the Christ path, I believe—the third thing that Bede communicated to me was the revelation that was coming to him in his eighties of what in the Greek Orthodox tradition is called theosis. And theosis means transfiguration. And from St. Macarius onwards in the fourth century to Romanian priests(?) in our current century and to Bede himself, we have had examples that have been celebrated and noted of human beings who so adored the revelation of love and wisdom in Jesus and in the exploding vision of the Cosmic Christ, that through intense discipline and intense love they transformed their minds, they illumined their hearts, and they also progressively became so flooded in their bodies by divine light that their bodies began to be transfigured by light.

Bede knew that he was living this holiest of mysteries. And for him, he would say the first big bang began the universe creation; the resurrection was the second big bang that began the creation of a divine humanity; and the radiation of that resurrection power and force is what the humble lover and servant of the Cosmic Christ, if they love enough and if they are rigorous and disciplined and purified enough, can access for a total transformation of the total being.

 

You Tube with Father Bede speaking about the Black Madonna

The Soul – Inspirational Quotations

Beautiful Reflections

“The progress of our soul is like a perfect poem. It has an infinite idea which once realized makes all movements full of meaning and joy. But if we detach its movements from that ultimate idea, if we do not see the infinite rest and only see the infinite.”

– Rabindranath Tagore

The soul loves to meditate, for in contact with the Spirit lies its greatest joy. If, then you experience mental resistance during meditation, remember that reluctance to meditate comes from the ego; it doesn’t belong to the soul.

– Sri Yogananda

  Reincarnation is the progress of soul through many lives on th earth plane, as through so many grades in a school, before it, “graduates” to the immortal perfection of oneness with God. Souls that are living in an imperfect state (unaware of their divine identity with Spirit) do not, upon the death of the physical body, automatically enter a state of God-realization. We are made in the image of God, but by identification with the physical body, we have put on its imperfections and limitations. Until this imperfect human consciousness of mortality is removed, we cannot become gods again.

-Sri Yogananda – Man’s Eternal Quest

Beautiful Reflections:

Declaration Sanathana Sarathi January 2011, Page 16

Howard Murphet asked this question to Baba : Swami, You had incarnated as Shirdi Baba, and now you are the reincarnation of that deity eight years later. Swami, where were You in that short span of eight years ?

Swami replied : I permeated the whole universe down to every single atom. There is no such thing as a single place for Me. I am the whole universe.

-Sri Sathya Sai  Baba

THE SOUL

The Rishis speak of two souls: the real soul and the apparent
soul. The real soul is birthless, death less, immortal, and
infinite. The same real soul, under the spell of ignorance,
appears as the apparent man identified with the body, mind
and senses. This apparent man becomes, on account of his
attachment to the body, a victim of birth and death, virtue and
vice, and the other pairs of opposites.The apparent man is
bound to the world, and it is he,again, who strives for liberation.
The enjoyment of material pleasures, and the subsequent
situation and weariness; the consciousness of bondage, and
the struggle for freedom; the injunctions of the scriptures, and
the practice of moral and spiritual disciplines all this refers to
the apparent man. Again, it is the apparent man who performs virtuous

or sinful deeds, goes, after death, to heaven or hell, and assumes

different bodies. But it must never be forgotten that rewards and punishments are spoken

of only with reference to the reflected, or apparent soul.

The real soul is forever free from the characteristics of the relative world.

But the real soul is always free, illumined, and perfect.
The real sun, non-dual and resplendent, shines brilliantly
in the sky, though millions of its reflections are seen to
move with the movement of the waves.
___________________________________

From the Mahabharata
Santi Parva, Section CCXXXVI

A Near Death Experience – a Journey through Light – Children Of Light

“After long searches, here and there, in temples and in churches, in earths and in heavens, at last you come back, Completing the circle from where you started, to your own soul, and find that He, for whom you have been seeking all over the world, for whom you have been weeping and praying in churches and temples, on whom you were looking as the mystery of all mysteries, shrouded in the clouds, in the nearest of the near, is your own self, the reality of your life, body and soul.”

-Sathya Sai Baba

After suffering from a terminal illness, in 1982 Mellen-Thomas Benedict ‘died’ and for an hour and a half he was monitored showing no vital signs. Miraculously he returned to his body with a complete remission of the disease – and what may be the most inspirational near-death experience story known to date.

While on the “other side” Mellen journeyed through several realms of consciousness and beyond the “light at the end of the tunnel”. He was shown during his NDE, in holographic detail, Earth’s past and a beautiful vision of mankind’s future for the next 400 years. He experienced the cosmology of our soul’s connection to Mother Earth (Gaia), our role in the Universe, and was gifted with access to Universal Intelligence.

An Amazing excerpt from A Near Death Experience.

“The Light responded. The information transferred to me was that during your life after death experience your beliefs shape the kind of feedback you are getting before the Light. If you were a Buddhist or Catholic or Fundamentalist, you get a feedback loop of your own stuff. You have a chance to look at it and examine it, but most people do not. As the Light revealed itself to me, I became aware that what I was really seeing was our higher Self matrix.

We all have a higher Self, or an oversoul part of our being. It revealed itself to me in its truest energy form. The only way I can really describe it is that the being of the higher Self is more like a conduit. It did not look like that, but it is a direct connection to the Source that each and every one of us has. We are directly connected to the Source. So the Light was showing me the higher Self matrix. I was not committed to one particular religion. So that is what was being fed back to me during my life after death experience.

As I asked the Light to keep clearing for me, to keep explaining, I understood what the higher Self matrix is. We have a grid around the planet where all the higher Selves are connected. This is like a great company, a next subtle level of energy around us, the spirit level, you might say. Then, after a couple of minutes, I asked for more clarification. I really wanted to know what the universe is about, and I was ready to go at that time. I said “I am ready, take me.”

Then the Light turned into the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen: a mandala of human souls on this planet. Now I came to this with my negative view of what was happening on the planet. So as I asked the Light to keep clarifying for me, I saw in this magnificent mandala how beautiful we all are in our essence, our core. We are the most beautiful creations.

The human soul, the human matrix that we all make together is absolutely fantastic, elegant, exotic, everything. I just cannot say enough about how it changed my opinion of human beings in that instant. I said, “Oh, God, I did not know how beautiful we are.” At any level, high or low, in whatever shape you are in, you are the most beautiful creation, you are.

The revelations coming from the Light and seemed to go on and on, then I asked the Light, “Does this mean that Mankind will be saved?” Then, like a trumpet blast with a shower of spiraling lights, the Great Light spoke, saying, “Remember this and never forget; you save, redeem and heal yourself. You always have. You always will. You were created with the power to do so from before the beginning of the world.”


Please visit the website listed here for the full and wonderful story.

http://www.mellen-thomas.com/

Journey To Kodaikanal – Sathya Sai Memories

The Journey

Despite the twelve hours, hot and bumpy taxi trip, the death-defying 24 hairpin bends along the overhanging cliff road,  winding our way through the Palani Mountains at speed , visiting seedy hotels with cold, brown water, the ill-flavoured food;  the Kodaikanal travel experience was rather exciting.


The mountains and the hairpin bends –

After hours of sitting in the back of a taxi in 100 degrees plus temperatures, we began the steady mountain climb at precisely 6.30 p.m. The enormous trees threw long shadows across the road, hinting at the impending dusk.

On each turn, a variety of hand painted slogans appeared on adjacent boulders, “Jesus Loves You” or “Jesus Saves” – a loud declaration that Kodaikanal was pretty much a place of Christian worship. Now and again, we would see ‘Sai Ram’ or ‘Om Sai Ram’ –  a welcoming gesture to Baba who would take this route later, on his way to his Kodaikanal Ashram home.

Each hairpin turn became more terrifying than the one before. I held tightly on to my seat as my heart flipped over and over. We drove on slowly. Gradually, as I watched, the sun dropped below the horizon, leaving behind a night sky of soft golden hues tinged with pale iridescent pinks that soon faded into a velvety darkness, obscuring the valleys far below.

Our drive became more relaxed, the trees closed in around us, and a red glow could be seen in the distance. A forest fire was threatening to burn out of control; luckily, it started to rain and the menacing red glow became a ghostly shimmer – soon left behind.

The mountain road narrowed and was no longer just a road, but a dark tunnel of huge trees now bathed in soft moonlight. How different the mountains looked, compared with a few hours earlier, when brilliant sunshine had provided us with clear and often petrifying views of the mountain terrain. We drove on, up and up, until at last, houses began to appear.

Swami during a stay in Kodai

Out of the darkness, a barrier appeared. Our taxi driver got out of the car and wearily walked over to the guards to ask questions. I opened the car window to sniff the air; it was cool, earthly and the wet leaves from the trees made it sweet.

A young man boarded the taxi. “I will direct you to your hotel,” he muttered in broken English. We had finally made it to ‘rustic’ Kodaikanal.

Our chief concern now was to find our hotel. The young guide directed our driver to the location, but expressed disappointment at our choice, and we soon knew why.

We simply took one look at the pre-booked hotel, which happened to be situated in the centre of town, surrounded by small taverns and other eating establishments, and decided to cancel the room.

Instead, we chose the Paradise Inn which, at the time, had a choice of rooms. The manager took us to room 501 – a room slightly apart from the others. “This is a very quiet,” he said cheerfully, as he walked over to switch on the T.V. Suddenly from the ceiling came a thunderous sound. “People rushing?” I asked. “No rats!” replied the manager. “They won’t hurt you” he said with a tongue in cheek attitude. We took the room for the night, I stayed awake all night long just in case ‘our friends’ returned. They did. We left at dawn for a room on a lower floor.

Room 401, directly below, and graded ’super-deluxe’ was ample, comfortable and clean. The down side – brown water coming from elaborate plumbing, and one broken window covered with cardboard, the outside of which displayed the fearsome face of a devil. I was not amused.

Swami’s Arrival

*`•.¸(¯`•.•´¯)¸.•´* ♥

Swami came by car the very next day. The ashram staff, newly assembled, told us he would arrive by four p.m. at the latest. We decided to wait at the Ashram. My husband went inside and sat in the men’s section, under the green canopy. I stayed outside – standing.

Swami finally arrived at six o’clock but I wasn’t disappointed by the long wait for, as his car turned to enter the ashram drive, a very happy Swami leaned forward and gave a spontaneous wave. I waved back with both hands.

The next morning, we arrived early and anxious for darshan. The waiting area turned out to be in the main road! Traffic grudgingly gave way to pedestrians, while tooting horns offended our ears, and petrol fumes choked us. Newly arrived vendors, soon to be entrepreneurs, offered us solace in Masala tea. But as we sipped, other vendors bombarded us with incense sticks, Swami photos, cassettes, bread, biscuits, cakes, jewellery etc. And to top it all, ‘our line’ drew `unlucky’ token number 13.

Meanwhile, the seva dal had problems positioning the ladies and by the time we reached the seating area, Swami had already given darshan. Wearily, I concluded Kodaikanal was `full of surprises’ – not all pleasant.

As the days went by, things rapidly improved. We received close morning darshans under fair and cloudless skies. The sun shone warmly on us, and Swami, much like the sun himself, was radiant, smiling and relaxed, (and definitely in a holiday mood). He took time to bless our photos, pendants, take letters, give padnamaskar – even luckier devotees managed to hold his hand.

Both the Tamil Nadu and subsequent Kerala New Year celebrations were held under a canopy of brilliant blue sky. A smiling Swami sat serenely on his jasmine bedecked balcony, while cords of delightful music entertained us. On one occasion, Swami rewarded the singer with a beautiful gold bracelet that he materialised with a wave of his hand. The singer returned to finish her programme. Sincere feelings of gratitude overwhelmed me, as I sat listening to the moving performance. I felt a sincere gratefulness for days such as these: a `heavenly break’ from the mundane chores of life.

Unfortunately, the afternoons held less promise for most devotees. The clouds gathered daily around 1:00 p.m. and torrential rain followed. The discourses, as usual, were held in the small hall but, with the introduction of V.I.P. lines, few `general lines’ could attend. We sat outside under the canopy, hoping for just a glimpse of Swami.

One morning, this family received a blessing for our magazine, INNERVIEWS,  followed by an unexpected “Very happy” from Swami. We were overjoyed. Swami also blessed my golden cross and chain. (I had waited for years for the blessing.) After Swami blessed my cross, I immediately placed it around my neck again; the cross surged with vibrating energy. A friend, who has a ring from Swami, remarked that she had not felt such energy when she had the ring  materialized. “Maybe darshan blessings are more potent”, I thought, with a chuckle.

swam in slippers at Kodaikanal

Swami in slippers -cute!

An Unexpected Morning

My fondest memory of the trip has to be darshan, April 27th. My husband had left for home.

It was a dream day, clear, balmy, and from the roadside the Kodaikanal lake looked more enchanting than usual. Our line drew token number one and the seva dal promptly moved us to the entrance.

Mentally, I thanked Swami for the line. “At last,” I thought,“I can be truly near him this morning.” The seva dal took us straight in and gave us really good seats. We waited calmly for Swami to appear.

He entered the lady’s side facing the V.I.P.’s then suddenly swapped his position and stood in front of us – for a moment there was complete silence. I asked to touch his foot (padnamaskar), but the ladies seated beside me, reached for his feet first. I felt disappointed as he withdrew from us. ‘Obviously no feet touching today,’ I thought to myself as he strolled further down the line of ladies. But there is a twist to the story, and `the ending’ appears at the bottom of the page. *

After darshan, a surprise announcement from the staff, requested us to remain seated for Swami’s blessed prasad. Within minutes the college students appeared with large silver containers full of sweet rice and curd. A little later the seva dal distributed the delicious food on silver paper plates. We ate slowly, enjoying the unexpected meal.

Swami stood on the balcony watching over us as we ate, I remember how young He looked that morning. He seemed to shimmer in the sunlight, every once in a while, he smiled and waved to us. We waved back with our sticky fingers. He later jokingly asked some of the ladies if they would like second helpings. What an enchanting morning and most unexpected. That’s how it is in Kodaikanal.

The Dream

On my arrival home in May, my husband revealed a dream he had had of Swami near the end of April at the time I had asked Swami for padnamaskar. The ‘dream experience’ here below, is in his own words :

“In the dream, I was working in an office complex. The corridor outside my office leads to a `T’ junction. If you turn left at the `T’ junction, Swami’s office is the first office on the right.

I had just left my office and reached the `T’ junction when Swami came out of his office bearing a number of letters and correspondence in his right hand. His left hand was empty. He asked me something in a language I didn’t understand, but to which I replied, `Yes, Swamiji’. Swami then repeated the question in English when he concluded I had not understood. Again, I responded, `Yes, Swamiji’ and with this response, Swami turned to go.

By this time I had assumed a yoga-like kneeling posture and could feel the cold partition wall against my left shoulder. In that split second, it seemed like a golden opportunity to offer a request of my own: `Swamiji, padnamaskar?’ I asked.

At this request, Swami took his left hand to raise the hem of his orange gown and uttered the word `Take!’. Now I was on the horns of a dilemma – two feet – which to choose? I made my choice and …”

* and my husband kissed Swami’s left foot… (Note that my husband had no idea I had asked Swami for padnamaskar on the morning of the 27th April. )

Transmission Through dreams –

Doing some research, we found this explanation in one of our books. ‘When the guru appears in dreams, it is real. When he talks or gives a message, it is real. If the guru or ishta keeps his hand on the head in the dream, then it’s a blessing. This is real and not symbolic.’

‘If, in dreams, one feels the touch of the guru or the ishta on the body, it is the transmission of spiritual power. It is real.’

‘Physical communication is often limited because the guru is governed by time and space, but in dreams the guru is free to give personal help and guidance and it is real.’

‘The guru gives spiritual transmission through dreams, through heart-to-heart communication, through inner guidance and intuition. The secret is to develop your ability to understand your own intuitive nature.

*`•.¸(¯`•.•´¯)¸.•´* ♥

 

p.s.

We were there in 2003, but sadly I was ill so did not stay. Swami had not been well either at the time, and darshans were not the same. Kodaikanal had been my favourite retreat and where my fondest memories remain.

Arunachala – a Journey Arunachala Stories/Pilgrimages

Reflections of Ramana Maharshi in Arunachala, 1994
– Last of The Old Days

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The journey from Bangalore to Tiruvannamalai was long, hot and bumpy. The old Ambassador taxi entered the iron gates of the Ashram, where the driver, with flawless accuracy, manoeuvred the car to a standstill between two large sprawling Banyan trees.

I looked at my watch. Just after eight a.m. Not bad, I thought, as I began to smooth my ruffled clothes and wiped the sweat from my face in readiness to meet the Ashram manager.

Stepping out of the taxi, the morning air lifted my flagging spirits. A soft breeze blew gently, bringing the scent of sweet flowers. Immediately captivated by this tropical hide-a-way, I stooped to touch the ground in homage to the late Indian Sage, Ramana Maharshi. He had lived here for over fifty years until his death in 1950. Now his charming Ashram, Ramanashramam, remains a living testimony to his love for nature and his love for an interior life.

The small courtyard in which I stood vibrated with the song of birds. Monkeys and other small mammals, apparently unafraid, busily searched for food in the tropical foliage.

Gazing across the Ashram, I could see the hill Arunachala, her rugged appearance served as an ideal backdrop to the simple Ashram.

My taxi driver directed me to the verandah where a few people stood, and where eventually, I was ushered into the office and told to wait. Through similar experiences in other Indian Ashrams, I knew I could be there all morning. I anxiously sat down on the hard wooden bench and tried to compose myself.

Hanging from the office wall and in my direct line of vision, a large printed notice informed visitors that all rooms had to be reserved in advance. I hadn’t done this.

My anxiety became acute, I was about to leave, when a rather stern looking individual entered the office. The Ashram manager, I presumed – he did not have the same inviting air as I had experienced in the outer courtyard. I was soon to find out that without a reservation, it would be tough to secure a room. But after some tactful replies to his probing questions concerning my knowledge of Ramana Maharshi, he smiled at me in a conciliatory way and said, ‘Okay you can stay, six days only.’ He hastily directed me toward a quiet room near the Ashram library.

Alone in my room, I began to lazily reflect on my journey to Arunachala.


The Summer of 1993

rashram1

It had really begun the previous summer, when I had been travelling to Mysore to visit the Maharajas palace. Suddenly, the taxi driver pulled over and pointed out the small Ramana shrine as an interesting place to visit.

Anxious to complete my journey, I tried to dismiss the idea, but without success for my driver was an ardent devotee of the venerable sage.

When the taxi finally came to a stop in the secluded shrine courtyard, I’d immediately sensed an intangible calm. Casually, I entered the shrine with the intention of purchasing a book on the Maharshi, more to please the taxi driver than myself. But my heart leapt, when my eyes caught sight of a life size photograph of the Maharshi, placed on a raised platform at the far end of the hall.

Never before had I seen such a beautiful countenance. Moving closer to the platform, I began to study his eyes; great dark pools of compassion and understanding, unlike any I’d seen before. Their compelling gaze seemed to invite me to linger. Spellbound, I sat crossed-legged, staring at him, soon I began to feel the Maharshi’s presence, as if he was imparting something from his eyes to my heart. On that first encounter, I’d not only bought the book WHO AM I, but proceeded to buy every available book on the late great sage.

The books had kept me entranced throughout that long Summer in India. His message was simple and modest. It made no claims to occult powers and esoteric knowledge to amaze the mystery loving nature of his fellow countrymen or curious minded traveller. Yet, it gave inspiration and encouragement to a hard-headed Westerner like myself. He pointed out plainly and simply, the path inward, the journey from ignorance to self-recognition; something I had not seriously considered before, or at best given only scant lip service to.

What became clear to me during my reading, is that men like the Maharshi, and there are few, ensure the continuity down through history of a divine message from regions not easily accessible to us all. Man such as the Maharshi are rare indeed.

Also, the Sage did not come to argue anything with us, but to reveal our own divine nature. His rational teachings of Who am I, point to self-inquiry and the need to seek the pure essence of the Self. God is rarely mentioned in his teachings of Jnana Yoga. He simply puts forward a self-analysis which can be practised irrespective of any ancient theories or modern beliefs, and by so doing, he provides a way to true self-understanding. Thus, he fulfils the ancient Hindu scriptures, not by preaching but by practice.

The Maharshi had not become my guru, but his teachings had proved invaluable in my search for truth.

Absorbed in my thoughts, I hadn’t noticed the time until a power cut suddenly halted the overhead fan. The air in the room became stifling.

I quickly unpacked; took a cool shower and changed into suitable walking clothes. Better, I thought, to explore Arunachala before the Ashram staff changed their minds about my allotted six day visit.

Before my trek up the hill to Ramana’s first tiny Ashram, Skandashramam, I stopped at a little coffee hut across the street from Arunachala. The owner, however, expressed concern about my proposed walk on the hill. He explained the sun, by mid-morning, would be too hot for such an ambitious hike. But I had made up my mind to go, and after all, I reassured myself, I could always turn back.

During my slow walk though Ramanashramam, I passed by the shady temple, where two old white and tan Pi-dogs lay sleeping on the temple verandah. Unlike most of their relations, their fat round bodies had never known hunger. Peacocks, their bright plumage glistening in the morning sun,stood as if on guard near the temple entrance.Few people could be seen. Having finished breakfast, most had retired to their rooms or had joined others, meditating in the Ashram Hall.

At the bridge, which divided the main Ashram from the mountain, I spotted a group of young children sitting under an enormous old Banyan tree, its spacious branches providing ample shade from the sun drenched hill. The girls in particular took my eye. Daintily dressed in bright frothy frocks, they brought colour and life to the otherwise dull green clumps of dry grass. A great photo opportunity I thought, as I reached for my camera, but before I had a chance to catch the adorable scene, the excited children gathered around and shouted all at once, “What is your name? Where do you come from?” These overused paraphrases contained the few English words known to the children.

Their warm smiles and gleeful conversation bolstered my dwindling confidence, after the cool reception of the Ashram staff.


Long Climb Up the Hill

rashram3

Leaving the children, I walked through an old rusty iron-gate opening and started my ascent. The hill looked surprisingly steep, but small wooden steps had been placed sensibly along the way, making the climb more inviting.

A young monk appeared from behind one of the boulders, his too lean body, clad only in an old faded towel, looked emaciated. He muttered something about my shoes; that perhaps I should remove them. His intense eyes observed my awkwardness as I sat to remove them. He pointed with his stick to a spot near a rock where they would be safe. Once assured I would not sneak back and retrieve them, he ambled off to his rocky retreat. My climb to the summit would be in true pilgrimage style – bare footed! However, a few yards along, I have to confess, my feet began to feel the heat from the stones and I returned to find my shoes.

With my head bowed I concentrated on the stone steps that led to the summit. Here and there among the rocks, I spotted a few ragged beggars and the occasional stoic monk absorbed in meditation; but none glanced in my direction.

Young trees grew in abundance along the pathway, their large trunks, baked white by the sun, supported masses of long thin branches ladened with brittle silvery leaves. Their razor sharp texture caused them to rustle in the calm breeze, providing a pleasing sound. I was told later the trees had been planted to replace the native trees that had been cut down on the hill – apparently in Ramana’s day, Arunachala had been a jungle area. Here and there between the steps grew tiny clumps of brilliant blue flowers. Every step of my climb seemed to reveal some exquisite detail of nature.

I stopped to catch my breath, behind me I could see Ramana’s Ashram quivering in the heat far below. Had I climbed so far? It would be ridiculous to return now. Slightly slower than before, my climb continued.

My thoughts returned to the coffee hut proprietor, he had warned me about the venomous snakes and scorpions on the mountain. I had gingerly responded that Arunachala being holy ground, surely I would be protected! Brave words from the relative safety of the coffee hut, but now isolated and alone, I began to feel uneasy and whispered a prayer to Arunachala.

I had been told many times in this ancient land: when a holy name is uttered by a genuine believer, its power would protect. Would the sacredness of Arunachala protect me? My analytical mind wanted to believe so, and in true Hindu tradition, I continued to cite the name ‘Arunachala’ softly, with each step up the rocky terrain.

Gradually the trees gave way to more boulders, they looked larger and brighter here. Their brown, red and grey rocks shone in the dazzling sunlight. An awesome silence, both majestic and haunting, abounded, an infinite stillness; this had not been apparent from below.

The climb became arduous, the now fire-hot stones irritated even my sandal clad feet. Also to add to my discomfort, an angry red swelling began to appear on my left ankle. In the distance, I could see Skandashramam.

The boiling sun shone relentlessly, “Why didn’t I bring water?”, I muttered to myself.

Another alarming thought came to mind. Would there be any in the tiny uninhabited Ashram? In my impatience to climb Arunachala, I had forgotten to buy the required bottled water. For a few seconds, I stopped to contemplate the situation.

My thoughts were interrupted by a flock of tiny colourful birds flying overhead, their lively abundant calls reassuring, among the otherwise lonely peaks. A few large yellow butterflies, the size of hummingbirds, fluttered through the scrub. Suddenly, a rushing sound came from the undergrowth. There, a bright green lizard, alarmed by my nearness, darted out of the scrub and scampered back again! Startled by its sudden scaly appearance, I jumped backward and nearly fell. The swelling on my ankle began to ache and on closer examination it looked like some sort of insect bite.

Above me, my eyes caught a slight movement. Squinting to see more clearly, I spotted someone perched on a huge rock, draped in orange clothing and frantically waving in my direction. From my obscure position, the figure resembled a brilliant orange butterfly. Good, I thought, someone to guide me. Waving back, I motioned for help.

Within minutes, the figure had weaved his way through the rocks and had reached me. My orange butterfly proved to be a tall stick-thin young man whose bright orange robes indicated he was a young monk of sorts.

He shyly suggested that I was lost, his faltering English aided by an abundant use of hand signals and broad smiles.

“No, I am not lost, but I need water,” came my halting reply.

“There is fresh sweet water from the spring inside the Ashram, let me take you. Come.”

Following the monk, we reached the small ashram without further problems.


Skandashramam


The tiny iron-gate entrance appeared like the Gates of Heaven. The lad quickly brought a tin mug of clear spring water. No longer worried about it being bottled, I quickly drank. It was cool and sweet, as promised! I lazily sat down on an old stone bench and rested my tired feet.

Looking around the small ashram courtyard, I noticed only a few small buildings. They appeared to have been carved out of the mountain side.

The entrance to Ramana’s room was via the small meditation cave from which the large Arunachaleswara temple could be seen far below. It resembled an Egyptian monument. There were nine Gopuras which looked like Pyramids, with their tops chopped off ! I marvelled at the workmanship. Even at a distance, I could see the decorative carvings which adorned the towering Gopuras. Sadly with the abundance of traffic down in the town, I could hear the all too familiar street traffic as it reverberating off the mountain. This had not been the case in Ramana’s day and how peaceful a place Skandaashram must have been then.

In this tiny cave, Ramana had sat day after day greeting disciples and visitors. Here he had taught the age old wisdom of detachment and solitude, and although he sought no publicity, no following, people came from all over India to visit the Sage.


rashram2

To my left, a little doorway led me into a dark, cool, stone room. The sudden change from dazzling sunlight to this shadowy room affected my eyes. I couldn’t see at all, but soon my eyes adjusted to the darkness and I became aware of sweet smelling joss sticks, from which soft spirals of silvery smoke danced upward. The spirals in themselves, weaved a sort of magic, as if bringing alive once more a by-gone age. A soft sort of enchantment – that I can’t quite describe. As my vision adjusted to the darkness, I noticed a photo of Ramana. The young monk lit a candle and there, in front of me, life-like, an enormous aged picture of Sri Ramana. His warm gaze and half-smiling lips gave encouragement and lifted the uncertainly from this solitary pilgrimage.

The lad whispered, “This is where Ramana lived”, while pressing a few sticky Jasmine flowers into my hand. Dutifully, I placed the pretty creamy petals in the customary position above Ramana’s picture. Silently, I offered the usual prayers for protection and peace.

A quick glance around the room revealed it was empty. The dark walls, with few cavities for windows, seemed utterly austere.

This tiny ashram, with only the barest of essentials, had been Ramana’s home, and that of his mother for 6 years. How cold and lonely it must have been. Had Ramana ever missed the warmth of kith and kin? His mother had become his disciple, she had worshipped her enigmatic son, but he had stopped identifying with her since the day he had thrown his Sacred Brahman Thread into the temple pool, in Tiruvannamalai.

The discarding of the sacred thread had been symbolic for, with it, he had discarded all worldly attachments.

Her room, no larger than his, with its equally sparse interior, appeared even more cold and gloomy. Had she tried to make it comfortable, I wondered? Doubtless, her busy days as the Ashram cook and supervisor did not leave her time to ponder on frivolous worldly things.

I emerged back into the sunlight and sat down near the meditation cave. The total absence of man-made anythings gave the ashram an assurance of quiet repose. I felt strangely aware of Ramana’s presence for his enduring memory imbued every rock, and his ethereal vibrations remained captured for all time in this tiny remote retreat.

Wanting to avoid being sun-baked as well as foot sore, I strolled slowly to the tiny spring where cool, clear water gushed from the craggy rocks. Cupping my hands to catch some of the flow, I felt thoroughly refreshed.

Enjoying the moment, I leisurely bathed my sore ankle, wrapped it in a damp handkerchief, and strolled over to a huge shady Mango tree, whose heavy trunk grew horizontally over the small stone Ashram wall.

What a majestic view this tree had of the holy hill. I stood admiring its protracted branches as they drooped over the path in greeting to each pilgrim. Beside and almost hidden, a solitary coconut tree had grown to an enormous height to reach the sunlight.

With my guide leading the way, we left behind the Ashram entrance and cautiously, followed the hazardous pathway leading down to a small leafy grotto. By myself, I would not have found the solitary cave, for it had been well hidden between huge boulders and trees. There, built onto the cave entrance, sat a tiny whitewashed hut. Inside this small abode, a long red bench took up most of the living area. This was known as the front room. Here, Ramana had slept.

The cave, directly behind the little room, was hot and oppressive and as I peered through the entrance, wave upon wave of stifling, musty air came from its blackish opening. As my eyes gradually became accustomed to the dull and dingy hollow, I could see the shadowy silhouettes of people dotted around the dim interior.

Pondering on this picture of gloomy asceticism, my eyes came to rest on the Holy Linga – the Shiva symbol of creation, which Ramana had constructed long ago. The egg-shaped Linga, beautifully positioned on a raised platform, provided inspiration for meditators. Garlands of Marigolds, intertwined with tiny red Rose buds, together with orange and cream Jasmine lay in a neat circle, around the Linga. Even these dainty blooms had turned sticky and sour in the fierce heat but their heavenly scent was still hanging in the air.


pic1

Although curious, nothing could induce me to enter the cave, instead, I sat at the small airy entrance engrossed in thoughts of a distant time.

This is where the young teenager, Ramana had lived; all alone in this small room his only company, the mountain and her denizens. But what was it that made Arunachala so special to him? She is special, of course. Her craggy peaks, adorned by beautiful tropical foliage, had seen to that. But Ramana had thought of Arunachala as his Guru, and he had never left her.

It came to mind that many people would have considered Ramana’s life to be one, not of self-denial, but of retreat from the hard drudgery of human life. But Ramana had lived alone to allow his spiritual life to develop and blossom on the holy mountain. It couldn’t have been at all easy for such a young lad.

For he knew, all too soon, others would join him and break his beloved solitude. They would delve deeply into his teachings, and bathe in his pure vibrations of perfect peace.

Ramana was destined to became a tireless teacher; a teacher mainly given to silent instruction. But his message, though short, and of few words, was soon to be recorded in many spiritual books, and would become accessible to us all.

No, Ramana had not retreated from the world. He had given the world a clear and concise message: that man is an elevated soul, and a greater Being suckled him than his own earthly mother.

There on Arunachala, I could accept Ramana’s message, but I doubted if I could achieve anything more than a quiet acceptance in my present state of development; for my feet were forever restless, with a mind to match. Surrender, yes, how I’d love to, but the

soul, no doubt, must be ready.

ramana

My thoughts were broken by the cave attendant who came and stood beside me. Wearing the typical dhoti (man’s robe) and with a towel draped over his shoulders, he looked quite Indian. We began to talk.

He was from South America, he said, but had lived here for a long time. We began to discuss Arunachala. First he had come only to visit, but had felt a sense of belonging. After much contemplation, he had decided his destiny lay here with Arunachala.

Everyday, he climbed Arunachala to attend the grotto, and had lovingly restored the little hut, spending many days painting the exterior and clearing away rubble that had gathered over the years. Due to his sadhana (penance), this quiet and gracious man had been given a permanent visa to live here. After the short conversation, I left the attendant to his duties. It was a relief to be back in the sunshine.

Leaving my young monk-guide, I embarked on a solitary descent, but a wrong turn led me to a small village, somewhere near the foot of the hill. To my surprise, the village verged on the town of Tiruvannamalai.

I walked quickly by the little colour-washed huts and small paint-peeled houses. Many of the residents were already in their yards busily preparing their evening meals. The air, heavily laden with delicious smells of aromatic herbs and spices, breathed their appetising sweetness through the tiny village streets.

An old man, lean and bent, sold tiny colourful piles of fine powder; purple, pink, red, and saffron from a large silver tray. A young woman stooped to examine this colourful selection. Her long lustrous hair, adorned with tiny jasmine flowers, fell almost to the ground, hiding her faded green sari. She was typical of South Indian women, who have a very special beauty when young.

Here, I hired a waiting rickshaw. It’s dented yellow exterior implied that it had seen better days, but I decided to risk a jaunt in this tenuous conveyance. The precarious driver dived in and out of the cars and trucks, but I felt too tired to care.

Outside the Ashram gates, the dare-devil driver demanded 7 rupees twice the normal fare! I didn’t argue, after all, it had been a wonderful day.

Sai Dreams – Sathya Sai Memories Cont.

 

 

The year 2009 was a particularly hard one for me.  I had a series of illnesses that left me depleted and, at times, depressed. During the summer, I was alone at home due to my family working overseas. It was a hard time. Luckily I came through it and am fine again. Here are several Sai dreams I had during that lonely time. Nowadays, it is rare for me to have Sai dreams so these dreams came as a pleasant surprise.

Here are two that I feel I can share.

During September this year, I had a dream. In this dream I was sitting somewhere near to Sai in a place I cannot now remember. I was holding a small child in my arms. The child vanished and became a bird-like creature that fitted into the palm of my hand. I remember the little bird creature was wounded and I felt it might die.

Swami glanced over and beckoned to me to come and sit by him. I did. He then opened his mouth very wide – like huge as if his mouth was the whole universe, and my hand fitted right inside his mouth. He breathed on the tiny bird-like creature. I pulled my hand out of his mouth and to my surprise the little creature was well and healthy.

 


*•.¸¸♡¸¸.•*¨*¨Love`*•.¸¸♡¸¸.•*



 

 

 

The second dream, also very clear, was very different. I remember in this dream that I did not suffer with tinnitus, an affliction that I have had for years. I felt elated that my ear was well and at last I did not have to listen to the ringing that so bothers me. I was walking towards a large bhajan hall in this dream. Once inside, I noticed Sai sitting on his chair while bhajans were being sung. Beside him, a prominent devotee was smoking a large cigarette! The devotee was right in front of Sai – he could not have been closer. (A symbol here, I suppose.) I sat further down  in the hall for a while. I noticed that my clothes were untidy. I stood to straighten them out. At that moment, the prominent devotee swung round to face me. I was so surprised by this and, as we sat face to face, I felt embarrassed …. Why I don’t know.  Sai looked at the both of us as if he was the witness to the event. I got up and left the hall.

Dreams are strange creatures.

*•.¸¸♡¸¸.•*¨*¨Love`*•.¸¸♡¸¸.•*

Light Hearted Story Of Swami In Kodaikanal, 1996 – Sathya Sai Memories Cont.

The Journey


Despite the twelve hours, hot and bumpy taxi trip, the death-defying 24 hairpin bends along the overhanging cliff road,  winding our way through the Palani Mountains at speed , visiting seedy hotels with cold, brown water, the ill-flavoured food;  the Kodaikanal travel experience was rather exciting.


The mountains and the hairpin bends –

After hours of sitting in the back of a taxi in 100 degrees plus temperatures, we began the steady mountain climb at precisely 6.30 p.m. The enormous trees threw long shadows across the road, hinting at the impending dusk.

On each turn, a variety of hand painted slogans appeared on adjacent boulders, “Jesus Loves You” or “Jesus Saves” – a loud declaration that Kodaikanal was pretty much a place of Christian worship. Now and again, we would see ‘Sai Ram’ or ‘Om Sai Ram’ –  a welcoming gesture to Baba who would take this route later, on his way to his Kodaikanal Ashram home.

Each hairpin turn became more terrifying than the one before. I held tightly on to my seat as my heart flipped over and over. We drove on slowly. Gradually, as I watched, the sun dropped below the horizon, leaving behind a night sky of soft golden hues tinged with pale iridescent pinks that soon faded into a velvety darkness, obscuring the valleys far below.

Our drive became more relaxed, the trees closed in around us, and a red glow could be seen in the distance. A forest fire was threatening to burn out of control; luckily, it started to rain and the menacing red glow became a ghostly shimmer – soon left behind.

The mountain road narrowed and was no longer just a road, but a dark tunnel of huge trees now bathed in soft moonlight. How different the mountains looked, compared with a few hours earlier, when brilliant sunshine had provided us with clear and often petrifying views of the mountain terrain. We drove on, up and up, until at last, houses began to appear.

Swami during a stay in Kodai

Out of the darkness, a barrier appeared. Our taxi driver got out of the car and wearily walked over to the guards to ask questions. I opened the car window to sniff the air; it was cool, earthly and the wet leaves from the trees made it sweet.

A young man boarded the taxi. “I will direct you to your hotel,” he muttered in broken English. We had finally made it to ‘rustic’ Kodaikanal.

Our chief concern now was to find our hotel. The young guide directed our driver to the location, but expressed disappointment at our choice, and we soon knew why.

We simply took one look at the pre-booked hotel, which happened to be situated in the centre of town, surrounded by small taverns and other eating establishments, and decided to cancel the room.

Instead, we chose the Paradise Inn which, at the time, had a choice of rooms. The manager took us to room 501 – a room slightly apart from the others. “This is a very quiet,” he said cheerfully, as he walked over to switch on the T.V. Suddenly from the ceiling came a thunderous sound. “People rushing?” I asked. “No rats!” replied the manager. “They won’t hurt you” he said with a tongue in cheek attitude. We took the room for the night, I stayed awake all night long just in case ‘our friends’ returned. They did. We left at dawn for a room on a lower floor.

Room 401, directly below, and graded ’super-deluxe’ was ample, comfortable and clean. The down side – brown water coming from elaborate plumbing, and one broken window covered with cardboard, the outside of which displayed the fearsome face of a devil. I was not amused.

Swami’s Arrival

*`•.¸(¯`•.•´¯)¸.•´* ♥

Swami came by car the very next day. The ashram staff, newly assembled, told us he would arrive by four p.m. at the latest. We decided to wait at the Ashram. My husband went inside and sat in the men’s section, under the green canopy. I stayed outside – standing.

Swami finally arrived at six o’clock but I wasn’t disappointed by the long wait for, as his car turned to enter the ashram drive, a very happy Swami leaned forward and gave a spontaneous wave. I waved back with both hands.

The next morning, we arrived early and anxious for darshan. The waiting area turned out to be in the main road! Traffic grudgingly gave way to pedestrians, while tooting horns offended our ears, and petrol fumes choked us. Newly arrived vendors, soon to be entrepreneurs, offered us solace in Masala tea. But as we sipped, other vendors bombarded us with incense sticks, Swami photos, cassettes, bread, biscuits, cakes, jewellery etc. And to top it all, ‘our line’ drew `unlucky’ token number 13.

Meanwhile, the seva dal had problems positioning the ladies and by the time we reached the seating area, Swami had already given darshan. Wearily, I concluded Kodaikanal was `full of surprises’ – not all pleasant.

As the days went by, things rapidly improved. We received close morning darshans under fair and cloudless skies. The sun shone warmly on us, and Swami, much like the sun himself, was radiant, smiling and relaxed, (and definitely in a holiday mood). He took time to bless our photos, pendants, take letters, give padnamaskar – even luckier devotees managed to hold his hand.

Both the Tamil Nadu and subsequent Kerala New Year celebrations were held under a canopy of brilliant blue sky. A smiling Swami sat serenely on his jasmine bedecked balcony, while cords of delightful music entertained us. On one occasion, Swami rewarded the singer with a beautiful gold bracelet that he materialised with a wave of his hand. The singer returned to finish her programme. Sincere feelings of gratitude overwhelmed me, as I sat listening to the moving performance. I felt a sincere gratefulness for days such as these: a `heavenly break’ from the mundane chores of life.

Unfortunately, the afternoons held less promise for most devotees. The clouds gathered daily around 1:00 p.m. and torrential rain followed. The discourses, as usual, were held in the small hall but, with the introduction of V.I.P. lines, few `general lines’ could attend. We sat outside under the canopy, hoping for just a glimpse of Swami.

One morning, this family received a blessing for our magazine, INNERVIEWS,  followed by an unexpected “Very happy” from Swami. We were overjoyed. Swami also blessed my golden cross and chain. (I had waited for years for the blessing.) After Swami blessed my cross, I immediately placed it around my neck again; the cross surged with vibrating energy. A friend, who has a ring from Swami, remarked that she had not felt such energy when she had the ring  materialized. “Maybe darshan blessings are more potent”, I thought, with a chuckle.

swam in slippers at Kodaikanal

Swami in slippers -cute!

An Unexpected Morning

My fondest memory of the trip has to be darshan, April 27th. My husband had left for home.

It was a dream day, clear, balmy, and from the roadside the Kodaikanal lake looked more enchanting than usual. Our line drew token number one and the seva dal promptly moved us to the entrance.

Mentally, I thanked Swami for the line. “At last,” I thought,“I can be truly near him this morning.” The seva dal took us straight in and gave us really good seats. We waited calmly for Swami to appear.

He entered the lady’s side facing the V.I.P.’s then suddenly swapped his position and stood in front of us – for a moment there was complete silence. I asked to touch his foot (padnamaskar), but the ladies seated beside me, reached for his feet first. I felt disappointed as he withdrew from us. ‘Obviously no feet touching today,’ I thought to myself as he strolled further down the line of ladies. But there is a twist to the story, and `the ending’ appears at the bottom of the page. *

After darshan, a surprise announcement from the staff, requested us to remain seated for Swami’s blessed prasad. Within minutes the college students appeared with large silver containers full of sweet rice and curd. A little later the seva dal distributed the delicious food on silver paper plates. We ate slowly, enjoying the unexpected meal.

Swami stood on the balcony watching over us as we ate, I remember how young He looked that morning. He seemed to shimmer in the sunlight, every once in a while, he smiled and waved to us. We waved back with our sticky fingers. He later jokingly asked some of the ladies if they would like second helpings. What an enchanting morning and most unexpected. That’s how it is in Kodaikanal.

yvonne1
Me outside entrance to Calton hotel -I was very happy on that visit.

The Dream

On my arrival home in May, my husband revealed a dream he had had of Swami near the end of April at the time I had asked Swami for padnamaskar. The ‘dream experience’ here below, is in his own words :

“In the dream, I was working in an office complex. The corridor outside my office leads to a `T’ junction. If you turn left at the `T’ junction, Swami’s office is the first office on the right.

I had just left my office and reached the `T’ junction when Swami came out of his office bearing a number of letters and correspondence in his right hand. His left hand was empty. He asked me something in a language I didn’t understand, but to which I replied, `Yes, Swamiji’. Swami then repeated the question in English when he concluded I had not understood. Again, I responded, `Yes, Swamiji’ and with this response, Swami turned to go.

By this time I had assumed a yoga-like kneeling posture and could feel the cold partition wall against my left shoulder. In that split second, it seemed like a golden opportunity to offer a request of my own: `Swamiji, padnamaskar?’ I asked.

At this request, Swami took his left hand to raise the hem of his orange gown and uttered the word `Take!’. Now I was on the horns of a dilemma – two feet – which to choose? I made my choice and …”

* and my husband kissed Swami’s left foot… (Note that my husband had no idea I had asked Swami for padnamaskar on the morning of the 27th April. )

Transmission Through dreams –

Doing some research, we found this explanation in one of our books. ‘When the guru appears in dreams, it is real. When he talks or gives a message, it is real. If the guru or ishta keeps his hand on the head in the dream, then it’s a blessing. This is real and not symbolic.’

‘If, in dreams, one feels the touch of the guru or the ishta on the body, it is the transmission of spiritual power. It is real.’

‘Physical communication is often limited because the guru is governed by time and space, but in dreams the guru is free to give personal help and guidance and it is real.’

‘The guru gives spiritual transmission through dreams, through heart-to-heart communication, through inner guidance and intuition. The secret is to develop your ability to understand your own intuitive nature.

*`•.¸(¯`•.•´¯)¸.•´* ♥

p.s.

We were there in 2003, but sadly I was ill so did not stay. Swami had not been well either at the time, and darshans were not the same. Kodaikanal had been my favourite retreat and where my fondest memories remain.