A long time ago story about Sai Ram. I think the year was 1996. I arrived in Bangalore late one evening, and got a taxi to Whitefield. It had been a hell of a journey from London. The hot sun, after the cold and wet English weather, cheered me up but I was still not in a good mood. Actually, I wanted to go home! With some reluctance, I went to darshan the very next morning and found a row to sit in and reflect on why I was there. I sat there quietly pondering on why I would choose to put myself through endless lineups and cramped floor seats for endless weeks at a time. Was I stupid? What was making me torture myself like this? Sighed and sat with head down thinking: ‘this is not me, is it?’ It’s my heart. My heart wants to be here but my head is screaming ‘no, no, no!’ I dreaded more back row seats and those hot sweaty bodies and the sour bad breath that comes after long sits in the heat.
Then I spotted the seva dal with the bag full of seating numbers. I knew from countless visits before, this game of chance probably would not favour me! Too right! Our line was in the double digit category. I surrendered. When we eventually stood to be seated in the Sai Ramesh hall, I found a place as far away as possible from the central aisle. It was over by the chair ladies, in the last but one block. I could not be seen and I, myself, could not see anything but backs of heads !
Swami arrived that morning as usual. He did not enter the hall by the VIP entrance at the front but, unusually, by the second entrance in the middle of the ladies blocks. Instead of turning toward the VIPs and front as usual, he decided to go the other way, walking down the small narrow aisle, where sick and disabled ladies sat. He strolled all the way down to our block and stopped right in front of me !!!
I sat there with mouth open, in-deed shock! Of course, he never looked at me, but took letters from those nearby. He, later, strolled to the very back, walked along to centre aisle and up toward the front. “You can’t hide from Swami” – that’s the lesson here!
Standing on an an ancient tor which was once a volcano with amazing views over Dartmoor and West Devon is one of the world’s most stunning and best located churches. The church of St Michael de Rupe stands within the Dartmoor National Park in Devon. This church takes in some amazing views including Dartmoor and West Devon. Cornwall, the sea around Newton Abbot and Exmoor can also all be seen in the distance. The church was founded in 1130 and is the fourth smallest parish church in Britain. It also claims to be the highest church in England which is still in use. The church which can be seen today dates from the 13th and 14th century however it is built on the original 12th century foundations. Brentor Village’s main church is a more recent 19th century building with the dedication of Christchurch which can be found in the village however St Michael De Rupe Church still remains the parish church with the parish of Brentor being bordered by the parishes of Coryton, Lewtrenchard (by a margin), Lydford, Mary Tavy, Lamerton, and Milton Abbot. Although there is this church (which is much more easily accessed), Brentor Church is still in use for services. Brentor Church is 37 feet long and 15 feet wide with a tower containing five bells of a height of 40 feet. This church is truly amazing and definitely is worth a visit, even if you’re not on Dartmoor. Music by Adrian Von Ziegler –
After watching the Brentor You Tube Last Year, I dearly wished to visit St. Michael de Rupe on Dartmoor. Our journey began in the market town of Tavistock on a quiet Sunday afternoon, taking the easiest route through the tiny villages of Peter Tavy and Mary Tavy towards the vast open moorland. It’s an enchanting route through narrow lanes lined with wildflowers, trees and quaint old houses, and occasional picturesque pubs.
Dartmoor is entered through wide wooden gates, where sheep graze carelessly beside the road without a thought to the traffic. The famous Dartmoor ponies graze nearby. These beautiful creatures show no fear of cars or visitors; some are tame enough to allow you to stroke them. The colour of the ponies are varied from all black, to black and white, brown, or brown and white or all white. Extremely pretty, with long manes, thick eye lashes, woolly tails, that sweep the ground, they are much beloved by everyone that visits.
Lost on Dartmoor
Down the road some two miles, we come to an old gate and sign that marked the entrance, official one that is, to Brentor church. It’s baffling because the climb up to the little ancient church looks easy, but it is deceptive. It can be dangerous if you take a wrong turn and I did.
So anxious was I to begin the climb up to the church, I left my handbag in the car but grabbed my camera. Entering the old gate, a couple were walking toward me.They stopped to talk. They said the climb was easy enough, to just follow the upward stone path, “It’s no sweat”, they smiled. I took their advice, stopping along the way to take photos but that was my undoing. By not concentrating on the path, I found myself on the shadow side of the hill. I knew I had lost my way when I saw the large rocks and boulders in front of me. The daunting prospect of climbing over those made me want to turn back but the church looked so near! I continued on but an eerie feeling came over me, for I was circling the Tor where no path existed. Which way to go was now something to consider. It was late in the afternoon.
Finally reaching the point just below the summit, a faint path appeared before me. Phew! What a relief! Then the church came into full view once more so I trudged on. But then, between me and the church’s refuge, more giant rocks stood tall and foreboding. I had lost the path again! In the distance, I could see several people walking along the church boundary, but they were too far away for me to call to. The wind was pretty high at this level and my legs ached. I sat down on a rock to catch my breath. The views all around were awesome.Certainly, I lost no time in taking plenty of photos. The photos below are from there.
The gorgeous views kept me captivated. Then the sun rays disappeared behind the church -and it occurred to me that “late afternoon” was turning to dusk. I didn’t want to leave but leave I must. So I got up from my rock seat, shook myself down and began the descent. But the strangely compelling beauty of the moment kept my attention on those views, again I found myself far from the entrance from where I had begun my climb. Instead, I found myself in a bog-filled field that stretched out for miles.
So here I was – lost again! Time was passing fast, the thought of being left out on Dartmoor away from anyone, filled me with dread. I trudged on for half an hour when a road came into view. Not only a road, but a white house appeared in the distance! Now I had a landmark. So with as much speed as I could muster, I walked in that direction. But I took a wrong step and slipped into a shallow bog and lost my shoe! Recovering it was not easy; the soggy mud stuck to the shoe. ‘Darn it!’ I thought to myself but managed to slip it on. With a very uncomfortable gait I walked briskly on. Eventually, I came to a farmer’s gate. Ahh! at last a way out and onto the road!
The gate was locked! Darn it! The area was anything but safe for curious tourists and a firm ‘no entry’ sign was clearly visible on the road side. What to do? The thought of climbing over the gate came to mind but by now exhaustion had set in. Then I struck lucky. The old lock was one I knew and when I pressed my thumb onto the steel spring-loaded lock hard enough, it gave way. Freedom at last! Yay, I was back to civilisation! A ‘B’ road where surely cars would pass. None did, but the white house appeared just ahead.
The house was quiet – no answer came from my relentless banging the door. But as luck would have it, a car approached and then pulled over. “Are you okay?” A kindly man asked. Breathlessly, I answered that I was not. He said, “Lost? Where is your phone?” I told him I didn’t have one, nothing but my camera. A look of alarm crossed his face but then came a kindly smile. “Never mind, jump in. I will take you back to the church entrance.”
This is where I had left my husband who now anxiously waited with a search party. What a day and what memories. It was all worth it.
What has become of Christmas? With the true meaning lost within the busy quest for self-gratification, there is little time to read of study the real meaning of Christmas, yet our very survival on this planet depends on us elevating our hearts and soul to another level, one where ME becomes we….The soul of man today dwells in unrelenting noise that drowns out all contact with that blissful inner harmony that can only be found in inner silence. This inner and mystical silence wherein the purest spiritual state can be achieved is the Silent Night…”
In the Christian story of the “Nativity”, the King of Kings as the Son of God is born in a stable among the beasts of burden. This most noble and glorious of Beings is depicted as being born in the most lowly of abodes. His room is a manger fit for animals, his bed is made of straw, his source of heat is the very breath of the beasts that so very wilfully share their quarters with him. The stable is not a castle or a mansion. The Shepherds are not noblemen and there are no servants waiting on him. Why does this most glorious, exalted and long awaited wonderful event transpire through such humility, modesty and lowliness? Why this event is called the Silent Holy Night?
This image of the divine child is a most beautiful symbol revealing very profound principles and truths. The stable sheltering the beasts represents the material aspect of our beings as that which belongs to the body, form and matter. It is that which belongs to the physical self, which houses the animal appetites and the desires of the senses. It corresponds to that which is the lowest aspects of our being, that which binds us to the earth. Just as the blooming of the beautiful sacred lotus flower on the surface of the waters has its roots below the surface anchored in the mud underneath, so too our highest spiritual understanding is rooted in that which is the lowest in us.
The comforting warmth given off by the breath of the beasts is allegorical of the alchemical fire of the vital force resident within every cell in our body. It is this fire that incubates the divine child within us. The darkness of the Holy Night represents the unconscious mind that has begun to be illuminated by a star which the Magi seek to behold and follow to the manger. If we meditate on this beautiful picture of the kings of the East adoring the Divine Child, we realize a beautiful image. The stable is no longer perceived as something lowly when divinity has found abode within it. The radiance of this infant as the unfolding and birthing of a man-god reveals the consummation of the alchemical wedding of heaven and earth. What a beautiful and sacred temple our lowly stable has become as we realize a most wonderful presence within its simple and humble manger! What a blessed and sacred temple the body of man truly is!
The soul of man today dwells in unrelenting noise that drowns out all contact with that blissful inner harmony that can only be found in inner silence. This inner and mystical silence wherein the purest spiritual state can be achieved is the Silent Night. If we keep vigil, and we receive the higher grace of God, then we will become conscious of that Holy Night, where we will perceive the star of the Magi and follow it to its crib in the manger as the inner depths of our beings, and there behold the new born Divine Infant representing our birth into a new and higher spirituality. In this way we will realize our own divinity as our inner master reveals himself and manifests his light into the world.
Merry Christmas and All Best Wishes to all. ~ Steven Kalec
If you dream of finding a great Teacher, a Master, the operative advice is, “get real.” Great teachers may appear once in a hundred years. Masters require great sacrifice of those willing to follow them … and as we are not prepared to pay the price, it’s best to start exactly where we find ourselves with the help that is within reach. More likely I can find a guide, someone who knows the way but is still in the process of becoming. A useful guide is one who will help me to connect to my authentic self, that self that is connected to God. No shame, no blame, no fear, marks this journey, where every inner movement needs to be seen without judgment. – His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama
inevitably, sooner or later the teacher dies.
We will hear his voice no more. It is the end of an era. You, you mourn. With the spiritual parent gone, you are no longer the child. What is a pupil to do? To find another teacher seems necessary, but wait— What did he or she teach you? The source of “I Am” is within.
Richard Gere inspired by the Dalai Lama
George Harrison and Ravi Shankar inspired
by The Hari Krishnas and Sathya Sai Baba
Deva Premal and Miten Inspired by Osho
The wise say I can learn from everyone I meet. But exactly what is it that is being learned? What can I glean from some rough lout, some timid or repressed soul, some crazy? Surely they have nothing to teach an educated person like me. But there is no better teacher than the mirror, and every person can be my mirror, reflecting back to me some aspect of myself, particularly when it is something I dislike. I contain multitudes, as Walt Whitman put it. There is nothing I can see in another that I do not also contain to some degree—cheat, murderer, martyr, hero, and much more. Looking closely I discover that fundamentally we are all alike—all subject to the same passions and hopes, and this touches a feeling of compassion in me that does not otherwise appear.
My deepest guilty secret is gradually revealed to me: I believe that at least in some respect, I am better than everyone else. Only a penetrating view of my inner world dispels this pernicious illusion.
Books are helpful—reading prepares the mind and books are available where a living guide is not to be found. But eventually we need the human connection. A book cannot look back at me and hear my tone of voice. It cannot remind me to release the tension in my shoulders. It does not know when I am ready for the next step.
I have come to light the lamp of love in your hearts, to see that it shines day by day with added luster. Sai Baba
You cannot see Me, but I am the Light you see by. You cannot hear Me, but I am the Sound you hear by. You cannot know Me, but I am the Truth by which you live. Sai Baba
Remembering Sai Baba during darshan
The term guru means one who dispels the darkness of ignorance. Gu means one who is beyond attributes (gunas), ru implies one who is beyond forms (rupas). This refers only to God. That is why the guru is hailed as Brahma, Vishnu, or Siva. Only God is the true guru. All others are merely teachers, like the teachers of different subjects in a college. Guru is the one who reveals the guri (target) to the disciple. Guri here refers to the Aathmic Principle. Picture taken on Gurupoornima late afternoon 2011 – just months after Sai Baba passed. Notice two rainbows in the sky – they appeared after a storm about 5 p.m. that evening.
By the tree where many seekers sit to reflect on the memory of Sai Baba – Prashanthi Nilayam
What is the Significance of Sathya Sai Baba’s Samadhi? ~ We learned from Swami all the important practises of an aspirant and how to achieve the highest from our practise. One of the most important spiritual practises that one can incorporate into regular puja is daily worship at the “jeeva samadhi tomb or shrine.” (Samadhi) The reason being that the guru’s presence is still alive, although not seen, but still conveying energy to all who seek. The shakti energy remains forever in the Shrine of a powerful teacher – much the same as it did during his life-time. That is to say his energy radiated out to seekers through the body while he was alive, but now the “same energy” radiates to all from His Shrine. Sai Baba is still working through his vibration, much as he had done over the decades while alive. Today, Sai Baba’s Samadhi has a concentrated energy force that permeates all areas of his ashram. Very much like a vortex of a storm, this energy or shakti is far-reaching. The uplifting vibrations are apparent in and around the Shine, embedded as they are, in every nook and cranny of the immediate area of the Samadhi. The guru’s shakti has now become a forceful tool for enlightenment. For those who come to the Shrine to worship and practise, there’s nothing better than the vibrations of the late Sai Baba.
The jeeva samadhi shrines/samadhi of any great gurus can lead aspirants further toward their chosen spiritual goal. The most important first step in all of spiritual life is awareness, thus the guru is the very one to point that out. Every human-being has the In-dweller source, it is the guru’s job to seek out our very own In-dweller, the liberator of our souls. Often it takes someone with a powerful shakti to drive us inward to where the source of our being is waiting to be discovered. Our own In-dweller lays dormant until we are awakened by the forceful shakhi of a true guru/spiritual director. Thus, the search for the In-dweller, the one without a second, is the quest of all living beings.
Of course, for seekers of material gain and those with desires, worship at the jeeva samadhi of their chosen guru can help take away their need to fulfil their desires, for they will focus on the inner life through daily practice. Thus the “material minded” may get what they seek for a while, but are transformed over time into true seekers. There are “humbug” seekers always, and once the guru is gone, they will leave the ashram, due to lack of interest in “inner work.” Spiritual awareness and worship at the Shrine/Samadhi is very helpful in turning our minds away from all worldly desires and soon brings peace and a true sense of fulfilment to those seekers who are determined. This is the importance of darshan at the Shrine/Samadhi of a great guru like Sai Baba, or others like Ramana Maharshi Eve
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
The ego has to sacrifice itself so that man’s divine nature can manifest itself. “Mine” is death;’not mine’ is immortality. Renunciation results in peace. The golden key of non – attachment opens the lock which keeps the door to heaven shut. Wise words from Sathya Sai Baba. ~ The symbol of a door is huge in every language and every culture. Nothing is more adventurous as a new door opening in our lives. And remember it takes only a very little key to open a very heavy door. Remember too for cowards, all doors are locked but for the curious among us all doors are open! So be an opener of doors!
“I found myself all at once on the brink of panic. This, I suddenly felt, was going too far. Too far, even though the going was into intenser beauty, deeper significance. The fear, as I analyze it in retrospect, was of being overwhelmed, of disintegrating under a pressure of reality greater than a mind, accustomed to living most of the time in a cosy world of symbols, could possibly bear. The literature of religious experience abounds in references to the pains and terrors overwhelming those who have come, too suddenly, face to face with some manifestation of the Mysterium tremendum. In theological language, this fear is due to the in-compatibility between man’s egotism and the divine purity, between man’s self-aggravated separateness and the infinity of God. Following Boehme and William Law, we may say that, by unregenerate souls, the divine Light at its full blaze can be apprehended only as a burning, purgatorial fire. An almost identical doctrine is to be found in Perception.” Door of Perception ~ Aldous Huxley
“I climb the door instead of a tree Just to crawl with myself walking free What if I’m a lizard beneath my skin Changing my colours of the human I’ve been” ~ munia Khan
A Jesuit priest and paleontologist, Teilhard was one of the first evolutionary mystics to popularize the term “noosphere”.
You are not a human being in search of a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience.
We are one, after all, you and I. Together we suffer, together exist, and forever will recreate each other.
The world is round so that friendship may encircle it.
Ever since the Big Bang, our universe has gradually grown in complexity. From an initial point of intensely concentrated and homogeneous matter, we see the formation and evolution of stars, galaxies, and planets as the primordial ball of plasma expanded, cooled, and formed structures of ever-increasing complexity. In the case of Earth, we also see the development of biological life with its even more complex forms of matter. These organic structures are actually containers of sorts-densely packed with information. The more information an object carries in a given volume, the more complex it is. A strand of DNA is not only smaller than a grain of sand, it is also considerably more complex because it contains more information than the silicon in the grain of sand.
The densest collection of complex information we know of thus far is the human being, and human activity gives rise to even greater complexity. Teilhard states that this reflective consciousness is “the specific effect of organized complexity,” and that it follows that some sort of intensification of human consciousness is the next step of human evolution. In other words, a massive amount of information is building up within the relatively small confines of the planet Earth. This, Teilhard believed, will result in the blossoming of the noosphere into some form of super-consciousness, once the amount of information it contains reaches a critical density.
Teihard de Chardin first used the term noosphere in approximately 1927, but the intellectual concept was first developed during Teilhard’s service in the trenches of World War I.
Quote from T.D.C.s writings:
The atmosphere of ‘the Front’: it was, I am quite sure, from having plunged into that atmosphere—from having been soaked in it for months and months on end—and precisely where it was at its most dense and heavily charged, that I ceased to notice any break (if not any difference) between ‘physical’ and ‘moral’, between natural’ and ‘artificial’. The ‘Human-million’, with its psychic temperature and its internal energy, became for me a magnitude as evolutionary, and therefore as biologically, real as a giant molecule of protein. I was later to be astonished on many occasions to find in my own circle that those who could not agree with me suffered from a complete inability to understand that precisely because the individual human being represents a corpuscular magnitude he must be subject to the same development as every other species of corpuscles in the World: that means that he must coalesce into physical relationships and groupings that belong to a higher order than his. It is, of course, quite impossible for him to apprehend these groupings directly as such . . . but there are many indications that enable him to recognize perfectly well their existence and the influences they exercise. . . I have no doubt at all (as I said earlier) that it was the experience of the War that brought me this awareness and developed it in me as a sixth sense.
Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre (1980-07-23). Heart Of Matter
and following on:
The concept of a universal connection of human consciousness is very old and forms the heart of the Christian tradition. Teilhard’s contribution was to take this concept put place in within the scope of recent knowledge of the universe being a work in progress from the Big Bang, through the development of individual human consciousness, through the future convergence of collective human consciousness and unification with the Cosmic Christ or Omega Point. As Teilhard described our current evolutionary state:
Quote From Teilhard’s writings:
“[H]ow can we fail to see that the process of convergence from which we emerged, body and soul, is continuing to envelop us more closely than ever, to grip us, in the form of—under the folds of, we might say—a gigantic planetary contraction?
The irresistible ‘setting’ or cementing together of a thinking mass (Mankind) which is continually more compressed upon itself by the simultaneous multiplication and expansion of its individual elements: there is not one of us, surely, who is not almost agonizingly aware of this, in the very fibre of his being. This is one of the things that no one today would even try to deny: we can all see the fantastic anatomical structure of a vast phylum whose branches, instead of diverging as they normally do, are ceaselessly folding in upon one another ever more closely, like some monstrous inflorescence—like, indeed, an enormous flower folding-in upon itself; the literally global physiology of an organism in which production, nutrition, the machine, research, and the legacy of heredity are, beyond any doubt, building up to planetary dimensions; the increasing impossibility of the individual’s attaining economic and intellectual self-sufficiency”
Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre (1980-07-23). Heart Of Matter (Kindle Locations 499-510). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
Excerpted from a blog-post on Teilhard de Chardin by W. Ockham