Thursday, September 27, 2012

Meeting God in Nature

Dear Friends,
    Norma assigned me task. To gather sticks. I went down to the wooded yard, collected a bunch, and brought it inside for the stove heater. Finished my little seva task for the day... What is missing? I said to myself. Most of life is a series of tasks. I finished sleep, I'm done with breakfast, I did my meditation, I completed a retreat. The more tasks I finish, the more productive I feel. Then when the body is dying, I look back at all the tasks completed and wonder, "What is the point?"
    So I looked back out at the trees and contemplated. Here were these majestic trees providing blessed shade and oxygen to this home. They shed pieces of their body, and I took these limbs to burn in a fire so that my body could stay warm and comfortable. They never asked for anything back. They never complained or bragged. I thanked the trees for their generosity. Then the mind asked who created the trees for our enjoyment. The Creator. Ah, the Creator resided in these trees. They weren't just trees. I prayed for the Creator that gave of Itself. I praise the Creator. I sings songs for the Creator. I can't stop because that is all there is to do in life. Every action, every thought is dedicated to Him. So I keep singing for Him. And Love springs from this Song like an endless spring.
    Norma and I went on a hike, and I saw Him there. Towering green trees over the trail, golden sunlight shimmering through the leaves, cascades of waterfalls passing over and under gigantic boulders, gnarled roots winding over the ground, clear blue sky and clean air. I was in awe. I meet God in Nature and bow down to the tremendous beauty that He displays. Wherever I look or sense, He is there. Resting in the awe.

With love,

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Stripped naked

Dear Friends,
    A few days ago, I spoke to a friend and medical intuitive about the kidneys. "The body needs to urinate too often," I said. He told me I was being exposed to toxins in the environment. In fact, there were three chemicals inside Persistence that weakened the kidneys. Petrochemical, gas, and pesticide. "You could get a new vehicle," he said. I couldn't afford that option. "You could clean the carpet." That was a good idea. The next two days, it poured in Banner Elk, NC. When the weather cleared a bit, I went down to see Persistence. Inside the van, I notice the carpet was damp. Wiping a hand across the floor, I was shocked to see my palm covered in oil. When I spoke to Norma about this, she suggested to take out all the carpet and the floor boards all the way to the metal. I sat down. My body had been exhausted all day. Norma picked up the phone and invited a good friend to come over and strip the van. "Better get started taking out your stuff," she said to me. So I spent the next two hours unscrewing bolts and removing almost everything. Victor arrived and we took out the bed and cabinet and unscrewed the second battery and solar panel connections. Then he cut out most of the carpet, and we tore out large pieces of foam and underboards. In the darkness of night, after the floor was swept and wiped, we put the bed and cabinet back inside. It had been two and a half hours of activity. With his concentration and dedication, Victor had saved me. Praise to the power of Shakti. She can achieve anything.
     Today, Persistence is stripped to the metal. Purified with vinegar and baking soda. Norma has kindly offered to create a team in Miami to rebuild the van's floor and stop up all the holes. Her ability to get things done is a rare talent. In fact, had it not been for her push, I would have just lived with the chemicals until it was intolerable. Yes, my laziness is a rare talent too.
    Persistence is a shell now. As her floor was stripped away, so has mine. I'm doing jobs that I've never done before - very physical and somewhat mechanical. Clearing away beliefs of "I can't do it" and "it's too much work." I am a shell. Now all I need is a new floor - clean and insulated. So I cannot be harmed by the harsh elements of the world, so I can stand on dry ground. The inside of my vehicle is being restructured and rebuilt. Taking the road of purification. I'm ready.


Monday, September 17, 2012

A Gift

Dear Friends,
    Lora travels slowly in life. Why? Because she's always looking for the little things to give back to her Beloved. Her Beloved who has given so much and never asked for anything in return. Thank you, Lora, for your kind and thoughtful manner. You are so giving, you are a gift.

With love,

As all is lost, everything is gained

Dear Friends,
    The day after I received darshan with Swamiji, I got a phone call from a company holding a lot of my savings. I sat in my van, Persistence, looking out at the wooded campground. It was beautiful day in Hawley, PA.
    "I have an update regarding this investment," said the voice. "Since the crash a few years ago, it appears that it will not be turning out as we planned. The money is lost." The man continued to explain as I listened in silence. I think he expected some sort of reaction.
    After I had asked a couple of questions, I said, "Thank you so much for letting me know." And I hung up the phone. "Thank you, Swamiji," I whispered to myself.

    This money had been my safety blanket, and now it was gone. Suddenly, grief struck at my heart, and tears fell from my eyes. For all these years, I had spent my life force worshiping money as my God. Why had I wasted so many years worshiping money when I could have given my heart to the Real One? I had missed my Beloved all these years. How could I have rejected Him for so long, giving my heart to a cold piece of metal? The clouds around my heart started to part, and the sunlight poured inside. My vision changed, and the colors of manifestation became a sparkling rainbow.

    This afternoon, I received a message from Paypal saying that I had  received a donation from someone unexpectedly. I wept in gratitude for Divine Grace that wants to support this journey I am taking. I stand naked in this world, giving my life to the One who takes care of me, storing my savings with this One. No longer can I worship money. I turn my face to the Light like a child seeing his Mother for the first time.

Hari Om,

Cosmic Consciousness

Dear Friends,
    A Spiritual Teacher has an awareness beyond the human mind. He knows Himself to be the Cosmic Soul. Yesterday, I attended a class in which we contemplated a book called "Autobiography of a Yogi." To get a sense of the heights of spiritual awareness, you can read this book. Paramahansa Yogananda writes about His direct experience of the Cosmic Soul. When you read His description, you will understand why I am a spiritual seeker myself and why it is so helpful being connected to One who has Cosmic Awareness. Here is a segment of one chapter:
Sri Yukteswar seldom indulged in riddles; I was bewildered. He struck gently on my chest above the heart.
My body became immovably rooted; breath was drawn out of my lungs as if by some huge magnet. Soul and mind instantly lost their physical bondage, and streamed out like a fluid piercing light from my every pore. The flesh was as though dead, yet in my intense awareness I knew that never before had I been fully alive. My sense of identity was no longer narrowly confined to a body, but embraced the circumambient atoms. People on distant streets seemed to be moving gently over my own remote periphery. The roots of plants and trees appeared through a dim transparency of the soil; I discerned the inward flow of their sap.
The whole vicinity lay bare before me. My ordinary frontal vision was now changed to a vast spherical sight, simultaneously all-perceptive. Through the back of my head I saw men strolling far down Rai Ghat Road, and noticed also a white cow who was leisurely approaching. When she reached the space in front of the open ashram gate, I observed her with my two physical eyes. As she passed by, behind the brick wall, I saw her clearly still.
All objects within my panoramic gaze trembled and vibrated like quick motion pictures. My body, Master's, the pillared courtyard, the furniture and floor, the trees and sunshine, occasionally became violently agitated, until all melted into a luminescent sea; even as sugar crystals, thrown into a glass of water, dissolve after being shaken. The unifying light alternated with materializations of form, the metamorphoses revealing the law of cause and effect in creation.
An oceanic joy broke upon calm endless shores of my soul. The Spirit of God, I realized, is exhaustless Bliss; His body is countless tissues of light. A swelling glory within me began to envelop towns, continents, the earth, solar and stellar systems, tenuous nebulae, and floating universes. The entire cosmos, gently luminous, like a city seen afar at night, glimmered within the infinitude of my being. The sharply etched global outlines faded somewhat at the farthest edges; there I could see a mellow radiance, ever-undiminished. It was indescribably subtle; the planetary pictures were formed of a grosser light.
The divine dispersion of rays poured from an Eternal Source, blazing into galaxies, transfigured with ineffable auras. Again and again I saw the creative beams condense into constellations, then resolve into sheets of transparent flame. By rhythmic reversion, sextillion worlds passed into diaphanous luster; fire became firmament.
I cognized the center of the empyrean as a point of intuitive perception in my heart. Irradiating splendor issued from my nucleus to every part of the universal structure. Blissful amrita,the nectar of immortality, pulsed through me with a quicksilverlike fluidity. The creative voice of God I heard resounding as Aum,1
the vibration of the Cosmic Motor.
May all beings return to this place of awareness. May all beings be freed of their suffering. May all beings be an expression of peace, love, and joy. Let us work together to bring this transformation about in the world. Jai, Jai, Swamiji, let Thy Grace embrace this Earth. I have only One Heart.
With Love,

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Chip, the man who brought me wood

Dear Friends,

I am staying at Norma's masterpiece of architecture in the woods of Banner Elk, NC. It is a place of natural wonder, a place for meditation and contemplation. Going from the bustle of New York to the stillness of Banner Elk, the mind still comes with me. It creates a similar environment no matter where the body goes. Where ever I go, there I am. Will the mind ever be still? If not, let it think about beautiful and noble things.

Chip came over to deliver a truck load of wood to the house. I greeted him cheerfully and started to help him stack the wood under the roof of a shed up the hill. Chip appears to be about 70 years old. He has been living in this area for 40 years. He has a strong southern accent and a deep connection to this land. Chip pushed a heavy wheel barrow of wood up and down the hill. I was surprised that a man of his age was able to do this. He gave me a pair of gloves. "Be careful handling this wood, you can get splinters. I don't need gloves since I know how to handle it." I was grateful for the gloves. For his simple care. I stacked the wood under the roof as neatly as I could. Norma likes things done neatly, so I try to do my best. After a few trips up and down the hill, Chip sat down in the wheel barrow and rested. "This is good wood. It has more BTU's than most." Then we had a discussion about trees and how certain kinds of wood burn longer than others because of their density. I felt the energy of the wood, and it was powerful. Suddenly I had a deep appreciation for trees. My body was cold up in these hills, and I needed the fire in this wood to keep it warm.

Chip had been to larger cities but preferred to live here in the hills of North Carolina. "Why do you like this area the most, Chip?" "Well, I guess it would be its beauty." I looked up. Sunlight passed through the branches and lit up the leaves with a warm golden glow. I pointed at this scene. "Chip, just look at how beautiful it is." Chip spent a minute gazing up at the golden leaves. "It's good to meet someone who knows what I mean."

A couple days later, Chip came up to the house to collect his money. As I gave it to him, he pointed out some trees on the property. One of them was a locust tree. "Bees drink from the flowers of that tree and take the nectar back to their hives. There, it becomes locust honey. And if you eat this honey, you won't get allergies." Suddenly I had more appreciation for the bees and the trees. Mother Nature gives people healing powers, and She does not ask for anything in return.

I play harmonium outside on the deck now, sending energy to the trees, the plants, the bees, the butterflies. My heart is filled with gratitude for all my fellow creatures here. I embrace them with this music. I bow down to the Creator that gives so much for my benefit. How can I give back? Thank you, dear Chip, for your wisdom.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Why Can't We Float?

Dear Friends,
   After meeting David for the first time at the retreat, he invited me over to his apartment in Brooklyn to hold a satsang. A few people shared quite deeply an experience of love. The sharing created a safe space and an opening to the beautiful energy that came through. Sharing really breaks the ice in satsang especially since most of the people did not know me. Authentic sharing also requires courage and vulnerability. I bow to those who open their hearts to the Grace and risk being known. Let us be real, let us drop the mask of pretension, let us reveal our broken heart. This is where the transformation comes from.

    Today, as I fast for 24 hours, I speak to David about the clouds of depression and boredom passing through my mind. And asking Grace for more lightness in life. Then he points out the window and we see this vision of 4 blimps swimming like fish across the New York City sky. And we both started to laugh. Tears filled my eyes. Why can't we just float?


Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Kind Cop

Dear Friends,
On my way to the retreat in Hawley, PA, I was stopped by a cop name Fab. He asked for my papers and I gave them to him. Normally, fear of authority and getting in trouble causes me to freeze, but this time, I was happy to see him. Then he asked me where I had come from and where I was going. I suppose the Texas license plate was rather suspicious. I described the retreat with Swamiji as well as my 2 year journey through the US. Somehow, he was amazed at this story and asked if he could see my bed. I opened the back and he marveled at how I could be living in my van and spreading a spiritual message. What a strange concept! I gave him the website for Swamiji and also for my journey, and he said he would follow me on the blog. He also gave me some advice about how to make life more comfortable on the road. After half an hour, I said good-bye to Fab and went on my way. He was in very good spirits when I left. But I never found out why he stopped me. Perhaps Fab wanted to join a satsang on the side of the road that day. Perhaps he wanted to find Swamiji. He certainly showed me that cops are not as scary as my mind imagines them to be. May Fab be blessed with a spiritual fire in his heart.

With love,

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Yogi in the Black Hoodie

Dear Friends,
    I arrived in Ann Arbor, MI recently. Before coming, I had discovered Atmaram through a google search for "kirtan" and "bhakti." After e-mailing him, he called to invite me over to his home for dinner and kirtan. What a delightful surprise! He plays the harmonium and drum, and his Teacher is Muktananda. I was deeply moved by the energy of his beautiful raga version of the Hare Krishna Mahamantra and told him so. Atmaram and I are soul brothers. His heart is filled with tenderness and his knowledge very deep. I feel his love even now. Never had I been so warmly welcomed, particularly by someone I had just met. We ate together, played together, and discussed form, formlessness, and the guru. His dog, Mocha, was just as enthusiastic about the whole event. It is said that during the Golden Age, one could travel across the country and one would not need to be concerned with food or shelter. Everyone would take care of you and provide everything you need just like family. This visit with Atmaram took me back to the Golden Age.
     I visited Uncle Ted, Aunt Madolyn, and Lizzie in Ann Arbor. They opened their home to me for at least 5 days, and we bonded together. For every topic or question I had for Uncle Ted, he had a story to share his wisdom. I love stories. Aunt Madolyn made sure I was comfortable. She has the divine mother energy. Lizzie has an intelligence beyond her years, and she thinks in poetry!
    One morning, I was doing yoga on a mat in the back yard just at the border of the neighbor's yard. I wore a jacket with a black hood as it was cool outside. When I came in, Uncle said, "Our neighbor just called. He warned me about a person in the back yard doing yoga in a black hoodie! Then I looked outside and told him it was just my nephew and everything was going to be alright."
    For the rest of my stay, many times I would laugh out loud, thinking about the neighbor's warning. Watch out for the yogi in the black hoodie!

Warmly yours,