First of all apologies for the last email that was only meant to say I had not done a newsletter yet but wanted to send out the dates and locations for the Paduka Puja for last weekend. Unfortunately, I forgot to take out the link for the January newsletter and change the subject line, so some of you were confused, but also some where happy to read about the history of the Ashram in the January Newsletter. Here is the news for April.
Life at the Ashram seems to continue to expand. It is really a tribute to Shri Babaji’s and the Divine Mother’s all-pervasive energy. The Annual On-line Fundraiser was more successful than ever with many more and different people participating. We raised over $13,500 and are deeply grateful. The number of visitors to the Ashram also continues to expand with many new and interesting folks.
Perhaps the most curious connection was mentioned in our October newsletter ( then again in the February newsletter) and this is with the Zen Buddhist group from China with their lovely teacher Dengdeng. They arrived last fall while on a Camino de Crestone (designed after the Camino Santiago by William Howell who has written about Dengdeng below). Only scheduled to stay one night on their 7-day pilgrimage around the Crestone spiritual centers, several had strong experiences with Shri Babaji and fell in love with the Ashram. This precipitated Dengdeng asking to come back in April with another group of students but to stay the whole time at the Ashram. The Ashram Board considered this request and decided we could accommodate the 24 Chinese students and teacher, and so it was planned.
Arriving toward the end of April, it was a busy, crowded, and wonderful time. There are photos and more about their stay below under Recent Events. What I would like to write about here is one of the powerful things I learned from Dengdeng. She was preforming a public Sacred Tea Ceremony in Crestone and during it she was explaining the meaning of Namaste in their tradition. She spoke about bringing the hands together in front of the heart and extending our love and devotion through a bow. She commented that she experienced many people doing the gesture with their bodies but perhaps not really with their heart. She said she would sometimes finish bowing and the other person would already be gone, or as she called it “disappeared”. Later I was bowing in the temple with Dengdeng, and as I rose quicker than she, I heard in my head, “don’t disappear”.
I realize that I often “disappear”, which for me means, to not be present. This word has stayed with me as a reminder that each moment is sacred, each interaction is unique, and that love is only experienced in the now, not in the past or future. As I sing the aarati and my mind begins to think about something else, I realize I am disappearing from this tremendous gift that Shri Babaji gave us. When I don’t focus totally on the person in front of me that is speaking, I am once again disappearing from this offering of someone else’s heart with me. Mostly this comes from fear and from habitual behavior. For so many years I have been preoccupied with all I thought I had to get done, that I still go there. But it is all a reaction to fear, that I would not be good enough unless I got a certain amount done and the Ashram was a success. I am grateful to say that I am changing and knowing on a deeper and deeper level, that Baba loves me just as I am and I do not have to prove that by my accomplishments. I can take the full moment to bow deeply in the Temple, to another human being, and to each event. I no longer need to “disappear” to life.
In Truth, Love, and Immense Gratitude
Ceremonies and Schedule
The next full-moon ceremony will be on Tuesday, May 29, and the next new-moon fire ceremony will be on Wednesday, June 13. All fire ceremonies begin at 10am followed by a meal. Until the fire ban is lifted, we will have smaller fire ceremonies indoors. 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, morning aarati at 7am, and the small fire ceremony is at 8:00am. We do not have the small fire ceremony when we have our large fire ceremony on new and full moons and during Navratri. 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 donate link to sponsor a fire or bhandara.)
Karma Yoga at the Ashram
Lots of Karma Yoga this last month with the big auction which entailed putting items on line, monitoring the auction, and sending items out to the winners (still underway!). There were also lots of preparation and cooking and clean up for our 25 Chinese guests. They were also great karma yogis themselves and one couple arrived early and help with the set up and one couple stayed late and helped with the clean up. Baba is so gracious.
We are always grateful for all of the folks that come to the Ashram and help us with all the jobs that are necessary to make this place run smoothly and receive our hundreds of visitors. We really could not get everything done without you, you are all one of the reasons this Ashram is what it is. Thank you.
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 by scrolling down (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. We are so deeply grateful for your support, love, and prayers. Bhole Baba Ki Jai!!
American Haidakhan Samaj Annual Gathering in Crestone - August 17- 19
Plans are still going on to make this a very special weekend for all. Coming together as Babaji's devotees is always a special time and inspirational and informative as well. Here is what is planned so for for this year. This is the 33rd Anniversary year of our first Babaji World Peace Celebration in Crestone. The peace Pole we planted is still standing and the Ashram we dreamed about is growing and thriving. What will the next years look like? Who have we become? What do we choose to be? What can we offer the communities where we live? These questions and more await us as we gather for renewal, conversation and celebration, including our annual Samaj meeting, fire ceremonies, book studies and more. Please come and join your Babaji family. A team of people are drafting plans and events for this unique reunion. If you have suggestions or wish to join the team, please contact: Loknath at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 253-389-4589. For reserve lodging contact the Ashram at email@example.com. For the latest updates you may also go to www.Babajisamaj.us.
Guru Purnima and Next Generation Gathering in Swiebenalp, Switzerland
Each year there is an enthusiastic and well-attended gathering in Europe over Guru Purnima Day (July 27). It will extend on through the weekend and this year will be in Schweibenalp, Switzerland. Prior to that is the Next Generation Gathering for younger folks which will be from 20th to 24th July 2018 in Schweibenalp. It is Sponsored by Jai HO to learn skills for daily living and wellbeing, address personal life challenges in a supportive environment, explore new ideas and interests for your future, and deepen your understanding and experience of Babaji. Suggested age range - 18 to 36 years. Here is the flyer in case you or someone else is interested.
Havan Training and Bhakti Fest in Sada Shiva Dham, Holland - August 21 - 24
Fire has been a very important part of human evolution and started many thousands of years back. The old Rishis knew this very well and have developed a powerful system with fire where ingredients offered to the fire are transformed in energy that nurtures nature, of which we are part, on different levels. Feeding the Gods ( Our higher nature) that will in turn feed us.
Babaji was advocating practicing Yagna by being a great example Himself. It is important that we do it with the right intension and follow the correct procedures. Pujari and Maarten Baba are proposing a course on how to do this according the Haidakhandi system. Learn how to practice puja and havan in a 4-day training with basic mantra's and instructions according to the Haidiyakhandi system. Puja and havan sets and books will be available at the ashram. Food and lodging at the ashram for 4 days is 100 Euro and the training there is a suggested donation of 108 Euro. There is a maximum of 20 participants so book early. It will start right after the Bhakti Festival.
For more information go to: www.babaji.nl To sign up email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Spring On-line Fundraiser Auction
Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who participated! It was one of the most successful auctions we have ever conducted. This will provide the funds for our many projects to accomplish this summer. We have been remembering each one of you at our ceremonies. May you feel Baba's and Mother's blessing deeply in your lives. Bhole Baba Ki Jai! Here is a photo of Bill and Jonah packing one of the auction items.
Dengdeng and Students Come to the Ashram from China
As I mentioned above, we had Dengdeng and her students at the Ashram for a week at the end of April. It was a blessed time and the article below, by William Howell, will explain about her work more. It was one of those magical connections that seem to abound in Shri Babaji's presence. It was not totally surprising when I heard her tell me last Fall that Babaji had appeared to her, since Babaji had specified China as one of the places that His message would spread. She took the I Am Harmony book with her when she left with the intention to translate it into Chinese. After their time here this time, she has decided to travel with me to Haidakhan next November with many of her students and I will stay at her Temple a few days on my way to India, oh the ways of Babaji!
Following is the article on Dengdeng from William Howell, who is the founder of Sanctuary House and the Camino de Crestone.
"Zen Master Dengdeng brought 23 of her 300 students and traveled half way around the world to Crestone for a Camino de Crestone pilgrimage. She, China's youngest Zen monk, made the Ashram the center for their visits to Crestone's various spiritual communities -- for two reasons: In order to create a retreat atmosphere for their Camino, and because Babaji appeared to Dengdeng on her previous visit to Crestone last September.
Traveling from Szechuan, Dengdeng, whose name means Light-light, offered a Tea Ceremony in the Zen tradition. While the Japanese Tea Ceremony is fairly well known, this Chinese Zen Tea Ceremony has never before been offered outside of China.
Prior to becoming a monk, Dengdeng was a master of the Tea Ceremony, which also means that she has mastered the knowledge of the many teas of China as well as all the accoutrements of the Ceremony, including the making of the tea bowls. Given her years of connections with tea growers, she brought the most special of teas, teas that grow on the cliffs of the Wiyu Mountains, teas unavailable anywhere else that even the vast majority of Chinese cannot obtain. What is even more precious than the tea is the love and energy that Dengdeng put into this Zen Tea Ceremony, for love is the basis for the Zen that Dengdeng irresistably offers.
At the Ashram, the entire group participated in the arati, fire ceremony and karma yoga of cleaning and decorating our temple. They filled the dormitory, where they enjoyed daily tea ceremonies, and also filled the hearts of those who live at the Ashram. What a special group! Again, Dengdeng enjoyed Baba's darshan, and again her students were such givers and appreciators that we all felt like one family.
Dengdeng expressed such a connection with Crestone, and so we are expecting her to return. Out of that love, she has extended the invitation to visit her temple of Xilai in a small ancient town near the eastern border of Tibet. In the temple, now being greatly expanded, everything is Zen: the growing of food, preparing and eating what has been harvested, the tea ceremony, dancing, singing, celebrating, meditating, making pilgrimage. "Waiting for you at Xilai," Dengdeng said with delight as they all departed.
Shri Babaji's Padukas Travel to the Front Range the Weekend of May 11- 13
As I had mentioned in the last newsletter, while Shri Babaji was in physical form, He would travel from His Ashram in the remote foothills of the Himalayas to devotees' homes around India. Well Shri Babaji's was certainly felt as His silver padukas traveled from His home here in Crestone to bless the homes of devotees in the Front Range. Nearly 150 people turned out at each function and the devotion, chanting, generosity, and love were felt deeply. But that is for next month's newsletter to cover! There will be lots of great photos too.
Visitors to the Ashram
We continue to welcome new visitors to the Ashram. It is a joy to get to know as many as possible when we are not too busy preparing, serving, or cleaning up after meals. It seems that more and more people find their way here from all parts of the world. We also love that our long-time devotees come back year after year, many since the inception of the Ashram in 1986. There is no way I can put all of the photos in of all the visitors but here are some.
First I am including a photo of a young woman from Boulder who chose to celebrate her birthday at the Ashram. Here is what she wrote:
"Thank you for a wonderful birthday weekend of bhakti, shake, and chai at the ashram. It was a special, hearth warming time to be with you. See you again some day. Om Namah Shivaya and much love."
Here are some more notes to the Ashram:
"Dear Ashram Family,
"It has been the most powerful and impressive experience ever in my life during these days in Crestone. Especially with the honor of staying in Ashram for these profound moments. No word can express how grateful and excited for me to meet you all. I felt I kept running into endless love and blessings from Babaji and Mother in this holy place. The beautiful singing reminds me of home, the familiar rhythm brings me home in one second into unstopping tears and yearning. Thanks for taking care this sacred temple for so many years with your unconditional love and unshakeable faith. You bring me hope and are taking me home to the eternal love, the only Truth."
"Thank you so much for your service, love, giving, the perfection and beauty that you all are. I was so touched by your devotion and silent service. Thank you so much for loving us, welcoming us, and giving us a house for a little bit. I love you."
"I’ve felt the fatherly love from Babaji, His hand on my shoulder. Thank you keepers of this sacred space, sacred wisdom traditions. To feel worthy of the love of the universe was felt here, and I will never forget this. This love. I feel it fuels all of you here and would love for more young people feel this."
"I love everything here and hope to see you again. The feeling is: You don’t need love, You are the love!"