Today is the first day of our Christmas Retreat at the Sri Vast Ashram. It has been very (unseasonally) rainy. The vegetation is lush and growing by the minute. Here are some samples of plants decorating our gardens.This is my daily schedule:The chimes are heard at 5 a.m. , inviting the community to the tea ceremony, in which we celebrate our existence by sitting quietly, listening to the day awakening around us and sipping ginger lemon tea.At 6:oo yoga classes begin. Some days, we go to the ocean, about 10 minutes away.At 7:30 is breakfast, eaten in the open air dining room. For the next few hours, we choose the way we would like to contribute to the maintenance of the community. I go straight to the tailor shop, where I am busy with Shiva and Ayepa, sewing clothes and interior decorating items. Soon we will be making, bags, hats and slippers to sell in the boutique.After lunch at 12:30, we take a little rest. I go back to the tailor shop around 2:30; others my go for a walk or atend to some personal interests. At 5 p.m. e meet in the Satsang Hall to sit quietly. This sitting is not considered a meditation since the whole day is a meditation!After supper at 6 p.m. we meet again for Satsang (Being in the Presence of Truth). This is an inspiring occasion to ask questions of our teacher Guruji Sri Vast and share in his wisdom. There is a lot of laughing and singing. I am filled with gratitude and joy to be here.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
This is the name of the village next to the community I am living in. It is a typical South Indian farming village, despite the influx of tourism over the last decade. Here above you see the winding narrow raod leading to the village. On both sides there are flowering vines growing up into the trees. One of the first sights on entering the village is this collection of staues of deities. A bit further on I saw this goat resting on a pillar!
The first time I visited the village 4 years ago, my senses and sensibilites were assaulted by the sight, sounds and smells of it all: the dozens of street dogs , seeming of one family, aged beyond their years by fleas and relentless reproduction, the motorbikes spewing a trail of exhaust, cow dung and dog droppings mixing with the layers of garbage, a woman squatting on the ground selling fresh fish arranged on a wooden box, aromatic chai tee and pungent coffee sold in tiny chrome cups. None the less, the dogs sleep obliviously in holes they dig in the dirt, or wander around looking for anything to live off, miraculously avoiding being hit by the motorbikes, cars, taxis and busses pushing through the narrow passages. Looking down the street, it is hard to tell what is a boutique, a vegetable stand, a cafe, a bank or a bike rental. All businesses are multi-purpose. All signs blend into one image of daily life here. Between it all, the schoolchildren in their beautifully combed and/or braided hair, in their pert uniforms and bare feet, wearing backpacks full of books, wind their way home slowly, chatting and playing with their friends. The most cheerful and polite children I have ever seen!
At the top you see a picture of the Indian Ocean at dusk, just a 10 minute bike ride away from our hilltop community. We can see and hear the thundering waves when we sit on the rooftop of the main building. With this image I bid you all farewell, till next post. Best wishes for a speedy recovery to my hometown, now coping with a massive snowstorm.