Update on my life June 2009

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It’s been quite a while since I blogged and I’m looking back at all the things that have happened in the last twelve months. First, reconnecting with Sadananda after it became apparent that he wasn’t really going to leave and take up a new life as a householder…meaning that I’m also not going to take up a new life as a sannyasi either! Instead, here we both are in our urban ashram living a rich and humble life just as we have been doing for twenty years.

In the course of taking temporary vows of sannyas I learnt that celibacy is possible—with a lot of prayer and guru’s grace— but I also realised that it is not truly what I desire.  My heart is drawn to the teachings of the path of love, intimacy and communion rather than to the way of solitude.

Then, my father having a heart attack and going to visit him when he was quite weak, yet still, with great determination, taking a little walk every day.

Attending the Swastha Ayurveda conference in London, where I was a ‘special guest speaker,’ talking on spiritual aspects of Ayurveda—specifically, the importance of love, compassion, joy and equanimity as qualities of the physician.

 And a Sufi pilgrimage in Turkey with Sadananda, visiting Istanbul and Konya. It was wonderful to be able not just to visit places like the Blue Mosque but also to join in community prayer in these holy places. And Rumi’s tomb in Konya was a profound experience.

 Soon the first semester of our new Gurukula program started up and the ashram was full of happy, excited students making potions, cooking, giving oil massages, assisting in clinic and attending classes. It was a fulfilling experience, yet coloured at the same time with painful news from home. In November both my parents had open heart surgery at Papworth National Heart Hospital in the UK. My mother made a good recovery but not so my father. As it turned out, open heart surgery re-awakened the TB he had as a young man. He was in intensive respiratory care for six weeks.

In the winter holidays I went to Ipswich to visit my father, arriving just in time to sit and hold his hand as he was passing on. We worked together with a Dzog Chen (Buddhist) practice of the triple ah, “Ah, ah, aaah,” dissolving with the ‘aaah’ into the vast expense of reality. As he was dying we did the triple ‘ah’ and he dissolved on the final ‘aaah’ and didn’t take another breath. It was a very special moment. He left his body on New Years Eve and as we left the hospital it was the stroke of midnight. The sky filled with fireworks and all the church bells rang. It was quite a send-off.

After the funeral I returned to Boulder dealing with jet lag, school, clinic, running the ashram and the grief process. Being a Ma does not make one immune to grief. If anything it makes feelings more poignant and intense. As if that were not enough to deal with I slipped on black ice and snapped the head off my left radius, (I’m a leftie) and had to have surgery. Now my arm is out of the cast and I’m in hand therapy. Not yet fully functional by any means.

At one moment I burst into tears declaring, “This year is half over and all it has consisted of is my father dying and me breaking my arm!” This, in a way, was true. It’s hard to follow the usual routines when your energy is low and your arm is in a cast. But, it’s also true that, “My life is my retreat,” and retreat practice isn’t always easy. Best to take the sacrament of the present moment even when it appears in unpleasant forms, as De Caussade reminds us in Self Abandonment to Divine Providence. Aside from the fact that my own problems are quite insignificant compared to the lives of people in Darfur or the Svat Valley or Baghdad, I understand that these are simply purifications along the way.

And today we had a beautiful community garden day, planting summer squash, zucchinis, winter squash, pumpkins, purple haze carrots, cucumbers and nasturtiums.







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    This page contains a single entry by Alakananda Ma published on June 14, 2009 9:08 PM.

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