Life often seems to be a process of fortifying and dismantling and rebuilding. We see it in Nature as the fullness of Summer dissolves into the change of Fall, the starkness of Winter, and the rebirth of a new and glorious Spring. During the Navratri, we experience it as Durga dismantling us, Lakshmi fortifying us, and a new rebirth as we merge into Mother Saraswati with Her divine knowledge and integration.
At the Ashram, the Fall season and Navratri itself held all of these elements. On a structural level, the pump on the original temple radiant heat solar system went out (after 15 years!), the on-demand water heater for the pujari room stopped working, and two of the batteries in my hermitage went bad. Fortunately this all happened after the busy days of Navratri and Premanand and our solar tech have fixed, replaced, or made a plan to remedy each of the situations. It seems strange that so much happened at once, but so grateful for the steady dedication, knowledge, and service of Premanand, (I asked him if he ever just felt like crying when it seemed that so many things happened at once.) and also thankful that it all happened while the weather was still mild enough to make working outside comfortable.
On a physical level for me, I think I really overdid it. We did not replace Jessica (a difficult one to replace) when she left at the end of July knowing that we would soon be going into our slower winter months. But that did leave a very busy end of summer and fall, actually the busiest we have ever had at the Ashram, culminating in the largest Fall Navratri on record. And so I fortified with all the support I could get from the generous folks around the Ashram (Jonathan has been there big time doing whatever is needed) and have marched through it all like the dutiful person I have always been. When all settled and folks departed after Navratri, I just sort of melted into a deep exhaustion and felt so dismantled.
As I took time for myself to recover, I also looked deeper into the Real Love work I have been doing and began to notice the patterns I had fortified myself with as a child to get through life. I took the role in my family of ten children as the pleaser. Whatever I thought was expected of me, I tried to do, always keeping a happy face and nice demeanor. I guess that has been a helpful role for me to play throughout life and at the Ashram but I see that playing any role is not healthy for me. As I take the time to rebuild, doing my yoga everyday, getting plenty of rest, and even some play; I am doing a lot of introspection into the “getting and protecting behaviors” that I do. This is Real Love terminology for ways we learn to get imitation love when deeply unconditional love is not available to us and to protect us from the pain we feel from not receiving it. For me this has come most of my life in the form of praise, popularity, control, power, manipulation and playing the victim. Yes, I am also kind and I do authentically care about people but the intermingling of these other goals has left me a little empty, feeling unworthy, and deeply exhausted.
So as I enter into the stark winter season, I will continue to reach out for more unconditional love in my life and become even more conscious of my behaviors that block me from receiving this real love from Shri Babaji, the Divine Mother, and others around me. I am considering doing a Real Love Study Group in Crestone. I am also thinking that if there is enough interest, we could try a long-distance one on a Google Hangout once a week. My prayer is that when the Spring comes, I can experience the rebirth of a new me that gives and receives much more unconditional love and experiences the deep wisdom and integration of Mother Saraswati.
I am in gratitude for living at this Ashram where this kind of growth and introspection is not only possible but supported; and for living with two of the most generous and loving men I have ever known, Jonathan and Premanand.
In Truth and Love,
Ceremonies and Schedule
The new-moon fire ceremony this month is on Wednesday, November 11. (This is Diwali, the Festival of Lights.) The full-moon fire ceremony will be on Wednesday, November 25. The fire ceremonies begin at 10am and are followed by a meal. Please arrive ten minutes early, freshly bathed, in a long skirt or pants with shoulders covered, and having fasted from grains, cereals, meat, eggs, garlic and onions. Fruit, yogurt, nuts, veggies and tea or coffee are fine to eat before. Also, if you have a dietary need for something more hearty before our meal at 11:30 or so, please partake.
Our evening aarati is at 6pm and morning aarati is at 7am, with a paduka puja in Shri Babaji’s kutir at 6:30am. We also have a small daily havan, fire ceremony, at 8am each morning, it will move inside when the weather turns too cold. We do not have the small one when we have our large fire ceremony on new and full moon. Lunch is served at about 12:30pm, and we invite you to join us. (Call if you are a group or have special dietary needs.) The Maha Lakshmi Shop is open every day from 10am until 5pm. We love to see you.
If you would like to participate by sponsoring a fire ceremony or a bhandara (feast), we would like to send you a blessed item from the fire ceremony if you request. They are:
$27 sponsorship - Copper, brass, nickel Om Namah Shivaya bracelet
$54 sponsorship - Rudraksha, Rosewood, or Tulsi Mala
$108 sponsorship - Rose Quartz Mala or a copper, silver, brass Om Haidakhandi bracelet
Diwali, Festival of Lights - Wednesday, November 11
Such a special event this is at the Ashram when many groups from around the area gather with us to share songs of peace and light. Since the significance of Diwali is the victory of light over darkness, this seemed like a perfect time to invite the other spiritual traditions, who also seek this light, to come and share this magical night with us. For about 20 years we have had at least 100 people gather in our candlelit temple sharing wonderful songs. It is such a touching time together. The songs begin at 7pm and an Indian feast is served at 8pm. If you wish to attend the aarati as well, that begins at 6pm.
Since Diwali falls on the new-moon, we will begin that day at 10am with a fire ceremony and meal. If you would like to stay after to help us with putting luminarios around the grounds, temple, and earthship; you are happily welcome. You may also be asked to try your hand at making some of the food for the evening. Call the Ashram at 719-256-4108 with questions, if you want us to reserve a chair (there is plenty of floor seating), or you wish to help. We also welcome anyone that would like to come the next morning (Thursday) to help with the clean up! We are grateful to Laura and Theo who arrived a few days ago and have spent the last four days making the temple sparkling clean for the event. Here they are pictured with the temple lights ready for the big night too and a photo of Mother from a previous Diwali.
Florida on the Horizon
As the weather gets colder here, it is the time to make our plans for our annual Florida Tour. Here are the dates and programs so far. Call if you would like to schedule somthing at your home or center while we are there.
Friday, January 8 at 7pm - Puja, chanting, and satsang at Bob Walsh's home in Plantation, Florida
Saturday, January 9 at 11am - Chandan, fire ceremony, and chanting at Elaine Heraoux's home in Jupiter, Florda
Sunday, January 10 at 10am - Chandan, fire ceremony, aarati, and chanting at Harmony House in Del Ray Beach, Florida.
Monday, January 11 at 7pm - Puja, chanting, and satsang at Sacred Lands in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Thursday, January 14 - Paduka puja, aarati, fire ceremony, workshop, and sacred plunge in the ocean at Jeffrey and Sharda's home in Treasure Island, Florida.
Karma Yoga at the Ashram
It was a huge Fall Navratri and with that always comes plenty of karma yoga with preparations, cookings, serving, and clean up. We really missed Jessica's presence at this time but Deborah stepped up to the plate on the days she was in and it was a community effort on the days she was off! So much gratitude to all who helped with their loving spirits! Bhole Baba Ki Jai!
We ask each of you to look into your hearts and see what this Ashram means to you and to please donate as you are able. You may go to our website and donate through PayPal, (you can even set up a monthly tithe). You can also send a check (made out to HUA) to P.O. Box 9, Crestone, CO 81131; or you can call us at 719-256-4108 with a credit card number. We want to thank you for your support, love, and prayers. Bhole Baba Ki Jai!
Fall Navratri - The Divine Mother Festival – October 13 – 21
We had a most lovely Fall Navratri and even though the dates were about as late as they get for this festival, the weather was warm and sunny and the flowers were still abundant in the garden. I read somewhere that it was the latest frost on record this year! Many thanks to our beloved Mother for all of Her graciousness. We had visitors from Chilianaula, India (Anju and Dewan, Muniraji's son), from Italy (Phul Chan), and from all over America. It was a very harmonious, joyful group that generously gave of their time and help to make this a wonderful and inspirational time together. Here are some photos!