Gratitude! We just celebrated Thanksgiving, a time when many people take time to express what they are grateful for in their lives. What a great practice, one that I employ, not just once a year, but quite often and which helps me put a difficult situation into better perspective.
Some of you may have already heard this story from me but I have only recently realized that Shri Babaji was, perhaps more than anything else, teaching me to be grateful, so I share the story since it fits in with this theme of gratitude.
I was sitting with Shri Babaji in fall of 1981 outside of His room with 5 other ladies. All of a sudden He went into His room and brought out a couple of pretty cotton saris and handed them to two of the ladies. He then went into His room and brought our two other nice cotton saris and gave them to two more of the ladies. He went back into His room and I breathed a sigh of relief sure that He would bring out two more for the other lady and me. Would you believe, He only brought out one sari and gave it to the other leaving me without a sari. Pretty quickly Babaji sent us all up to eat lunch.
Boy did I feel woozy, overwhelmed, could barely climb the stairs our of His room! About every feeling I could imagine coursed through my brain. Old judgements that I had probably carried for years, such as: Baba does not even see me; He does not care for me; something is wrong with me; I am not as good a devotee as these other ladies; I am not worthy of His love; I am a rotten, annoying brat; and on and on. Swallowed up in these emotions, I made it to lunch area, sat down, and just stared at the food that was set in front of me. Babaji walked by and saw me and stopped and said, "You eat".
I am not sure what happened in that moment, but I suddenly saw that He was feeding us all with just what we needed, even though we may not be aware if it, He was always giving, giving, giving. For me it was seeing how a small event like not getting a cotton sari plummeted me from the bliss of sitting with the Lord of the Universe to feeling like an urchin drowning in old thoughts and judgements. Suddenly, I was able to make a different choice and be grateful instead of forlorn. I realized that Shri Babaji had given me everything! I had miraculously been given money by my mom that she said she owed me, so that I could bring my children with me to be with Babaji for the summer. Even though it was monsoon season and many people had warned us that traveling to Haidakhan at the beginning of July would be almost impossible with a raging Gautama Ganga, the rains did not start until the afternoon we had arrived. Babaji greeted us personally, gave us a juice drink that He mixed and poured with His own hands as if we were royalty. More than anything else, He loved us and took us to His heart like His children.
I was overwhelmed with gratitude, and ate my lunch and went up to my room to take a nap, the thought of a cotton sari did not even enter my mind. As I took off my sari, preparing to climb in my sleeping bag in my petticoat and blouse, I heard a rap at my door accompanied by a bit of commotion. I realized it was Shri Babaji at my door, coming to the women's dorm area was something I had never seen Him do before. I quickly threw my sari around me again, opened the door, and there He stood like a murti with the most beautiful gold silk brocade sari in His outstretched hands that I had ever seen. As I received it from Him, I was in awe that He was perfectly aware of my thoughts and was acknowledging that I had learned a very valuable lesson, that the choice of being grateful for all that the Divine gives us on a daily basis, is far more life-giving than moping over some insignificant thing we may not have received. I pray to remember that lesson always and choose to spend my life that way. Bhole Baba Ki Jai! Hail to our Simple Father!
In truth and love,
Ceremonies and Schedule
The new-moon fire ceremony for December was today, Friday, December 7 and the full-moon fire ceremony will be on Saturday, December 22. All fire ceremonies begin at 10am 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. 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 (indoor this time of year) 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, which is outside unless there is a storm. The Maha Lakshmi Shop is open every day from 10am until 4pm during the month of December. 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.)
Help Us Complete our Long-Term Plan to Build Three Hermitages for our Residents
Seven years ago, the Ashram Board of Directors voted to build three hermitages for our long-time residents. At that time we laid out the sites, installed the infrastructure for water and septic, and worked out architectural plans. We completed the first one in 2011 and Ramloti has been very grateful to live in it. After that, both Jonathan and Premanand did not feel a need to complete their hermitages as they were content living without electricity or plumbing in their simple abodes, and to use the earthship for their needs for electricity and plumbing. Here is a photo of the proposed buildings, the one hermitage which is complete, the proposed building site, and the building plan.
But as the amount of visitors to the Ashram keeps growing and with the earthship being one of the focuses of those increased crowds, it seems to be time to address the need for some comfortable personal space for both of them. We would like to begin this project this summer and the estimated cost for one hermitage is $81,000. Can you help us with this? We would love to give each donor a beautiful 2019 Calendar of the Divine Mother and Babaji with all of the celebration dates for the year. You can make your donation by sending a check made out to HUA to P.O. Box 9, Crestone, CO 81131 or clicking here and scrolling down and make a donation via charge card or paypal.
1st Ashram Holiday On-Line Auction
A few months ago, we had several lovely items donated to the Ashram for an auction. We decided to hold an auction during the holiday season so that folks can buy some of these great items and to kickstart the fundraising for the hermitage. We have some magical pieces from our beloved Crestone potter, now deceased, Bertha Gotterup, lovely pieces from Robin Rosenberg, a pillow and quilt from our Divine Mother's bed, an exquisite framed image of Shri Babaji, and the beautiful chuni Mother wore on Navratri and Diwali. We even have a signed basketball by LA Laker point guard, Lonzo Ball. Here are some of thes great items. You can see them all (and more are being added each day) by clicking here and please join in as you are able. Thank you for your support!
UV Filter Water Project is Progressing
As we have been reporting, the installation of the UV filters for the dorm, temple, and earthship have been in progress for a while. The main factors where getting all the upgrades to the solar electric systems in those buildings to support the additional continuous draw on the electricity. We are happy to report that we have completed the installation of the first of the systems. It is in the dormitory and we are monitoring the solar system carefully to ascertain the effect it will have on the system. We hope to continue the project this month.
Karma Yoga at the Ashram
We continue to have so many generous people coming to the Ashram for various amounts of time giving great help. This month we had lots of help preparing the temple, grounds, and earthship with candles, luminarias, and lights everywhere for Diwali. Our Indian families cooked and served all of the food for over 125 people that evening. A bit later we had great help from the students of Verde Valley School. They helped with cleaning all the photos and hanging new chunis on them, as well as cleaning window in the temple, ceilings, in the kitchen, cooking, clearing snow, and organizing the Shop. We had a huge turnout for the Thanksgiving Fire Ceremony and we were grateful for all the help and support. We also received another order for the Maha Lakshmi Shop so we were busy restocking and cleaning the dorm, greenhouse maintenance, and computer work went on as well. It has been a great month!
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 able to 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 donate by clicking here and scrolling down (you can even set up a monthly tithe). We deeply appreciate all of you that do tithe monthly to the Ashram. 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!
Diwali (Festival of Lights) Wednesday, November 7
What a special time as we gathered together to share songs of peace and light on the night of Diwali. This seems to be a favorite time for many people as over 125 people attended even though it was in the middle of the week. It is was a beautiful night when the temple, grounds, and earthship were aglow with candles and lights. The dinner afterwards was a sumptuous Indian feast served by all of our Indian families from around the valley and beyond. There were so many people, folks were eating on the floor of the Shop and everywhere. We are so grateful for everyone's amazing help each year. We could not do it without you!
Students from Verde Valley School Spend a Day at the Ashram
Each winter for the last 10 years or so, a group of students for Verde Valley School in Sedona, Arizona travel to Crestone to learn about sustainability, service, and spiritual centers. We love to meet them each year and deeply appreciate their service, love, and inquisitiveness they bring to the Ashram. Many of their photos appear under the karma yoga section too.
Dee Laird Turns 80 Years Old!
Many of you remember our dear friends and loyal supporters of the Ashram, Annee and Dee Laird. I love to tell their story of coming to the Ashram on Mother's Day of 1996 and falling in love with it. They were living in Santa Fe, New Mexico and decided to come up a week every month to serve at the Ashram. Dee was a landscape architect and Annee helped with the Maha Lakshmi Shop and both were willing to do about anything. At the time, we only had the yurt which had no electricity or plumbing to sleep in. So they would join Jonathan, Prem, and I in it and it was always a fun and silly time pulling practical jokes on each other. One trip from Santa Fe they brought all the tiles and help lay them to complete the earthship. Eventually they moved to Crestone and Annee ran the Maha Lakshmi Shop full time as a volunteer and Dee continued to do whatever was needed, both learned the pujari duties.
Some years ago, after Annee had a series of operations, they decided to move to Montrose to be nearer medical facilities and Annee's sister and brother-in-law. It was a hugely sad day when they left, it almost felt like Lakshmi Herself had left the Shop, Annee was such a gem. But we still see them, and Jonathan and Ramloti traveled the three hours to be with them for an early celebration of Dee's 80th birthday. All will be happy to hear that he is still going strong and as silly as ever. Here is a selfie of our little celebration and a better photo of his formal 80th party attended by over 100 of his buddies from around the country. We love them so and wish them both many, many more birthdays and lots of fun!
Thanksgiving Fire Ceremony, Crestone Massage Students, and Lots of Visitors Visit the Whole Month, We so Appreciate you All!
This year the full-moon fire ceremony in November fell on Thanksgiving Day and the weather was pretty nice, so we had many people attend including the local Crestone Massage School and Ram Nathan and his family. They have been coming to the Ashram since their son Ashwin, who is now in college and towers over his 6'3" father, was one-year-old. Here is what they wrote after their last visit.
"Ever since our son Ashwin was one year old we had started visiting Ashram. Every time we come to Ashram we pray and meditate in front of mother Mahalakshmi. That always has been a great soothing to our hearts and keeps our minds calm and relieve our day-to-day stress in the life. This is a very unique and holy place. The positive vibes and experience have become integral parts of our lives and these are priceless. We are so fortunate and blessed to have an Ashram in the mountains and away from the city. Further the residents there have always been very kind and we always feel like a family member there. We very much appreciate what they do for devotees. With love: Ram and Jay V Nathan"
"The ashram is such a peaceful place. When I come here it clears my mind and I always leave feeling rejuvenated. Om Namah Shivaya, Ashwin"
Here is a comment from Pratima and Shrinid who are in the photo above:
"Going to Crestone is like a pilgrimage to us. We have been doing this for the past 23 years visiting the ashram at least once a year and as many as four times in some years. The 3.5 hours of mountainous drive from Denver is so beautiful, but it gets even better when we reach the bosom of the sacred San de Cristo mountains. The peace spreading from the mountains gets even more accentuated when we reach the loving presence of the Divine Mother in the ashram. The atmosphere in the ashram is always so serene and joyful. Ramloti, Jonathan and Prem make the ashram even more inviting with their love, care and generosity. Then there are the divine bhajans sung so well in the temple that takes us to the ecstacy of devotion, making us forget all the worldly worries, and playing in our ears for a very long time! To cap it all, the glamorous night sky with its starry splendor just captivates us as we retire to the visitors' cottages after dinner. These experiences are repeated every time we visit the ashram, which makes us to visit the ashram again and again. We are so fortunate to have this Haidakhand Babaji's Ashram so close to us and so thankful for our friend to have shown this place to us back ion 1995!"
Humbly, Prathima and Srinidhi
Calendar of Events for Early 2019
New Moon Fire Ceremonies - December 7, January 5, February 4, March 6, April 5
Full Moon Fire Ceremonies - December 22, January 20, February 19, March 20, April 19
Haidakhan Babaji Mahasamadhi - February 14
Shivaratri - March 5
Spring Navratri - April 6 - 14
You can see the full calendar of events at our website.
Click here for our complete 2019 Calendar
Maha Lakshmi Shop Report
Our beautiful 2019 calendar with pictures of the Divine Mother and Shri Babaji, quotes, and all of the fire ceremony and festival dates for the Ashram has been reduced to $7.50 since we are nearing the end of the year. You can order it online at the new price by clicking here. A preview of the calendar is available for download here.
One of our long-time distributors is closing it's warehouse in Florida and we have ordered many items from them and they are on their way to the Shop. These include brass hanging and standing Oms, miniature Deity statues, incense holders, prayer flags, prayer bells, Buddha statues, hanging Kali masks, and many other wonderful things. Many of these new items are perfect for holiday gift giving that also support your Ashram. Most are one of kind items so they are not on line. You are always welcome to call and order at 719-256-4108. Since we do not have everything on line, you can ask to have photos sent of our items, It is really nice to connect in this way. You may also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to bless an item at Baba's and Mother's feet for you or drop ship items to your loved ones around the country. We take Visa, MasterCard or Discover.
The Shop is a major supporter of the Ashram. We deeply appreciate your patronage.
Maha Lakshmi Mata Ki Jai!