Part 7 – From Spirit to Matter

Wabi-Sabi – Nature’s Imperfection

Seeing What Is 

Two years into California life I still felt unsettled, ungrounded. I had studied with amazing spiritual teachers, taken a trip around the world and photographed to my heart’s content. I was still living off of savings, not working. I sought advice from one of my teachers, guru Babaji, and decided to go back to school, to enter seminary. This provided routine, structure, and a community of like-hearted souls taking action in the world. It also created a great deal of angst as I vacillated between the idea of being a chaplain, or an artist, and worrying about how I would ever use any or all of my talents to create right livelihood. I had entered into another phase of integrating my NDE… the either/or mode, not this/not that, and couldn’t see the both/and  opportunities of being rather than doing. The more I struggled to understand the more resistant I became. One day my academic advisor suggested that I just step back and allow things to unfold.

Stepping back and allowing lead to a year in residence at Sonoma Ashram. There I learned how to breathe into a simple, albeit very structured, contemplative life. A life of seeing what is, no more – no less. I let go of more belongings, of inhibiting thoughts and negative beliefs. Baba would say, “Nothing is worth losing your peace.” And when I lost my peace, his reminder was, “Stop, take a step back…”  The daily practices opened my heart, I became more compassionate, and I learned to be still amidst the swirling Shakti energy that created daily paradox within our community of residents and guests.

Then the 2016 election happened. It felt like the earth shifted on its axis and she entered into a dark night of the planetary soul. I was ordained a couple of weeks later and it became apparent that my time at the ashram was ending. I needed to be out in the world, although I still didn’t know what I was to do. While I hunted for work, I sought refuge in my photography as a spiritual practice, walking every day, going to the ocean, or meandering around the ashram grounds. I found peace in nature and in seeing the Divine everywhere. Wabi-sabi – the imperfection of what is, nothing more – nothing less.  By summer I was on to my next adventure.

Visit more of my Wabi-Sabi collection HERE.

 

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”   –  Confucious

Lessons from Sonoma Ashram – The abundance of Lakshmi

Sometime in the liminal morning hours between the dark and the light, I received a lesson from Babaji about the abundance of Lakshmi. It had something to do with a ritual, but in my dreamtime I couldn’t quite make it out. Then suddenly I heard his voice clearly say, “it’s 5:55, time to get up.” And indeed I woke up!! The alarm went off 5 minutes later. Driving to the Ashram for Satsang I thought I must remember to ask Baba about Lakshmi. Little did I know that I wasn’t going to have to ask.

In his teaching this morning he spoke about the importance of prayer at dawn and dusk, the times when night merges with day, and day merges with night. With these prayers we honor our higher Self, our Guru within, and remember the abundance that we receive from Mother Earth/Lakshmi before we put our feet on the ground in the morning, and remember the abundance we receive during the day/Lakshmi before we retire at night. I couldn’t help but laugh because you see, without fail EVERY single Sunday Baba’s teachings reflect exactly what is coming up for me in the present moment. When Baba asked for our comments as he always does, I had to tell him that he was with me very early this morning and that his voice woke me up at dawn. (According to Google, dawn in San Francisco occurred today at 5:52am).  

It’s becoming part of my ritual when I’m at the Ashram to wander the grounds and the gardens communing with Divine Mother, through the lens of my camera. This morning I was blessed to receive her beauty in the water droplets on leaves, roses, marigolds of multiple colors and a Viceroy butterfly. As if that wasn’t enough, when I was leaving I stopped in the Ashram store looking for a small statue of Lakshmi. There she was, and she hadn’t been there last week when I looked! Now she graces my altar. Thank you Lakshmi, thank you Babaji. Abun-DANCE indeed!!

Click on any image below to scroll through the gallery.

Enjoy, and many blessings…