It is probably a pretty good barometer of how busy we are at the Ashram by the date that this newsletter gets out. I am surrendering to the fact that August is going to be even fuller, so this newsletter will be for July and August. It is indeed the busiest summer I have ever experienced and it is just wonderful to meet so many new and returning visitors. Yes, I prioritize connecting with people over writing this newsletter. One problem is that there is no way all of the photos for 2 months will go into one newsletter but I will put a sampling in.
As the days flow by, one into another, I am reminded of the Gautama Ganga River which flows in front of Babaji's Ashram in Haidakhan. I spent two summers with Shri Babaji there in 1981 and 1982. Being monsoon season, there were many times it was too dangerous to cross the fast flowing river, particularly by yourself.
I remember vividly, several times crossing the river with Shri Babaji supporting me. It was a mixture of bliss and pain, hard and soft, and difficult and easy; very much like living at this Ashram. Because of the danger of getting swept down the river, Babaji would hold my arm very hard, the pain sometimes bringing tears to my eyes. Yet, as I focused on my mantra and the fact that I was being held by God, it all became blissful and His touch became soft. I see this dichotomy at the Ashram daily. When I just think of the very long days, the number of people served, the amount of dishes washed, it can feel very difficult even painful. But when I trust that I and the Ashram are constantly being supported by the Divine and I focus on the mantra, it is blissful and flowing like the beautiful Gautama Ganga River.
Shri Babaji spoke about the merits of bathing in this sacred river which is said to have an underground connection with the sacred Ganges. I must say, that it is sublime to bathe in it and one of things that draws me to Haidakhan every year. But as I write this, I am thinking of the allegorical significance of Babaji's reference. If we truly understand life is like crossing this sacred river during monsoon; a mixture of bliss and pain, hard and soft, and difficult and easy; life may be much less challenging. The secret is to remember that the Divine is supporting us by the arm (or when I would slip and fall, by the neck of my shirt!) and then even the difficult and painful moments become just steps across the river and the bliss of this realization and the wonder of having this body and this life can settle in. Of course, Shri Babaji gave us great tools to help us on our journey, the constant repetition of the mantra being one of those. What I neglected to say, was that the bliss of arriving at the other shore, yes all wet and winded, was exhilerating and we got to visit the nine beautiful temples with all of the different deities on the Gufa side. Once again reminiscent of crossing the river of life to the abode of the Gods.
Once again, my deepest gratitude to Shri Babaji for having taken me under His tender care. I often sleep under His shawl and feel that I am covered in His love and as I watch what happens around me, I see His Divine hand in every miracle that is this Ashram and my life.
In truth and love, Ramloti
Ceremonies and Schedule
The new-moon fire ceremony last Saturday was the first one in a few months that we could hold outside because the fire ban was finally lifted. It was beautiful with lots and lots of people. The full-moon ceremony is on Sunday, August 26. The next new-moon fire ceremony will be on Sunday, Septembber 9. All fire ceremonies begin at 10am followed by a meal. The fire ban has been lifted, so we have resumed our outdoor fire ceremonies. 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. 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
Thank goodness for all of the great help we receive at the Ashram from all of our visitors. This month we have had some major repairs made to the earthship, we painted Mother's mandir and the cupola in the temple, painted the bathroom in the earthship, received help with all the cooking, deep cleaning of all the buildings, gardening, dishwashing, and stocking, organizing and running the Shop.