Springtime thoughts, 2018 (on becoming a monk, my life so far, etc)

This life is to be lived in the purest of ways possible. You carry a sacred energy with this body, an energy that needs to resonate in natural and loving frequencies.


Sunset over the Solent, 22nd February 2018

Yesterday, when I was dropped at Portsmouth Harbour to get my ferry back to Isle of Wight after being at Skanda Vale for full moon weekend, I sat down in the waiting room, and noticed something funny happening with my vision. Whilst at Skanda Vale I used my vision a lot, praying that these images, this sky, these birds, these flames…they all stay and reside in my immediate consciousness.
Everything resonates with such a love and care in the ashram that I have yet to find anywhere else since leaving 14 months ago. I didn’t look for it to begin with, and was rather distracted from the lacking by the need to work anyway, but especially now after being ‘unemployed’ for two months I’m craving so much more than this, more love, deeper and stronger resonances around me.
So I sat there at Portsmouth Harbour, with twenty minutes to wait until boarding the catamaran. I realised that I could barely see. Everything seemed shrouded in a mist. I noticed everyone but one person there were on their smartphones. Could it be that smartphones actually emit a radiation that affects the visual purity of the air?

Then I climbed into the train on the other side. The little train spooks me at times. It’s a rickety, gut-masher of a journey at times. And driving fast through towards Brading, where every slight bump was a big bump, and the corners felt like we were going to derail, I just trusted that all was well. There was a girl with a dog. The dog is called Pebbles, and the girl had a sweet way of talking about Pebbles. She’d been on the train when I was leaving the Isle, on Thursday. The synchronicity of sharing this journey of my pilgrimage was great. I could see fairly well again.

Guru Sri Subramanium taught to be practical in spirituality. He rooted absolutely everything, even his fights with cosmic forces, and his initial battles with Divine Mother. Everything was more real than the hands at the end of my arms. His body now rests in Samadhi halfway to the Shakti Temple at Skanda Vale, in a coffin buried in concrete, and with a massive shaligram to resonate his energy constantly. His enlightenment carries as inspiration and grace for everyone that steps through the gates of Skanda Vale. Literally as soon as you come through those gates, you feel the love, the restfulness, the absolute peace.

I’m just over two months from making my decision. In October, on my last evening at Somaskanda Ashram (which I never thought I’d find my way back to, up high on the Swiss Alps, where I lived for 6 months helping to build and establish the temple in 2016), I was sat in silence at the end of the lovely Christian service on the Sunday evening. A feeling came strongly into my being. A feeling that had never found it’s way there whilst I was living there (or living at Skanda Vale), not even after the amazing inauguration of the temple at Somaskanda. This was a feeling of wanting to devote this life to the selfless service in the temple. To become a monk, totally living in service to maintaining and running the temple. I asked, in my mind, to have things cleared in my life, and for the direction to be made definite, by May this year. This would give time enough to mentally prepare for renouncing the world, and allow me time to discover myself a little more before taking that possible monumental step. Every so often I get a slightest feeling otherwise, but normally every single day I’m waiting for the time to come when I can dedicate all my efforts to the temple.

With the temple, it’s very real that prayers and energy devoted will actually affect the whole world that I’ve been interlaced with. My family will be looked after, my friends too, all my concerns with the world and all my own issues…it all becomes a bliss, a silence, and offering it in the temple interlocks everything that I carry with me into that higher transcendental resonance. There becomes nothing to worry about, becomes I have such unparalleled spiritual foundations in the temple, the foundations that have been all but lost in my life since.

Life at Skanda Vale is very physically challenging. You get up in good time for the 5am puja, have pujas and work throughout the day, and normally crash out quite exhausted into bed at the end of the day. When I was living there, I was craving something more. I was getting more and more sluggishness in my practice. Then I was sent to Switzerland to help build the temple, and things totally changed. But I knew way before I moved into Skanda Vale that if I were to live there then I’d have to live there carrying something that was needed in the ashram. And that time I didn’t carry it. I didn’t know it.

I am just starting to relearn meditation. I knew meditation very well after being at Eco Dharma in the Pyrenees in 2012, and I practised meditation deeply and in a well disciplined way every day after leaving. But after finishing my degree, I lost that discipline, as everything became uprooted, and I pushed it and pushed it, and found that I needed to take another direction. I always felt that I’d probably end up living at Skanda Vale, when the right time came, and that I should bring the dharmic practices of my Buddhist roots with me. When I lived at Skanda Vale two years ago, it was to build two temples. I wasn’t there to become a monk. And the Buddhist dharma lay dormant in me, as I just surrendered into everything.

Guru Sri Subramanium recognised the 17th Karmapa as being the most important spiritual figure in our time. He had a picture of the Karmapa on his shrine (and a certain Swami at Skanda Vale told me, when I was living there, about his feelings about the Karmapa’s importance). I never imagined I would meet the Karmapa. But last May I left the Skanda Vale spring seminar in London early – my last time of seeing Swami B (who left the community in September) – to go to West London to see the Karmapa. I was sat in this massive dimly lit hall, maybe 100m from the stage. When the Karmapa came the stage, with ceremonial trumpets blowing and flags waving and surrounded by High Lamas, I knew that this was perhaps the most important moment in my life. I just sat there, tears constantly flowing, listening and watching, allowing myself to be completely there in His Presence. There’s nothing like it, meeting the Karmapa. His figure was crystal clear, despite being so far away. It was like I was sat right in front of him. The transmissions were strong and direct. He was reinforcing that our generation are incredibly important for the sanctity of the world, and that we have to be getting into the right places soon in order to carry out our work. We all have roles. We carry energy that is needed in all corners of the world. We’re the generation of light, of love, of reconnecting and rebecoming, of total equality of all life, and of deepening the spiritual evolution of all that is. I’ve known since very young that I’m here to transform and evolve everything in and around me. And this last 14 months has given me final proof that this can’t be maintained without the right environment around me. Without the safety and reservoir of energy that the temples provide, I’m finding myself diminished, and hurt a lot.
I have days resting in bed because everything becomes shaky and a darkness clouds my mind. Half of my bedroom is a shrine now, and I do pujas twice a day when I’m in the right state to, and have started daily yoga, and daily meditation. But this all feels like, and has always felt for the past 14 months, like just a way to maintain this energy inside me, rather than to develop and use it at all. I am totally closed and with barriers up, all the time, in that regards. But I go to Skanda Vale for two days, and everything begins to open, and I find myself in Mother’s temple with Maha Kali’s voice in my head saying ‘come on, give be everything, surrender everything, pray for everything!’. The totality of grace is immense.

So that’s where I am. It is the end of February 2018. Sometime in May I will have made my decision. Owen told me ‘you like building temples don’t you? There’s a new temple being built’. He was referring to Lord Dattatreya and the Naag being installed in the Sri Ranganatha Temple in August. I said I wouldn’t miss it for the world. In my mind I was wondering if it coincides with Subramanium Festival, when, if I make the monastic commitment, I would probably be donning robes for the first time. Subramanium Festival starts this year on Sunday 12th August.

This is all as a result of quite an exceptional journey. I was always a bit of an outsider at school, being vegetarian and from Buddhist parents, with my mum as a herbalist. Then when my I fell in love as a teenager things started dissolving. They really dissolved when that relationship dissolved at aged 17, and I turned to this idea of a God being there for salvation, because I was hurting so much. When I found that there was an immediate response, what with getting gut feelings about things that would physically stop me in my paces and make me walk a different direction, seeing a star that would feel like the most loving and warm of hugs whenever I saw it, and a halo that still has not quite left my vision when I close my eyes (and which came about when I was crying so much that lonely weekend), and a dog who would follow me everywhere I went to ensure my safety and care, I started to allow for the impossible to be possible. Then I read Noah Levine’s Dharma Punx, and found meditation quite easy and liberating. I travelled to take on other energies, as Norfolk, as extremely wonderful as it is, didn’t provide me what I needed next. And I soon got into community living, WWOOFing around Britain, hitchhiking lots and meditating lots. I was reluctant to start university when I didn’t know what to do. People tried to force me to start university anyway, because they didn’t like what I was doing (living freely, learning communal living, gardening, basic building/labouring). Then after a year and a half I found a course in Study of Religions at Bath Spa that I got accepted on, that I combined with History to appease those that questioned me. It was a placement-based course. I had to choose my placement in the midst of getting involved with Occupy Bath, sleeping in my lovely 1-man tent in Queens Square most nights in the week for 6 weeks, decamping to go on placement to the funny Hindu community with the elephant. And whilst there, at Skanda Vale, with Tash and Sam, I experienced the most immense culmination of a long journey of seeking. The love radiating out of everything burst everything in me, tears dripped everywhere, and every day it was like I was being cleansed and purified from the deepest roots of this being.

Then after finishing my degree with a good grade and several awards for the work I did as the first religions and beliefs liberation representative, I went searching for where I needed to be next. Balcombe. Chรขteau Anand. Brittany. Bath. I got to Fideris after leaving Brittany to head to Skanda Vale for a week, then met Alex in Plymouth and hitched with him to Portugal to share Jass’s birthday with him in Condeixa. I got heatstroke two days later, and that changed everything. Purging. I met Jass in San Sebastian. We hitched to Eco Dharma, where I went just to see Nikki, then we hitched to Switzerland. I felt strongly inside that we needed to go to Fideris, the shrine/seminar house maintained by Skanda Vale that they’d been running for 15 years or so. I contacted the Fideris email, and Monika said we could come to a cleaning weekend there at the end of May. We went, and each puja we had was incredible. It was my first time being in the Alps, and being in that energy was awesome. The love amongst the Swissies was what would maintain us 2 years later when we were building the temple. I had a feeling I’d work a bit more with Marcus in the future, but didn’t expect the connection to be so


strong. Marcus would lead the building of the temple in 2016. I developed an incredible kinship with and respect for him, as that person entrusted by everyone and everything to get this right.

So, anyway, nowhere was quite right for me living in after I finished my degree. Eventually I was almost killed and almost burnt my friends house down when I left my dripping wet motorbike outfit on the Rayburn, which ignited and sent everything around up in flames, after a nighttime drive back to where I was living in Wiltshire in a cottage in a forest (and my friends were in Thailand on holiday, I was looking after the house and the dogs) and I took this as quite a sign that I needed to wake up and get on the right path in life. Start being in the right place in life, and doing the right things. There’s no time to be complacent.

4 months later I was asked to help Swami Narayana with this building job that everyone was considering to be ridiculous and would take him the rest of his life to build. The extension of the Sri Ranganatha Temple. I became his assistant, had my final near-death thing of a flying chisel, a novice error of judgement, that was simply met with so much love and encouragement (and six stitches in my forehead), and moved in to Skanda Vale in October 2015 to commit myself full-time to the temple building work. We completed the temple in May 2016, and the community of Skanda Vale thought it appropriate to send Swami Narayana and myself to Switzerland to build the temple there. When we completed that in October 2016, I needed rest, I had aggravated a back injury that I’d accumulated working in a factory in King’s Lynn in August 2015 (before I moved in to Skanda Vale – when I was helping my mum sell my childhood home). I was asked to become a monk, but I couldn’t think, I had a headache that lasted two weeks, and just wanted everything to be simple. Swami B gave me 2 days to think about it, and in that time I managed to find about half a minute of not having a headache where I had the thought of fathering kids sometime, and this I brought to our meeting. Both Swami B and Swami Narayana were very encouraging, and insisted that I’d have many bambinos, and they said I could indeed stay for the whole 40 days of post-inauguration havans that I felt the Lord had asked me to stay for. So I left Somaskanda Ashram with Swami Narayana and Shakti (his dog) on 20th December 2016, we drove back to Skanda Vale for Christmas, and I left Skanda Vale just over a week later on 30th December 2016. I moved in with my mum. In the year since, Skanda Vale has been through several ‘refinements’. People have left. The regular external community is becoming stronger and more devoted in their offerings of service. People are offering more and more of their lives to the works of Skanda Vale, and of the Hospice. Things are simplified there now. The energy is refreshed, renewed almost. Whereas I couldn’t fathom living there permanently a few years ago, it is now both extremely appealing, and also feeling quite necessary.

I was told when I left yesterday that they’ll see me next month. I don’t know how they know that I’ll be there next month, but it seems that I will be. I’ve never before been told that I’ll be at Skanda Vale, but it feels really good. It’s something I’m really looking forward to. I’m so lucky. I can go to Skanda Vale and suddenly there are no problems in life anymore, I become beaming with love, and really really happy. Of course, I really want to go to Somaskanda Ashram. But that feels like something that I only get to go to if I’ve been very very very good. I have to earn it. So I can wait. I may wait for years to go again. But it’s so special, I’m happy to wait. I feel really really blessed to have had the opportunity to be there last year. And, of course, for my time of living there. I can’t quite believe the luck I’ve had sometimes. I don’t know what’s next, but I just feel really so blessed for all that’s happened so far.

Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™‚

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