First Morning At The Ashram

After a good night’s sleep, I awakened with the words “united in purpose,” running through my mind. As I entered the waking state, a soft breeze blew through the window and those words, “united in purpose,” repeated over and over. I wondered whether they were left over from a dream that I’d been having and pondered what “united in purpose” meant. I asked myself what my purpose was in being here. Why had I come all the way from America to this ashram in south India? What had led me here? I thought back over my life and reviewed the many twists and turns that it had taken. It seemed like it really was a long and winding road that had led me here. I thought of the many places that I’d lived; Ohio, New York, Iowa, Arizona, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco and many more. Faces of people I’d known flashed through my mind; friends, family, lovers, wives. I thought of all the things I’d done; student, house painter, TM teacher, Arabian horse photographer, computer consultant on Wall Street, assistant to spiritual masters. It felt like I’d already lived many lives within the last 58 years and I asked myself what the unifying thread was that united all these experiences. The answer came from deep within me that it had been the spiritual quest. In all these places that I’d lived, and throughout all the experiences that I’d had, my soul had been searching for greater light and wisdom. Something within me longed for the answers to the questions, “Who am I? Why am I here and where am I going? Sometimes I’d made wise choices that had led me closer to the Light and sometimes I’d made foolish choices, taken detours and gotten lost for a while, causing me to suffer the pains of soul sickness. Ultimately though, my soul always succeeded in guiding me back to my path toward the Light and now it has led me here to Mother India.

I went to the window and looked out at the ashram garden with many students sitting under trees, meditating and studying. A strong feeling of unity rose within me and I knew that all of us were indeed united in purpose. Each of us had his or her own unique story. Each of us had lived lives full of people and places. Each of us had made choices and experienced the consequences of those choices. We’d all experienced great joy and we’d also all experienced disappointment. Whatever our unique karmas were, we now had one thing in common. We all were here now. Our souls had guided us here to pursue this path of spiritual study so that we could unfold the infinite capacity of our souls, to heal ourselves and learn how to teach others how to heal their own souls. I felt incredibly grateful for the opportunity to learn the ancient spiritual wisdom that the sages and saints of India had preserved for the benefit of the world.

I remembered something that I’d read in a book that I’d brought with me and searched for it in our suitcaces. Finding it, I thumbed through the pages and found the words of Bolenath:

“If you do not understand the simple matters of life,
Then you live in great ignorance.
Have you ever asked yourself,
“Where have I come from.”
Where must I go?
What am I supposed to do here?
What am I supposed to know?
Have you ever tried to understand what love is all about?
Have you ever known what compassion is?
If you have not contemplated and experienced these things,
Then you are living in great ignorance.”

I thought of all the spiritual teachers I’d had in this life and felt deeply grateful for everything that they’d given me. I felt each of them still with me, their precious spiritual wisdom alive in my heart, and thanked all of them for their loving kindness.

I remembered how when Tara and I traveled for several years with Dzogchen Khenpo Choga Rinpoche as his attendants, he demonstated through his daily life perfect dedication and total commitment to assisting all sentient beings. During all the time that we were with Khenpo Choga, which was pretty much 24 hours a day for nearly two years, I never asked him a single Dharma question. I didn’t have to. He was the living Dharma. To be with him was to experience the Ways of the Bodhisattva and to learn first-hand how to use every moment to assist others. When he became sick from over-exertion, he wouldn’t stop touring and teaching, saying “If I die tomorrow, at least I teach today.” We watched him sit teaching with sweat dripping down his face and blood seeping through his robes and were in awe of how deep his commitment was. When finally he was close to death, I prostrated before him with tears streaming down my face and begged him to take a break to rest and recuperate. That was one of the moments of my life that I’ll never forget. To serve a true Boddhisattva like Dzogchen Khenpo Choga Rinpoche was an opprtunity that to this day I don’t know how I deserved.

I remembered how, when we were burnt out from exhaustion, Yuan Miao had taken us under her motherly wing and showered us with her unconditional love. She healed us, allowed us to live with her and blessed us with the Divine Mother’s love. She showed us a way to assist people through a universal spirituality that knows no boundaries. The first day that I met Yuan Miao, I asked her whether she taught Mahayana or Vajrayana Buddhism. She looked at me with eyes full of infinite love and said, “I teach the essence of Vajrayana but it’s the essence of all religions. What I teach is Universal. If you have true compassion, you want to help everyone.”

Yuan Miao had always told us that when you experience God, no mater what form you see God as, it’s always in the central channel. So, when she sent us out into the world to teach, saying “You have guru karma that you must fulfill, we felt that Kriya yoga, the spiritual science of purifying the central channel, was something we needed to learn. Miraculously, we were quickly guided to Yogiraj Gurunath Siddhanath. I fondly remember our time with Yogiraj and how he fully expresses the life of the Nath Yogis. He isn’t merely a teacher. He’s a true Master who shakes and wakes you. His dynanism and irrepressable joy are proof that the ancient tradition and practices of Babaji’s Kriya Yoga are alive and flourishing in the modern world.

Now, our souls have guided us to return to Mother India. I see this as the natural progression of all that we’ve learned and done before. All the teachers that we’ve been so blessed to be with and learn from have contributed a piece of the puzzle of life. To each one we offer our deepest gratitude and undying love. As Khenpo Choga said when we asked for his blessings to study with Yuan Miao, “When you meet another Buddha that you love you don’t stop loving the one before.”

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