This last weekend I was at at a Real Love Retreat in Dallas, Texas. One of the participants shared about how giddy she would get with people, at times losing awareness of what she was doing. She said she felt she often laughed when she was nervous and feeling fearful. This made me remember a time when I was in India with Shri Babaji on my first trip in February of 1981.
After carrying a distant dream of Babaji in my heart since reading Autobiography of a Yogi in December of 1975, I learned in late 1980 of His reappearance in Haidakhan. I could barely think of anything else and when I finally found a way to get to India in early 1981, I did not take the time to write a letter to Shri Babaji asking for permission or anything, I just went. Quickly I learned that one of the reasons for writing ahead was because Shri Babaji traveled at times, so when I arrived in Delhi planning to go to Haidakhan, I found out that Babaji had gone to Wape, Gujarat to celebrate Shivaratri with His devotees. Traveling also on a shoestring budget, would you believe $100 for the trip, I spent most of it just catching up with Babaji. I wrote about my first encounter with Shri Babaji on our website at http://www.babajiashram.org/ramloti which you can read, and I will write more about this visit in later newsletters. I will tell one experience here.
Several days after I arrived in Gujarat, we headed off on a rickety bus for a yatra to some sacred place. Being new to all of this and having very few English speaking people around me, I never quite knew where we went. There was a dormitory set up for women and one for men, with many cots squashed in the rooms. I was sitting on my a cot in the middle of many Indian ladies and all of a sudden Shri Babaji came dancing into the room. (To me, He never seemed to just walk, He was always just flowing or prancing or swaying or dancing or playing.) Would you believe out of about 50 cots with ladies sitting on them, He came and sat on MY COT! Well, I did not quite know what to do, so I just sat there taking it all in, pinching myself now and then to see if this was really real and not just a dream. Shri Babaji began speaking to all the ladies in Hindi, which I did not understand a word of. He must have been telling them jokes or something as they were all giggling and laughing and so I just joined in with the laughter to not appear to be different and to not show how deeply nervous and afraid I was. All of a sudden Babaji stopped all of the laughter and turned to me and said loudly, "You no laugh unless I give you permission to laugh!" Well, that knocked my socks off and of course I shut my mouth, probably turned several shades of red and for nearly 35 years had no idea what this meant.
With the help of the introspective work I have been doing with Real Love, I have begun to see the wisdom of Shri Babaji's words and teachings to me. I have begun to notice more and more how I would become giddy and unconscious interacting with people. It looked like fun and happiness, but it was a big show covering up my fear of not being loved, accepted, or the center of attention. I got a real hit of adrenalin from performing this way so I felt energized and a huge boost of reinforcement for my often well-disguised lack of self-worth from people telling me how kind, helpful, and vivacious I was.
The price for this, however, was very high. For as long as I put on this act to impress people, they became my tools to serve my need to feel okay about myself. It turns out that it is hard, no impossible, to have a real connected relationship with tools and so I was pretty perpetually lonely. The praise and perhaps even love I received from so many I could not take in because I knew inside that they were only praising a projected image of a coverup for a scared little girl. What would always come into my mind after every compliment was, "If they knew who I really was, they would not think highly of me." I also felt very jittery after these interactions followed by extreme exhaustion.
As you can see, this is all very selfish behavior because it is all about me, me, me. It is understandable, because I was so needy to fill up, with even this imitation praise and glory, to make myself feel worthwhile and to keep going. So, after receiving much more unconditional love on a consistent basis through my Real Love work, I find the need to impress people is diminishing and I no longer need to use others to make me feel better. I can now just interact with each person as a human being, with all of our foibles, and just love them and accept them. I know my purpose is to just be loving with each person I meet and this is truly selfless service and a deep joy. It does not mean that I no longer laugh and have fun, as a matter of fact, I am having more fun and joy these days than I remember ever having in my life. My laughter now feels like it has the "permission" of Shri Babaji, because I stay deeply connected to Him in those moments and feel His love flowing through me. I am so deeply grateful for this and all of His teachings and for the love and patience Babaji has shown me right from the very first. (Here is a photo of me in 1981 at a fire ceremony outside His room.)
In Truth and Love,
Ceremonies and Schedule
The full-moon fire ceremony this month will be on Friday, February 10 and the new-moon fire ceremony this month will be on Sunday, February 26 (the morning after Shivaratri). 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, unsalted 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 at 7am and the small fire ceremony is at 8:00am (usually done indoors this time of year). We do not have the small fire ceremony when we have our large fire ceremony on new and full moon. 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 be happy 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
(Click here to go to our Paypal link to sponsor a fire or bhandara.)
Another Fire Ceremony in Decatur, GA and Real Love Evening - Feb 15
I am travelling to Rome, Georgia for another Real Love Retreat and on the way I will be stopping once again in Decatur at our friends Pam and Kelly’s home. On the morning of Wednesday, February 15 at 10am I will be conducting a fire ceremony in their backyard. That evening at 7pm we will be gathering again for an evening of Real Love. When we came together in November the energy was very high so please join us if you are able and let others know too. Please give them a call at 404-271-3155 (Kelly), or 404-259-2586 (Pam) for directions and to let them know you will be attending. Looking forward to being with many of you.
Maha Shivaratri - The Night of Shiva
Saturday, February 25 to Sunday Morning, Feb 26
A festive and full night at the Ashram each year is Maha Shivaratri when we chant and do pujas to Lord Shiva throughout the night. This night is on the weekend so it should be easier to attend for our working folks. We will have aarati from 6pm until 7pm followed by our first of four pujas. We will take a break after this until 10pm when we will begin another puja to the Shiva Lingam and commence our Shiva chants which will continue until 4am the next morning ending with the 4th of the Lingam pujas. We will have the new-moon fire ceremony at 10am on Sunday followed by a meal. For more information or to reserve a room in the dorm call us at 719-256-4108 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Om Namah Shivaya!
Spring Navratri - Tuesday, March 28 through Wednesday, April 5
As the days lengthen and the foliage begins to burst, our attention seems to automatically move to gratitude for the Divine Creatrix who provides us with life, beauty, and love. This is what these nine days are all about, saying thank you to the Divine Mother. Each day there are touching pujas, extra chanting, big fire ceremonies, inspiring discourses about Mother, and lots of sharing and karma yoga. It is a magnificent time. Please join us for any or all of the days. The weekend is practically full already so call or email as soon as possible at email@example.com or 719-256-4108. Jai Ma!
Paduka Pujas in Denver Area - Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, April 21, 22, and 23
Although Shri Babaji never left India in His past incarnation except for one brief trip to Nepal, He did grace devotees' homes around India with His presence. It is just the same now when His sacred sandals, Padukas, are brought to different places. Each year for the last several years, Ramloti has brought the sandals worn by Shri Babaji to the front range where devotees host Him in their homes. There is great anticipation, preparation, care, and love that goes into hosting these events and it seems as if more families would like to receive this blessing. This year we will have two programs in Parker (Fri. evening and Sat. morning), one in Aurora (Sat. evening), and one in Thornton (Sunday morning) on the weekend of April 21 - 23. Please join us as you are able. I will post exact details next newsletter but reserve the time on your calendar now.
Ninth Annual On-Line Fundraising Auction - April 28 - May 7
It has been a huge support to the Ashram to have this on-line auction each Spring for the last eight years. The funds raised each year have helped us pay off the loan for the kirtan hall, build Ramloti's hermitage, and make many improvements and repairs on the Ashram. This year we will dedicate the funds to improving our electricity supply at the Ashram so that we are able to change our water purification from chlorine to UV filters, have more dependable refrigeration, and a stove that does not leak propane. We are so grateful to all who participate by sponsoring, donating items, and purchasing items, you make this all happen. If you would like to donate an item or items whether you have donated before or not, call me at 719-480-5514 or you can add it to the auction yourself at this link. Sponsors totally underwrite the auction so consider this option, it is also an excellent way to share your website with others. Once again, you can call me or go to this link to put up your sponsorship. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
A few of the over 100 items we already have up is this green shawl from the Divine Mother, red stole from Shri Babaji, and these amazing fine prints from JD Marston (aka Ram Dass). To view all of the items click here.
Annual Family Week and Real Love Workshop - July 25, 26, 27, 28
I know that many of you are making your summer plans now, so here are the dates for family week. Our family week has been going for about 18 years now, many of our early children return now and participate in the adult workshop or help run the kids camp. What a joy to see them all grow up and to see that they still want to stay connected to the Ashram, some describe it as a life-line of sorts for them. The actual program dates are Tuesday, July 25 through Friday, July 28 with arrival date July 24 and departure July 29 morning after a family meeting. Since families sign up a year in advance, we may already be full in the dorm but we still have camping options and yurt space or a room may come available so we can put you on the waiting list. We ask a donation of $135 per adult per week to stay at the Ashram, children stay for free. Call us at 719-256-4108 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve space.
We are very excited to announce that we will be having a Real Love workshop again this year. Many of last year's participants have stayed connected through a weekly group meeting or reaching out to the wonderful international support system provided by Reallove.com. The workshop will once again be facilitated by Real Love Certified Coach, Inge Jeckart and we will possibly have two other coaches as well that I worked with this last weekend, which was pretty amazing. The cost of the four day workshop is only $108 and there are some partial scholarships available but this needs to be negotiated up front. We will ask each participant to at least read the basic information on the website at www.reallove.com, and for the most in depth experience, read the basic book, Real Love by Greg Baer, MD. which we have on our website by clicking here. Registering ahead of time will guarantee you space in the workshop 719-256-4108 or email@example.com.
2nd Next Generation Gathering - July 1st to 5th 2017
at Bhole Baba Ashram, Rieferath, Germany
Dear Babaji Family and Friends,
It is with great pleasure that Jai HO (www.jai-ho.org) announces another Next Generation Gathering (NGG), to be held just before Guru Purnima at the Bhole Baba Ashram in Rieferath, Germany. The NGG is an annual initiative of Jai HO created for people between the ages of 18 and 40 years old. It is an offering of heart-centred, transformational gatherings that present life skills for personal, spiritual and community development. We invite you to participate in this exploration and hope you will join us!
The five day program will consist of daily workshops and discussion groups (in English) around various topics that are chosen to: enhance a better understanding of yourself; how you can become more comfortable and ‘at home’ in your body; how to create healthier relationships; and how we might engage with the environmental, religious and political crises in the world today. There will be various forms of interaction and sharing during the sessions, such as breaking into smaller groups and working in pairs, in order to draw forth the wisdom and experience of each participant and to foster deeper connections within our Babaji community. There will also be opportunities for karma yoga, satsang, aarati, kirtan, dance and free individual coaching sessions if required.
NGG is sponsored by Jai HO and therefore the cost of room and board for the five days will be covered by Jai HO. We ask a minimum donation of Euros 50 from each participant, and if you can give more it certainly helps. However, no one will be turned away because of money. Be advised that if you plan to attend the Guru Purnima program after the NGG, you will be responsible for paying the Ashram charges. Possible childcare for small children may be available, depending on what is needed.
To inquire or to book your place for NGG 2017, please email Rob or Mukundi at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please respond as soon as possible, as space is limited.
Update on UV Filter and More Electricity
As noted last month, the bid for bringing up electricity from the local company was much higher than we anticipated, or that we feel justified to spend. That same amount could buy us a great deal of solar improvement adding to the ease of maintaining the Ashram. In meeting with a highly recommended local solar company, our hope that solar technology has improved a great deal has been confirmed, and we can get batteries that will be both more effecient and less labor intense. The price tag on this is more than $10,000 less than the electric company bid, and this will allow us to stay off the grid, which has been a long time goal of the Ashram. We ask your support on this project for which we need another $15,000. You can make your donation through paypal by clicking here or send a check made to HUA to PO Box 9, Crestone, CO 81131. Thank you for taking care of Shri Babaji's and Mother's home.
Karma Yoga at the Ashram
We continued to have a good amount of snow, so this was one of our biggest karma yoga jobs this last month. We also received another shipment of murtis to unpack and price, done by the loving hands of staff and volunteers. Photographing and putting up all the auction items has been a big job too. We are so grateful for all of the love and help that Shri Babaji and the Divine Mother send to us.
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 for your support, love, and prayers. Bhole Baba Ki Jai!!
Treasure Island, Florida
Warm is the definitive word for arriving in Florida after several weeks of below freezing weather in January! It was a good break for Premanand and I. But the warmth of love, friendship, the very sweet and strong Babaji temple maintained at Sharda and Jeffrey's lovely home was even more important. The fire ceremonies with the bright blue sky filled with colorful kites overlooking the Gulf of Mexico is always breath-taking!
Jupiter and Delray Beach, Florida
After five days in Treasure Island, we traveled to the other side of Florida and did programs in the home of Elaine and Tom Heroux and the home of Sal and Sarena Morello. Sharda and Jeffrey also came with the padukas of Shri Babaji which they have in their temple in Treasure Island. We ceremoniously washed them at each location. A young man from Columbia, Juan, who had been to the Ashram a couple of times attended and brought his brother and Mother and Grandmother from Columbia. It is always a wonderful time to reconnect with friends and meet new friends.