Tag Archives: Brading

Swami, Jai Jagadisha Hare

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Blessings from the sky, the wind, and the rain.

I can’t say things have been easy.

Almost every day, I am getting different realisations, insights into life and how things are, that destroy over and over any set way of anything being in any way. I question what it’s all about, over and over. Where people dedicate their lives to their cars, households, jobs….and there’s a general encouragement from near enough everyone around me to at least try to do the same. And ever since I was a young teenager, I knew that it wasn’t going to be straightforward, at all, where this life would be heading.

I try to tell people that I’ve seen things that are too special to live this normal life whilst carrying. It’s hard to express this to anyone, except who have lived through it too. I saw Swami Durgananda at Skanda Vale last weekend, and with him I share this total understanding and relating of it all. We lived through all of what built the Somaskanda temple. I still get fairly short of breath thinking about when he was separated from the temple on the day that the murthis arrived, and I was put in charge by default for doing something that I hadn’t been instructed about properly. It was the most important day for the temple upto that point, and somehow I was there to organise everything, without speaking the language, and without any drawings showing where each part was due to go. Yet, it was okay. Swami Durga arrived back just after the last delivery had been finished. And that is what we lived through together. He needed me to take some of the weight. It was what I was there to do. I could take the energetic load.

I have been building a website for Bob, whilst he’s maybe in his final days of life in this realm. He’s a kind soul, and saw that I needed to take on this last wish of his in his long life. I’ve only known him a year, yet have been directed into his most significant karmic episode. I’ve taken it all on as it is. I’ve just watched what’s gone through myself with it all. There isn’t sadness inside me about what’s going on. There’s joy where there are breakthroughs. I had a big block with the website, made some breakthroughs yesterday evening, and then spoke to Bob on the phone today and was really happy to speak to him all about it. It’s funny though – it’s a job that I’ve needed to be able to dedicate myself completely to in my spirit, and I wouldn’t be able to do that if I were working a lot, or busy in any way in life. As life has seemingly come to a halt of some kind, it’s opened things up to allow my focus to be much stronger, and more devotional.

My relationship with my shrine has gone in different directions. I’m feeling myself slowly getting more and more into a meditation practice, for the first time in over 4 years. Things are slowing down, and it’s become possible again. It’s always felt important for me, but never been possible. Bhakti has been my sole practice as a result – but deep meditation practice is what I lost. Devotion and meditation should go together, but it’s hard, and seems to need such a deep processing of so much stuff.

I also have started to go for walks again, for the first time in many months. I hadn’t been for any proper walks by myself in about a year. Then, with this snowstorm coming over us last week, it opened up this beautiful, magnificent world to me all around me. I just need to chant all the time. Chant and be happy, so they say. But chant, no matter what, and there’s unlimited protection there all the time. You need to break down in order to refind. I broke down a lot of what has been beneficial to me over recent years, and it’s come back to me gradually, and I notice it’s importance, I notice it’s effects. I became complacent for years. I’ve been divinely blessed with this opportunity to come back to myself. To refind myself. And it hasn’t happened quickly at all. In the spirit of just letting everything happen, because there’s nothing gained from forcing anything (on a deeper sense), I’ve just waited and it’s come.

The world around me, as well as the world inside me, has seemed and felt much more illusory in recent times. All this stuff that’s written in the news, or on social media….there’s this question inside me, that says, ‘and so…?…what is this? what, really, is this?’. There’s so much relative suffering everywhere. And most of it comes out of disconnecting from nature. It comes out of having a huge disconnection from all life all around everywhere. In Brading, we have few birds, or any wildlife for that matter. There are no foxes, or badgers, or deer. I heard the dawn chorus this morning, but only because I hadn’t gone to bed yet. After the dawn chorus, there’s no bird sound till a little around dusk. The energy around these parts is shaky, like lots of not so good stuff has gone down over a long time. But it’s all quite hidden – people just keep to themselves, and you see nothing. It feels safe. But there’s something really missing. There’s a barrier between everyone and everything. I spent one day in Freshwater, seeing Raymond, and everything was the opposite. There were birds everywhere, playfully dancing about in the winds. People talked, and laughed, and eye contact with everyone, everyone noticing everyone. It had a glorious feeling. It felt like something to work towards. No holding back, no inhibitions.

This body cries out for different things. I offer it all up. I needn’t be in puja or meditation to offer everything up. Just offer it all, as it is, in every breath. Today I found a solution that felt right for my long-term problem of not being able to run. I really feel I can definitely run now, and I’d love to run, but my feet have not been good when I’ve been running. I found that there are minimalist shoes that can be bought very cheaply, in the form of water shoes. I’m excited for running to St Helens along the old road. It feels like that’ll be my running route – though I don’t know which way I’d run back. I’d love to run a half marathon again sometime. And maybe I can get to be in good shape for longer runs. 10 years ago, I needed constant exertion. I couldn’t deal with life without it. I would get headaches and anxious if I hadn’t had a proper exercise in a few days. Now I don’t get that, but I feel not quite right most of the time. Running is the way, because I have learnt deep secrets in how to run, to run to commune with all nature and all things.

I still offer, in many moments of every day, this feeling and suggestion of life going in the direction of a monastic commitment. It would just be a confirmation of how I’ve been living anyway, should I make the commitment. But to live in Skanda Vale would give me much more support, which I’ve noticed the importance of since leaving. And recognising my potential place in the community, that I would have a very real role in fulfilling the works of Guru Sri Subramanium. I will continue to offer in every day. But I do pray, also, that I get given much grace to enjoy dimensions of life where I am now that I would not be blessed to experience once rooted into community life.

I’m eternally grateful for all of the clarity and understandings that I have received in recent times.

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Do you have no memories to recall your testaments?

It doesn’t matter how much older I get (it won’t sound like much, but I’m 27!! 27!!!! I was thinking about ten years ago doing silly things with friends, just being a little more reckless and wild and stuff… And really, that’s ten years ago. I’m not like that now, it seems).
But it seems I can never be too old to listen to some Boston Street Punk at the loudest possible volume, dancing away to it as every single part of the music makes my heart jig a little, way up high on Brading Down.

I think I can do this forever.

And the pieces of life that I’ve picked up, of that life that I seemed to maybe be living before I moved into my 14½ months of monastic life, they’re almost like postcards from the edge. I’m a torn apart person, in many ways, and it’s really a very good thing.

I’m not pushing myself towards doing anything other than daily walks, and often really long ones. I’m officially looking for a job, but a job will come when the time becomes right for it. This is a sacred Isle. I’ve come pretty much from a sacred mountain to some of the best places in Britain to be by the sea. I now begin my search for lost springs and holy wells, on the island. The local history society have anyway stated their interest in my plans, and said they’d definitely consider publishing it when it’s written up. It’s about living life, not searching for something that doesn’t feel so right. The job search can be a terrible thing, especially having to effectively falsify yourself in order to meet someone you don’t knows ideals. It’s selling out in many ways. I’m an unforgiving prick and I’m just living the bastard’s way.
Swami Narayana said that he thinks I’ll never be the bread-earner. It’s probably true. I think I’d much rather live happily in poverty than unhappily in luxury.

There’s no punk whatsoever on the island. This is quite limiting, especially in that I’ve different at least 6 months craving to stumble around in the middle of the dancehall crashing into everyone with lights everywhere and the beat totally absorbing, a trance of fast words and trembling basses and so so much energy. There’s folk here and everyone dances, though. Which is pretty good too. But the place needs something edgier. Punk, reggae….astro-trance….

And so I’m 27 years old, and living on this crazy island with my mum. I banned myself from leaving until I get some money saved up and a driving license. Mum told me a lot of people ‘need’ me, here. Need my help.

I’ll bring them since punk.

Pujas on a solitary island

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The moon setting over the back of Brading

And it kills me, yeah it kills me,
that I don’t know what I can do.
Just one more beer, and then grow up.
You’ll finally know that life’s okay
even when bad things happen;
Just one more beer, and then grow up.

My walking meditation for my daily practise is averaging about 10 miles at the moment, and needing to be longer each time. Tomorrow may be a really long one. So much to process, and so much to deal with.

But my pujas – each puja is an incredible experience, it is so concrete and I absolutely have to do them, I have no choice in the matter. I always have had choice with any practise I’ve done before, but now I’m not included in the equation. I’m simply the boy doing the job.

Tonight, the evening Shakti puja (which means the puja finished with 108 Shakti names and then Chamundaye arthi) ended with something special having to happen. Offering the arthi to the large cloth image of Kali on the shrine, I was taken to the lower belly on the image, and felt an intense tightness and kind of throbbing pain. It was accompanied by the usual tenderness of my heart area, that suddenly made itself known again a bit more. I knew that it was her, and that somehow it was all going to unravel in the next few moments. Offering the arthi for a while whilst concentrating so strongly on the breath and waiting for a sign of things clearing somewhat. Then I got a clear message that the lingam – which is the primordial manifestation in essence, the simplest and purest form of Shiva carrying all the concentration of universal energies in one form – had to be offered. So I offered the wooden lingam that I got given on my birthday (by Lee, a friend at Skanda Vale). And gradually I felt a real sense of things clearing. Relief, but so much uncertainty.

Sometimes this spiritual stuff can be so uncertain. How do I know that this isn’t just things playing around in my mind? How do I know that I’m not just making it all up in my mind and that’s why I’m feeling these things, because it’s all conjured by me? This is like asking myself how do I know that anything exists at all. And that settles things. Things calm. I keep moving with what moves in the right ways. There’s infinite different directions that my life could go in now. I know really strongly what I want. It’s the strongest that maybe I’ve ever known what I want. And I offer it all up every single day. Because in the end, it’s not mine for the choosing. None of this life has been mine. And so I keep offering it all, every day.

And I keep walking into the face of uncertainty with every pace forwards.

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Life inside a nutshell

I see this crop circle, and the adjacent land-scraping board that was used by its artists. And it reminds me of the deeply meaningful search for those earth energies that seem a little missing from these days. I feel this amazing amount of comfort, like feeling God welcoming me back in life after being away a while. Like receiving a hug that would caress each flap of this heaving heart. Like as if everything’s okay anyway. Like showing me what’s next.

I needed this time at Skanda like I needed my thumbs whilst travelling. It’s a part of me, and in this time in life is central to everything that seems to depict my regeneration.

The winds tickles and rolls across my neck, a gently warm early summer salty breeze. The lobby grasses dance to the breasts played by the tree branches. A fox lives on these downs, sliding along in the direction of the end of land. The sea lit up by small and big boats dotted across, and glistening still from the last of the dusk. I’m overjoyed to be here. This evening, these few minutes, this is my holiday for the year. Alone on this hillside, with all of nature for company, I can feel the bliss of the moment easing off the strains on my tired heart, and everything tingles a little. Time stops still.

I’m days from leaving on a 2-day road journey with a monk and a dog to a small temple above the alpine line in Romansch Switzerland. We will work tirelessly for 7 weeks on building this temple, getting it ready for its inauguration in October. I’ve just spent almost all of the last year building the extension to the Sri Ranganatha temple at Skanda Vale, in a heavy, forested valley in heartlands north of Carmarthen, Wales. I almost lost an eye, or stability, but through it all have been gradually feeling more and more stable. The last year has been of growth. When you build a temple, the physical structure is not what you’ve built. That’s what the materials and money and energy built. But you build inside, a structure that Milaripa built and moved over and over, committing himself so fully and then so selflessly to it as he had no other choice. He’d developed unfortunate karma, which led him to his very fortunate karma. I’d almost burnt a house down, with myself and two dogs inside, sleeping to my side. And down went the internal structure that had been built. And it needed to be rebuilt. So it’s absolutely no coincidence that I’ve been building temples for the past year.

But I get these signs of the completion approaching soon. Every so often I get a clear feeling that there’s a world waiting for me somewhere.

Back in the crop circle, I half-dream of interacting with God. It doesn’t matter how long or how many times you’re in a temple, it seems, you’re still going to have your deepest experiences at unpredictable yet clearly intuited times. I’d felt guided up to this field, or something up here, so so strongly, for the whole walk upto this point. I talk with God for a while, and it’s like talking with an ultimate kind of caring force, that will always lead me in the right ways no matter what. I share my anxieties, and desires, and generally just what I’m feeling inside. Then I remember clearly asking about love. How would I find someone to be in love with again, to share life with in one way or another, when it feels so much like I go solo with it all and surely girls would be put off by that, or by my absurdities in general. I grow wild long hair that makes a lot of people think I’m a girl anyway, and surely……. And I’m told to just focus on the love that I’m able to give through and in everything, and that love will always attract the right people. And it’s like the most incredible fireworks display is going of in my heart and I am so full of joy.

We get thousands of people coming to Skanda Vale to be close to God. Sure, we’ve got the monastic discipline pretty much sorted. And sure, there’s energy there, it’s a powerful place. But I’ve never found God outside of myself. I don’t know if it’s possible to do so. And I’ve had continuously intimately close experiences of God ever since receiving the heartbreak of a very lonely relationship breakup over 9 years ago. And I wouldn’t give it up for anything. And this is where it gets complicated with my relationship with the ashram. I’ve found myself getting complacent in the ashram life. The building work is strong, but spiritually I’m feeling somehow more and more disconnected from the possibility of the completely random encounters with God.

And yet, I sit here rushing past middle England on a First Great Western to Swansea. My holiday is over, and it’s time to go back to work. Switzerland is calling, but God is unpredictable. God is between the lines of Streetlight Manifesto songs on their new album The Hands That Thieve. God is inside crop circles. God is in the views of glistening sea, and in my sisters voices, and in precious moments just being with myself. And in going along with things that just feel right.

I was taken through the village of my childhood and adolescence. A village where I felt like I really lost myself, and where I felt like I really found myself. And it felt incredibly surreal to be back, after 8 months away, and yet not even stepping a foot out of the car. We went down the same road that I walked up on dark and wet early evenings in December after being with my first girlfriend, lovestruck at fourteen. And the bench that I sat at whilst listening to Rise Against, Dancing In The Rain, frustrated to the point of emotive anger by my second girlfriend on my seventeenth birthday. I’d walked off by myself, leaving her awkwardly with my mum and brother, as desires for freedom broke me down. And I’m and about a pub in a near village that has been closed down for 5 years after a terrible murder there, and am asked details about it and fed intensely graphic information that I feel hurting something inside me to picture, and say that noone actually knows anything about it because everyone chose to keep out of it as much as possible. And I remember running from sounds in the woods with James when we’d have bonfires in the woods, with good reason, finding out later on that the owner suspected that it was us all along having the fires but never quite catching us. A place where dreams were made, but the sleep perpetuated beyond dreams.

And I walk down the hill of the down, and reach the park of Brading, and realise that this was where I was always meant to be based, this would be where I would live for at least some time. They say it’s a haunted old little town, but maybe it’s actually just the strong presence of God in this place.