By Swami Nirmalananda
We had a party! We did my favorite things: chanting, teachings followed by discussion, and meditation. Plus we enjoyed the sweetness of yogis spending time together, along with the birthday cake and pie. Birthday cards and presents have been arriving, practical things like printer cartridges, tea lights and lighters. There’s good reason to celebrate.
I always knew I’d open an Ashram. In the early years, my mind doubted this inner knowing, for my mind was used to keeping me small. “How could you think you’d ever be so great?!” Oh, the mind! With doing more yoga, and especially due to Baba’s Grace, I outgrew it, like you outgrow a pair of shoes. I didn’t let my mind hold me back.
I began buying murtis, statues of the Gods and Goddesses, that I knew would be essential to holding the shakti (energy). I had gotten interested in them because I was having visions and other experiences of their very real presence and blessing in my life. The Guru Gita says:
haahaa-huuhuu-ga.nai”scaiva gandharvai”sca prapuujyate.
—“Srii Guru Gita 25
Even the gods and celestials honor and worship the Guru.
Baba described that they “dance attendance” on one who gives their life to knowing the Self. I only got to know them slowly, as they introduced themselves to me. I recognize the Divine and cosmic forces at play in this universe; it’s a delight to invoke and honor their presence.
I didn’t open an Ashram right away. I opened a yoga center, Master Yoga Foundation, but others told me I was running it on the Ashram model. They were right. The only thing lacking was housing which would provide a place for yogis to fully immerse themselves in the shakti that an Ashram creates. After taking sannyas, where I renounced the desire for an Ashram (along with everything else), people came together to support the process. We were off and running. Nine years later, I luxuriate in the support of many of the original Board members. Many faculty and staff have been with me for decades, bringing their depth as yogis into everything we do.
While we’ve spent years getting the buildings ready, placing the murtis, creating gardens and outdoor meditation areas – it’s the people that make this an Ashram. All the furniture could be in place but it would be a museum. It’s the living breathing forms of Shiva that keep the Grace flowing here. How fortunate am i! It’s all Baba’s Grace. And where did He get it? Nityananda.
OM svaroopa svasvabhava.h namo nama.h