This morning I was pujari with Mindy, a lovely Crestone woman that is keen to learn the pujari duties. I was explaining to her about the paduka puja and telling her about putting oil on Shri Babaji’s feet.
It brought me right back to Haidakhan, India in late summer of 1981. Each afternoon, Shri Babaji would go down to the river for His afternoon bath with a few yogis (and my 10-year-old son, but that is another story!). Babaji would then come up the stairs to the garden where we would all be sitting waiting for Him. After He sat down, we chanted and Gaura Devi, His oldest Western devotee, would rub oil onto His feet. I would often sit up close to Him, behind Gaura and another western devotee, Motu. I could almost feel the wonder of rubbing oil on Shri Babaji’s feet, but it seemed like a distant dream.
One day in late summer, Gaura was sick and so it became Motu’s good fortune to anoint Shri Babaji’s feet with the sacred oil. I watched with bated breath as she performed the sacred act. I sat just behind Motu from where I could almost smell the fragrance of the Rhuh Khus oil (a thick earthy smelling oil used during the monsoon season). Afterwards she vividly told me about her experience putting oil on the Lord’s feet! I was both elated to hear her story and also a bit envious. It was the same scenario the next day.
On the third day however, Motu was also out and I suddenly became first in line and it was my duty to put the oil on Shri Babaji’s feet. Unfortunately, as I waited for Babaji to ascend the stairs and sit in His garden seat, I became afraid. I suddenly lost my peace and bliss about this rare opportunity and began thinking of all the things that might go wrong. Scenes started running through my head like: me putting too much oil on His feet, or me dropping the bottle, or me rubbing His feet too hard or too soft or Babaji showing some disappointment in me. In my fear I totally loss the whole sacred meaning of what I was about to do, anoint the Lord’s feet. Instead, I was only thinking of “me” and not on the whole purpose of the activity, serving Shri Babaji.
And, I am sorry to say, that was my primary experience that special day, overshadowed with fear, focused on me, and not feeling the bliss and awe that putting oil on Shri Babaji could have brought. And as I walk through this life, I have become more aware of how often fear clouds my vision when things become stressful. I begin to think about me and forget to connect to the person and the situation and whatever information there is to glean at that time. When I begin to feel anxious and think about myself, I have learned to ask myself the question, "What am I here for, what am I doing this activity for?" The answer is always, "to share Shri Babaji's and the Divine Mother's love with others". When I remember this, life is full of bliss and awe. And the majesty of Shri Babaji's omnipresence is that I (and all devotees, new and old) can re-experience anointing His feet with oil each morning when we are truly present at the Paduka Puja. I do not need to hold onto the experience in 1981 with any disappointment or shame, just gratitude for the teachings of Babaji that are continually appearing.
In truth and love,
Ceremonies and Schedule
The new-moon fire ceremony will be on Monday, February 4 and the full-moon fire ceremony is on Tuesday, February 19. 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 it is below freezing. The Maha Lakshmi Shop is open every day from 10am until 4pm during the month of February. 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 the Ashram Build its Next Resident Hermitage through GoFundMe
We have put up a page on GoFundMe to facilitate supporting the Ashram's goal to build another hermitage for the long-term residents this summer. You may or may not have many funds available at this time to donate but you could help by spreading the word through social media. Just write a little something about what the Ashram means to you and your gratitude to the folks that run it, and share it with all of your friends. It is amazing how quickly donations of $10, $25, or $50 add up. Just click here and there is a place to share it on facebook or tweet it. Thank you so much.
We are grateful to report that we have raised over $20,000 in funds and pledges so far for the next hermitage for our long-time 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.
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. They have both diligently served here over 23 years and are now in their 60's. Part of the plan would be to use lithium-ion batteries that would provide solar energy for all three hermitages. At the moment, Ramloti's cabin has bare-bones solar electricity and cannot support the UV water purification system, so she carries drinking water to her place daily. With Ramloti turning 70 in two weeks, it is also prudent to have more people living near her, as her cabin currently sits at the far west side of the Ashram beyond the parking lot all by itself, about an eight minute walk to the current abodes of Prem and Jonathan. Here is a photo of it from the parking lot.
We would like to build this summer and the estimated cost for one hermitage is $81,000. We need to begin the planning in Spring to procure a good contractor. Can you help us with this? 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. You can also use the GoFundMe page above by clicking here. Thank you for your support.
Maha Shivaratri on Tuesday, March 5th Night and Wednesday, March 6th Morning
The night of Lord Shiva will be celebrated at the Ashram on Tuesday, March 5th evening until Wednesday, March 6. Put the date on your calendars for an evening of late night chanting, which will begin this year with aarati at 6pm followed by the first of four Lingam Pujas at 7pm. We will continue chanting straight through with the next pujas at 9pm, 11pm, and 1am.
The new-moon fire ceremony will be the next morning at 10am. There is room for folks to stay in the dormitory that night. You may call the Ashram at 719-256-4108 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to make reservations.
Spring Navratri (Divine Mother Festival) - April 6 - 14
The Spring Navratri is just around the corner, the dates are Saturday, April 6 through Sunday, April 14. We are already booking reservations for the weekends so call or email soon if you would like to reserve a space.
In Fall we only had one weekend for Navratri and we were totally booked months in advance. Fortunately, we have two weekends in Spring since it begins on a Saturday, April 6 and completes the following weekend on a Sunday, April 14, so more of you will be able to stay at the Ashram.
You can call us at 719-256-4108 or email us at email@example.com to reserve your space in the dorm or with any other questions. It is always such a special time together honoring the Divine Mother with daily large fire ceremonies at 10am, special pujas, discourses, chanting, aarati, children's festival, and bhandaras. Jai Ma!
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 visitors who helped with cleaning the temple, the dorm, the kitchen, cooking, clearing snow, and organizing the Shop. We have continued to have large turnouts for the our new-moon and full-moon fire ceremonies and we were grateful for all the help setting up, clean up, cooking, serving, and other support. It has been a great month.